What's cooking at the Blue Fox Cafe
All about the ins and outs of writing

Jan
18
The butterfly enters the net

The butterfly enters the net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enternet

Before the Internet, there was the Enternet. Here, a perfectly healthy butterfly is about to enter the net, where he ( or she ) will be killed, pinned and preserved. Eventually the insect will be put on display behind glass with all the other bugs.

Jan
10
Durango is actually derived from the Basque language

Durango is actually derived from the Basque language

 

 

 

 

 

 

Names

Here is a picture of the word Durango, which is a state in north central Mexico, where the the capitol city also has the same name. That’s simple enough, but where in the heck did the word come from. Is it Native, for it sure doesn’t sound Spanish. Actually, the word is reported to be of Basque origin. According to ancestry.com the word means a place, possibly a fertile land located between great heights or perhaps on a great plain.

Names

Jan
09

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Sorry, I’m a few days late with my response, but here’s my take on the subject anyhow.

Breaking the rules can be an exhilirating experience

Breaking the rules can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also get you into deep trouble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Experience

There are many rules to writing. If you don’t believe me just pick a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or William Zinser’s On Writing Well. For here, among many pages of good advice, you will find more rules than you could possibly ever break.

Then there are the more nebulous rules of creative writing that deal with such things as plot structure, storyline, character development, antagonists, protagonists and so on. Good advice on these matters can be found all across the blogosphere, as well in many books and periodical publications. The information overload here is astounding, but for some good all around advice, you might want to go here or here or here. The list is endless, really.

However, for better or worse, I’m going to talk about a slightly different subject matter, and that is writing for the content mills. This activity goes against every grain of creative writing advice in so many ways that it’s not funny, but I have to say that my foray into this gray area, helped solidify my writing, plus it earned me tens of thousands dollars over a five year period.

I didn’t get rich doing this, for if you added up the time spent, I barely made minimum wage, but yet during this sometimes grueling activity, I learned how to put a short article together, plus I got in the habit of meeting a deadline. And possibly the best benefit of all, was that I acquired self confidence. Seeing my work published at places like USA Today Online more than made up for the necessary rejections and disappointments that accompanied this learning process.

Now that most of my effort goes into writing short and long fiction, I can look back on this school-of-hard-knocks for the limited success that I have had in this more difficult endeavor.

 

And Finally

Here is one rule that you definitely don’t want to break.

A real life sign from New Zealand, from Wikipedia

A sign from New Zealand, from Wikipedia

Jan
03
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The Cat in the Hat can be seen in many places including Las Vegas, NV   photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resilient (Are you a fan of the Cat in the Hat?)

Perhaps, one of the most resilient fictional characters of all times is Dr. Seuss’s, Cat in the Hat. Here he is pictured in an obscure location in Las Vegas, NV, but the elusive feline has been known to appear almost anywhere without more than a moment’s notice. And don’t try to get rid of this creature, for he is sure to return and cause more trouble if you do.
Resilient

Dec
27
This bike path near St. George, Utah has a strong resemblance to the proverbial

This bike path near St. George, Utah has a strong visual resemblance to the proverbial “Red Road”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Path

Path

My time in St. George, Utah consisted of camping out in the red rock desert just north of the city limits. My trip into town included traveling down this scenic bike path. Once in town, my first stop was usually the public library.

On one of my walks around town a woman gave me a ride across town and during our conversation she suggested I check out the visitor center of the local Mormon temple. Not wanting to seem like a prude, I eventually did make a trip to the visitor center, where I saw a bunch of fascinating paintings and I also learned how the town got its name.

For those of you who might think this desert oasis is named after the English saint, who slayed the dragon, you’re wrong. (I must admit that I am one of those.) Instead, the town title comes from George Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, who cured the residents from sickness by encouraging them to eat the skin off the potatoes. Before that, the early settlers were skinning the potatoes before consumption, thus eliminating a bunch of natural vitamins.

 

Dec
16
This Quebec road sign warns motorists of an impending problem. photo by author

This Quebec road sign warns motorists of an impending problem. photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anticipation

Some events in life can be anticipated, while others may come as a complete surprise.

Anticipation

Dec
15
Two spirals make up a pair of owl's eyes, photo and drawing by author

Two spirals make up a pair of owl’s eyes, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyes Have It

These two spirals could be the eyes of an owl. With each spiral spinning in an opposite direction, one might think that the owl was cross-eyed or maybe just dizzy.

 

 

A Spiral from Space

A natural spiral found in outer space, photo by NASA

A natural spiral found in outer space, photo by NASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Spiral

Here’s a little Christmas bonus for everybody, a natural spiral found in space, more specifically it is located within the star system, known as LL Pegasi.

Dec
09
Downtown Montreal offers the pedestrian a striking new view, photo by author

Downtown Montreal offers the pedestrian a striking new view, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Horizon

Looking upwards at modern architecture can provide the viewer with a new horizon.

New Horizon

Dec
08
Fiddlehead ferns make a great soup, provided you pick the right one.

Fiddlehead ferns make a great soup, provided you pick the right one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec
07
The Italian Mansion of the late Gore Vidal overlooked the Mediterranean

The Italian Mansion of the late Gore Vidal overlooked the Mediterranean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five years from now, I would like to occupy Gore Vidal’s house on the Italian Riviera, because the view of the Mediterranean is tremendous. I hear that the place has been vacant since the old man passed away and if at all possible I would like to make an offer before somebody snatches the place up.

I can’t do that right now, but things should change quickly as soon as I find the right agent and he or she finds the right publisher for my recently-completed two novel series on the adventures of a pair of female vegetarian ghosthunters. I seriously doubt that this process would take very long, as the stories have been carefully written and even edited. If by some chance this place is not available, I’m sure there is a nice hotel or villa nearby, where I could stay.

 

 

Dec
02
Roadside motel in Maine

Roadside motel in Maine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relax

This would be a nice place to relax. Wish I was there now.

 

Relax

Nov
26
An Inflatable Santa is a sign of the strange times that we are now facing

An Inflatable Santa is a sign of the strange times that we are now facing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus Today

Without any snow due to global warming and without any presents to deliver because of proposed tax increases, this Santa is nothing but a bunch of hot air.
It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

Nov
23
The Spider that ate Honolulu, drawing and photo by author

The Spider that ate Honolulu, drawing and photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider

I’m sure that everyone has heard of the “Cockroach that ate Cincinnati”. If you haven’t here’s the link. Indeed the Cockroach that ate Cincinnati is a fearsome threat indeed. But here is another threat, “The Spider That Ate Honolulu.”

Nov
23
rs-planes-trains-and-automobiles-20661100-179d-4dfa-816f-541265fcfe0c

Steve Martin and John Candy star in the classic Thanksgiving story, Planes, Trains and Automobiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Thanksgiving Time Again

I don’t think any other country has a holiday quite like Thanksgiving. Canada almost does, but there “Celebration” falls right on top of Columbus Day and is the last major holiday before Christmas. For Americans, Thanksgiving is kind of a prelude to Christmas in that it initiates the X-mas shopping season, while still giving the general public a four day window to feast, celebrate and relax, if they play their cards right. And if you do find the time to relax, you might enjoy one of the following three movies, all made over twenty years ago. Does this mean modern day film makers are losing their storytelling ability?

Arlo Guthrie, not only wrote the song, but also starred in the movie, called Alice's Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie, not only wrote the song, but also starred in the movie, called Alice’s Restaurant. However, the script for the movie was not created by Arlo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice’s Restaurant

If you are going to watch the movie, you definitely need to check out the song first. It is actually called Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, is only eighteen and a half minutes long (the exact amount of time that Richard Nixon erased from his Watergate tapes) and features Arlo Guthrie’s whacky Okie storytelling skill at its finest. Recorded in 1967, the song helped earn Arlo a spot at Woodstock.

The movie came out in 1969 and not only featured Arlo, along with a few minor actors, but also included the real-life Officer Obie, Police Chief William Obanhein. Definitely, check this movie out for a satirical look at life in the late 60s, when the Vietnam War was still going full bore.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was first aired on American TV in 1973

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was first aired on American TV in 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

First broadcast on network TV in 1973, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is still shown on American TV, usually on Thanksgiving night. Viewers of all ages will enjoy this sad-eyed romp into Charlie’s adultless world, as Charlie and his gang try to figure how to enjoy Thanksgiving feast with limited cooking skills.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a funny Hollywood “buddy” film made in 1987. It featured two big name actors, Steve Martin and John Candy, as each one delivered one of their better film performances in this wintry travel saga. The storyline consists of two men, one successful and one not, each trying to find their way back home on a busy Thanksgiving holiday. Fate brings them together, as they encounter one obstacle after another in their trip across the heartland of America.

The Twenty-first Century

Even though we are well into a new century, Thanksgiving hasn’t changed all that much. Perhaps, we have more football games on TV, and more businesses willing to open their doors at all kinds of weird hours on Black Friday. But all in all, Thanksgiving is all about roast turkey, pumpkin pie and some sort of realization that the pilgrims and New England natives did enjoy 50 years of peace before going at each other throats. I guess its time for another classic Thanksgiving movie, good for the ages to come.

 

 

 

Nov
18
What happens to people after they get sawed in half?

What happens to people after they get sawed in half?

Magic

We have all seen the magician saw the beautiful ladies in half. Yet, somehow they always go back together after being cut in two. But have you ever stopped to wonder if the magician always got it right the first time. I’m sure he didn’t and it seems plausible that the man on stage had to practice the trick quite a few times until he did. And chances are he didn’t use the beautiful models as his guinea pigs. Instead, he must of used any old joe, he found walking down the street.
Magic

Nov
17
The aquatic car was a short-lived invention of the sixties, photo and drawing by author

The aquatic car was a short-lived invention of the sixties, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquatic

The aquatic car, also known as the “submarine car”, was a nifty little design that allowed the passengers to travel underwater, as well as on land. Unfortunately, only a few were ever made, so if you happen to own one, hang onto it, for it may be worth a fortune.

 

Nov
12
This picture of M&Ms has no scale, for these are not the regular M&Ms. They are the small mini-sized ones.

This picture of M&Ms has no scale, for these are not the regular M&Ms. They are the small mini-sized ones.

Tiny

Tiny is smaller than small. M&Ms are a small bite-sized candy popular around the world. However, these are the mini version of the chocolate candy. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference since there is no scale or reference to size in this photo. So as Donald Trump would say “You’ll just have to believe me.” You are really looking at the tiny variety.

Tiny

Nov
06

NASA experiment, Image taken during a session of the Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) experiment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnout

Numero uno is burnout. Since July, I have been busy working on a YA novel. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the project has split two-for-one into a MG novel and a YA novel. All total the word count is about twice what I originally planned. It’s now at 100,000, 35,000 for the MG story and 65,000 for the YA sequel. If I can sell both, then that’ll be great, but right now I’m not even close to making a sale. I’m still going through what seems like an endless string of revisions. To tackle another heavy writing project at this time would be ludicrous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Agents

Literary agents have responded to NaNoWriMo in a funny way. They aren’t really interested. In fact, many close down shop for December and January to avoid the deluge of queries and of course enjoy the holidays. I think if I was a literary agent, I would much prefer drinking eggnog to combing through a swarm of half-baked manuscripts. And if I did look at any manuscripts, I probably would have to imbibe a large number of glasses of eggnog before I did.

So for right now, I am trying to get all my queries out before Thanksgiving, so I don’t get buried in large mass of e-mails that gets sent out in December and January. You might say that I could mention the fact that my literary effort is not part of any NaNoWriMo writing group, but somehow I feel any new communication sent out during this time period, will be swallowed up and not get the attention that I think it deserves.

Eggnog is better than NaNoWriMo

Eggnog is better than NaNoWriMo

What I Like About NaNoWriMo

My first full length literary effort was inspired by NaNoWriMo. I barely made the 50,000 word deadline, but I kept writing, so by the middle of spring, I had a revised manuscript that I felt pretty good about. Beta readers agreed, but literary agents did not. So in retrospective, NaNoWriMo can get Newbie writers the confidence to undertake and complete a fledgling first draft of a very short novel. Keep in mind that today, most novels fall in the 75,000-90,000 word range. Still, completing 50,000 coherent words is something to jump up and down and holler about, but chances are it is not ready to be sent to an agent.

Nov
04
A white arrow amidst a swarm of black lines, photo by author

A white arrow amidst a swarm of black lines, photo by author

 

Chaos

As illustrating by this simple shot from a Utah parking lot, life without order tends to descend into chaos.

Chaos

Nov
03
Tiger stripes make an excellent subject for deriving abstract designs, photo and drawing by author

Tiger stripes make an excellent subject for deriving abstract designs, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stripes

Tiger stripes make for a dynamic drawing and sketching subject. Just don’t get too close to your subject matter and you’ll be fine. For this art marker drawing, I just went online and googled “tiger stripes”. No mess and no fuss.

Nov
02
Two gold coins from Demark and Sweden, from Wikipedia

Two gold coins from Demark and Sweden, from Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

My favorite aspect of being a writer is getting paid and right behind that is the thrill of seeing something in print, including online. Of course, it sort of goes without saying that you can’t get paid something until you finish; so there is also a lot of satisfaction in finishing an article or a story. And that means finishing the written piece to the extent that it does not need any more editing before you send it out.

 

Jan
11

Green Lettuce Days

A short Story by Blue Fox Café

a short story written for terrible minds including the following elements; fairytale fantasy, an old abandoned Walmart and talking animals. Also included for shits and giggles is Post-Apocalyptic humor

            There were four of them resting and hiding among the wild rose brambles that lined the sandy banks of the ButtermilkRiver . The sky had been overcast most of the day with clouds the color of cold steel. But now as night was approaching, a bright streak of crimson marked the western horizon. Overhead, Vega glittered brightly through the parting clouds.

All four of them moved out of the thicket, following a well-worn path through a stand of huge cottonwoods. Then they begin their trek across the vast expanse of tarmac that now lay dormant. Several years had passed since the ever-popular Wal-mart had closed it doors; and now clumps of fresh shoots of grass along with small box elder saplings sprang from the cracks in the tarvia.

Pa Pere lead the way followed closely by his loyal mate, Ma Mere, while the two little ones, Antigonus and Amelia, brought up the rear. The quartet searched each little hummock of vegetation, hoping to find some edible bugs or even an errant mouse, vole or mole.

After chancing upon a few measly grubs and finishing off their snack with tidbits of fresh, grass shoots, Antigonus asked his father a question.

“How come you always bring us across this place with the hard, black ground, when there’s hardly anything to eat.”

“Just nostalgia,” replied Pa Pere.

Quickly, Ma Mere cut into the conversation.

“What your father is trying to say, is that, this used to be the best spot to find good vittles.”

“But why do we keep coming here, when there’s not very much to here anymore,” said Antigonus.

“That’s because this used to be the best spot in the whole valley to grab a decent bundle of food,” sai Pa Pere.

“That’s right,” said Ma Mere. “Those were what we called “Green Lettuce Days.”

“What’s lettuce?” asked Amelia.

Both Ma Mere and Pa Pere chuckled at the suggestion, as they lead the two little ones on to the next little clump of grass.

Then Pa Pere began to explain;

“Lettuce was just about one of the best inventions of the “Great Two-leggeds.”

“How come there are any Great Two-leggeds around anymore?” asked Antigonus.

“They disappeared not too long after the Great Shining Light passed right over top of our heads.”

“Really,” said Antigonus, when then this happen?”

“Right before your papa and mama were born,” said Pa Pere.

“There were actually some of the “Great Two Legged” around when your father and I were quite young,” said Ma Mere. “But at that point, it was quite obvious that something was making them very sick.”

“Then more and more them started to disappear,” said Pa Pere. “And before you knew it there wasn’t a one to be found alive.”

After coming up empty for food at the immediate location, Pa Pere lead his family further across the vast flat expanse towards the oak forest that stood strong at the far end of the parking lot. The black and white striped animals made quite a sight as they marched single file across the dark surface.

“Are you glad they’re gone,” asked Amelia.

Well, they could be quite dangerous,” said Pa Pere.

“How’s that? asked Antigonus.

“They would move around in their big metal dens, and in the process they killed all kinds of few four-legged animals, especially us skunks.”

“That sounds horrible,” said Amelia.

“It was a fact of life,” said Pa Pere. “But at the same time they could be quite good to us.”

“That’s hard to believe,” said Amelia.

“I guess it sounds kind of strange, but the “Great Two Leggeds” would leave out all kinds of good food just for us animals.”

All of a sudden a mouse emerges from a clump of grass and seeing the four predators, takes off running for his life. Antigonus sees the fleeing rodent first and takes off in hot pursuit, but the mouse disappears into an underground lair hidden underneath a bunch of grass and weeds before Antigonus can reach his prey.

“Good try, Antigonus,” said Pa Pere. “Maybe next time you’ll get him.”

“These mice must have little tunnels in every little clump of grass,” said a frustrated Antigonus.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they do,” said Ma Mere.

“You know in the old days we would even bother chasing a mouse, said Pa Pere.

“Why’s that?” asked Antigonus.

“See those big empty metal containers sitting over there,” commented Pa Pere.

“I always kind of wondered what they were for,” said Amelia.

“Well, the Great Two Leggeds use to fill them to the top with all sorts of good food,” said Pa Pere. “The kind that us woodchucks, rabbits and skunks really liked.”

“Why did they do that?” asked Antigonus.

“I think they felt sorry for killing so many of us with their awful machines,” said Ma Mere.

“Couldn’t they just stop hurting all the animals,” said Amelia.

“Apparently not,” said Pa Pere. “But now they’re gone, so we have to go back to hunting our own food.”

Then there was a moment of contemplative silence, as Pa Pere lead his family across the rest of the open space to the woods at the far edge of the parking lot.

“Things are sure different now,” said Antigonus.

“That they are,” said Ma Mere.

“Do you think the Great Two Leggeds will ever come back?” asked Amelia.

“ I don’t know,” said Pa Pere.

The End

Sep
12

A belly dancer at the Pacific Coast Fog Fest in Pacifica, CA, USA., from Wikipedia, photo by Clair.S.F.

Intro

Everyday I see quite a lot of advice on how to write better or reach wider markets. While the bulk of the advice seems fine and dandy, very little of it is aimed at anyone who wishes to follow in the financially successful footsteps of a Stephen King, Sandra Brown or James Paterson. To fill this void, I decided to give my two cents worth on the subject.

1. Skip the MFA

A MFA is a great degree to have and hold, especially if you desire a tenured position at a university and like to use long flowery sentences to create literary fiction. Otherwise, skip the time and expense and go to step two.

2. Read extensively In the Genre

Read everything you can in the genre starting , beginning with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and continuing up to the present, including such up and coming literary stars as Brad Thor, Diane Capri or Jo Nesbo.

3. Develop a Complex Spinetingling Storyline

To compete in today’s market, you need to move past the “it was Miss Scarlet  in the parlor with a candlestick” mentality. Instead you need complex plots woven together with the skill of an experienced seamstress.

4. Make Sure You Know How to Write Short Straightforward Sentences and Catchy, Witty and Believable Dialogue

Don’t beat around the bush. Just let the language tell the story in simple sentences mixed liberally with hip, saucy dialogue. Wanna learn how to write good dialogue. Go out and read a bunch of Elmore Leornard books.

5. Revise and Rewrite at Least a Dozen Times

Despite the best efforts of National Novel Writing Month, one draft does not suffice a finished manuscript.

6. A Good Title Is a Must

Can’t say much about this requirement, except that you good titles are like an epiphany. They can come to you at any time – even when you are fast asleep.

7. Use a Pen Name If You have To

If you were born with a name like Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., you might want to change it to something more practical….like John Denver or Elvis Costello.

8. Submit Your Manuscript To Literary Agents and Watch The Money Roll In

Just remember to have a little patience and don’t count your chickens before you hatch.

P.S.
These rules were culled from my daily observations and journeys through cyberspace. As of yet, I have not reached the magic number with six zeros, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

U.S. Money, photo from Library of Congress

Sep
11
Spiral Galaxy NGC 5033

Spiral Galaxy NGC 5033
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona

The Digital Fortress

I just completed Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. It’s the third book I’ve read by the super-successful writer (also include Angels and Demons along with The DaVinci Code), and in my opinion the most interesting and coherent of  the three books. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of an evening with Deception Point or the most recently released, The Lost Symbol. I prefer Digital Fortress over Angels and Demons because of the stronger ending. Though A & D has an intense story line, it suffers from a hard-to-believe ending. I was glad to see that the Angels and Demons movie has a substantially different (and improved) grand finale than the one in the book.

What’s It About

Without giving away too much of the story, Digital Fortress takes place in Washington, D.C. at a high-command computer and data center and also simultaneously in Seville, Spain, when an innocent college professor is sent there by the government to retrieve a small object of considerable importance. Like all of Brown’s novel, this is a page turner, which races through the events of one very long weekend. The novel contains several finely woven storylines that revolves around the two main characters, a young man and woman, in love, who unwillingly find themselves thrust into dangerous situations that are way over their heads. The book could also be labeled a modern-techno thriller, for their is much espionage and spying that goes on surrounding the vast realms of cyber-space the government uses to keep track of its enemies both at home and abroad.

The Palau de la Generalitat houses the offices of the Presidency of the Generalitat de Catalunya

The Palau de la Generalitat houses the offices of the Presidency of the Generalitat de Catalunyaphoto by Generalitat de Catalunya

Is There A Movie Due

I have found no evidence of a movie in the works, concerning Digital Fortress. By the way this novel was published in 1998 and is the first of all of Dan Brown’s popular novels. However, his latest novel, The Lost Symbol (2009) will be released as a movie sometime in the future, though no date has been announced.

Sep
06
giraffe by Kopp-delaney

High by H. Koppdelaney, who allows some use of his images through Creative Commons

About The Visual Artist

I first became aware of Hartwig. Kopp-delaney, when I had a list of 30 travel quotes accepted and published at Brave New Traveler, a popular and offbeat online Zen travel journal, where I have been an infrequent contributor. Along with my humorous words, the editors added a funny photo of a guy in snow looking at a girl in a phone booth, entitled A Matter of the Heart. As it turns out Mr. Kopp-delaney is a well-known maker of Zen images, who delights in sharing his work through Creative Commons.

Perhaps it is best to let Hartwig sum up this generous attitude towards sharing his artwork in concurrence with the deeply spiritual Zen attitude, which he firmly believes in.

“My artwork is just present on the internet. As the creative act (the kiss of the Muses) already has a good vibration, it is an important incentive, not the money.”

Writers Take Chances

Then recently I came across this fascinating little statement, sent to me in an e-mail by Phil Gladwin at Screenwriting Goldmine, a popular online screenwriting journal and blog.

“There is one thing that is certain in the field of creative writing. If you never show any of your product to anybody, your ideas will never be stolen.”

And along similar lines here is another article at Scriptmag, which delves deeper into the shadowy world of author theft.

There is a beautiful quote here.  “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.”  Offhand I can think of some other popular sayings to back this idea up; with the first and foremost being:   “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Will Your Idea Get Stolen?
Only if it’s any good. For example, if the idea is poorly thought out or downright lousy, then probably you will have nothing to worry about. However, a unique idea or approach to a storyline will likely bring out the copycats. Maybe the best thing to do is to send yourself an email documenting time and date of your latest entry and keep on writing, keeping in mind that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Ooops, I think somebody already said that.
More Thievery
And I just couldn’t resist including one more of Kopp-delaney’s images.
The Businessman by H. Kopp-delaney

The Businessman by H. Kopp-delaney

Aug
30
image of red sprite

Earth as seen from the International Space Station, Image Credit: ISS Expedition 31 Crew, from NASA

Topsy-Turvey World

Recently, I just finished writing my first screenplay. I wanted to create a novel  from the story, but putting together a screenplay meant possibly collecting more financial rewards from a lesser amount of work. On the up side after penning only about 22,000 words, I now have a marketable item, which can be sold for big bucks on the film options market…….Maybe,….. but in reality nobody’s biting…… There could be a lot of reasons for this, such as the market is down, the script sucks, the story is commonplace, filming would be too expensive, I don’t know anybody, legal issues are present, the genre is overworked, I can’t write a good query letter and so on and so on. Actually, all of these could realistically be factors in the non-interest in my story, but in researching the market for screenplays, I stumbled across a fascinating phenomena. Many screenwriters are now viewing the publishing route as a viable alternative to selling a script to Hollywood. Strange as it may sound, it seems that Hollywood is suffering some of the same financial woes that have descended upon the rest of the country.

A Red Sprite

Red sprites, a natural phenomena, can be sometimes viewed in the upper atmosphere from aircraft, Credit: D. Sentman, G. Wescott, Geophysical Institute, U. Alaska Fairbanks, NASA

Publishing Turmoil

As far as I am concerned, turmoil in the publishing industry does not necessarily create  any more good opportunities for screenwriters. As a result many screenwritings are pursuing the publishing path. For those so inclined, there are several websites and blogs discussing just this very issue. And that is how to create a novel from your un-optioned film script. Many writers have tried this and although some have seen their writing efforts go into print, the results and feedback doesn’t seem to be overly encouraging. The main advantage of writing  seems to be  getting your work out to the literary public.

Adapting Sideways

One blog of interest is called Adapting Sidewaysand it includes the opinions and musings of two screenwriters, Jon James Miller and Charlotte Cook. Though no longer in active mode, the postings of 2010 and 2009 reveal some interesting niches that a screenwriter might fall into within the publishing world. And this does even really touch base on all the opportunities that are quickly surfacing among those who read e-books. Another interesting viewpoint comes from an article, The Novel vs. the Screenplay: a Tough Love Guide for Talented Writers, written by James Bonnet, for a website called The Writer’s Store. One thing that Mr. Bonnet points out is that novelists do not have to worry about production costs. In fact, he suggests that a screenplay makes a great first draft for your novel. And that my friends is where I intend to begin.

Winning Contests

And then there is Lorelei Armstrong, who not only has a MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, but also has won several prestigious contests (i.e.Screenwriting Expo Screenwriting Contest, The Contest of Contest Winners, The Filmmakers.com/The Radmin Company Contest, The Scr(i)pt Magazine/Open Door Contest, The Acclaim Film and Television Contest, The A Penny Short Contest and The Family Category of the Fade In: Awards). Despite all this fabulous acclaim, Lorelei remains unrepresented, unsold, and unproduced.  As a result, she went out and published her first novel in 2008.  So to all you prospective novelists and screenwriters good luck…..you’re definitely going to need it…..along with a lot of  hard work.

Aug
17
Alice in Wonderland

1923 illustration by Peter Newell depicting Alice and her acquaintances from the Lewis Carroll book

Brisque E-book

Towards the end of July, Jason Konrath in his excellent blog, A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, did a little plug for an erotic take-off of Alice In Wonderland written by Melinda DuChamp and available on Kindle, first as a free download and currently as a paid download. The ebook cover with its series of phallic mushrooms is an intriguing introduction to DuChamp’s humorous revision. I’ve only read the first few pages, but the revised tale definitely falls into erotica category. Incidentally for those of you who tend to avoid the overly spicy, Ann Rice once wrote a trilogy of erotic Sleeping Beauty tales, which she penned under the nom de plume of A.N. Roquelaure.

Author’s Comments

In the Konrath interview, DuChamp makes two interesting comments. First of all, she challenges the reader to decipher which events in the book are real and which are fictionalized. More importantly, she goes on to defend the coattail effect and how writers can sometime benefit from riding other peoples coattail, just as politicians do occasionally( or in some cases, frequently).

Revising The Past

These last comments are what I find most interesting about the interview at Konrath’s site, for I have found that the literature of the past can sometimes be a rich harvest, for those who wish to reap the benefits. I do not mean to copy or plagiarize the cherished masterpieces of years gone by. That kind of activity benefits no one. However, for those who like to satirize, develop take-offs or spoofs, the old classic can provide ample fishing grounds for creative ideas. If done well the rewards can be many.  A creative mind will mind plenty of ways to enhance their storyline and improve on their writing skills.

Sherlock Holmes and assistant

Sherlock Holmes recently underwent a fancy revision at the movie theaters

Jul
21
Pastel sketch of a Snowman and his mailbox

Pastel sketch for a Flash fiction story entitled, The Letter

The Book Cover

“You can’t judge a book by its cover”, English idiom. This little saying may be true, but when it comes to selling a book, all of a sudden the cover becomes very important, especially in today’s world, where our ability to create images has been greatly increased by broadcast television, digital imagery and communications satellites. Even in a bookstore, where a buyer is faced with thousands of possible titles, that small rectangular space on the front is oh so important in making the sale. And come to think of it, so is the back and even that long space on the spine that holds just the title and the name of the author. This latter surface becomes important when perspective buyers see the book neatly stacked on a shelf with just the long narrow strip of the side exposed. In this situation a combination of bold letters and striking colors often works to attract the reader’s attention.

A New Art Form

“As I’ve said a gazillion times, a professional cover boosts sales”, Joe Konrath

In today’s world the average visitor is daily bombarded with an infinite number of visual images. Combine this reality with the fact that ebook covers tend to be rather minute in the overall scope of things, and you will probably come to the conclusion that producing an small electronic image, which catches the reader’s eye might be considered something of a new century art form. Not only are ebook covers small, but they often appear on electronic media like they are backlit. This takes a special amount of awareness from the designer to meet all these conditions. No wonder many writers use a professional artist to create an ebook cover.

My Experience

I have jumped into making my own ebook covers for two important reason. Lack of money and some ability to work with visual images. The above drawing was created to illustrate a flash fiction piece about a snowman waiting for a letter. I had fun making the image, but overall it underscores the advantage of hiring this job out. Still, mainly by the process of osmosis, my designing ability has improved. In fact, I am quite pleased with my latest cover made for a chapbook of travel stories that I just self-published at Smashwords. You can find the image below.

To create this image I used  Photoshop Elements II software. First I downloaded the background image from NASA, which is a good source of photographs. Just be sure to check the source, for many images posted here are copyrighted. All Hubblecraft pics, like this one here are in the public domain and free for public use. Next I added the plate and the jelly doughnut, which I found at Wikipedia, another good source of free photos. Last but not least came the next, which was typed in using the curved function of Photoshop.

Also posted below are a few more examples of ebook covers.

Ebook Cover for I Am a Jelly Doughnut

Ebook Cover for I Am a Jelly Doughnut, text and artwork by Henri Bauholz

The cover for Acadian Rendezvous was based on one of my own photos. The building is the Landmark Hotel in Portland, Maine. It has nothing to do with the story, but it looks sharp as the front image. It was enhanced in Photoshop with the posterization effect and then text was added.

Ebook cover for Acadian Rendezvous

Ebook cover for Acadian Rendezvous, a novel by Henri Bauhaus

Jul
19
Mars has a hole

A Hole in Mars
Image Credit: NASA, JPL, U. Arizona – photo taken by robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently circling Mars.

Current Situation 

Just recently I did a google search for screenwriting blogs and came across a site that listed the top 25 by various ways, including Google, Alexa, Bing and Compete, plus a few others. However, when I tried to visit some of the sites listed, I found that many of the links were dead or hadn’t posted in a year or more. As a result I decided I would put together my own list. Though not as thorough, this accumulation should give readers a general idea to what’s going on with screenwriters and screenwriters.

Major Players

John August got 1st place among the list compiled at many of the search engines. And since John is still actively blogging, he gets an easy conclusion here. If you haven’t heard of this person, he wrote a screenplay for Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and Charlie’s Angels (the movie). Also included here should be Screenwriting for Hollywood, which explores the world of Hollywood films.

Lesser Knowns

The Bitter Script Reader is an interesting blog posted by a real life script reader, who goes by the pen name of Zuul. Also of interest is Go Into The Story, a blog put out by screenwriter and educator Scott Myers. Though Scott does not have the credentials of August, his postings are still worth a look.  And if you are interested in script reading, you might want to check out the postings at ScriptReader Pro. They even occasionally post adds for script reading positions.

One of my personal favorites has come to be Screenwriting From Iowa, which is kind of a hodgepodge of views on screenwriting taken from the cornfields of this most interesting and often overlooked Midwestern state. Scott Smith is the force behind this outlook into screenwriting. Be sure to check out his post on Woody Allen, which includes a very funny video clip of Woody Allen boxing a kangeroo, before he became a filmmaker.

So there you go. This is just a start and remember blogging is a constantly changing scene, so there will be many more entering the field while others exit. Good night and good luck.

Jul
14
Old Fonts

The Gutenberg Museum in Las Vegas has a fascinating old font type displayed on its exterior walls,

Body Text

Though the above text is from the outside of the Gutenberg Museum in Las Vegas, NV, the old font dates back to Johannes Gutenberg’s first movable type that was employed in the 1400’s.  These stylish letters are still in use today and they represent  something a skilled tattoo artist might choose to apply to a client’s epidermis. Not every tattoo employs words, but many do, often combining a select few words with a simple design or image.

Miley Cyrus in 2012, from wikipedia

Miley Cyrus in 2012, from wikipedia

Hannah Montana Gets A Tattoo

“So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt from his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech given in Paris.

Miley Cyrus just had the above 19 words tattoed on one of her wrists. I comes from a longer well-known passage that has been dubbed  ” The Man In the Arena”. Here is a larger selection from the speech that Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne on April 23, 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This passage is one of the favorites of Richard Nixon, who quoted from it during  his election night victory speech (November 6, 1968) and then again when he resigned on August 8 1974.

This is not the first tattoo that Miley has had added to her epidermis. In fact, so far in life the young actress and singer has accumulated more than a dozen. Considering that her brother and father are well-inked, this quotation on her arm will probably not be the last bit of ink added to her body.

Tattoo Removal

Also in the news are the tattoos of Nikki Taylor, a well known American super model. However, instead of adding more designs to her body, she is having one removed from her forearm. According to OMG of Yahoo, this is not the first tattoo, Nikki has had removed. In fact, she claims that the two tattoos she has had removed  by laser surgery have been more painful than childbirth. She goes on to say that she is removing the tattoo, because it is an impediment to getting modeling work.

 

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