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Why NaNoWriMo has this blog breathing again

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. This isn’t unusual; I’ve tried in years past and it’s been an epic fail on the level of Dane Cook stand up and the “Charlie’s Angels” remake. But I’m giving it another go this year, and I’m blaming Chuck Wendig, Lee Goldberg, and my wife’s Kindle.

This past year has found me trying to amp my writing up with silly little things like, oh, actually writing , and then finishing it, silly things like that. That includes the quintessential writerly thing of writing a novel. I’m on Round Two so far (Round One was a crime novel that I plan on revisiting), this time the ever-popular urban fantasy novel.

And I’ve been following a few writers on the Internet. Guys like Chuck Wendig are creating a fascinating on-line community, full of wit and fun and attitude. Lee Goldberg has been one of the biggest proponents of the change from legacy publishing to e-books, and his recent deal with Amazon.com on the “Dead Man” novels launching the site’s 47North imprint is a damn cool step forward with genre e-books. Along with folks like J.A. Konrath, John Locke, and Michael Prescott are finding amazing success in the e-book realm.

This isn’t where I say I plan on finding fortune and fame through e-books. There’s an incredible amount of dreck finding its way onto a variety of e-readers, and I don’t know that I want to be among those just slopping whatever at an unsuspecting public at 99 cents a p. What I do want is to write something good that people enjoy.

So NaNoWriMo becomes my excuse for actually writing and finishing a book. I’m being a monumental fool by deciding that my NaNoWriMo novel is the second book in a series where I haven’t even finished the first one. By November I hope to be midway through the first book and feeling good to start the second.

This blog is coming back because I need it to. It keeps me honest, gives me somewhere to post up my progress a la Cherie Priest, and lets me occasionally vent about whatever stupidity is pissing me off at that particular moment. I’ve had a few really great moments on this blog (making the IMDb hitlist and getting 4K in hits was one of ’em; interviewing Lee Goldberg was another), and I’d like to keep some of that going on a more consistent basis.

So let’s where this goes, and see if I actually finish the damn thing.

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October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s my daily update on the progress on “Christchurch Bells,” my novel about a writer dying of a brain tumor, his ex-wife’s ghost, a dead cheerleader, the destruction of a town’s movie theater, and a raven singing “Babe” by Styx.

PROJECT: Christchurch Bells

DEADLINE: January 15, 2011

PRESENT WORD COUNT: 3,511

GOAL: 100,000

I missed updating for a few days, so I’m just updating for the past few days of writing. I’m running about 1,500 words behind schedule, which doesn’t thrill me, but I think I’ll be able to catch up as I go into November and hit NaNoWriMo and try to pick up my word count and hit 50,000 by the end of the month. I’m finding I need to shift some of my viewpoint in it and go with a slightly more omnipresent narrator, rather than focusing on just my main character for the most of the story, with it shifting to another character’s first-person narration for the rest of the story. We’ll see how this goes.

Bits & Pieces:

  • I’m all about “Terriers,” the “Rockford File”-esque detective series over on FX with Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James and a series roster of talented writers, such as creator Ted Griffin (“Ocean’s 11”), Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) and Tim Minear (“Buffy,” “Firefly”). It’s got a great shaggy-dog quality and a surprising amount of emotional heft in its characters, and it fits into that perfect FX niche, chronicling the struggle of the American male. I hope it gets to have a good, long run; after all, FX let “Nip/Tuck” keep plugging on long past its “fresh by” date and well beyond the point that creator Ryan Murphy seemed to care anymore, and while “Terriers” may lack some of the in-you-face appeal of that show, it matches other FX successes such as “The Shield,” “Rescue Me” and “Sons of Anarchy” in crafting characters you’d like to see more about.
  • On that same note, my friend The Ohioan and I have long bemoaned the dirth of good PI shows, which is why I’m grooving on “Terriers” and I’m cautiously optimistic about this proposed series over on TNT. I love the post-WWII time period and the feeling of going for a true Chandler vibe, though it’s too easy to go into unintentional parody by playing it too close to the inspiration. NBC tried something similiar back in 1987 with the unimaginatively-named “Private Eye,” created by “Miami Vice” creator Anthony Yerkovich and co-starring an insanely young Josh Brolin, and it died after only 7 episodes. What worries me about the potential new series is the TNT factor, since their shows tend to be amazingly hit (“Leverage,” “Men of a Certain Age”) and miss (“HawthoRNe,” “The Closer” — no, I’m not a fan). A lot of their shows have a very staid, inert sense about themselves, and once you begin producing a period show, that potential goes up exponentially as everyone becomes so concerned about the look and style of the show, they forget to make it interesting. I’m hoping the series gets a chance to breathe and have a sense of energy, rather than that stilted, airlessness of shows like “Dark Blue.”
  • Watching “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” over the weekend, I was just struck again by the amazing cinematography of Roger Deakins and pondered how much longer will the Academy manage to not honor him with an Oscar. It’s great he’s being recognized by the ASC, but come on and give the man what he deserves by now.
  • Showtime’s developing a poker series with the executive producers from “Weeds.” Does this mean they’ll finally cancel “Weeds”? Please. Is there anything remotely interesting about that show anymore? Anything? Renewed for a SEVENTH season? Really?
  • I’m not sure how compelling a movie about the 2008 financial crisis could be, but I’m willing to give HBO the benefit of the doubt. They’ve assembled a hell of a cast (William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, James Woods) and a good director (Curtis Hanson), so the potential definitely exists. Hanson directed the brilliant “L.A. Confidential,” an example of period mystery film that didn’t become overly focused on the period.

Return of the Mack

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

This blog has laid dormant for a while, because, well, initially I had to heal from almost cutting my finger off. After debate on where to go with this thing and for the few who read it (love you, Bride!), I said “Oh hell, why not?” and decided to jump back in.

Because I’m  actually working on being a real writer (I’m getting published and everything … more on that as it gets closer), this will become more of a chronicle on my writing process, with updates on how it’s going, as well as random comments on whatever crap is getting on my nerves that day. Of course I will have the occasional rant on something, and my goal is to both establish some regular features and trick IMDB.com into putting me back in its news feed.

I’ll be updating on progress in “Christchurch Bells,” a novel I’ve been working on in various forms and incarnations for more than 15 years. The goal is 1,000 a day, with a Jan. 15, 2011 completion on the first draft. It’s the touching story of a writer dying of a brain tumor, his ex-wife’s ghost, a dead cheerleader, the destruction of a town’s movie theater, and a raven singing “Babe” by Styx.

All of this is with apologies to Cherie Priest, who I’m ripping off copiously, but that’s OK because she’s already published 10 novels and was nominated for a Hugo, whereas I’m just trying to finish the damn thing.

PROJECT: Christchurch Bells

DEADLINE: January 15, 2011

PRESENT WORD COUNT: 6,033

GOAL: 100,000

Bits & Pieces:

  • The biggest geek news is, of course, Zack Snyder directing the new “Superman” movie. I worry less about Snyder, who’s accused of being all style and no substance but who I think has effectively brought it in all of his movies (it would be impossible to truly translate “Watchmen” to film, but his version is the closest we could probably hope for), and more about the script by David Goyer, whose scripts tend to be erratic messes and typically need strong directors to guide them (Guillermo del Toro with “Blade II,” Christopher Nolan with both Batman films). With Nolan producing, it’s an easy bet that another writer will come in to smooth over Goyer’s script, and since Nolan’s brother Jonathan is already listed as a co-writer, so attention should be turned to getting Snyder to draw back on his visual style (enough CGI and slo-mo) and casting Superman himself (I think they could actually go with Snyder himself; dude’s got some guns).
  • The Bride and I caught part of “Minority Report” on cable the other night, and we both pondered why this movie wasn’t a bigger hit, or why it doesn’t have a cult following? Sure, it was popular enough, and it more than made back production and advertising costs, as well as selling a boatload of DVDs, but it’s such a rich and interesting movie it’s forgotten in the Spielberg shuffle. It’s got Tom Cruise at the height of his popularity, Steven Spielberg at his most visually daring, a smart Scott Frank script, exciting action, some truly oddball humor, and Colin Ferrell before we started looking at him like a drug-addled alcoholic douche bag. Maybe the film’s never caught on because Cruise’s Jon Anderton isn’t the most likable of characters (a drug-addicted father mourning the kidnapping and presumed death of his son), or because the humor is so off the wall, especially for a Spielberg joint (the scene where Anderton crashes into the yoga classes always cracks me up). The movie is considered part of Spielberg’s “running man” trilogy, alongside “A.I.” and “Catch Me If You Can,” and together the three represent an interesting point in Spielberg’s post-“Saving Private Ryan” career where I think he took what could be conceived as big risks (no special efforts to fall back on in “Catch Me If You Can”; surprising dark narratives in “A.I.” and “Minority Report”; the very character-driven comedy of “The Terminal,” which followed “Minority Report”). “War of the Worlds” might be seen as a mix of risk and the familiar, and for many it’s a mixed success, though I think there are moments of brilliance in it, such as the Tim Robbins basement sequence, and “Munich” put Spielberg back into “Ryan”-esque territory. Though I’m blase about his upcoming Tintin adaptation, I hope he decides again to do something risky. Eastwood is a great example of an older director who’s still willing to push out of his comfort zone (“Hereafter” looks like nothing else he’s ever done), and maybe Spielberg, who produced “Hereafter,” might be inspired.
  • Ronald Moore may be updating “The Wild, Wild West,” performing the same duties as he did on the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica.” I’m willing to go with Moore where ever he opts to go, and I think he could really spend the rest of his career updating old shows; may I recommend “Automan,” “Manimal” and “Holmes & Yoyo.”