Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Again

The topic of recurring characters has come up on Spenser's Sneakers. Robert Parker has called back supporting characters more and more often over the years, for example bringing Jesse Stone into the Spenser book Back Story and bringing Susan Silverman into the Sunny Randall book Blue Screen. While some readers enjoy the crossovers, others see them as yet more evidence Parker is running out of ideas.

Why do readers, myself included, object? I think it has to do with how established each protag is. Jesse or Sunny can be brought into a Spenser book without taking much of the spotlight away from
Spenser. Bring Spenser into a Jesse book, or Jesse into a Sunny book, and the older, established protag may steal pages that could better be used to build up the newer, lesser known protag on his/her own.

On another note, each time Parker calls on a character like Hawk, it's more difficult to give the same weight to each appearance. I want to believe Parker's world is a varied one where anything can happen. I can't believe this when the same people show up as often as they do.

Does anyone feel the same thrill of menace from Hawk or the same concern for April Kyle and Paul Giacomin now that they've appeared in at least three books each?

One of Parker's few character who's kept her unique presence is Candy Sloan, and she only because Parker killed her off. Even this can be viewed as a shortcut. How would Susan feel if the woman Spenser cheated with were still alive? How would Spenser feel if Susan's one indiscretion, Russell Costigan, hadn't been such a bad guy after all? Conveniently for Parker, we will never know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Did I say that?

Contemporary Rhyme editor Richard Geyer has accepted "The Poem That Woke Me" and asked for an audio recording to include with the text. This August you may hear me on the Web reading a poem with the words "shat" and "pissed" in it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Making Adjustments and a Movie List

I began the month of June writing five pages a day on my novel. I kept this pace for a little over a week before feeling as if I was in the middle of my basement just as a blackout hit. This past week I did a close read of Lee Child's Die Trying to improve my sense of plot. It helped, but while I was reading, I wasn't writing.

So yesterday I started over with a more immediate inciting event, this time going for one page a day. This should keep the intensity of each page up and give me the rest of the day for poetry and reading.

My writing pace may change as the plot solidifies. For now, it's small steps.

Meanwhile, Jon Jordan of Crime Spree Magazine asked for my top ten movies. I've never definitively ranked anything, but here's my list:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Empire Strikes Back


Superman II

Grosse Point Blank

Zero Effect

The Big Lebowski


Lethal Weapon

Men In Black

Sunday, June 25, 2006

2006 Shamus Award Nominees

As announced by the Private Eye Writers of America:

Best Hardcover

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams (Wm. Morrow), featuring Nick Petrov.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown), featuring Mickey Haller.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Doubleday), featuring Elvis Cole.

In A Teapot by Terence Faherty (Crum Creek Press), featuring Scott Elliot.

The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg (Five Star), featuring Harvey Mapes.

Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown), featuring Easy Rawlins.

Best Paperback Original

Falling Down by David Cole (Avon), featuring Laura Winslow.

The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Plume), featuring Moe Prager.

Deadlocked by Joel Goldman (Pinnacle), featuring Lou Mason.

Cordite Wine by Richard Helms (Back Alley Books), featuring Eamon Gold.

A Killing Rain by PJ Parrish (Pinnacle), featuring Louis Kincaid.

Best First Novel

Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Medallion), featuring Julie Collins.

Still River by Harry Hunsicker (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur), featuring Lee Henry Oswald.

The Devil’s Right Hand by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin Minotaur), featuring Jack Keller.

Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press – Warner), featuring Calla Gentry.

Best Short Story

“Oh, What a Tangled Lanyard We Weave” by Parnell Hall. Murder Most Crafty (Berkley), featuring Stanley Hastings.

“Two Birds with One Stone” by Jeremiah Healy. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2005, featuring John Francis Cuddy.

“The Big Road” by Steve Hockensmith. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2005, featuring Larry Erie.

“A Death in Ueno” by Michael Wiecek. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2005 featuring Masakazu Sakonju.

“The Breaks” by Timothy Williams. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2005 featuring Charlie Raines.

Old-Timers' Day

The New York Yankees celebrated their sixtieth Old-Timers' Day yesterday, especially commemorating fifty years since Don Larson's World Series perfect game. Unfortunately the Old-Timers' game itself was rained out.

It's always fun to see my favorite players back in pinstripes, but some of them were announced with "Let's welcome back a real old-timer." I know this is a term of affection, but it still sounds ageist to my ear. Why not call it All-Timers' Day?

Friday, June 23, 2006


Third-generation TV writer Joss Whedon turns 42 today. I caught on to his work with Angel, which began as a P.I. show with a supernatural undercurrent, complete with girl Friday Cordelia Chase, n'er-do-well buddy Doyle, and friend on the force Kate Lockley (Elisabeth Rohm).

I backtracked to Buffy to fill in Angel's history and enjoyed its early seasons as well. Then came Whedon's short-lived space Western Firefly. With nine cast regulars, the series was perhaps too ambitious for TV. Nevertheless, Whedon had created another 'Verse I happily visited.

While Whedon has his pet themes, the spectacle of his work is always driven by substance.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Brown Out

As long expected, the New York Knicks have severed ties with Larry Brown and named GM Isiah Thomas coach. I don't see the team improving until Cablevision head James Dolan wises up and cleans house completely. (I would rather Dolan sell the team, but I doubt that will happen.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Baseball Quiz

Who are the six active MLB players with four championships? Leave your answer in the Comments section.

The Plan of Steel

My college friends and I have plans to see Superman Returns Saturday morning, July 1 at the Lincoln Square IMAX.

I've successfully dodged the hype, going so far as not watching a preview of Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns's documentary "Look, Up In The Sky!: The Amazing Story of Superman" on a DVD I received yesterday.

Your Miamiii...

The Miami Heat have beaten the Dallas Mavericks for their first NBA championship, thanks in large part to Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, and a ragtag bunch of role players brought in by Pat Riley. I criticized Riley's takeover for Stan Van Gundy, but it clearly motivated the team for this season.

In the end, playoffs are about winning on the field. Yes, Riley came in under questionable circumstances, but he still had to prove he could coach players on the court.

Even though he was going back to Dallas with two chances to win, Riley said, "I packed one suit, one shirt, and one tie," implying Game 6 was all that mattered.

I wonder if he's copyrighted "ReHeat," "ThreeHeat," or "Heatpeat."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Up, up, and ehh...

I just caught the new Superman animated movie simply subtitled Brainiac Attacks.

Great to hear Tim Daly back as Clark, and Brainiac is one of the most conniving and powerful villains. His teaming with Lex Luthor is set against the momentous story of Clark debating whether to reveal himself to Lois. I kept watching to see part of the lore not covered by the original 1996-2000 run.

Lois gets caught in the crossfire of Brainiac's attack. She comes down with a fast-acting form of kryptonite blood poisoning, spurring Superman on a perilous journey into the Phantom Zone to find the only substance that can save her. Unfortunately Duane Capizzi's writing seemed oddly jokey and forced, no match for the epic premise. There also seemed to be a tad too much exposition:

Perry: Lois sure lives dangerously.

Clark (having an epiphany): Yes. she does. Whether I'm around or not.

Internal monologue as Superman flying off: I think Lois will be just fine. As long as Clark Kent and Superman are around to look out for her.

All of which makes me think this production was simplified for younger viewers. And while many of the original voices returned with Daly, Luthor, Brainiac, and Mercy Graves were all new, as was voice director Susan Blu. The only other name I recognized from the original WB run was director Curt Geda.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

AP: Stolen pistol used by Roosevelt returned

By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer Thu Jun 15, 8:20 AM ET

NEW YORK - Sixteen years after it went missing, a pistol that Teddy Roosevelt carried during the Spanish-American War has been returned.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Haven't I seen this somewhere before?

The referenced AP article details Michael Jordan's investment in the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats alongside BET founder Robert L. Johnson. I hope Jordan has learned from his mediocre years presiding over the Washington Wizards. If not, this could be another flop.

Incidentally, Johnson had this to say:
"Michael has made several attempts to own his own team, and the NBA has been very active in trying to help Michael acquire a team," Johnson said. "When that didn't happen and time passed on, I think Michael saw this as a way to be connected with basketball, do other business pursuits and do something with a friend of his in Carolina where he was born and played ball."

Actually, Jordan was born in Brooklyn.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Alex Rodriguez's New Nickname

"Past a Diving" ARod.

"I don't like coincidences."

Do fictitious investigators have to say this? Does anyone not investigate coincidences?

Studio Briefing: CBS To Make Movies?

CBS executives are thinking about going into competition in the film business against its onetime corporate sibling, Viacom's Paramount, CBS Chairman Les Moonves told an investors conference in Santa Monica, CA Tuesday. "It's something that might be fun, as content gets used over and over again," he said. He added that movie production "might be an interesting business to get into" if it were "disciplined" -- with budgets below $50 million and deals in place for reuse on the CBS network, the CBS-owned Showtime pay-TV channel, DVD sales and international distribution. CBS and Viacom are controlled by Sumner Redstone's privately held National Amusements.

Not sure what stage of thinking they're in, but this could be a new outlet for the popular Tom Selleck Jesse Stone movies.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spider-Man Unmasked

The referenced AFP article details Marvel's Civil War run, wherein the writers tackle the issue of civil liberties, and Spider-Man outs himself to the press as part of the Super-Hero Registration Act.

So much for the Electric Company Spider-Man slogan "Nobody knows who you are."


Jim Winter, creator of Cleveland P.I. Nick Kepler, announces:
My former publisher sent me a peace offering after he took my book out of print. 45 books.

That means the final 50 mint copies of Northcoast Shakedown are taking up space in my trunk. And frankly, they're causing me to get rotten gas mileage with all that added weight.

What's that mean for you?

It means I have 45 books I didn't pay a cent for. It means, gentle reader, that, for the more competitive price of $13, plus shipping and handling (We'll work that out later), you can have your very own signed copy of Northcoast Shakedown. Mind you, you'll be competing with people who buy them straight out of my trunk, but if you'd like a copy while supplies last, email me at winter_writes AT earthlink DOT net, and we'll work out the logistics.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Superman (1978) in 30 Seconds w/ Bunnies

Brilliant. Thanks, Bill.

AP: Hawking says humans must go into space

By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press Writer

HONG KONG - The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Thank you kindly, Inspector."

Canadian actress Camilla Scott, whom I remember as Due South's Insp. Meg Thatcher, is 44 today.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hugh Laurie's Birthday

The Oxford-born actor of Scots extraction currently playing American doctor Gregory House turns 47 today.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thrilling Detective on Hold

Ending months of speculation, Thrilling Detective editor Kevin Burton Smith officially announces a hiatus.

Fascinated as I am by characters and the worlds they inhabit, I respect people making their way in this world even more. I look forward to the future of Thrilling Detective, whatever it may be.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


After a handful of forgettable games last year, the Yankees' Melky Cabrera has made huge strides this season. Filling in as needed for the injured Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Gary Sheffield, last night he hustled from first base to home on a throwing error while the Red Sox were in Giambi shift formation. Tonight he robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run, preserving a 2-1 win for the Yanks. No doubt, Melky has arrived.

Do the Monster Mishmash

Adding to the horrific confusion of my previous post, today is Robert Englund's birthday. Englund is best known for playing Freddy Kreuger, but did you know he auditioned to play Luke Skywalker?

What day is it?

I'd convinced myself today was Friday. It wasn't hard. I'd seen the hokily ominous commercial for the Omen remake, "coming six, six, oh-six," and mushed it together with the knowledge that most movies premiere on Friday. A week from today is the 13th, which brings to mind Friday the 13th.

Whatever. 6-6-96 is more significant to me because my friends and I went canoeing that day on the Peconic River. Less than three feet from shore, eager for an oar, I stood abruptly and landed myself and two shipmates in the drink.

What fun is canoeing if you don't capsize? Good times, good times.

WENN: 'Space Ghost' Animator Dies

Celebrated animator and cartoonist Alex Toth, the mastermind of classic TV adventure series Space Ghost, has died at his drawing board. He was 77. Toth had been suffering ill health for many years, and died at his home in California last Monday. His long career was dominated by his work for former cartoon network Hanna Barbera, where he collaborated on a string of hit shows including The Challenge of the Super Friends, Jonny Quest and The Herculoids. Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics, says, "The work he did at (Hanna Barbera) touched more lives than anything else he had done. He found ways to take characters like Superman from their more complicated printed form into a simpler form for animation that still held on to their power and majesty."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lookin' For Adventure

I'm following the approach to "market analysis" recommended by Lawrence Block in Writing the Novel. This involves reading and deconstructing half a dozen books by different authors in my chosen genre (period roguish adventure). My lineup includes

The Turquoise Lament by John D. MacDonald

Dutch Uncle by Peter Pavia

The Girl With The Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block

Plunder of the Sun by David Dodge

Branded Woman by Wade Miller

The Jade Figurine by Bill Pronzini

Feel free to make recommendations in the Comments section.

Found Fiction

The other day I found two of my early stories, "Forgive Me Not" and "For Old Times' Sake" in Mysterical-E's reorganized files. Read them again or for the first time.


The sitcom I grew up with comes to TVLand this weekend with a 48-hour marathon. Now in my thirties with an ear for dialogue, I notice how irascible Benson was, muttering sarcasm at almost every opportunity. Still, the character possessed a warmth that lent weight to the episodes. My favorites are still those where Benson was the political outsider coming up with common sense solutions.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pistons Pounded

The Miami Heat won a no-doubter over Detroit 95-78, putting an end to Rasheed Wallace predictions for another year. I'm pulling for the Mavs in the West because a Suns-Heat matchup sounds hokey.

"If I fail, if I succeed..."

This familiar Whitney Houston lyric is my way of saying I've started a novel featuring C.J. Stone.

I'd put off a novel up to now claiming I didn't know enough about structure to write one. With the start of June, I decided to learn by doing. It will be a very organic process for me, first fishing for a premise with a free-write, then outlining as I come to know the plot.

I'm going to write as much of the story as I see each day, and if other projects arise from this, I'll work on them in the novel's slow spots. I'll also be reading to add to my subconscious storehouse. I'll blog reviews of what I read, and the usual silliness when I can find it. I won't blog novel updates unless I feel particularly proud of myself. This will be an addition, not a disruption to my day.

What better way to kill time while House, Bones, NCIS, and Smallville are in reruns?