In the ink well

Dog Ear

September 13, 2012

Don’t use contractions (DOG EAR)

I was downtown with the Missus watching the play Billy Bishop goes to War. It’s a fun performance, a one-man show which follows the exploits of Billy Bishop, a top-ranked fighter ace from World War One. Oddly, I’d seen it thirty years ago and suddenly it had popped up again at the local playhouse. After the show, the performers (all two of them (okay, a one-man show, with a second guy on the piano)) sat down and fielded questions from the audience, a nice intimate Q&A. Someone in the audience asked Timothy Williams how he did all the characters (different […]
September 6, 2012

What price glory? (DOG EAR)

Way back when I was finalizing Early Retyrement for publication, someone in my family (who will remain nameless) sent me information concerning an author’s exchange, a deal where  you’d send your book to someone in exchange for their’s, and the understanding was that you’ve give it no less that four stars on Amazon. Yes, it was one of those I-rub-your-back-ditto deals. Ugh. I remember thinking at the time what a perfectly nauseating business practice it was. And then, recently on Facebook, a fellow writer noted a service where you’d pay $1000 or more and get 50 reviews, all glowing and […]
August 30, 2012

Meds (DOG EAR)

Those who check out my bike blog might remember the injury I dealt myself trying to save the planet (and a little rental car cash) HERE. Ended up at a doc-in-the-box, getting pills prescribed for the pain. Looked on the label and saw that they were sedatives that might make me, well, sedate. The first day, I learned the power of the word ‘might’. I hung on my desk for about three hours before limping home to crash into bed. So tired. The day following, I took my pills like a good little boy and went to work. All morning […]
August 21, 2012

Fans from Hell (DOG EAR)

I’ve heard tell that one of the drives for Steven King’s novel Misery came from his reaction to fans stealing bat statues off the tops of his gateposts. I don’t know if it’s true, but it should be. We all dream of adoring fans popping up at opportune moments to gush about how great we are. I’ve had that happen exactly once (when a person at a train event, realizing who I was, went delightfully ga-ga about Fire and Bronze). Very, very nice. But what we don’t think about are the over-cooked fans, the ones who haunt us, pester us, […]
August 14, 2012

Watership What? (DOG EAR)

Just had an eye-opening (and speech-busting) moment in my Dale Carnegie course this week. The speech was to be done with enthusiasm, addressing an earlier goal. Well, MY goal for this task was redoing my agency-pitch cover letter. See, I had the idea that I needed a cover letter for every occasion, an actual stable of them on hand, maintained and ready (see Augean stables). And it worked well. So now I had to report. Enthusiastically. About cover letters. Tricky. So I figured that, rather than describe the monotone tasks actually associated with this effort, I’d give them a slam-bang […]
August 7, 2012

A copyright of passage (DOG EAR)

I told this story a while ago, but for those who came in late, here’s the short version. Was at a book club speaking about Early ReTyrement. The questions were fun; how come I was so clever? How come I was so smart? And then came the question: Isn’t Dion’s The Wanderer a copyrighted musical work? How my heart chilled at that. Was it? I didn’t know. You can see how I used it HERE – it’s rather a critical component of my first chapter, the moment that tells us that this is a time travel book and a humorous […]
August 2, 2012

You say Yamato (DOG EAR)

Retelling a story, especially a classic, is always dangerous business. Movies are generally updated (“reimagined” as Hollywood suits refer to it) to suit newer (i.e. duller) audiences. As for books, its generally not done. The major exception to this are those “zombies” and “robot” editions of classics, but that is, of course, simply a parody (and a rather stupid one at that). Normally I focus on written storytelling, but this weekend I had a curious episode of visual storytelling (i.e. a movie) that had been updated for a modern audience. It was none other than Space Battleship Yamato, based on […]
July 26, 2012

A kindle up your nook (DOG EAR)

At dinner the other night, a friend was flashing his reader at me, showing me his “stack”. Well, first, don’t wave your toy at me at the table. Adults talk books, they don’t thrust ePuds under their companion’s noses. Second, I have stacks. I have 30 feet of books (four shelves deep) in my Florida room. I’ve got hardbacks over my sofa, a huge shelf groaning with historical references in the living room, and piles along the side of the bed, my “next reads”. I’ve got stacks. You, you have folders. Big difference. I was thinking about this piece, my […]
July 19, 2012

Augean stables (DOG EAR)

Was in the Dale Carnegie course the other week and there was an exercise concerning putting enthusiasm to work. Now what, thinks I, could I possibly be more enthusiastic about? Cover letters. Ugh. I have a pretty nice cover letter for Indigo. It’s clever, interesting and to the point. It’s got a great hook (“Indigo, where Watership Down meets Top Gun”). But if you’ve ever looked at some of these agency requirements, you’ll realize that they are often specific in their demands. And sure, a book about semi-sentient crows is not really science fiction, not fantasy, not quite. And this […]
July 12, 2012

Ash cloud (DOG EAR)

My writing instructor from long ago told us this would happen, that true writers are morose, suffering bouts of depression that could even lead to suicide. I knew this going in. But then again, it wasn’t the writing that brought the darkness, it was the darkness that brought the writing. But in the last 24 hours, everything went into the crapper. I got a rejection letter from an agent who said she couldn’t get into Indigo , that it didn’t catch her (well, then get your nose out of Harry Potter and seek things fresh and new). At work, the […]