In the ink well

Dog Ear

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 […]
July 5, 2012

The Irony of Irony (DOG EAR)

Eric Frank Russell once wrote a wonderful science fiction piece where a scout ship discovers a planet, green with fields and ripe with cities. The crew emerges after their fiery (and highly visible) descent to find… nobody coming to see them. Finally they head towards the nearest town, only to discover the inhabitants “racing” in their vehicles towards the landing site, but because of a difference in time scale, they are barely moving at all. The crew returns to their ship, going about their business and ignoring the forest of “statues” that slowly gather around their landing field. Finally an […]
June 28, 2012

The Air that I breathe (Dog Ear)

We’d just come out of the movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and a scene was stuck in my head, a beautiful image that’s a bit of a spoiler so I’m not going to tell it other than it was magnificently sound-tracked with the Hollies’ The Air That I breathe. In this, the music and imagery really worked to form a perfect meld, the moment where what the director wanted me to get, I got. Before the music industry became the hip-hop ring-tone thing it is today, individuals could still produce music that touched our souls, […]
June 21, 2012

Rejection (DOG EAR)

This was how my story started… The shotgun trembled in Hector’s grip, his crucifix tinkling across its twin barrels. He was frightened – dry-mouthed, ass-puckered frightened – more frightened than when Mr. Sethman had come to their town meeting with his damned proposition. But this current fear wasn’t diluted by misgivings and second-thoughts. This fear was final. And this was how the rejection started… Choosing which stories to accept has been a difficult decision, and we regret that we won’t be taking it for the collection. It was a very creative semi-western, semi-gothic, all-wonderfully-bonkers-and-evocative piece, and we hope that it […]
June 14, 2012

The man with the can (DOG EAR)

  “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” -Anton Chekhov I don’t know who this old black man is. Usually I see him on days I bike in, over on the other side of Lake Destiny Road, going south to my north. He’s always riding a ratty little bike, so non-descript I can’t really remember what it is – maybe one of those banana-bikes popular twenty years ago, […]
June 7, 2012

Creativity (DOG EAR)

Creativity. Those who don’t have it (who talk on cellphones or watch TV in the evenings) don’t get it. But we, the people who walk silently with eyes on the invisible or who do more than doodle during tedious office meetings, we have it. Creativity. An example was yesterday – slow day at work with an unexpected extension we didn’t need. Not much to do. Fine. But for fun, I’ve been working on a computer game at home, an excel takeoff of “Time Tripper”, a time-travel/combat game from 1980 that I loved to play. The game itself was clever (I’m […]
May 31, 2012

Gotcha! (DOG EAR)

You know the movie – the cute babysitter hears a noise. She investigates. Opeeeeennnsss the dooooooor…. MEOW! Out runs… the cat. She and the audience breath a sigh or relief and then the killer rams an ice pick into her. Surprises, shock, and startlement go with the media of movies – very easy to do. But it’s possible to pull this off in writing – if one really crafts it well. My favorite shock comes from the book Mr American by George MacDonald Fraser, where the title character (once a desperado, now a English squire) has just been threatened by […]
May 24, 2012

Literary Setbacks (DOG EAR)

I’ll always remember the scene in The Muppet Movie (the first one, kiddies) where producer Orson Wells casts an imperial glare over the bedraggled muppets who have forced their way into his office, then intercoms his receptionist. “Bring me the ‘Rich and Famous’ contract.” Yeah, that’s what we want. Then there is the movie moment from Sideways where a would-be author stands on the empty loading dock behind a winery and listens as his agent tells him that “Some books can’t find a home”. Yes, after thinking he was going to be published, he’s getting dropped by his agency. And […]
May 17, 2012

AdSpace (DOG EAR)

Even at the time of my second book (Fire and Bronze), I still had this idyllic vision of writers doing nothing more than writing their carefree novels in vine-covered cottages, and perhaps answering a fan letter or two following their afternoon walk. Recent experiences have put paid to that. Now that I have to do everything myself, I’m learning what my sister knows about self-promotion, self-marketing and personal shilling. It’s hard. Humans are by-in-large modest; our culture wires us that way. Villains brag, heroes don’t. And now that I’ve had to set up my appearances, to gussy myself up and […]