In the ink well

Dog Ear

January 31, 2013

Death of a book salesman (DOG EAR)

I read today how Barnes and Noble is cutting back and closing 450 to 500 stores in the coming years. Whereas the death of this Goliath should fill me with smug satisfaction (given how many mom-n-bob nooky bookstores it killed), it doesn’t. Actually, it fills me with a cold dread. A chilling wave of digitalization, of buying whatever whenever, is washing over us. So what’s the difference between being served by a teenage Goth punk in a used bookstore as opposed to the same studded wonder doing it in a chain store? One is a sign of hip and trendy urban […]
January 24, 2013

Dipsticks (DOG EAR)

This came from the Writers Group as discussed last week. It was one of the best short stories I’d ever heard. And the crushing critique was one of the most spot-on, thermal-exhaust-port bullseyes I’d ever witnessed. The story in an abbreviated nutshell: A man has a living fantasy of the climactic moment of grace in his life, that of driving to the perfect fishing spot in a vintage 1957 Chevy. So he puts a couple of years into the project. He buys an old beater and rebuilds it tires up, turning it into a shining vehicular fantasy. Oilstained and weary […]
January 17, 2013

Then and Now (DOG EAR)

There is a writer’s group that meets here in Orlando – I’d probably go except I’m committed to something else those nights and can’t make it. But it hits me, reading their exchanges following their meetings, that the focus of the meetings is marketing their self-published books. And that’s fine, I suppose – God knows I could have used it, given the haphazard failure-daze of a marketing effort Early ReTyrement went through. I am the world’s worse salesman, a fact I do not hesitate to admit. But I’m left thinking of the group that got me into writing, The Writer’s […]
January 10, 2013

Showdown (Dog Ear)

Originally I was going to write about the silly thing that occurs in climactic showdowns, when the hero and villain square off. The villain for some reason is out of ammo or has thrown his sword in desperation. And the hero, smiling toothily, drops his weapon to go hand to hand, mano-a-mano. Then I noticed that I don’t see this in novels. See it all the time in movies. In Scaramouch, the hero taps the vibrating sword just thrown at him by the swinish Marquis de Maynes and bids him to retrieve it. In The Great Race, Tony Curtis permits […]
January 3, 2013

Resolutions (DOG EAR)

We’re looking at yet another new year (seeing how the Mayan’s prophecies were typically misconstrued by a population eager for a taste of apocalypse). Nope, just another year of same-ol-same-ol. I’m not going to make resolutions, not solid ones anyway. The doc told me to lose 10 lbs so I’m working on that. As for everything else, I pretty much hold to my life as I should – it feels right and works for me. But then there is the writing angle. I suppose it’s time to post out some more cover letters. I’ve got a system with those big […]
December 27, 2012

Leading the horse (DOG EAR)

At my brother’s house recently, I started talking books with my younger niece. “Have you read this?” “Oh yeah!” “And this?” “Certainly!” What was funny was a young girl looking at her 54-year old uncle, with three books to his credit, thousands read on his shelf, and even more in boxes, this whole incredulous bit when she found a book I haven’t read. Yes, there are some. Like Frankenstein. I’ve read another of Shelley’s works, The Last Man, and really liked it. And I thought I knew about the story of Frankenstein. But I hadn’t , not really. She gave […]
December 20, 2012

Killing them softly (DOG EAR)

Flutter, flutter, went the flag, first to the right, then to the left. This was a childhood awakening moment for me, the point in true literature (not kiddy literature, aka whatever passed for Harry Potter back then) when I leaned that people could die in books. Quick. Fast. Unexpectedly. The line comes from HG Wells’ War of the Worlds. The flag is a white flag of truce. The people holding it aloft are scientists and peace-seekers. And the beings on the other end of the leveled heat ray? Martians, with intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic. A moment later, they […]
December 13, 2012

One year later (DOG EAR)

Hard to imagine, but its been a year. I was sorting through the knotted Christmas lights, wondering when they’d last been untangled. What, a year? No, wait. Last Christmas, we took a break from all that, spending the Christmas week in London. It was the year before. But as I teetered on the edge of the ladder, stringing the now-untangled lights, my thoughts went back to that last year. No, Christmas wasn’t a worry, nor the trip (we’ve done bunches of those). No, it was getting Early Retyrement between covers, as they say. If you’d have told be way back […]
December 6, 2012

Three Cups (DOG EAR)

I remember reading Three Cups of Tea and enjoying it – good book, and nice to know that good things occasionally happen. Except to people involved in this story. There came the allegations of fiction, that Mortenson, the adventurer whom the story centers on, had a “fluid sense of time” that “made pinning down the exact sequence of many events in this book almost impossible”. And class-action suits against him and his Central Asia Institute, with claims that he perhaps profited from his charity and that investors were swindled. And now the co-author (who parted with the hero in a […]
November 29, 2012

Dung sellers (DOG EAR)

This always happens. It’s my birthday and I’m driving to Home Depot to pick up some caulk and tar to patch our roof (what a birthday!). NPR’s media show is talking about publishing and I’m getting more and more depressed. It’s all about how writers really need to market themselves, to find a niche and strategy, to come up with clever ways to gain notice, fans, and bandwidth. Shit, that’s marketing. It’s not writing. So trust me, I’m not going to make a comment that publishing should go back to the way it was, that as a writer, I should […]