Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Once again I will refrain from ranting, to wish you all a happy, safe, prosperous New Year.

Each year I make resolutions to do certain things better, to shed bad habits and acquire new ones. I also set goals for the new year, and plan steps to achieve them. Change for the better starts with us. Let's make it a better world this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

No politics, no rants, no information, just a wish that you and yours enjoy the holidays, and that there may be peace on earth with goodwill to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TV in the Modern Age

Here's a great idea for a new television show. Given the state of television these days, it's sure to be a hit! Remember, I get credit when it's developed.

It's called "Get Shot or get Shown", and each week features a different pair of contestants, two C-list celebrities, who are desperate to revive their pitiful career. They are handcuffed together, and must outrun a celebrity team of trackers, made up of Dog, the Bounty Hunter, Tyra Banks, who offers fashion tips, Anthony Bourdain, who whips up tasty trail meals (how to cook a lizard on the run), and Cesar, the Dog Whisperer, who handles the bloodhounds.

The handcuffed celebs must complete certain tasks and keep moving. If the trackers catch them, they get to shoot one, chosen by audience voting. The survivor must drag the body to the next checkpoint, whereupon they win, and are seen next season in their own show.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

American values

Here's a post on his feelings for this country from Dan Simmons (, who, as a writing demigod, naturally says it better than I could:

"I said earlier that I loved the United States of America, but that’s a bifurcated love – one part of it for the physical places and people I’ve known, the other – deeper love – for the ideas upon which America was established and which so many have sacrificed to maintain for more than two centuries now. Those ideas and ideals – the primacy of individual human liberty over the power of any state or aristocracy, the attempt to provide real equal opportunity for all people, the need for real freedom to choose so many things including one’s religion (or lack of) – all expressed in the Declaration of Independence, in the U.S. Constitution, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and in other indelible statements and actions -- are what make me love the United States. As interesting as other nations are in their diverse ways, I’ve found no other nation on earth that was established to create, and which continues to embody, a set of universal principles of human freedom and opportunity and dignity the way the United States does."

What he said. Which is why I've been so unhappy with the "leadership" of this country for such a long time. Instead of being what we should be, a shining beacon of reason, justice and freedom for everyone, we now torture, kill, and destroy in places where we have no business being. It offends decency. It is shameful. We need to take our country back from the ugly powermongers who have hijacked it, and have those at the top represent the wishes of the people, instead of their backroom moneyed agendas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stephen King Generosity

Having studied writing with Stephen King, I can attest to what a generous and helpful person he is. He and his wife Tabitha have been very good for the Bangor area of Maine, supplying a top-notch Little League field and equipment, and they have done fundraising for the Bangor Library.

Recent news shows there are now many others who know of the King family generosity. The Kings just donated $13,000 to pay for transportation to allow service personnel to return to Maine for Christmas and visit with their families before they are deployed overseas.

Do you know of any of the multi-millionaires in the Congress or Senate who are doing something similar? Probably not. The politicians know how to send people off to get shot at, but it takes a true humanitarian to do a kindly human thing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad Writing

So I've had a stack of recommended books to get through, and recently tackled them. Wow. If that's the state of publishing, no wonder they're hurting. In book after book, the writing was amateurish and lazy and plain bad. I was appalled.

When I read a novel, I desire some measure of empathy with one or more characters, a plot that doesn't make me roll my eyes at stupid actions and impossibilities, and a minimum writing level that shows the author has spent some time learning their craft, and had an editor that keeps them from egregious mistakes.

Hey, I'm guilty of crappy writing sections in my early drafts. I take it to the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, and they point out the stupid stuff, the cliches, the patches of lazy writing where I shorthanded a section to "get to the good stuff". So I rewrite and try again, as many times as necessary until the rough edges are smoothed out. Then it goes to even harder editors, who rip apart anything that doesn't work with withering scorn. It's a very humbling, ego-smashing, painful experience, and a necessary one for real writers. It's why I don't have patience for wannabes who won't do the hard work it takes to make things good.

But if you survive all that criticism, by the time you get done, you've got something that doesn't suck. I'm not great, but sometimes I get out stuff that's pretty good, and once in awhile get a really great reaction to something I've written. Even on my stories that get turned down by editors, many of them are taking the time to write personal notes saying how good the writing is, with a request for me to send more. That, dear readers, is a professional accolade.

So-- I read the first book on my list-- a great idea, good atmosphere, but it just fizzled and left me feeling like it was a short story the guy couldn't finish.

Second Book-- Great idea, Dan Brown-style thriller, but lousy, Dan Brown-style writing: flat dialogue, hyperactive viewpoints, awful cliches, impossible coincidences, and characters who do utterly stupid things for no reason. A shame, really, because with a basic level of good writing, this could have been a real book.

Third Book-- The author mentioned she'd got her dream editor to work on the book, so I had hopes. The premise was exciting. But after eye rolls and tsks of disgust, I tossed the book aside before ten pages were done. Full of stereotypes, like a bad TV script. Most college freshmen could turn out a better page. This had a good editor and was still a piece of crap!

Fourth Book-- A mystery, but one of those with a premise so very cute and twee. I flung (past tense- flanged?) it aside. Please give me characters from this plane of existence, who resemble real human beings! I wanted real meat, and got a plastic egg.

Fifth Book- At last, a real novel to sink your teeth into: Double Exposure, by Michael Lister. Yowza- I recommend it. Full disclosure here- this book was published by Tyrus Books, who I've trusted with a sample of my novel. Even if they don't want my novel, they're committed to excellence, and it shows.

It took me five books to find one worthwhile. Not a good ratio. Is it too much to ask that writers do their damn job? These books are selling on concept, a pitch, like a Hollywood movie. But the execution is amateurishly bad. Most of these books wouldn't pass muster in my writing group, let alone for professional purposes.

So what are your recent reads that stand out as really good?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another sale!

Great news from the editor of Kasma Magazine. They like my short story "God Save the Queen" and will be publishing it in the Spring. They're a new market, and have a great look on their website. Give them a look at

This puts me on a writing high, as my story "Rummy" just came out in House of Horror online. It spurred me to finish another story, which I sent off to my private editor, who will tear it to pieces. If there's anything good left, I'll revise it and get that one in the submission rounds.

Remember that abusive commenter I told you about, who said I wasn't really a writer? Well, for a guy who's not a writer, I sure do get a lot of work published...

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Stories

One of the best benefits for success in me in getting published is that it spurs me to do more. I've got a set of stories that make the rounds, and when one gets published, hey, by all rights I should replace it. Since my latest is out, at House of Horror, time to get another one ready to go. Especially since another editor sent me a nice note saying he liked the story I sent him. So there might be another sale soon! Yay!

So I've finally got the ending for this story of mine that's been kicking around a long while. On several occasions I did some work on it and set it aside, because I couldn't come up with a good ending. I find I just can't force stories out, they come out when they're ready. This dang one took years. So today I got to thinking about getting something done, and I finally have a way to wrap it up. So there's work to do.

Have to get busy, because after the Crime Bake convention, I got a killer idea for another mystery series. So much work to do, but it's all good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Latest Story out- House of Horror

Happy December! In tune with the grim economic news comes my latest story, a tale that echoes the job-loss fears of many. I wrote this awhile back, but now it seems prescient in light of the current conditions.
Enjoy the latest issue of House of Horror Magazine: