Monday, November 20, 2017

ALWAYS ON DUTY!


·        “A writer is a world inside a person.” -- Victor Hugo

·        “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” -- Eugène Ionesco

I believe that a writer who takes his or her work seriously is never, so to speak, off duty.

That doesn’t mean writers actually think writing 24/7. When I’m poised over a three-foot putt, I’m not pondering anything but the excuse I will use when I miss:

1.      There was a spike mark (which is less useful nowadays; the prevalence of spike-less golf shoes means most greens look like pool tables).

2.      A damn gust of wind. Any whiff of breeze will do, even if it wouldn’t move a mayfly.

3.      An opponent talked (or sneezed, belched, passed gas, or had a heart attack).

4.      I suck.

I have included golf scenes in my thrillers, but my protagonists are typically capable golfers; that is to say, figments of my imagination. If I wrote about my missed three-footers, the book would be twice as long as War and Peace (and more tragic).

But other than when “relaxing” on a golf course, I am constantly on the lookout for characters, scenes, images, and situations to include in my books, either the one I am working on currently or future tomes. Since I am a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot writer, it is the rare new idea that isn’t immediately plugged into my latest effort.

Sometimes the idea merely enhances a particular scene and makes it more colorful. A photo cube in someone else’s novel morphed into what I hope is a nice interlude in one of mine. But sometimes an idea needs a whole chapter to flesh out. Unless it’s an earth-shattering realization that deserves a book of its own, better to use it in your current book – even if it means a lot of extra work – than let it go stale.

Ideas come to me in the bathroom (the shower, of course!), when I’m jogging (read: walking), when watching a movie, and in that twilight just before sleep. I keep my iPhone by my bed to send myself an email that will remind me what I just thought about. The iPhone comes in handy outdoors, as well; less so in the shower. I’ve run dripping to my computer to write down a scene, a phrase, even a word that intrigues me.

I have to go. My wife wants me to take out the garbage. But it’s a long walk to the dumpster. Maybe I’ll think of something I can use in a book!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

STRIKING IT RICH WITH J.K. ROWLING


As many readers of this blog know (gee, I hope there are many readers!), I self-publish eBooks.  I have even gone so far as to enter the fray between “legacy” publishers and Amazon. I won’t go into my position again, since I am tired of checking under the hood of my car for bombs wired to the ignition. (Actually, having Sicilian blood in me, I just send my wife out to start the car.)

But some people believe that I don’t like print books! Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love print books. I’d probably be living in a three-bedroom condo but for the fact that one of those rooms is full of freakin’ print books. (I also have two Kindles, a Nook, and various iPads, Androids, computers, laptops, etc. with reading apps on them; they don’t take up much space.)

I love the luxury of pulling one of my favorite Spenser or James Bond novels off a shelf and getting a transfusion of colorful writing. And as for more recent influences, I’m certainly don’t have a mindless antipathy toward legacy authors, as long as they haven’t turned into a publishing copy machine like you know who.

Take Robert Galbraith , whose debut thriller, The Cuckoo’s Calling (Mulholland Books) introduced British private eye Cormoran Strike, a disabled war veteran down to one leg and one client who unravels a twisty murder mystery amid a world of depraved rock-stars and their leggy, luscious and lustful supermodel girlfriends.

The writing is superb, and evocative: “She looked away from him, drawing hard on her Rothman’s; when her mouth puckered into hard little lines around the cigarette, it looked like a cat’s anus.”

Good Lord. Needless to say, I couldn’t put the damn book down.  Galbraith has since followed this tour de force with two more best-selling Cormorans and it’s not likely he’s struck out (ouch!). Not bad for a guy who is really a “gal”-braith -- J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame. I can’t even begrudge this zillionaire entering the already glutted thriller genre. She’s a genius, and I love her new “potter-mouth”. No one can curse like a Brit.

Good writing will be here forever. May the best man, woman or pseudonym win!

Well, I have to run. My wife is just about to start the car and I want to go to the back of the house.

MURPHY'S LAW

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