Saturday, April 30, 2011

The American Way

This is how bizarre our world has become, when even the comic books understand American foreign policy, while the leaders of the country do not get it.

In case you're wondering about this, the folks responsible for the Superman Action comic are having his character renounce his American citizenship. Yes, the symbol of American strength since the 1930's now understands that we're not the Good Guys anymore.

Here's why-- Good Guys do NOT break the law and systemically torture, kill, and falsely imprison innocent people, which is what our government now openly does, in defiance of human rights laws and the laws of our nation. Our leaders have become war criminals, and are openly operating as the Bad Guys.

To the rest of the world, over 6.5 billion of them, we have become the psychotic bully of the planet, stomping on anyone, for any reason. We'll drop a "smart bomb" into a wedding party of innocent people, and make a whole new crop of enemies out of their surviving families and loved ones. Can you blame them? Would you forgive a foreign government that carelessly killed and maimed your family?

For every enemy we kill, more are created. This lunacy had better stop soon. If we don't do something to stop the criminal actions of our leaders, we're headed for destruction.

Truth, Justice, and The American Way.
Superman might still stand for Truth and Justice, but since The American Way now stands for indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, he isn't going to be part of it. What does it say about us as a people when comic book heroes get it, but we don't?

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Podcast

Well, the folks at Every Day Fiction liked my reading of Heartsounds, so they've accepted it and they'll post it as a podcast on May 2.

Cool- it's my first. Certainly I'd like to do more. Hmm, now there's an idea. When my story collection is up for sale, a free audio file...

Ebooks, audio, social media for promotion-- the writing world has changed from a lone person writing a book and sending it off for others to determine if it's good enough to publish. As I was telling someone today, it's a great time to be a writer!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Audio Work

Been another busy day. First, I recorded my flash story "Heartsounds" for the Every Day Fiction site, because they post podcasts of stories published there. Will let you know if they accept it and put it up.

That went so well, I also recorded the first chapter of my soon-to-be-released mystery novel, A Memory of Grief. Sent that off to my sound mixer, to see if he can get top-notch quality. When we've got something good, I'll post it up on my website for you to sample.

Some people don't have time to read, so they get MP3 files and listen to them anywhere. It's a great idea, and adds to the experience.

Debbi Mack has her mystery, "Identity Crisis" out in audio book format, so if you like the sound of mysteries, check it out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Story

Well, after working all day, have finally finished the new story I was writing, putting in about another 2500 words. Whew! But it's a good one, well worth the time spent on it. Am very pleased with how it turned out.

This one had a deadline, because I've submitted it as an entry for the Al Blanchard Award, run by the folks at CrimeBake, and the contest entries end next Saturday.

I actually met Al before he passed away, and he was a hardworking mystery writer who was starting to make a name for himself. His passing leaves an emptiness in the writing world, and the award is a good way to honor him.

This was a goal I'd set for this month, and am quite happy to have done it. That's the second finished story this month, over 8500 words, well over 10% of a good-length novel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Humor Sale

Spent awhile yesterday sending out submissions, and it paid off quickly-- just sold another short humor piece, this one to Eric's Hysterics. This is an interesting "market." It's actually a guy's blog, but he's listed as a legit market, and he pays, out of his own pocket. Publishes one funny thing each Monday, on the premise that we should start the week off with a laugh. Good for him.

Here's the new way of doing things. Someone provides a regular value print or online mag, or in this case, a blog, and gets contributors at a bargain rate. People submit via email, and as it's a one-person show, he got back to me within 24 hours, resulting in another sale. Cool.

It's why I have no patience for the many places that take weeks, or even months, to respond to a submission. Sure they get a lot, but limit your submission periods, and only reopen when you've got through the pile. Duh. Nope, some just put out the word and get overwhelmed, then a story sits in limbo for far too long. Then they send out a "we're too busy, and we lost/threw out/gave up" and you've wasted too long on them. And yeah, this includes the "pro" markets, who are often the worst offenders.

So I support the little guys, if they make an effort. Win-win all around.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie Review- Hanna

Okay, this is a toughie. We left the theater wondering what we'd just seen. Was it an awful mess of a mashup, or a much smarter, sleeker, subversive film that should really make you think? Tell you the truth, I'm still not sure. My 13-year old daughter has eloquently defended much of the confusion of the movie as deliberate, to show character frames of reference. Feral child, paranoid dad, obsessive-psycho baddie lady. Hmm. As the movie is about the confused coming-of-age of a lethal child prodigy, there may well be something there. I was going to trash it as an out-of-control failed experiment, but I think it's much more.

It's difficult to think of the director knowing what they're doing, when a movie seems way out of control. But it's possible. This is being advertised as a Hollywood-style big budget action flick, but it should really have been shown in arthouses and indie festivals. Having a foot in both worlds, however, gets it welcomed in neither.

What should we think of a film that mixes elements of a dozen different types of movies, Fellini symbolism, fairy tales, a coming-of-age story, a revenge/action flick, a big government-psycho-genetic-experiment-gone-wrong thriller, and a director enamored of long, slow pans and extended, lingering shots of unchanging facial expressions?

My first thought was that it's another of the current horrible trends of moviemaking-- throw everything against the wall, in the hopes something will stick.

While moviegoers don't need everything spelled out for them and wrapped up at the end, should they all leave the theater scratching their heads in complete baffled puzzlement? The big problem- so much of the time it seems the filmmakers didn't know what kind of movie they were making. So it looks like they threw everything in the blender and hoped for the best. That's why I reacted with scorn- that kind of moviemaking is crap, it's sloppy, and it's lazy.

The director loves the film Run, Lola, Run, and he replicates that, showing people in open-handed sprints to pounding techno music. Okay, you want that to illustrate your point, but there's too much of it.

Nice hommage references to the 30's German movie 'M', as the psycho assassin stalks the child. But there are too many references to bits and pieces of other, better things. Characters and settings seem like leftovers from other movies. People are paraded across the stage with an interesting quirk or two, and then we dash off to something else. We jump and juke from one disjointed image to the next, in a story version of ADD. Is it because there is no control, or is that really the point?

At first I thought it was like a failed Saturday Night Live skit, where the bong-hits produced an interesting idea that didn't go anywhere, and went on too long.

Now I'm re-evaluating, and that in itself is good. I like movies that make me think, while many people say they don't. The case can be made either way for this one- confusing, pretty mess, or pointed, arthouse barb in disguise?

They do present it as a fairy tale, and in fairy tales magic happens; things do not have to believable, or rational. If I look on it like that, the movie makes better sense.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Television Appearance

Today, had a fun afternoon, appearing at the Bedford public TV station to record a show. It was a panel on education, with moderator Valerie Rushanan, an education blogger. We also had a top-flight teacher, and an education expert. What was I doing on this august panel? Representing the viewpoint of the concerned parent, and the voice of the kids.

We were there to discuss the standardized testing so prevalent and critical in our school systems. Is it of value? Do we put too much emphasis on it? What information does it give us? Is there anything else we could do in place of it?

So it was a good exchange of information, but we were not able to solve all the ills of our school system. Would be worth watching, though, as a starting point. Will let you know when it is available for watching.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The online Haiku Journal

For those who really love haiku, I got a few of mine published in the online Haiku Journal (

The issue is available in a paperback version:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Busy Time

It was a wicked busy 36 hours from Sunday night to this morning. Did all of the following writing stuff:

--Finished a new, 5000-word story and submitted to a top market.

--They declined to publish it, but rejected with a personal note, saying it was "well-written." So off to the next market, Weird Tales, since I'm in a current anthology (Fungi) with two of their alums, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft. Wish me luck!

--The pump fully primed, started work on another story that was just a title and a few bad lines. Put down 1000 words on a good one. This is #3 of a big project, a specialized collection of stories based on paintings by Edward Hopper. The first two have been published, Nighthawks and Bootleggers (currently in the latest Short-Story.Me! anthology).

--Got an invitation to my first author event! Pro writer David Daniel has proposed a few of us in Fungi gather at A Novel Cafe in Tewksbury for a talk and signing. Would love to have a nice crowd for this one. Will let you know details as they develop.

--Realized that my flash story "Heartsounds" on the Every Day Fiction site would make a great audio that I can record and post there. This is one of the top ten stories on the site, and might get more readers with an audio.

--There are online book sites, where readers post their reads and reviews. I don't know which one to join, though: Goodreads, Library Thing, Shelfari, Anobii, etc. Help!

--Another blog entry and more research and emails to and from my publisher.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Phew! Just finished the new story I've been working on. Haven't had a new one since before the New Year, so it's long overdue.

This was a tough one, too, as I had the merest whisper of an idea when I started:

A guy is driving, and stops at a roadside place.

Something weird happens.

That was it. So I began.

"Guy had been on the road for days, and felt crumbled around the edges. Running away wasn't easy, because at some point, you had to stop, and the horrors that you were running from had time to catch up."

Pretty good, I thought. So I commenced to laying it down, line-by-line, until it began to have a shape. And I kept adding bits that came along, and the shape resembled a storyline. After a long while, I had the end in sight, and was able to bring everything together. Usually, I have much more of an idea of where a story is going.

So it's good, and one of my longer short stories, at 5000 words. Off it went for the first submission, all raw and bleeding. But first there was fixing the maddening format issues. (Anyone hate the new version of Word as much as I do?)

So many things came up as blockers, I was getting the idea that Fate was trying to prevent the story from being finished. But being a working writer is refusing to accept defeat, and I ground my teeth, lowered my head, and kept at it, until it was off and well submitted. Damn tough slog, but I have another good work in the queue. And that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great Compliment

Recently received a terrific compliment from the popular and successful mystery writer Debbi Mack, author of two great novels, Least Wanted and Identity Crisis. She introduced her readers to a working writer-- me!

She pointed out that all my recent publication successes have been the result of a lot of hard work, and that's what writers need to do-- write good stuff, and keep submitting it until it sells. It means a lot for someone of this caliber to recognize the amount of effort being commensurate with the success rate. Weeknights after work, I'm writing. Weekends when millions are sitting watching "the game," I'm writing. Holidays, I try to get something written, and succeed some of the time. Sure, I miss a lot of crappy TV shows, but last year I got more stories published than all the years before. There's a snowball effect, where you keep pushing, and once the breakthrough happens, the momentum keeps you going.

There are talented writers with incomplete novels sitting in a drawer. That does no one any good. My first novel is going to be out soon, and more right behind it. I, for one, embrace the ebook revolution, because it's spurred me to forego the "Big Six" publishers in favor of a small startup publisher, Briona Glen. Within about ten days, I'll have the link up to buy A Memory of Grief, my first novel. So stay tuned!

I'd like to write more, but gotta get back to work... ;-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reposting Political Sunday

Hadn't meant to get all political and be a downer. It's actually been a good day, as my 13-year-old daughter cleaned up at her first Kempo karate tournament. She won first place in all three events she entered, over a good Brown Belt each time.

I was trolling my social media sites, and people had posted such good links, I had to share.

This first is where Thom Hartmann gives us a much-need history lesson, explaining how the Real, Actual, Boston Tea Party was a protest by the common man against a giant obscene corporation. A real eye-opener:

Second is a columnist who gives us the hard news that we're in the tough economic situation we're in because we really didn't work very hard to avoid it. Tough stuff, but true:

Lastly, this should show you what you need to know about the modern corporation and how little they care about human life or anything apart from profit. Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, awarded millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives after “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” according to an annual report and proxy statement released yesterday. Eleven people were killed, including nine Transocean employees, in the April 20 explosion and collapse of the rig, which gushed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days.