When Characters Write Themselves
If you’ve read any of my fiction, you know I have a soft spot for quirky characters–the kind we used to call half a bubble off plum or a couple of bricks shy of a load. These are the most fun to write and perhaps the most instructive, not that anyone is reading my stuff to achieve enlightenment.
I Speedster I have two favorites, Dwayne and T-Ball, a couple of neon-haired slackers who spend their days complaining about the fundamental unfairness of their lives and trying at the same time to achieve fairly lofty goals without putting in any effort. Much like real life, the smarter one, T-Ball, is continually over-ridden by the loud one, Dwayne, whose loutish ignorance is exceeded only by his abiding self-confidence. I imagine that T-Ball’s daily trials are very similar to those of the current crop of staffers and hanger’s on in the White House. I can sympathize. Continue reading
Weapons of Choice
I just switched cable companies, and am saving enough money on my monthly bill to subscribe to HBO again. I haven’t had HBO for several years and was woefully behind on Game of Thrones. Now I’m bingeing on season four, which as you may know, contains a lot of defining moments. My favorite by far is the death of King Joffrey at his wedding.
As TV deaths go, it was pretty satisfying. Not perfect, mind you. I would have made it bloodier, more painful, and longer. Let’s face it, the little shit had it coming. Still, it was good enough to get me thinking about how I kill characters in my books. Continue reading
Navigating a Tragic Love Life
I’ve been stood up more than my fair share of times. I don’t know why this should be, but my stats are undeniable.
This all started when I was in high school more than half a century ago. I arranged a date with a cute little slip of a blond from the neighboring village of St. Henry, Ohio. I had in common with the girl, whose name is long lost to history, that we both played saxophone in our respective high-school marching bands.
It was my first bona fide date in the sense that I’d manned up through my own force of will, asked her out in a straightforward manner without the usual teenage machinations and guile, and she had accepted in spite of already knowing what I looked like, an obvious fact to me since I was standing in front of her when she said yes. It was a pretty satisfying experience up to this point. Continue reading
Why is ‘Get a Job’ not a useful thing to say to a homeless person? If you don’t already know the answer, you are part of the problem.
Homeless and unsheltered folk are resourceful, and they work hard at maintaining some semblance of dignity and self reliance. If you think it’s easy, you’re mistaken. If you think not working is some kind of picnic, you are deluded.
Here’s a pretty good look at what it’s like in Fairfax County, VA – one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S.
My homeless characters in A Cup of Pending have it better than these plucky Virginians living in their cars, but my story is funny, even when it makes a point. The Washington Post article is reality. It is the point. It’s one of the points of Cuppa. It’s not very funny.
The Book Review: Bane or Boon?
I’ve been looking for book bloggers and reviewers to give me objective reviews of A Cup of Pending. Reviews are a numbers game for indie authors like me – the more reviews and ratings we get, the more readers we are likely to attract. It’s a snowball effect. It’s the on-line equivalent of word of mouth recommendations.
To this end, I have been trolling review groups on Goodreads. You’d think this would be a fairly straightforward process: find a post by a potential reviewer looking for books to read, reach out, and, if they’re interested, send them a book. There’s more to this than meets the eye, however. For example, you probably don’t want to send your military action adventure story to a millennial fan of paranormal romance. You are not likely to find an open mind in such an exchange. Of course, the reverse is also true.
With this in mind, I try to vet potential reviewers before I approach them. It just makes sense to get a sense of the kind of treatment I can expect before I put the future of my life’s work into someone else’s hands. Frankly, I have been stymied by this process. Continue reading
Jeeves and Wooster
I’ve been binge watching Jeeves and Wooster on Acorn. It’s a BBC series based on the P.G. Wodehouse stories about Bertie Wooster, erstwhile English gentleman of leisure, and his manservant, Jeeves. To my thinking, this is excellent television. All TV ought to be this good.
It helps, I suppose, that the series stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. Both established their comedic chops in this series, which originally aired from 1990-1993, and went on to achieve modest fame and acclaim in quite a lot of subsequent offerings.
Personally, I can’t get enough of this sort of thing. The theme music alone is enough to keep me coming back for more. The lines are hilarious, and they’re delivered with droll aplomb, especially by Fry. If that weren’t enough the cars are fabulous, the tailoring impeccable, and, if you watch carefully, you will see the debut television appearance of Highclere Castle, better known of late as Downton Abbey. Continue reading
Coming to Grips with Poverty
I have rather a lot to say about poverty and homelessness in Cuppa. Some would probably say, too much, while others, not enough. Depends where they fall on the spectrum of wealth distribution.
Fun Fact: most of us are a lot lower on the scale than we imagine.
I know that I personally am a lot lower than I used to be, and the precipitous slide has prompted me to give up my Voldemort Republicanism for something more egalitarian and charitable. That’s just me, though, everyone reacts according to their own particular sensibilities and beliefs. Continue reading
We All Judge a Book by Its Cover!
I’m fooling around with a new cover concept for A Cup of Pending. I don’t see any other authors doing this for books they’ve already released, but I figure if it needs fixing, it needs fixing. I’m not sure that mine does need fixing actually, but I’m at that awkward stage where I second guess every decision regarding the book because that’s just my nature. Writing is a lonely occupation, fraught with peril for those lacking supreme confidence or a fully developed sense of entitlement.
I’ve heard that something like 67% of readers buy books based on the cover. They do this in spite of the ancient advice against it. It seems to be a natural inclination. I figure most of the rest of the people buying books are personal friends and family of the author. It pays, in other words, to have the best cover imaginable at any given time. Continue reading
Do Long-suffering Bastards Write Better than Happy Schmucks?
I don’t write or post much about the craft of writing for several reasons:
- There are as many ways to write as there are writers, and we all have to develop the process that works for us. What works for me will probably not be useful for you, and vice versa.
- So much has already been said about the subject, a great deal of it from really good writers, that I can’t imagine I have very much to add to the subject.
- I have an abiding belief that writers, good ones at least, are born rather than made. William Faulkner agrees. (See below.) Any tips that I might offer would be contrary to this belief, and, to the extent they looked like encouragement, would seduce those not born to the art to pour still more dreck into the growing flood in which I have to compete for attention. I’m just not interested.