Saturday, July 26, 2008

Something very odd

happened last night: I wrote the first chapter of Children No More, the next Jon and Lobo book. I then resumed writing Overthrowing Heaven.

While waiting for the show to begin last night, standing alone (Sarah was with some friends), I was, as is often the case, thinking about writing. Somehow my thoughts wandered to the next book, and all of a sudden the beginning popped into my head. I've known for a long time now that Children No More was going to be a very different sort of book from the others, harsher in many ways than I've ever been in print, and for some reason the first chapter appeared to me. So, rather than risk losing it, I set up the directory structure for the novel and wrote that chapter.

Weird, but kinda cool.

And the world, it really is on fire

So sang Tilly and the Wall tonight at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. So was the show, and so was the audience.

I went because I'd liked a couple of the group's songs a little bit and because Sarah wanted to go.

I left in love with the band's music. For the first time in many, many years, a band's live performance sounded better to me and won me over more than their recorded music. Because of that effect, I can't say right now if my love of their music will remain after I buy and listen to their CDs, but I hope so, I really hope so.

Everything about their show worked. The sound mix was good; we were in a club and could actually understand the words. The songs ranged across a wide spectrum in tone and style. Every single person in the band seemed to be having a great time. Even the use of a tap dancer--yes, a tap dancer--to provide percussion (she danced on a miked, raised platform in the center rear of the stage) worked beautifully. The audience was into it and grew more so as the show went on.

Sarah once wrote an essay on the power of live music. Tonight showed it to me yet again. I honestly wish everyone reading this could have seen the show.

Driving home, both of us still buzzed from the concert, we knew we had to have dessert--but where to go at 12:45 at night?

Only one answer: Waffle House.

There we sat, father and daughter but also just two people touched by the same show, at the counter, eating our grilled cheese sandwiches and a shared piece of Waffle House chocolate pie, admiring our Waffle House plastic toothpick, whispering remembered Bill Hicks lines ("Lookee here: we got us a reader), the music still with us and in us and all around us, and I realized as I occasionally do just how fortunate I've been to have so many wonderful moments in my life, just how lucky I am. I really am.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Changing my mind about Jon

As I think I may have written here, when people have asked me which actor I'd cast as Jon, I've typically answered, Hugh Jackman. He's fairly tall, especially for an actor, has done action, can act, and has the look.

Recently, though, I've changed my mind.

The right man to play Jon is Will Smith.

If you've read the books or seen their dustjackets, you may question this choice, at least in part because Jon's skin is decidedly lighter than Smith's. No matter; an actor of his quality will make the role his own. And, if a movie were to be made of one of the books, I'd be willing to do a quick rewrite of that book (or all of them) to fix this small problem.


Because I'm just that kind of money-loving fool.

Think about it. Will Smith is the most bankable actor in the world today. The man takes mediocre films and turns them into blockbusters, and he transforms blockbusters into insanely huge blockbusters. Make a Will Smith movie of one of my books, and the reprint sales alone would be happy news indeed.

This is all fantasy land, of course, because no one in Hollywood, much less Will Smith, is knocking down my door, but you have to admit, it's a good fantasy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why don't you?

Like many writers, I get a fair number of questions that begin with "Why don't you...". Here are some of the more common ones:

Why don't you...

...make a movie out of your books? a comic book series based on your books? a super-high-quality limited edition of your books?

...advertise more?

...try a different style of cover? your books as [anything other than the current marketing thrust]?

The answer to all of these is the same: I don't control any of that stuff. I write the books. My publisher controls the last three on this list, and the first three are in the hands of fate. If someone in Hollywood wants to make a movie, please call; I sure don't have the funds (or the know-how) to do it. Ditto for comic books (though the call would be unlikely to come from Hollywood). And so on.

To be clear, I'd certainly love my books to be in film, comics, and limited editions, but whether any of that happens is out of my hands.

That said, if you really want one of those things to happen, you can help. All you have to do is persuade two friends to buy a copy of Slanted Jack, and get them to persuade two more friends to do the same, and so on, until my book sales exceed the population of the U.S. At that point, I'm pretty sure that comics companies, movie producers, and small-press publishers would look me up.

Hey, you asked.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Damn but this thing feels big

No, that's not me supplying my own "That's what she said" line. That's my current feeling about Overthrowing Heaven. I'm hoping I finish it someday, but the plot works and it's calling for a lot of words, so I'm writing them. Of course, I'm terrible at guessing book sizes, so for all I know this one will end up shorter than Slanted Jack.

It just doesn't feel that way right now.

Oh, well. Back to writing it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Indulging in writerly neuroses

Saturday afternoon, Sarah, Kyle, and I, at my instigation, headed to our local Barnes & Noble. Sarah and I both wanted the new Hold Steady CD, and I wanted to see Slanted Jack in a bookstore. (I hadn't been to one in over a month, possibly a record for me due to vacation and, before that, vacation prep and back injury.) Some bookstore promotions last only a few weeks, and tomorrow will mark three weeks of offical on-sale time for Slanted Jack, so I wanted to be sure to hit the store over the weekend.

Here's how a writer, at least a neurotic one like me, goes to the bookstore when he or she has a new book out:

* Walk to center front table, knowing you won't be on it but circling it slowly just in case a miracle occurred. None did. Vow someday to be there. Realize vow is useless and you can't control sales. Wonder if animal sacrifices might help.

* Go to the new fiction arrivals table. Hurrah! Five copies of Slanted Jack stared up at me. Most books never get even that chance, so I feel blessed. Do little dance inside. Tidy up copies. Consider covering all the books on the table with them, but then regain senses.

* Go to the new SF bookshelf. Hurrah again! Three copies here, and they're faced out. Consider spreading them out to take up more space, but stop when young child looks at you as if you're crazy. Realize you are.

* Go to the V's in the SF-by-author bookshelves. Hurrah for the last time! Two more copies, also faced out. Three paperbacks of One Jump Ahead were also there, but not faced out. I quickly fixed that--and there was enough room that I didn't have to hurt anyone else's books. (Sarah has trained all her friends to do the same; bless them.)

* Hmmm, what else could one do? I know: Go to the information stand and offer to sign them all. I did, they accepted the offer (and claimed the "Autographed Copy" stickers do help sales), and I signed away.

Life in a bookstore is much simpler when you're not a writer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

was amazing. I found it riveting, easily the best movie based on a comic book that I can recall, but more importantly, simply a very good film. It tackled real issues, the actors generally delivered, and the script was excellent way more often than it was overwrought. (Most movie scripts, and definitely most comic-book-movie scripts, tend to rarely rise above good and to sink to overwrought and worse far more often.)

Heath Ledger's performance was also all that I had read it was. It's easily the best job I've seen from an actor so far this year. He was over the top--he had to be--but he sold it, and over and over again he delivered on the true craziness in the Joker character. If I were an Oscar voter, I'd be writing his name on my ballot now. I found him both mesmerizing and scary, to the point that I felt sorry for the young kids in the audience. (I suggest you think twice before you take a really young child to this one.)

If you haven't seen The Dark Knight, go as soon as you can. It's a wonderful work.


I'm home, and though that normally makes me happy, I'm still a bit wistful about leaving the beach. Returning to my normal, work-around-the-clock, high-stress life is going to be tough. I've got to make some changes to lessen the stress and give me back more time. I owe a lot of time to my kids, and I need to get healthy. I suppose it's good to have challenges, such obstacles are character building, and so on. Still, I'm reminded of what my old friend, Randy, used to say: "I'm enough of a character already."

Tonight, we gathered to watch a ton of MMA fights from two promotions: the UFC, and Affliction. The highlight of the UFC card was Anderson Silva proving that he is amazing and one of the only two legitimate candidates for the label of best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world. The peak moment of the Affliction broadcast was the fight with the other contender for that honor, Fedor Emelianeko, who demolished his opponent even more quickly than Silva took out his. Both men are amazing fighters and athletes. If you're into MMA and didn't see these fights, try to catch them in reruns or online.

I'm going to crash soon, but I have a bit more writing to do. I actually liked the work I did yesterday, but today's leaves me nervous. I suppose that's normal, at least for me.


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