Sunday, April 30, 2006

Silent Hill - A Comment

I remember trying to play the video game when it first came out and getting bored. Yes there were monsters, but, if I recall correctly, not enough ammo to go around. Essentially, you walked into a lair, started shooting, ran out of ammo, went back out, found more ammo, went back to killing. I never got far enough to figure out what was really going on except that your character was surrounded by freaks.

Then I saw the movie. It was rough going, but I got all the way through to the end. The problem is one of motivation. If the main character, Rose, had only shown a little tough love, and yelled out to her daughter something like "You come back here! I'm not chasing you all through Hell and back!"...Well, it would have been a shorter film by half. Maybe more importantly, the child is having nightmares about a place called Silent Hill, so the mother decides to take her there? I'm not sure that makes perfect sense. In fact, if my child were having serious nightmares, I'd consider Cancun.

Then the ending left me more than a little mystified. Here's the deal: the mother's trying, trying, trying to find her daughter, gets some advice from someone who says they are the incarnation of evil or somesuch and TAKES it. What's up with that? And, I might add, takes the advice without hesitation. Grateful to get it, in fact. Well, I don't want to spoil anything, but it turns out taking the advice is seriously the wrong move.

Anyway, if you were looking for logic, this was the wrong video, movie. However, if you're looking for truly creepy special effects, then bingo. No true scares I don't think (I'm pretty easily spooked), but creepiness galore and gore aplenty.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm Going to be a Star...

Details to come soon, but I headed to New York City soon to do an interview for TV. Of course, it's cable TV, not the Today Show, but I'm psyched. I need a haircut.

I'll be trying to make it to Black Orchid to pick up some books. If I were smart, I'd call ahead.

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In other news, I got the unbound galleys for Missing In Precinct Puerto Rico. This is where I begin to worry more than usual that the world will hate my book. Actually, I'm more worried that early reviewers will hate it.

I go into rereading the book with the firm knowledge that I need to make one change -- I have to cut the word "old" when referring to a car built in 1978. Sure it'd be old now, but the story is set in 1982.

Friday, April 14, 2006

War Crimes - G. Miki Hayden

Picked up A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime a week or so ago. In it was a short story with some of the smoothest prose I've read in a while. For my money, having read only two of her stories so far, there is no one I can think of in the mystery field who can nail a character's voice like G. Miki Hayden. She did this with a character named Miriam a raved about a few months ago, and she does this in her story War Crimes here.

The voice in the the Miriam story is that of an African immigrant in NYC. Pitch perfect. In War Crimes we're listening to a veteran of the War in the Pacific of WWII. This veteran spends his time as a prisoner of the Japanese. The smallest of incidents (from one point of view) causes this POW to hold a grudge which may have contributed to a death. Though fifty years have passed and the POW is now a respected judge, the guilt sticks like tar. That sentiment taints every word of the narrative. The entire tone is dead on from start to finish. Really a master class in 1st person narration. Worth the price of the book.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

In Which I Speak of Things I Know Not...

JA Konrath and Lee Goldberg have gotten into a small tussle about self-promotion for authors. I self-promote as much as I can but without too much in the way of a master plan and with very few controls, so, essentially, I throw good money after bad. My problem. Now on to the larger issue.

Essentially, the discussion has the two sides that I will unfairly boil down as follows:

LEE: Advances are like pay checks and should not be used to bolster a publisher who is falling down on the job of promoting its authors.

JOE: Advances are up front money that should be invested back into the author's career. There is a side benefit to the publisher that may even bee unmerited, but there is also a tangible benefit to the author with increased sales.

I tend to be on Joe's side of this issue though, like every author, I wish more were done by publishers to promote their midlist authors (who are very often just as talented as the bestselling authors).

The problem is similar to what I see in academe. There are too few full-time jobs for Liberal Arts Ph.Ds. The universities are taking advantage of underpaid, un-benefited grad students and adjuncts to teach lower level classes. The solution proposed by many was that Graduate schools should simply admit fewer students to doctoral programs. Fewer Ph.Ds means that the available jobs will be enough to satisfy the surge of qualified applicants.

So with publishing. Simply trim the list of forthcoming books to a list that the publisher can adequately support with appropriate promotion. Publishers should never again complain that they have too many books coming out to give everyone ad money or a book tour. If they have too many, the solution is to take on fewer. Be selective. Take on fewer projects and promote them well. Select manuscripts that have real commercial potential.

But is that what we really want?

More later.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I Give Up

Orson Scott Card. Can't do it. Nothing at all to do with his politics. Or religion. The first 100 pages of Ender's Game had me captivated. Let's just say I've read exactly 37 pages since, and they've helped me break away. The deal breaker was the plot by two precocious preteens to take over the world by putting up messages on the "nets" which I'm guessing would be analogous to what humans of today call "The Internet." No difference. As I read those pages, all I could think of was the theme to Pinky and the Brain. Still, 100 great pages is a pretty good run.

I picked up Michael Connelly's The Closers. Since I've read Ian Rankin's Resurrection Men, this other book is resonating. I enjoy Rankin's prose a bit more than Connelly's, but this book is pulling me in better than the only other Connelly book I've read which had to do with a Coyote. The Last Coyote? I've a strong desire to just skip to the end and figure out who did it though. Is that a good thing?

Speaking of Connelly and Rankin, I was in the local Borders recently and came across a lady scouring the shelves for a Connelly that they didn't have. Directed her towards the Rankins as similar (don't know if that's true except in the most general ways) and I think I made a sale for an author I've never even read when I talked up David Morrell's Creepers.