Monday, February 28, 2005

More Than One Trick

I started this month with a story submission to Raven Electrick. Having spent most of the month revising and placing the story elsewhere, I had three days to send Raven something new by today's submission deadline.

With Raven's 1,000-word limit, crafting a new sci-fi story was possible, but then I thought Why not a poem? I've been meaning to get back to poems.

I remembered a sci-fi-ish poem I'd written in grad school. I pared that down and built it up until I was happy with its message. We'll see if I get into Raven with a poem, or as Captain Sulu said in STAR TREK VI, "Now we've given them something else to shoot at."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Blahs

I've never had much interest in the Academy Awards because, as with the latest hardcovers, I'm perennially behind at the movies. Those I do see in theaters usually engage me on some level I don't even know exists until it's tapped. There you have it. Bo-ring.

Favor for a Robert B. Parker Fan

Not just any Parker fan, but Bob Ames, proprietor of the vast and friendly Bullets & Beer Spenser Homepage. An engineer on the overnight shift, Bob missed last week's airing of STONE COLD.

Bob doesn't watch enough television to warrant a cable subscription, and with his regular antenna, he can't make a tape without multiple dropouts. If you are willing and able to make a clear copy of the movie for Bob, contact him via the Bullets & Beer site.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"The Carrier" Has Docked

Editor Matt DiGangi has accepted my speculative fiction piece "The Carrier" for a future issue of Thieves Jargon. Details as they arrive.

For now, I thank Pat Lambe for introducing me to the market, Dave White for reading various drafts, and Matt, whose feedback helped me flesh out the characters.

Friday, February 25, 2005

What I Want From Writing

Megan Powell blogged:
Michael Bracken reflects on the question of which is better: a good living in obscurity or greater exposure with less of a monetary payoff. He approaches the question as a working freelance writer, an arrangement that would terrify me. I’m not certain I want to know how I’d perform under that much pressure; I’m not at all sure I could cut it, and I don’t know if writing would be as fulfilling for me. Currently it’s just one of those things I do…because it’s one of the things I do. I send work out for publication, I receive feedback, but my habits don’t have to be that much different from what they’d be in a vacuum. Nothing more than my personal enjoyment is riding on my writing. Fame versus money is a moot question. Neither is the goal per se, and neither is likely to be forthcoming any time soon...(read full post)

I commented:

Fame is less important to me than producing the best work I can. I would write for myself, but I prefer to write for money or placement in notable journals. Getting something in return for my effort somehow completes the process of writing. Where once it sufficed that I got stories and poems out, I now need to get them out to an audience. The wider the audience, the better. Ideally I would like to write stuff that complete strangers enjoy.

I’m trying to separate the desire for an expanding audience—the desire to develop my talents—from the desire for fame. Maybe the two go hand in hand. If fame is a byproduct of developing my talents, I’m fine with that. On the other hand, I’d also be happy to make a living teaching creative writing.

IMDb: Affleck Takes Massive Pay Cut

Hollywood star Ben Affleck has waived his usual multi-million dollar fee to play actor George Reeves in a desperate bid to regain critical acclaim and box office success. The struggling actor's last four films - Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas - all flopped, but he hopes playing the Superman star in Truth, Justice And The American Way, who was mysteriously shot dead in Beverly Hills in 1959, will impress audiences and revive his flagging career. And Affleck is so convinced the fact-based drama is the perfect project for him at this juncture of his life, he's taken a massive pay cut - and will only earn $2.8 million. Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody co-stars in the upcoming film as a detective investigating Reeves' death. The movie is scheduled to begin filming this summer.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thrilling Submission Deadlines and Pay Raise

Thrilling Detective publishes four issues of original short private detective fiction four times a year (Spring, Summer, Fall, Holidays).

The new submission deadlines are

Spring Issue: January 15 for publication sometime in March

Summer Issue: April 15 for publication sometime in July

Fall Issue: July 15 for publication sometime in September

Holiday Issue (which also includes the End-of-Year Cheap Thrill Awards): October 15 for publication sometime in December

We are also looking for excerpts from upcoming private eye novels and reviews of books of interest to our readers.

If you are interested in submitting a short story for consideration, please contact Fiction Editor Gerald So at the e-mail address in the sidebar.

For excerpts and reviews or advertising enquiries, please contact Kevin Burton Smith at

For submission guidelines, please go to

Read a few of our stories to get a sense of our editorial tastes.

This just in: We've increased Thrilling's pay rate for short stories from 7.50 to 10.00 USD]

Solid Ratings for STONE COLD

From the New York Post Online Edition:
February 23, 2005 -- TOM Selleck may be headed back to TV on a regular basis.

CBS' sleuthing movie of the week, "Stone Cold," drew so many viewers against ABC's Sunday night monster hit "Desperate Housewives" that network officials smell a series — or at least a movie franchise.

More than 18 million tuned in last Sunday for the film, which starred Selleck as a gruff, troubled, small-town Massachusetts police chief — with a drinking problem and an attachment to his ex-wife — suddenly faced with a string of murders to solve...
(read full story by Don Kaplan)

In a recent appearance on TV's Good Day Live, Selleck said an hourlong weekly series would take away too much of his family time, but a series of TV movies would appeal to him.

Thanks to Sarah Weinman for the link.

"...They See Your Every Move."

From IMDb:
The Eye Hires a Private Eye

Besides hiring the services of the high-profile former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press chief Louis Boccardi to investigate 60 Minutes' now-discredited report about President Bush's National guard service, CBS hired a private detective to try to track down the source of the questioned documents that formed the basis for the report, the New York Observer reported today (Thursday). The investigator, Erik T. Rigler, a former FBI agent, was unable to do so, the Observer said, running into a dead end with Bill Burkett, the man who had provided the documents to the show's producer, Mary Mapes. CBS confirmed that it had hired Rigler, telling the publication: "To this day, the basic questions about the documents have not been answered, but we remain hopeful that, one day, they will be." The article indicated that while Rigler did not produce a report about the source of the memos, he did provide the network with a report about Mapes, much of it related to her personal life. Commented the Observer: "The fact that CBS had a private investigator looking into its own employee suggests that well before the panel issued any findings, network management had begun to shift its focus away from solving the mystery behind the documents and toward placing the blame for the decision to air the segment."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 On the Set of Serenity's Kate O'Hare profiles the journey of Joss Whedon's Firefly profiles the journey of Joss Whedon's Firefly from short-lived TV series to possible movie trilogy.

Iwo Jima

Today is the 60th anniversary of the U.S. flag-raising on Iwo Jima, site of the Marines' bloodiest and most valorous battle, as commemorated by Joe Rosenthal's famous photo.

I have long respected the U.S. military and its ideal of service above self. I was proud to research and get into the character of a returning Marine for my story "Home".

One Day at a Time

Bertinelli Then

Bertinelli Now

CBS aired the 20-year One Day at a Time reunion last night. Usually the first thing one notices about reunions is how much everyone has aged. Aside from a white-haired Pat Harrington, everyone looks about the same.

One Day at a Time was to me one of the most genuine portrayals of parenting and sibling rivalry. Perhaps not the best example herself, Ann Romano was believable when she was strict and when she was vulnerable.

Valerie Bertinelli is one of few actors who grew up in front of the cameras, who married a rock star, but kept her wits about her. What more can you ask?

Ben Affleck as George Reeves

Lee Goldberg blogged that Ben Affleck has signed to play former Superman actor George Reeves in a film called TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Good News All Around

Several bloggers in my starting lineup scored notable stories in storySouth's Millon Writers Award competition.

Megan Powell had two stories nommed from Shred of Evidence.

Duane Swierczynski did Plots with Guns proud with "Hilly Palmer's Last Case".

Sarah Weinman's Hardluck story, "Keely Sings the Blues" got a nod.

Dave White has two chances to advance with the Jackson Donne story "God's Dice", published at Thrilling Detective, and the standalone "Down By the River" at SHOTS.

Congrats, all.

Fabulous Prizes!

Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai e-mailed yesterday, informing me I'd won an advanced reading copy of 361 by Donald E. Westlake.

Hard Case's reprint, due in May, will be the book's first U.S. paperback release. Stay tuned for my review of the book.

Meanwhile you can read a transcript of DetecToday's chat with Charles, and visit Hard Case's website to join their mailing list and be in on the next prize drawing.

And I Missed It

Roosevelt's own "Dr. J" Julius Erving turns 55 today. Wouldn'tcha know I skipped watching the NBA dunk contest this year, the year it rebounded—missing Amare Stoundamire's catch-and-slam off Steve Nash's head and Atlanta Hawk Josh Smith's 360 dunk in a Dominique jersey.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Can't Hardly Wait (But You Can't Hurry Love)

Love Hewitt in CAN'T HARDLY WAIT

Jennifer Love Hewitt turns 26 today, but my mind can't age her past 19. Coincidentally she was 19 when she filmed the high school graduation party flick CAN'T HARDLY WAIT (1998). The movie skews a little young for me, but what the heck, I like the story:

Aspiring writer Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) has had a crush on Amanda Beckett (Love Hewitt) since she transferred to Huntington Hills High as a freshman. Just before graduation, Amanda's longtime boyfriend, jock Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli), dumps her to free himself up for college babes. Preston sees a graduation party as his chance to deliver a love letter to Amanda that he's been perfecting for four years.

In an unfortunate concidence, Preston makes his big move just after Amanda's cousin has hit on her. Fed up, Amanda lashes out at Preston, figuring he's just another player. Preston throws his letter in the trash and leaves the party, driving around, reassessing his priorities.

While Amanda sits alone at the party, Preston's letter is improbably tossed about as the guests come and go, and it ends up right in front of her. She reads it, then looks up his picture in someone's yearbook. Realizing what she's done, she leaves the party in search of Preston.

The next day, Preston is at the train station, leaving for a workshop in Boston taught by Kurt Vonnegut, when Amanda finds him. Everything works out, and according to the epilogue, they are still together.

A fairy tale for sure, but we enjoy fiction largely because what we want to happen happens. The longer it is placed in doubt (without turning us completely off) the more satisfying success becomes.

I like this movie because, no matter the ages of its stars, everyone watching has known the intensity of a school crush. I enjoy the Taming of the Shrew update TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU for similar reasons.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cindy Crawford. What's Not to Like?

Cindy Crawford turns 39 today, and I visited her official website to see what she's been up to lately.

From her "Who I Am" page -

Here's what you don't see in the pictures:

I always knew I wanted a family. I love being a mom even more than I thought I would.

I'm not a party girl.

I wake up early.

I go to "Mommy and Me," and the supermarket and the playground.

I love to read - mostly fiction.

I hardly ever look at fashion magazines.

I'm not bad at bowling - I actually had it in high school gym class.

My husband thinks I'm a good cook.

My favorite vacations combine beach and family.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I know how lucky I've been.

STONE COLD First Reactions

I thought it was fine, probably the best quality of any Parker movie to date. I might have been more surprised if I hadn't read the book, but even so, there were enough changes to the wrap-up to keep me watching.

I also believe this is the best cast of actors Parker has ever been fortunate to have, and the movie as a whole is an example of what can be done when a novelist leaves actors, screenwriters, and directors alone.

Selleck's presence itself gave Jesse Stone credibility and rooting interest he may not have had otherwise.

Selleck did a spate of interviews leading up to the movie's premiere, including one with Zap2it in which he mentions:

Around 1982, I was supposed to do a "Spenser" feature film. That was before my pal Robert Urich did the character so admirably in the TV series. I was going to do a movie from the book "Early Autumn," but it didn't work out because the director fell through and I only had three months of availability because I was doing "Magnum."

Hmm, what might've been.

Let's Think of Something To Do While We're Waiting

I could have frittered this Sunday away in anticipation of the NBA All-Star game and STONE COLD. Instead, I polished my rewrite of a sci-fi story and submitted it to Thieves Jargon.

I'm going to read up and write some new poems next, but that can wait for tomorrow. Ten minutes to movie time...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Midseason NBA Interest

I'm showing the least interest in the NBA this season. Maybe it's because the Knicks and Nets show very little sign of doing well. Maybe it's because more of the names I know (Reggie Miller, Karl Malone) are retiring.

The NBA's All-Star Weekend used to be a hotly-anticipated event for me. This year, I'm more enthused about the movie of Robert Parker's STONE COLD Sunday night at 9. I don't know that the NBA season is too long, but there are definitely too many playoff spots. Sixteen of the league's twenty-nine teams make the playoffs.

The one thing I'd been waiting to see—LeBron James in the slam dunk contest—will not happen.

AP: USS Jimmy Carter to Be Commissioned

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

GROTON, Conn. - The USS Jimmy Carter enters the Navy's fleet as the most heavily armed submarine ever built, and as the last of the Seawolf class of attack subs that the Pentagon ordered during the Cold War's final years.

Friday, February 18, 2005

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Rejection?

Thankfully I'm never short of song lyrics.

Of course I'd rather be reporting on writing success after writing success, but if nothing else, rejection slips tell me I tried.

My latest rejection is from a poetry zine I've submitted to four times. This time the editor wrote that a lot of people were making it into another zine—one that's rejected my work twice.

Poetry, non-sappy poetry, doesn't come as easily to me as prose. That said, my first print credit was a poem. I'm not about to turn my back on verse, but there is a point when I have to take a hint; stop hounding one market and try another.

In more positive news, Thieves Jargon is interested in a rewrite of my sci-fi story. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

THE FORGOTTEN MAN the title of Robert Crais's latest Elvis Cole novel, out yesterday. Though her comments are cleverly cryptic, Sarah Weinman seems to have had the same reaction to it that I have to most Spensers these days. The books somehow don't live up to the reputation built up in a fan's mind for the writer. As Parker was an early draw for me, Crais was for Sarah. Readers remember their first experiences with an awe that sometimes isn't there on rereading.

What stood out most to me in the early Cole novels was Elvis's specific brand of humor, his obsession with Disney memorabilia coupled with serving in Vietnam at nineteen—the clash of innocence and experience that was his inner conflict. At first reminding a lot of readers of Parker, Crais seemed willing to cover more emotinal ground in fewer books, for instance making Joe Pike not as silent a partner as Hawk.

L.A. REQUIEM was Crais's breakout book wherein he stepped out of the classic first-person PI mold, but since then all his books have been on the epic, multi-POV, cinematic scale. I'm not sure every story fit this scale. For one thing, the shift prevented Crais from carrying readers along on the strength of Cole's familiar voice. Was this a positive writing challenge or a bad move? I know I've lost some of the feel I had for Elvis's character, and I'd like it back.

Finally I wonder how Crais would have been received had he returned to first-person after L.A. REQUIEM. Would readers have seen that as a regression?

On a paperback budget, I probably won't get to THE FORGOTTEN MAN until next year. We'll see what I think then.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Thrilling FALCON Tribute Issue

Editor Kevin Burton Smith burned the midnight oil to present Thrilling Detective's MALTESE FALCON tribute issue on the book's 75th anniversary. We've got a bundle of FALCON-related items and original stories from Mark Best, Christopher Gooch, and Stephen D. Rogers. Enjoy and send feedback.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Now Hear This: "Soft Sell" MP3

Over the weekend I recorded an MP3 reading of my Junk in the Trunk story, "Soft Sell". If you've heard it or would like to hear it (2 mins 47 secs, 1.91 MB), feel free to comment.

The Stuff Dreams are Made of

Duane Swierczynski gave me one good reason not to bury my head in the sand today. Sure it's Valentine's Day, but seventy-five years ago today, Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON was published, introducing many to the "blond Satan" Sam Spade, forefather of countless cool, calculating PIs.

January Magazine polled several Hammett devotees for reflections, including Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Crider, and S.J. Rozan.

I came to Hammett with THE FALCON after reading many of the Spenser books, but before exposure to most other PI authors. The Humphrey Bogart movie left a definite impression, and I appreciated the book for its dead-on dialogue and description. It's easy to see why so many writers were inspired after reading about Spade.

Another Post about Parker

As the Spenser series has progressed, the line between Spenser and Parker has increasingly blurred. Though Parker contends that Spenser is very different from him, he also has insinuated details from his own life and rhetoric that point back to him.

Case in point: "Surrogate" was written in 1982 and concerned a broken marriage. Between 1983 and '84, Parker and his wife Joan separated. This was also reflected in Spenser's separation from Susan in THE WIDENING GYRE (1983) and VALEDICTION (1984).

I read a quote over the weekend to the effect that one doesn't need a good imagination to write, that the best ideas come from life. Unfortunately, the more public Parker lets himself become, the less I can enjoy his books. I see them not as great works of fiction, but rather thinly-veiled wish fulfillment/autobiography.

The thrill is gone.

Valentine's Motto: "See You Tomorrow."

I actually will post more today. Just wanted my knee-jerk reaction to Valentine's Day out of the way early. For whatever reason or twist of fate, a romantic relationship has eluded me. Most of the year I'm fine with it—my life is very...complex—but on Valentine's and around Christmas I'd just as soon sidestep the barrage of hearts and arrows and mistletoe.

I refer you to the new sidebar photo of me in sunglasses. Nothing to see here.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

You Can Hear Me Now

I'm a big fan of sound, so with Bob Tinsley and others activating audioblogging, I've posted a brief mp3 greeting on my published works page.

I'm glad to post this after two extremely muffled attempts. Audioblogger works by phone, truthfully not my best medium:

"Hello, Domino's Pizza."

Thanks to Jim Winter, who test-heard the file.

Cumpleaños of an Idiosyncratic Kind

I couldn't call myself a crime fiction blogger were it not for the idiosyncratic mind of Sarah Weinman, who turns 26 today. Late last year on John Rickards's blog, Sarah commented, "I'd love to make a living writing, but even if I couldn't, I'd still do it because at least when it comes to fiction, my brain would probably explode if I didn't find a way to write about it."

Coincidentally celebrating today is young adult author Judy Blume (67) who said, "The best books come from someplace inside. You don't write because you want to, but because you have to."

Also born today, Green Lantern writer Judd Winick (35), and athletes Dominic DiMaggio (88), Bill Russell (71), and Owen Nolan (33).

Friday, February 11, 2005

Back to Blogger Comments

My main complaint with Blogger's in-house comment feature was that it required a login. Blogger has reportedly upgraded their service, so I'm going to try it for a while. Also, some visitors had experienced problems reaching Haloscan's blank comment page. Let me know what you think of things now.

Arthur Miller Dies

AP - Playwright Arthur Miller Dies at 89: "ROXBURY, Conn. - Arthur Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose most famous fictional creation, Willy Loman in 'Death of a Salesman,' came to symbolize the American Dream gone awry, has died. He was 89."

Death of a Salesman was one of the first plays I read that didn't sound like a play. I saw the characters as people in their own world, not as actors onstage. Their dialogue was not dated at all—part of the reason the play speaks to so many audiences year after year.

Did I Say I Was Done?

I resolved a paragraph that was bugging me, bringing "Stranded" down to 1,335 words. I did not set out to cut more than 400 words, but my inner editing voice is sounding like Mr. T.: "Ain't got no time for the jibber-jabber!"

Wish I'd Known Sooner - Ian Irvine

I saw mention of Ian Irvine's "The Truth about Publishing" on Lee Goldberg's blog, who saw it on Sarah Weinman's blog. Irvine takes you from writing aspirations, to first sale, to staying successful in thirty-three lessons. His website also has a Writing Tips section with some books I have and others I'm going to try.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Black Bird

Yesterday's NPR Talk of the Nation, featured a discussion of Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON on the book's 75th anniversary. Guests included Richard Layman, executor of Hammett's literary estate, and Robert B. Parker.

The Best Part of Smallville This Season Lois Lane. Though Lois coming to Smallville in Clark's teens is uncharted territory (as far as I know), the character brings needed banter out of a pensive Clark.

In last night's episode, Lois, expelled from Metropolis U., unable to join her Army general father, needs a place to stay. She approaches Clark with a classic self-deprecating ramble, to which he responds:

"If you want, I guess you could stay with us—"

"Oh, you're a lifesaver. God, am I in need of a shower. Don't worry, Smallville. I'll try to keep it under a half hour."

Lois scoots away and the scene ends not on Clark's usual speechless stare, but on his laugh-inducing line, "What just happened?"

Which reminds me a SEAL cadence I once heard:

Superman is the Man of Steel,
but he ain't no match for a Navy SEAL.

Chief and Supes got in a fight,
Chief hit Supes with some kryptonite.

Supes fell down to his knees in pain,
Now Chief's dating Lois Lane.

Categorize This

The urge to edit subsiding, I turn to categorizing "Stranded" in search of a market. Having published mostly genre fiction so far, I'm looking into some basic definitions for the first time.

From the 2005 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market:

Contemporary. Material dealing with popular current trends, themes, or topics.

Experimental. Fiction that is innovative in subject matter and style, avant-garde, non-formulaic, usually literary material.

Juvenile. Fiction intended for children ages 2-12.

Literary fiction. The general category of fiction which employs more sophisticated technique, driven as much or more by character evolution than action in the plot.

Mainstream fiction. Fiction which appeals to a more general reading audience, versus literary or genre fiction. Mainstream is more plot-driven than literary fiction and less formulaic than genre fiction.

Slice-of-life. A presentation of characters in a seemingly mundane situation which offers the reader a flash of illumination about the characters or their situation.

My observations:

The word "formulaic" in reference to genre fiction should not be taken as a pejorative. Formulaic here means following the general direction of others in the same field. One convention of mysteries, for example, is to drop clues throughout the story and illustrate how they led to a solution in the end.

In mainstream or literary fiction the logical chain is still present, but stays in the background. Non-genre protagonists and antagonists are not so overtly heroic or villainous, so their thoughts and actions need not follow those more emphatic lines.

The word "contemporary" here is more specific than "set in modern times." The material itself must address specific, immediate issues such as the current Iraq war, how steroids taint sports, etc.

Based on my new knowledge of the categories and previous comments on the kind of story I'm going for, "Stranded" can best be described as mainstream.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Incredible Shrinking Story II

Once upon a time I proudly blogged that I had cut 67 words from a story before submitting. "Stranded" is now down to 1,381 words, a new editing record for me. Of course, the numbers could mean there was more fat on this story to begin with...

I always aim for a story you can read and "get" right away. I'm now confident this one will land somewhere, but I've been wrong before.

NCIS and U.N.C.L.E.

In last night's episode of NCIS, the team acts to protect Ducky (David McCallum), the next target in a series of killings linked to a years-old trial. At one point, Agent Todd (Sasha Alexander) asks Gibbs, "What did Ducky look like when he was younger?"

Gibbs thinks it over, and answers, "Illya Kuryakin," the character McCallum played on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"Go Ahead. Make My Day."

From IMdb:
Eastwood in Good Shape

Movie veteran Clint Eastwood may be approaching his 75th birthday this year, but he still works out at the gym on a regular basis. The Unforgiven star, who is up for Best Actor at this month's Academy Awards, is adamant he will remain in good shape, unlike other men his age who take a laid-back approach to exercising. Eastwood enthuses, "I work out daily and I like it. In Million Dollar Baby it was great because we had a gym. Everyone would see who could do the most dips on the dip bar and I did the most. At 74, I could still do 30."

Topics o' the Mornin'

Continuing edits on "Stranded" mean this blog is less up-to-the-minute, but here's a roundup of notable stuff:

  • "Stranded" stands at 1,450 words. Maybe I can sneak it by some people.

  • Collected for the first time on one eye-catching site, Bryon Quertermous and David White's Junk in the Trunk, featuring my story "Soft Sell".

  • Birthday greetings to my Queens College graduate adviser John Weir.

Monday, February 07, 2005

At Least It Was Close

The other day, diehard Buffalo Bills fan Charlie Stella noticed I cover a lot of sports on this blog. He asked what my favorite football team was. I'm more a baseball and basketball guy, but in any sport I appreciate team play.

So from my semi-interested standpoint, the best I can say about last night's Patriots-Eagles game is at least it was close. Probably did well in the ratings. I'm ready to put Bellichick over Parcells.

Since Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, I've been thinking about the emphasis society places on entertainment. I've stepped back a bit from caring about it. Rarely will I spend an entire hour watching one channel; it seems incredibly unproductive. I do, however, reward myself if I've done more than the usual day's workload.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

"I Never Said I Was Smart..."

"...just tough and sexy."

This line of dialogue is from the Spenser: For Hire pilot, an adaptation of the novel PROMISED LAND.

I'm feeling bull-headed because—despite many suggestions that I put the story aside—I've revised "Stranded" again. Here's my line of thinking: 1) Ideas for changes came to me, and I thought it best to try them now instead of locking them away and coming up with a story idea from scratch; 2) "Stranded" wouldn't leave me alone (ha-ha), not in the supercritical nagging way—that I know to avoid—but in the encouraging "Let's give this another shot. Just a walk in the park" way.

For one thing, the story is back to first-person. I needed to go through third to bring out conflicts that weren't showing up. So, if this makes sense, the story is first-person, but less about me than it was to begin.

I appreciate that friends have asked me to put this aside, get some distance, but I have to listen to the voice that puts words on paper. No matter how many markets reject a story—as long as I see value in it and work to present that—it has a chance.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dead End Books

Dead End Books, Inc., 210 W. Old Country Rd, Hicksville, NY

Stopped into Dead End Books last night to catch up with Reed Coleman before he went on tour. I couldn't stay for the reading, but I bought REDEMPTION STREET, the second Moe Prager book, completing my series collection.

Dead End is larger than most bookstores I've visited. It's also owned by a fellow Hofstra alum. I'll be back.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Quite a Find

MADRID (AFP) - A rare first edition of Miguel de Cervantes' "Don Quixote", published 400 years ago, has been unearthed in Spain, Spanish television reported late.

I've mentioned Quixote is my all-time favorite book, a story that makes you want to believe, to stay true to your ideals. We all need a little of that.

It's All Coming Back to Me

This once-overplayed Celine Dion song is the cheeriest spin I can put on receiving yet another rejection for "Stranded", this time from Long Island University's lit mag, Confrontation. The highlights:

We regret we are unable to use and hence are returning the enclosed manuscript(s)...

We are sorry we cannot comment on work individually because of the demands of our regular and other editorial duties...

We attach a subscription/rate sheet should you be interested in purchasing copies of CONFRONTATION.     And thank you for letting us see your work.

The spacing before the last sentence makes it look like an afterthought. And by the way...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Carrying On

After some tweaking, I've submitted my speculative fiction piece "The Carrier" to Thieves Jargon. STONE COLD Webpage now has a webpage dedicated to the STONE COLD adaptation to air Sunday, February 20 at 9PM ET.

Tom Selleck as Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Smallville is Not for Mystery Buffs

You'd think Clark Kent's curiosity about his origins and his growing commitment to truth would be fertile ground for intrigue. Alas, Smallville has become a show with almost no suspense. Take tonight's episode: Clark has befriended a girl with teleportation powers who last season discovered his secret.

Someone who seems invisible has attacked Lana and her boyfriend. All fingers point to Clark's new girlfriend, but by this time, viewers have seen closeup shots of a dusty boy with whom everyone seems on good terms, but who's never been on the show before. Can you say "suspect"? Dusty apparently has a warped sense of morality (which he conveniently breaks down for Lois) that leads him to see Lana and her boyfriend as troublemakers.

Huge hints dropped within the first five minutes, the rest of the show is teen soap: glamourous faces, grand gestures, huge consequences.

Legendary characters alone will not carry a show (see Enterprise); they must consistently have things to do that are worth watching.

Failed Enterprise

Lee Goldberg relays word from Variety and Ain't It Cool News that Enterprise has been cancelled after four seasons. While I believed in the concept to begin with, I have to admit its execution has been flawed. By nature, a prequel doesn't have much room for innovations the way TNG, DS9, and Voyager all expanded on the original Star Trek. Combine this with the showrunners' commitment to "what's worked in the past" and you get a recipe for bland TV.

I regret that the scripts didn't allow the actors to stretch. I'm not sorry to see the show go.

Another Day, Another Dollar

Submitted my sci-fi story early yesterday and received a reply early today:

I'm afraid this one didn't quite work for me...

Good luck placing this elsewhere...

And so I move on. Stephen D. Rogers just announced a market of his own with similar requirements, so that's my next target.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Reed Farrel Coleman - THE JAMES DEANS Publication Party

Just back from Reed Farrel Coleman's publication party for THE JAMES DEANS, hosted by Partners & Crime. I had seen Coleman by the snack table at S.J. Rozan's ABSENT FRIENDS launch. Tonight my friend John Ricotta came along, and we got to chat withe Reed before the store filled with people. Great guy.

I also got to meet for the first time: Charlie Stella and Pat Lambe (who carpooled with Dave White) and Jason Starr. Charlie and I recognized each other without introductions. In fact, we all seemed like old friends once blogs were mentioned—most notably Sarah Weinman's. I caught up with S.J. Rozan again, shared my read of her Bill Smith-centered novel STONE QUARRY, and learned it was the first book she wrote (though published sixth) in the series.

My thanks again to Reed, the staff of Partners, and everyone I met, for a great night.

"They're Real, and They're Spectacular."

From IMdb:
Hatcher: "My Breasts Are Real"

Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has once again slammed reports her breasts are fake in a bid to temper the increasing "hysteria" they're generating. The 40-year-old beauty - who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in the hit ABC show last month - has always received a lot of attention for her pert bust and has become a regular target of media debates asking if her breasts are real. She says, "I think they should have been cast in bronze at some point because there's been so mush hysteria surrounding them. I suppose you could have worse compliments, but you don't want to get stuck in people's minds just for having a nice story. It's a contradiction because being attractive is a way of getting recognition and it can lead to a lot of work, but at some point you've got to convince people that you can do more than just play a sultry female fatale kind of character."