200,000 Visitors

 Carter Brown  Comments Off on 200,000 Visitors
Apr 192015
 
Today was a milestone.

200,000th visitor

Now something to entertain

My Darling Is Deadpan

A practical jokers invitation to murder
But when he’s the corpse
One dame could die laughing

Printing History
Written by Alan G Yates (1923-1985)


Bonus Cover
 


Printing History
   Horwitz Publications, Inc
Numbered Series #15 (1956)
 Reprint By Demand Series #3 (1958)

 Posted by at 11:09 pm

The new Fiction River: Risk Takers

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The new Fiction River: Risk Takers
Apr 192015
 
SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015



Edited by Dean Wesley Smith
Money, business, sports, love: All involve risk—and skill. The skilled authors in this volume masterfully exhibit both. Buckle in while a locomotive engineer uses magic in a race to avoid extinction, a game developer must outmaneuver an alien for Earth’s fate, and an exterminator risks everything to go after some really big rats. Crossing genre lines through science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, and mainstream, these adrenaline-pumping stories about taking risks offer nothing but reward.
Fiction River: Fantastic Detectives is a great choice for anyone who loves it when genres are swirled together. It’s nominally more heavily influenced by mystery conventions and tropes, but the science fiction and fantasy elements in it are almost as strong.”
—Long and Short Reviews on Fiction River: Fantastic Detectives
Table of Contents
“Play the Man” by Dan C. Duval
“The F Factor” by Chrissy Wissler
“No Free Lunch” by Anthea Sharp
“Winning the Ocean Pearl” by T. D. Edge
“China Moll” by Cindie Geddes
“A Tale of Good Whiskey, Bad Coffee, and One Devious Woman” by Annie Reed
“Bucking the Tiger” by John Helfers & Kerrie Hughes
“The Messiah Business” by Robert T. Jeschonek
“Muggins Rules” by Russ Crossley
“Cost and Conscience” by Christy Fifield
“Side Baiting” by Phaedra Weldon
“Gambler’s Fallacy” by Brigid Collins
“The Man Who Decided” by Dean Wesley Smith
“Rats” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Driving the Line” by Dan C. Duval
“Side Bet” by Lee Allred

A Movie Review by Mike Tooney: SHERLOCK, JR. (1924).

 Mystery movies, Reviews, Silent films  Comments Off on A Movie Review by Mike Tooney: SHERLOCK, JR. (1924).
Apr 192015
 
Reviewed by MIKE TOONEY:


SHERLOCK, JR. Buster Keaton Productions, 1924, 45 minutes. Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly, Ward Crane. Writers: Clyde Bruckman, Jean C. Havez, Joe Mitchell. Director: Buster Keaton.

   For silent film aficionados Charlie Chaplin is the ne plus ultra of comedians. Certainly Chaplin had a wide emotional range which he was able to exploit at every turn; with him, slapstick humor and pathos — if not bathos — could be only a few frames apart. There is no denying Charlie Chaplin’s talent.

   For this silent film enthusiast, however, Buster Keaton is still my favorite comedian of the era. No knock against Chaplin, but there is something irreducibly American about Keaton, especially in his boundless enthusiasm and unquenchable energy in accomplishing his goals. If a situation seemed hopeless, Keaton would simply redouble his efforts and win out in the end — no defeatism for Buster. For him, the most intractable problems would always involve women in some way — and thus has it ever been with men.

   Buster Keaton didn’t have that wide emotional range that Chaplin possessed, but he didn’t really need it. In fact, he eschewed facial emotions, leading to his nickname “The Great Stone Face.” Keeping a dead pan regardless of the situation, Buster was still able to convey exactly what he should be feeling at any given moment. Now that’s talent!

    Sherlock, Jr. is one of Keaton’s best efforts. In it he plays a film projector operator whose dreams mirror his real-life anxieties, so you shouldn’t think that the movie is simply a shallow comedy. As Dan Callahan writes:

    “With Sherlock Jr, he [Keaton] came up with a haunting little meditation on movies and dreams. Projectionist Buster falls asleep at the controls and dreams that he can enter the film he is unreeling. With a series of ingenious visual effects, Keaton gives us a perfect demonstration of what it would be like to climb up onto a screen and become a part of the movie we are watching. It’s an unforgettable scene. Without self-consciousness, Keaton brings home the wondrousness of the medium itself, submerging himself in the ocean of its superb and liquid unreality. When he steps onto the screen, he fulfills something in all of us.”

   It is within this framework of fantasy that Buster acts out some of his most inventive visual gags — falling in and out of the dream world of the film-within-a-film, pretending to be the suave supersleuth (more like James Bond, in fact) who nearly gets it from an explosive billiard ball, diving through a window in a tuxedo and coming up from the ground inside a woman’s dress, diving headfirst yet again through — yes, through — another human being, an exquisitely-timed descent hanging from a railroad crossing gate into a moving car (if you can, run that sequence in slow motion), a gag involving Buster all alone on a bicycle’s handle bars approaching a train that’s just about to pass a trestle, and another stunt in which he falls from a moving train (and during which, he learned years later, he actually broke his neck). It seems that one of Buster’s favorite gag props was trains; he also used them to good effect in The General.

   No two ways about it: Buster Keaton was a comic film genius.

 Posted by at 6:54 pm

The new Fiction River: Risk Takers

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The new Fiction River: Risk Takers
Apr 192015
 

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith
Money, business, sports, love: All involve risk—and skill. The skilled authors in this volume masterfully exhibit both. Buckle in while a locomotive engineer uses magic in a race to avoid extinction, a game developer must outmaneuver an alien for Earth’s fate, and an exterminator risks everything to go after some really big rats. Crossing genre lines through science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, and mainstream, these adrenaline-pumping stories about taking risks offer nothing but reward.
Fiction River: Fantastic Detectives is a great choice for anyone who loves it when genres are swirled together. It’s nominally more heavily influenced by mystery conventions and tropes, but the science fiction and fantasy elements in it are almost as strong.”
—Long and Short Reviews on Fiction River: Fantastic Detectives
Table of Contents
“Play the Man” by Dan C. Duval
“The F Factor” by Chrissy Wissler
“No Free Lunch” by Anthea Sharp
“Winning the Ocean Pearl” by T. D. Edge
“China Moll” by Cindie Geddes
“A Tale of Good Whiskey, Bad Coffee, and One Devious Woman” by Annie Reed
“Bucking the Tiger” by John Helfers & Kerrie Hughes
“The Messiah Business” by Robert T. Jeschonek
“Muggins Rules” by Russ Crossley
“Cost and Conscience” by Christy Fifield
“Side Baiting” by Phaedra Weldon
“Gambler’s Fallacy” by Brigid Collins
“The Man Who Decided” by Dean Wesley Smith
“Rats” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Driving the Line” by Dan C. Duval
“Side Bet” by Lee Allred


Paperback 871: Dictators Die Hard / Robert A. Levey // Evil is the Night / John Creighton (Ace D-393)

 1959, Ace Double, Boobs, Central America, John Creighton, Military, Neckwear, Riding Crop, Robert A. Levey, Statues, Uncredited  Comments Off on Paperback 871: Dictators Die Hard / Robert A. Levey // Evil is the Night / John Creighton (Ace D-393)
Apr 192015
 

Paperback 871: Ace Double D-393 (1st ptg / PBO)

Titles: Dictators Die Hard / Evil is the Night
Authors: Robert A. Levey / John Creighton
Cover artists: Uncredited / Uncredited

Estimated value: $25-30

AceD393A
Best things about this cover:

  • Dictators Die Hard—Stenographers Spank Harder!
  • Dictators Die Hard—You’re Looking At My Chest, Aren’t You?
  • I love the composition of this cover. Logically, this must depict two different scenes, but I like the idea of her staring down the gunman. “Oh, am I distracting you?” “I hope you’re man enough to make the shot.” “You *better* not be pointing that thing at me.” “Hurry up so we can go riding, you tiresome lout!”
  • She borrowed her ascot from a foppish squirrel.

AceD393B
Best things about this other cover:

  • Jenga!
  • I hate to think where that thing’s been.
  • “I’m thinking of calling my book ‘Tender is the Night'” “That title’s taken.” “Hmmm….”

Page 123~

I stared at McMahon, and Hibbs scowled at me. Nobody said anything. It was an uncomfortable moment. 

This took 9th place in Yakima County’s “Write Like Raymond Carver Day” competition.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Interview with Lisa Unger

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Interview with Lisa Unger
Apr 192015
 

by Kristi Belcamino

I’m stealing this from … myself. I did this interview with one of my all-time favorite authors, Lisa Unger, about three years ago.  Lisa’s latest book, CRAZY LOVE YOU, came out in February.

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
My most creative hours are from about 5 AM to noon.  However, I have a six year old daughter, who comes before everything else … and she also likes to get up between 5 and 6 AM.  Luckily, my husband is on board to help, but I like to be with her first thing, make her breakfast and see her off to kindergarten … so the early hours are hit or miss.  I write when she’s in school.  If I haven’t met my goals by the time she comes home, I work again after she goes to bed.  The writer/mother thing can be a difficult balance, and sometimes I need support in the afternoons. But mainly it works.  And I feel lucky to do what I love and still be present every day for my little girl.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writers’ block.  I think that’s just fear, or perfectionism.  In The Lie that Tells a Truth, author John Dufresne says that writers’ block is you wanting to write well right now.  But sometimes all you have to do is writePerfection – or hopefully something close — comes in revision.
My singular struggle – in work and in life — is that there are not enough hours in the day. Writing is the thing that has always come most naturally to me.  And it’s harder for me not to write, then it is for me to sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard.  I live for the blank page.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
Stephen King’s On WritingThe Lie that Tells a Truth by John Dufresne, as well as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott all books that offer tremendous insight on the craft of writing.
4. Who do you read for fun?
I have always been a literary omnivore and have been influenced as heavily by popular fiction as by classic literature.  I don’t discriminate!  I have loved Truman Capote, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jane Austen, Patricia Highsmith, The Bronte sisters.  But I have also loved Stephen King, Sidney Sheldon, Joy Fielding.  My fiction love affair right now is George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne series.  I am knee deep in book four, A Feast for Crows.  The series is simply a feat of brilliant storytelling and character development.
I have read widely across genre.  I love a great story and I think that can be found in every area of fiction.  One of my first and favorite thrillers was Rebecca by Daphne DuMurier.  I really loved that idea of the ordinary girl caught in extraordinary circumstances.  And it is a theme that has run through my work.
Some of my favorite contemporary writers:  Laura Lippman, John Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Michael Connelly, Kate Atkinson, Dennis Lehane …  I could go on and on.  I am currently also reading Lisa Gardeners Catch Me. (I always have multiple books going!)  It’s truly fantastic.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
I don’t remember a time before I defined myself as a writer.  Making a living as a writer is really the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life.  It was a twisty road to that place, and there were times when I never thought I’d manage it.  So I’m very grateful.  It’s a dream come true.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
The best advice I can give aspiring writers is to write every day. Dig deeper every day. Be true to yourself. Think of publishing as an incidental element to the act of striving to be the best writer you can be, secondary to getting better every day for your experiences and dedication to the craft.
And read.  Read everything you can get your hands on.  Study the people who are doing it best and learn from them.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Tenacity makes up for almost any shortfall.  Of course, you need talent.  You might also benefit from a little bit of good luck.  But without the drive and sheer never-say-die determination you won’t have what it takes to finish a novel, or to succeed once you do.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
Rebecca was my first gothic thriller.  I love every word Truman Capote has ever writer – from Music for Chameleons to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  But it was In Cold Blood that had the biggest impact on me as a writer.
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
I am sure every author feels this way, but I think I have the very best fans and readers.  I am connected with them every day at www.facebook.com/authorlisaunger. They are funny, smart, and so supportive.  So, I suppose what I’d like to say more than anything is: Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my life.
Lisa Unger is the bestselling author of 13 novels and several short stories.  CRAZY LOVE YOU is her latest release.  IN THE BLOOD, now in paperback, was a 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Best Book, Amazon Best Book of the Month, Suspense Magazine Best Books of 2014, Sun Sentinel Best Mystery Novels of 2014 and Indie Next Pick.
Additional accolades include selections as a finalist for International Thriller Writers Best Novel Award, a winner of the Florida Book Awards, a finalist for Prix Polar International Award, Bookspan’s International Book of the Month, and a Target “Emerging Author.”  Her books are published in 26 languages worldwide and have been named top picks by Todayshow, Good Morning America, Walmart Book Club, Harper’s Bazaar, Family Circle, Good HousekeepingWashington LifePublishers WeeklyNew York Daily News, Indie Next and Amazon (Top Ten Thriller of the Year.)  She currently lives in Florida.

“Dry Bones” Kills in L.A.

 Awards 2015  Comments Off on “Dry Bones” Kills in L.A.
Apr 192015
 

Pennsylvania author Tom Bouman has been awarded the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category for his novel, Dry Bones in the Valley (Norton). His was one of several commendations handed out this evening during the Times Festival of Books, held on the University of Southern California campus.

This year’s other Mystery/Thriller nominees were: The Painter, by Peter Heller (Knopf); After I’m Gone, by Laura Lippman (Morrow); Sins of Our Fathers, by Shawn Lawrence Otto (Milkweed); and The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, by Peter Swanson (Morrow).

You’ll find the complete list of tonight’s prize winners here.

Where’s My Coloring Book?

 Books, Marilyn Thiele  Comments Off on Where’s My Coloring Book?
Apr 192015
 

Marilyn Thiele

When one has a small bookshop, special orders for customers are a daily occurrence. No matter how carefully the planned ordering is done, there is not space for everything. Requests from shoppers are one of the ways I find out what our community wants; the New York Times Bestseller List is good, but the books listed are not necessarily the most desired in our town. Every bookseller has to both keep up with large trends and keep in touch with the local world. Even if a special request is not for something I think will be widely popular, it leads me to books of interest I might otherwise have missed, and I frequently order a few extra copies knowing I have customers with similar tastes.

Last week one of my “regulars,” an avid crime fiction fan, asked me to order two books with which I was unfamiliar: The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forest, Enchanted Forest
both by Johanna Basford. I thought perhaps she was moving on to another genre, until I looked them up. Well, yes, they are in a different category from her normal Scandinavian whodunits. They are coloring books – for adults. And thus my introduction to a phenomenon I had missed completely.

Both books are out of stock at the publisher, as is every other adult coloring book I was able to identify. Apparently they were the bestselling books on Amazon until the publisher ran out; so I and the big guy both wait patiently for some reprinting. In the meantime, I decided to look a little deeper into this sudden popularity of what was once considered childhood entertainment.

Unlike the books we remember filling up with our crayons, the adult versions are extremely detailed and complex, and are printed on high quality paper to allow for use with markers, pencils, Sharpies, or any other method the would-be artist chooses , without bleeding through. Basford’s books have hidden details, such as butterflies or squirrels, and a list in the beginning pointing out what to look for. According to one review, there are also clues to a puzzle to solve at the end.

Secret Garden

This trend apparently started in Great Britain, where Basford’s books have been bestsellers for over a year. When published here in March, they sold out within two weeks. As I asked more and more people if they were aware of adult coloring books, I found that those who have been lucky enough to get these volumes love them. The most frequent description I heard was “relaxing.” Friends troubled with insomnia find that a few minutes of coloring leads to a good night’s sleep. Those stressed at the end of the workday find that taking out the markers and coloring book lowers that old cortisol level almost immediately.

There are various theories about why this activity is so relaxing. Some say that it’s an appeal to nostalgia, that it takes us back to a simpler time in our lives when someone else worried about the mortgage and the food shopping. Some say that we all are aspiring artists, but that being confronted with a blank page is too frightening. Having the pictures already drawn, and using our own creativity with color to complete the work, is an outlet for that desire. Others claim that the appeal is in the sense of accomplishment: having a finished work of art is satisfying in a world where most of our labors are on recurring tasks (everything from housework to running a business falls here for me).

More complicated analyses of the coloring book craze involve “digital detox,” mindfulness, meditative benefits, and the connections between use of our hands and certain centers in the brain. Whatever the cause of the peace and contentment that coloring is bringing to the grownup world, there’s no denying its popularity. Everyone wants to try it, including me. Whenever those backordered books finally come, I have one reserved for myself. I’ll let you know if it’s as relaxing as they say – unless I’m too unwound to write.

Better Mousetraps

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Better Mousetraps
Apr 192015
 

I had a long discussion with a friend who’s an aspiring author about how to move the plot along and engage the reader at every turn. To that end, I thought I’d share some things about how I plan and outline my own work. If you find it helpful, good. If not, well, it was worth what you paid for it.

Let me say up front that there is no one or “right” way to write a novel. Some start writing with barely an idea, others do 50 page outlines. So I can’t advise the only way to write a compelling draft, I can only explain the system I use.

Here’s how I do it: First, I ensure that if it’s an action book, there are sufficient beats to keep the reader engaged. I do this visually, as I outline (I do single sentence summaries of each chapter, usually in three acts, approximately 15 chapters per act), by color coding my chapters with action beats or reversals. So if my typical book has, say, 45 chapters, and I don’t have a beat every two or three chapters, it’s probably going to be a snoozefest. I’d rather know that going in and contrive more story than discover I lack beats once written.

As discussed, my outline will be single sentence chapters, a la “Giant panda storms Tokyo,” “Protag introduced, narrowly escapes,” “Romantic interest introduced, helps her across river,” etc. The action beats will be highlighted red (or in romance, the conflict beats). I want to see a lot of red in one of my action adventure tomes.

When I do my single sentences, I focus on who’s in it, why they’re in it, and what’s happening. If it’s not essential to moving the story along or imparting important info of some sort, my philosophy is it should be cut – it serves no purpose but to occupy space, and it’s a better read if every chapter has impact, a specific purpose. Purposeful outlining, and then hopefully, writing, is a key in my opinion to making for a gripping read.

I also try for as many reversals as I can achieve. She’s being chased, the situation reverses, she’s now the hunter, the prey eludes her, and doubles back, putting her in harm’s way again. She was on top, now she’s scrambling. The love interest was making advances, now he’s distant. Reversals make it interesting. The more the merrier, and if you can achieve multiples within a chapter, so much the better.

Probably the biggest thing in a larger sense is to try to demonstrate qualities about the characters, what they’re feeling, attributes, without doing so explicitly, i.e. showing vs. telling, because even the fastest moving novel will lose reader interest pretty quickly if everything’s explicate and obvious.

And finally, on second and third draft, I ask myself with each sentence whether it needs to be there – does it tell us something vital about the story, characters, etc.? Is there a better way to say it? Is it repetition of something I said earlier? Is it setting a tone or mood? Does the reader already know this because of something I said or did 40 pages earlier? Are the characters logically consistent in their behavior?

One of my pet peeves is when a character has to behave stupidly or illogically (outside of the framework of the world I’ve crafted) in order to move the plot forward. So I’m careful to watch for that – although note that in something like my NA trilogy, I deliberately have the protag behaving in contradictory ways, but that’s because when you’re a teen, you can have contradictory impulses in a short period of time. That’s how it was for me. Part of becoming a mature adult is being fairly responsible, but being a teen is the path toward that, so I want that push pull of emotions, that should I or shouldn’t I instability. It’s the instability that adds to veracity, that even, while frustrating in a kind of “No, don’t do that!” way, feels true and real, even if frustrating that the character is doing something that isn’t in her or his best interests.

In summary, I strive for pacing and consistency. I’m not immune to the lure of prose, to the well turned phrase or the bordering-on-purple description, but that’s a personal style preference. I know many books and courses counsel the Hemingway/Chandler school of sparse prose and economic description, and that’s fine, but it’s a preference, nothing more. I do look for readability in the prose as a final check – is there musicality to it? Lyricism? Is there suitable difference in sentence structure to avoid monotony? Is there a cadence, and if so, is it one that I like, or could I do better?

The big takeaway is that color coding your chapters might work for you, might not, but I’ve found it a reasonable way to do what a content editor might, on my own, and ensure my characters get into sufficient trouble to keep it interesting.

Now, go buy my crap. JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, is out and garnering impressive reviews, and Ramsey’s Gold is on preorder for release end of May. Both are worthy of a hard look. Terror Alert is as good an example as any of how my approach to pacing unfolds, so it’s not a bad place to look for the structure within the chapters. And Ramsey’s a blockbuster read. Trust me on this.

As to my situation, I’ve got a mountain of work to get done over the next ten days, so will be in and out.

Hope this little glimpse into my process resonates. Now go write something.

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