In the ink well

Dog Ear

October 25, 2012

Unlikely Heroes (DOG EAR)

The wife and I had ridden our bikes to dinner, then to yogurt over at the village center of Baldwin Park. Understand that Baldwin is a neo-community, one built on a perfectly good naval training center. It’s smart and clever and cute and as plastic as, well, plastic. It’s fake from end to end. But they have the only yogurt shop within wife-cycling range, so there you go. While there, I saw a couple of Goths hanging out on the benches amid the manufactured quaintness, desperately seeking an identity. Like Illinois Nazis, it’s hard to take Baldwin Park Goths seriously. […]
October 18, 2012

Straw men (DOG EAR)

You’ve carefully considered your hero, his background, driving factors and idiosyncrasies. You’ve come up with your world, be it an isolated Turkish village on a volatile border, the hold of a star-bound colony ship, or perhaps a Brooklyn slum of 1923. You’ve given it life, made it real. You’ve developed your plot, the twists, surprises and mysteries. And with all that, suddenly you decide that your antagonist can be cut out of cardboard and propped up. After all, what more do you need than some frothing villain shouting “Seize them!” or “Throw every resource into their downfall” or whatever? You’ve […]
October 11, 2012

Digging a Ditch (DOG EAR)

I‘m reading The Merry Men by Robert Louis Stephenson. In it, a bible-thumping Christian stands on a high Scottish ledge in a gale, baying laughter as a poor schooner tries to tack out of a bay surrounded by murderous rocky reefs (the “Merry Men” of the title). And why is he doing this? Pride? Nationalism? Personal animosity? Salvage. When you think about it, it comes down to the fact that this weasel wants the ship’s cargo on the beach, where he can pick through it and make it his (he might even loot the bodies of the dead sailors should […]
October 5, 2012

Book of Agentical Lore (DOG EAR)

We’ll assume you have a sharp cover letter, a synopsis and chapter samples at the ready (but if not, we’ll be discussing these in future). But the big question people ask a lot is “How do you find an agent?” The best method I’ve found is to trot down to your local bookstore (don’t buy online – you gotta do this “live”) and find the “Publishing” section – usually it’s in the back, just past “sexual help”. Ignore all the writing guide books – if you are ready to publish, you are beyond that. You need the thicker books – […]
October 4, 2012

Are writers better drivers (DOG EAR)

I was driving home after dropping Ark off at the library. Two lane road, and over on the opposite side, riding against the flow, a cyclist on a yellow bike. No gearing, upright stance, big retro fenders. No real branding or effort to conform to “road” or “mountain”. A K-mart bike. And the rider, a guy with flip flops, a ball cap, no gloves, in street shorts and a shirt. And, as mentioned, he’s on the wrong side of the road. A casual cyclist. To the right side, the Hideaway bar. I’m looking at him, placing him as just the […]
September 27, 2012

It don’t come easy (DOG EAR)

(This was orignally supposed to run on Sept 20th but I wanted to touch on the movie The Words. Wonder if my life is better in the future…) There is the common thought that a writer is only a writer if he is a suffering writer. If you have a big house and kids and everything paid for, you aren’t wired to angst and can’t capture human existence. And that might be true – certainly people who know the crush of personal loss or the humiliations of modern society can ‘write what they know’. But sometimes it comes in so […]
September 20, 2012

The Words (Dog Ear)

I haven’t done a movie review for nearly a year (when I revamped the site, I dropped the movie section). But when I saw the movie The Words, I knew I had to touch on it. See, it’s a writer’s movie (don’t think that Finding Forrester was – that was a piece of shit). The Words is about a young writer (don’t we all know him) who is accepting an award for his critical success, living the life we all dream (don’t we look so clever? Isn’t our limo sooooo long?). As he and his gorgeous wife come out of […]
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 […]