In the ink well

Dog Ear

March 26, 2015

Death’s Doorway (DOG EAR)

veryone who’s a geek can remember that dramatic moment in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, where Spock dies. I can remember a trekkie next to me quietly sobbing in the dark. Truthfully, it was as good a death scene as could be written, full of sacrifice and victory and sadness. Of course, they ruined it in the third movie – his body wasn’t even cold yet and suddenly he popped back in, none the worse for wear. Character death is a primary tool (like a chainsaw, a valuable yet dangerous tool) of the writer. Killing an important character […]
March 19, 2015

Wednesday Night Lights (DOG EAR)

f you go HERE, you’ll see my new interest in Astronomy. I’m fascinated by the skies – always have been, ever since I looked at the moon through my dad’s clunky Naval binoculars. And now that I’ve got a x35 scope and a big telescope on order, now I’m reading all about this and getting to know how you look for stars, how you find stars, about light pollution, all that. As part of this, my wife and I went to the local observatory (as luck would have it, it’s a mile from the house). There were several members of […]
March 12, 2015

You haven’t read…? (DOG EAR)

kay, not this has happened twice. A person in conversation says, “Oh, you haven’t read…?” and then foists a book on me. And that’s fine. As you can see from my reading list HERE, I’m not focused on one thing. But in both cases, I’m halfway through and hence, of course, the follow-up conversation arises, where “I’m at the point where…” and that’s when I find out that, no, they haven’t read it. What? What??? I recommend books all the time – refer to that list above – but at least I’ve read them. And one of my sins is […]
March 5, 2015

The Game’s Afoot (DOG EAR)

riting is all about the worlds we create. Even if it’s contemporary, even if it’s fantasy, we need a background for our actions to take place in (or, rather, where our heroes can be heroic at). When writing Fire and Bronze back in the pre-internet days, I spent a lot of time in the public library, looking at old maps, trying to get my head around the layout and atmosphere of what had been the city of Carthage. How high was Brysa hill, the rise on which the city was centered? What was the harbor like? What did the surrounding […]
February 26, 2015

Tough Choices (DOG EAR)

ust watched The Wild Bunch at the insistence of my friend Greg. Great flick, and the more I thought about it today, the more I liked it. So why am I talking about movies in a writing blog? Well, for story, in this case. The story has a number of interesting points, one of which I’m very interested by. So, this band of aging outlaws in a changing early twentieth-century West are trying to pull off a last heist, something to set them up for life. They end up stealing rifles from a US Government shipment, getting clean away with […]
February 19, 2015

Architects (DOG EAR)

rose is architecture, not interior decoration” So said Ernest Hemingway, the writer’s writer. And at first, I was willing to agree with the statement. Now I’m having reservations. Clearly Hemingway firmed the idea of what a novel should be. His stories were sharp and to the point. I’ve mentioned To Have and Have Not, a wonderful tale that is gritty and sharp and drives towards its grim conclusion. I’m not an expert of 1930’s literature. Mostly, I’m a Sabatini fan, yet I have to admit that he can be flowery in his prose. Lovers labor over misunderstandings, endlessly blushing and […]
February 12, 2015

Reader (DOG EAR)

’ve heard of people who occasionally imagine their own obituaries. It is, I suppose, a morbid accounting of one’s life, to consider what one has achieved and how far one has climbed. For me, it’s the occasional imagined writing of my final Dog Ear piece. “It’s been a long road, but one that’s come to an end…” Sometimes, when I write about writing, I realize how little I know about this strange thing publishing has turned into. The idea of harvesting hits and reciprocal reviews and playing the Amazon rankings leaves me cold. As I see people hit big time […]
February 5, 2015

Your ad here (DOG EAR)

remember reading old paperbacks in the 70s, and how some of them would have a colored insert (on cardstock paper), ads for cigarettes or books or whatever. It was a little bit of advertising that only lasted as long as it took to toss it aside and get back to the story. Of course, those were those funny pre-market days. This latest bit I came across while reading What Money Can’t Buy (which will be reviewed in a couple of weeks). This is a book that looks at all the places the market has nosed into over the last thirty […]
January 29, 2015

Payoff (DOG EAR)

iscally I’ve done okay as a writer. I didn’t make any money off Fire and Bronze (the publisher folded after the sudden death of it’s president). Early ReTyrement broke even. Made a lot of money off Don’t Jettison Medicine and the subsequent followup short article/radio scripts. And then there was the erotica – that’s like a fun little hobby that pays for itself. I couldn’t live off this (unless I lived in a cardboard box under the freeway) but I do get a trickle of cash for all my efforts. But not everything is money. Went over to the house […]
January 22, 2015

Right Hand Man-uscript (DOG EAR)

‘m in my reader’s place, sitting at Juniors Diner, a short walk from the house. My wife and I are enjoying our books while browsing through our Sunday lunches, our standard routine. And beyond this normality, beyond the sunlight streaming through the picture window (with the reversed RENID neon sign), beyond the humming traffic, 35 million miles away, Mark Watney is really screwed on Mars. See, Mark was left behind on a Mars mission, accidently abandoned by his crew. And now, as told in Andy Weir’s deservedly successful The Martian, he’s struggling to survive. But something just happened, a component […]