Friday, February 29, 2008
I love to write stories where a crime takes place or where the protagonist is a marginal character but I can't always amph up the action to the necessary degree. Sometimes it's about what's going on behind the scenes or in the guy's head that interests me. This is not complaint about any of the zines. Most have published a story of mine along the way and I am very grateful. This is my purely my frustration with what to do next.
I could start a second novel, but until I hear from more than one agent who's read it, this seems premature. Maybe I don't have what it takes to write a novel. Better to find out before starting another one. And how long should I expect an agent to keep it? One has had it for five weeks. At this rate, I will 107 before I go through the list.
I could return to writing literary fiction. I just had a story published in Bayou Magazine. As far as I know, no one will ever read it there though because it's in print. I like the zines because I think people do read stories on zines. I can write literary stories forever and not become part of any community, which I did for five years. I like being part of a writing community. I liked knowing who Stephen Blackmoore and Greg Bardsley are when I read their stories in PWG. I like this little blogosphere we have here.
I almost had a story accepted this week in Ellery Queen. They asked me to send another story along. But guess what? All my other stories are too violent for them probably because I've been trying to write for the crime zines. Maybe I can drain a story of its more violent aspects. Have you ever done that? Made it more or less violent for a publication. I wrote that story specifically for them-using a stack of EQMM that Bill Crider sent me to gauge the kind of story they liked.
Can I send that story to Alfred Hitchcock or is that not done?
This is going to be one of those blog entries that sits all alone out there because its whiny and narcissistic. Sorry. It's snowing again in Detroit, I discovered my new treadmill makes my back hurt and even now it hovers over me, silent and scolding at the same time. So too does my Dell.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
There was no one who struck greater fear in my teenage heart than William Buckley. He articulated a right-wing, hawkish agenda with more skill than any other pundit of the time. He could make mincemeat of almost anyone on his television show and I watched it, hands held to my eyes. His voice alone, arrogant. educated, sinewy, serpent-like terrified me. Is there anyone out there now who encapsulates an ideology like he did? The right-wing radio/tv hosts today get by on rage and accusations, not through a rigorous mind. Maybe I was too young to see the holes in his arguments, but I was always secretly afraid he was right. He wasn't, of course.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Truthfully, I must chastise myself for even putting his name on this space. For even giving him one more chance to get recognition. And I did hesitate but rage overcomes good sense sometimes.
He has said on announcing his candidacy that he won't be trivialized. And really that's what it's all about, isn't it? He can't sit an election out due to his monumental ego, his towering narcissism.
Despite being one the single greatest causes of what has happened in this country in the last eight years, he won't be trivialized by allowing a man who represents all of the same things he does to run unimpeded against someone who clearly doesn't. I had some friends who voted for Nader in 2000. None of them did in 2004. If anyone out there can make a case for him, please enlighten me because in my mind, he's just in it for the sound bites, for the ego trip, and doesn't give a hoot if he saddles us with another hawk.
Care about America. No bloody likely.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity after seeing two movies recently. How does a writer/director imbue his/her work with authenticity?
In the movie Definitely, Maybe, I never for a minute believed the protagonist or his colleagues were campaign workers for Bill Clinton. They looked like models on a lunch break on
In the movie Cockfighter though, the milieu of the cockfighting circuit was wholly believable. Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton, in the lead roles, perfectly captured Willeford’s character and world, thanks to the talents also of director, Monte Hellman.
Does casting actors who look like real people give more credence to a movie or TV show? I think so. This is one of the reasons, I think, The Office works wonderfully. No one doubts these are the sort of people found selling paper products in
Monday, February 25, 2008
I am watching the same thing happen to the Baltimore Sun on The Wire, of course. The ultimate outcome may be a few national papers that have local inserts.
Would you forgo a local paper if a NYT or Washington Post was delivered to your doorstep with an insert that gave local news?
Or is your local paper still a viable publication?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
He gives a humanity to Dexter I was never able to find in the book. Although he may tell the viewer, he can't love, you can see that he can indeed experience love when he looks at his sister, or his girlfriend's kids or perhaps even his girlfriend. The message in his voiceovers are softened by the glint in his eyes, the delicacy in his touch.
Can you think of other examples of actors that made a character from a novel more palatable or lovable or real. Usually it goes the other way. Although Anthony Hopkins created a memorable Hannibal Lector it wasn't bu softening him, but by creating a character you couldn't take your eyes off of. In a TV series, that probably wouldn't work.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I have been of two minds about Hillary since the beginning, wanting a woman to be elected President but maybe not this woman. Now I want her to do the right thing and let the people speak. Don't gut Obama in the debates. Play nice.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
For me, it works both ways. The title sometimes comes early and sometimes late. Only rarely do I pick one that I really think sums up the story very well. I think some of the best titles are just one or two words:
The Drowning Pool
None of these titles tell you much about what the book is about, but they catch your eye and maybe set a mood. Do you find it hard to find the right title? What are some of your favorites?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Of course racism exists and is a serious problem but it seems like it's being used as a shield, as a defense.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
This is my favorite book of Megan's three novels because it is set in fifties Hollywood, about the movie business, and is both tragic and romantic. Plus I like the protagonist, Gil Hopkins, a flawed character who can only do good for so long. I also enjoy the portraits of real Hollywood actors in it--like Barbara Payton. Watching Megan write and illustrate her stories as a child, watching her watch movies as much as we'd allow, this was the book I'd have expected her to write. So if you put off buying it because of its hardback price, here's your chance now.
Sorry for the blatant daughter promotion, but it seeps out of me every now and then.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Plus Christa's story should go up sometime today (see below). She lost her power yesterday.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
by Todd Mason
It wasn’t until he knew she’d been murdered did he realize how much he missed her, and how terribly fast that came to him. There it was, right in front of him, in the paper. It was a freak story, or else there wouldn’t’ve been a reason for the wire report to be carried from one city/suburban cluster to another, every city has its share of routine murder, young men (usually young men, not always either) drunk on despair and testosterone and whatever substance was supposed to make things easier right then, angry spousal equivalents, payback abuse or just abuse.
He hadn’t seen her in years, hadn’t corresponded (if that’s what one did with email) in months, maybe as much as a year. He knew she was happy, in a way he was quite sure she’d never been when they were together, a way she probably couldn’t be with him. She’d gone through several changes, was settling into a new job, she loved her husband the way you’d want to be loved if you were him. An off-duty police officer who’d developed a habit of pulling over women of a certain age managed to home in on her one night as she was driving home from the night class. Officer Friendly made sure he was the last to see her alive. She was the sixth of seven they knew about. He’d really gotten sloppy by the seventh.
Sitting there staring at the paper, seeing her name there, knowing there was no reason for authorities to contact him (maybe a call from Officer Friendly’s best buddy in the Academy or at the local land-grant school,, or maybe his ex partner), didn’t make him feel any less clobbered. Her husband might’ve, but he’d’ve had his own version of real-time hell to cope with, not this sudden smack after the fact. Cold print. Gasping. Cold, blind rage. Officer Friendly had been called Davy by his family. David Miller. Pillar of the community.
He sat staring at the paper and weighed his options. He could go to the trial, try to find a way to kill Davy Miller or at least introduce him to some small measure of what the wire story didn’t detail too closely of what he’d done to at least seven women. He could go to the trial, in that other big city up north a bit, and try to get some satisfaction out of his Twinkie defense, the slam-dunk the prosecutor would have, the life imprisonment with the hope of a shiv in an ex-cop’s back .He’d never have another conversation with her, he’d never get a card from her again at year’s end, she wasn’t at least walking around somewhere else nor laughing nor thrusting her hips just so as she came, nor rolling her eyes just so at some weak joke someone else would make (she’d wiggle her eyebrows to let you know she knew how weak her joke was, if it was). He wouldn’t know that she was fine. She never would be fine again. His impotence in the face of that fact wasn’t as hard to bear as the thought of her loss, but was no more reassuring.
He sat and thought about what he would do, what he was worth, how little David Miller was worth, what she…had been. He couldn’t completely catch his breath, he wasn’t yet ready to cry, if that was coming. Maybe on his trip north.
Whatever he was going to do, he need to gather a few things, make a few calls. And he needed to know when the services were. And the trial. And whatever came afterward.
Patrick Bagley "Loving Rachel" http://patrickshawnbagley.blogspot.com/
Sandra Seamans "Bye, Bye Love" http://powderburnflash.blogspot.com/
Aldo Calcagno "Love on the Rocks" http://acalcagno.blogspot.com/
Patricia Abbott 'Tongues" http://pattinase.blogspot.com/
Graham Powell "The Last Time" http://www.myboogpages.com/
Bryon Quertermous "Stand Up on Blow Pops" http://bryonquertermous.wordpress.com/
Clair Dickson "Cupid's Bullet" http://bofexler.blogspot.com/
Cormac Brown "Warmer" http://cormacwrites.blogspot.com/
Gerald So "Connect the Dots" http://geraldso.blogspot.com/
Steve Allan "The Many Forms of Love" http://noirwriter.blogspot.com/
Christa Miller "Beautiful Trouble" http://freelancemother.wordpress.com/
John McAuley "Since I've Been Loving You" http://powderburnflash.blogspot.com/
r2 "Doctor, Doctor" http://powderburnflash.blogspot.com/
Sophie Littlefield "Rival Passions" http://powderburnflash.blogspot.com/
Todd Mason "Afterward" http://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/2008/02/afterward-vignette.html
Wellesfan " Day Late" http://wellesfan.blogspot.com/2008/02/day-late.html
By Patricia Abbott
The girl in the dorm room next to mine speaks in tongues. I hear her late at night when all the other girls are asleep. Most of what she says makes use of the more obscure letters of the alphabet—like z,x, and k’s. She sounds angry, like the voice of God in her ear isn’t joyful.
No one else on our floor ever mentions it.
Speaking in tongues is not as common as you’d think—even at the Southern New England Bible College. My parents sent me here, not realizing that all Christians don’t play bridge and drink martinis on Saturday night. The ones at SNEBC would never slip between their starched sheets without first pressing their knees to the floor in prayer
At Karin’s church, parishioners speak in tongues, give testimony and lay on hands. Karin likes to tell her personal salvation story. It happened in a Thunderbird on a country road as she was weighing the sin in letting her boyfriend unhook her bra.
Does everyone who speaks in tongues use the same language? Can they talk to each other? Were they born knowing “tongues” or did it come to them like a taste for artichokes came to my father months after he returned from Korea? I never find the right words to ask Karin this.
It’s spooky listening to her, knowing she’s pacing her cell-like room and talking gibberish for hours. The syllables seem to rush out of her mouth and bang up against the wallboard. If I put my palms on the wall, I can feel the vibrations.
In daylight, Karin seems normal, pretty in a wispy way. She baby-sits for a woman who once dated President Kennedy and works the dinner shift at the second cash register in the cafeteria. I can see her from behind the counter where I restock the applesauce and Jell-O. Her checkout line moves much faster than the other one.
In December, Karin invites me in to watch “Color Me Barbra” on her contraband TV. She teaches me stuff, telling me that my favorite song on my Lawrence Welk album is actually a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto # 1. She plays it for me on her record player.
One night Karin comes to my room, mumbling the words I usually hear through the wall, letting her tongue flutter near my ear like a trapped moth. I can smell her breath—it’s anise or licorice and sends shivers down my spine. In the cafeteria later, I stare at the picture of Moses on Mt. Sinai over the tray table while holding a flashlight. She empties both cash registers in seconds.
When the campus police arrest Javier, a work-study student, Karin seems surprised. She puts a dollar in the canister being passed around. His picture from the yearbook is glued to the front. He’s smiling and you can see the gap in his teeth. Someone says they’ll be sending him back to Haiti or Trinidad or wherever he came from.
On Valentine’s Day, Karin invites me to spend the weekend at Kennedy’s mistress’ house. We take the children duckpin bowling and feed them hamburgers. Later we look for things the Sprague’s won’t miss. Karin looks over my haul with a practiced eye, telling me that paste jewelry and ceramic birds are junk.
Karin lights candles in the living room and draws my trembling hands to the flame. She makes me kneel with pebbles under my knees on the tile floor, telling me I’m a bad influence and that she didn’t steal things before I was assigned to the room next to her. I look up and see the little girls huddled on the steps. Their bare legs look like pincers in the half-light.
Two men come for Karin the next morning and take her away in a Volkswagen bus. Mrs. Sprague removes stones from my knees with tweezers and bandages my hands, shaking her head and asking me why I didn’t tell anyone about Karin.
“You two are students at a Bible College,” she tells me “How did this happen?” I want to tell her that a love for Jesus isn’t the only kind of love.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Was it her personality once people got a good sample of it in the debates. Was being a woman harder to overcome with voters than being African-American? Their message was virtually the same. She would seem like the more experienced bearer of that message. Was it her history that did her in? Were Bill's remarks in South Carolina the death knell? What do you think is the single greatest reason for her probable failure? I feel sad for Hillary Clinton. Sometimes you do everything right and something still derails you. Look at Ted Kennedy. Wouldn't he have been a great President?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
My problem in getting these links up here makes me wonder what's gonna happen on Thursday. I hope Aldo and Gerald are more proficient.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
My husband wrote me this one. Okay, well William Butler Yeats wrote it first but my husband copied it and gave it to me when I was seventeen. Asking for a poem was too much pressure to put him under. He went on to write many things, but no poems.
Have you ever written one for someone special? I hope so. There's nothing like a poem.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Sometimes I find myself going to a ridiculous amount of trouble to get a small detail ( that probably no one will ever notice) correct in a story. Right now I am trying to find the exact phrase a cowboy uses to get the cattle moving and to that end spent most of the morning looking at sites, fascinating but time-consuming to find this out. It ended with my emailing a cowboy. Let's see if he responds to my strange question.
Do you do this too or is it just me? What's the most ridiculous piece of information you got by doing this? I can't tell you how much I found out about being a midwife in England like this a few years ago. I'm still getting emails asking me if I still intend to enroll in a training hospital in London.
And you can imagine what happened when I googled "school girls" once looking for the correct dress at private schools.
The Internet, a curse or blessing.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Forty percent of the delegates to the Dem. convention are Super-Delegates, most of them pledged before Obama was a viable candidate. When did elections in the US start resembling those in Soviet Russia? Oh, I guess about 2000. Or was it always like this?
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Do you have trouble knowing where to begin your story?
P.S. Now two recent readers have told me I am writing a rumination on an artist's life with crime elements. WTF. How did that happen? How do I pitch this?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
It is easier to get away with attacking a woman than a black man. Racism trumps sexism as an issue as it did in the sixties. We can talk about ironing shirts but not about shining shoes. It is sickening that there are still people who would define either of these candidates in this way.
The important thing to remember is that the Democrats have come up with two highly credible candidates that are both from minority groups. Can you imagine the Republicans even choosing a VP from either group much less a President? And instead of reveling in how far we have come, we have been manipulated into choosing one and denigrating the other. I'm not talking about a vote in a primary but a public show of preference, name-calling and sickening jokes.
Hillary or Obama, take your pick. I will happily vote for either-- candidates who care about universal health care, an end to the insanity it Iraq, a serious commitment to improving the environment, insuring children don't go to bed hungry, a fair tax system, better schools. The list goes on.
It is so important to stand behind whoever the nominee is because we are in danger of doing what seemed impossible a few months ago--losing the White House to another supporter of the war, someone else who says America first, last and always and the rest of the world be damned. Sure McCain looks good next to George Bush but they are not very different at all. They didn't look very different eight years ago and time has not changed that.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
In Treament is my new addiction. Five nights, five patients, each of them telling a story that is poignant and riveting. All of this is held together by therapist, Gabriel Byrnes, who sees his own therapist on Fridays. I didn't like HBO's fall try at a therapy series but this one, minus the embarrassing clinical sex, looks to be a winner.
I've only seen the first two episodes of this Breaking Bad but Brian Cranston holds the screen with the story of a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer who raises money to suppost his family (his son has CP and his wife is pregnant) by opening a crystal meth lab in the dessert. It manages to be funny, sad and engrossing so far.
This book defies the notion that a murder must happen by page 3. No crimes take place for 3/4 of the book and I was not bored for a second. Willeford is a genius at setting , character and atmosphere, and most of all, humor. I laughed more reading this book than anything I can remember. I dread the day when I close my last Willeford book
I can't do this. I have to watch a movie from the beginning, even if I've seen it.
Our two guests, not married, both admit to watching infomercials. Neither cook yet both are mesmerized by cooking gadgets-blenders, processors, coffee-makers, knives. At some point I learned how to tune out commercials (much like Sunday sermons) so this isn't for me either.
I watch old sitcoms-I need a narrative, something cheerful, something short. I wish there was a channel that always had an old sitcom on at 2:00. Maybe Sports Night or Frasier or The Larry Sanders Show.
What do you watch at 2:00 am?