Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why do we read?

"There's no mistaking a photograph.
It has the clearest, cleanest memory."
- "On The Gathering Storm"

Given the prolific availability and now low cost of producing and distributing photos and video, plus the ubiquitous nature of high-speed Internet access in the last four or five years, why do individuals continue to read text?  Why do people still read books when they could just watch movies and forget how to read?

CNN.com offers a lot of their stories in video format but much remains as printed words with sidebars of photos and movies.  The local and national news websites that I visit still offer most of their content in written format, too  Much of the web is still driven by text-based stories with video and photos only for added depth and nuance.  Why do we still look at words if we don't have to?

Part of it is because there is still a larger cost associated with photos and video.  They are larger to download, use more server space, and still, not everyone knows how to shoot a good photo or produce a meaningful video of an event.  There is a lot more (and I mean a LOT more) video available for consumption than there was just three years ago.

But I believe it's more than simple cost and ease which keeps the words flowing.  I believe there is an innate need in the human mind to be fed ideas and meaning differently than our peers.  There's a bit of gray matter somewhere deep in us that says we need some level of creativity and ambiguity when processing information so that we can filter it through our own experiences and belief systems, good and bad.  Video and photos are not subjective.  They are an unblinking record of what has transpired.  Unless we're examining a well-made, highly produced art film or Hollywood blockbuster, there is little room for interpretation when it comes to photos and video.  What you see is what it is.  And what it is is what it means.

Words on the other hand, can be as rich and diverse in their portrayal of another's thoughts as we would like them to be.  There can be so much layered truth in a given sentence, paragraph, or entire story that such written prose, whether it be a fiction book or hard news story, can still offer us as humans a wide meadow of our own selves to frolic in.  That's why there will always be room for the printed word.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Finding That Perfect Moment

Every so often, I hope to post short anecdotes about the impetus behind some of the characters, backdrops or ideas expressed in my writing. Right now, a short note about the "happy accidents" that can occur when combining two ore more notions into something meaningful.

A lot of writing is about choosing the correct details to share about a scene, a character, or a moment in the story.  It's really the same for a lot of different creative mediums.  Just have a look at this set of "perfect moment" photographs to get a sense of what I mean.

Here's a moment from my novel, "On The Gathering Storm" that involves a car crash. It's based on a traffic accident that I was involved in but in re-telling it, I focused more on the feelings one would have in such a catastrophe and less on the choreography of the vehicles. In the end, I stumbled across the final bit of dialogue from an anecdote a friend once told me, and the two bits came together quite well, I think.


Crack. Crunch. Spin. 
And then things come to rest. Like whirling tops on kitchen linoleum, finally exhausted, finally seeing the pointlessness in their childish play.
Hannah is a wakeful corpse, witness to the event, yet unable to see. Unable to move. When she finally does move and gets out of her car, it’s dreamy and far off—-like watching the events on television instead of living through them. Later she’ll remember the bloodied foreheads in the other car. They are both moving, moaning, incoherent when she asks them if they are okay. And then, dreamlike, wafting as smoke from a firearm on a breeze, she’s moving to the ditch where D.’s Prelude has been flung.
He’s under a thick blanket of glass and blood. His eyes are tightly closed. He only hears Hannah. Doesn’t see her. Then his eyes open. They try to focus. Just when she thinks he can’t move he reaches through the open space of his driver’s window and clutches her arm. It’s a painful pinch, like forceps. She grimaces, still in her trance. He says, over and over, again and again, “The light was green, Hannah. Remember. The light was green. Green Hannah. The light was green. Remember. The light was—”


In telling a story, finding those ideal spots or details is not much different than a similar moment in photography when patience, timing and the gut feeling you have when you find those great shots all converge. Sure, you need to have inspiration strike, be in the right place at the right time, but you also need to have some idea of what you're doing with your f-stops and your flash bulb.

Monday, December 20, 2010

THALO BLUE #005

(To catch up on previous installments of this serial: THALO BLUE)

II. The Default Color for Pain
A crow used to visit Sebastion by his bedroom window, used to perch on a bare tree branch where the boy could see it as he lay in bed, under his blue bedspread.  Black and shiny, it would cock its head this way and that, and it would stay there for a while, as Sebastion looked on.  When he was younger, he would speak to it, “CawCAWCawCAW—C—A—W—Caw.”  But as he grew older, he just lay in silence and watched it.  Inevitably, as he became tired and as his eyes sagged with the day’s fatigue, the crow would flutter away, suddenly and without warning, leaving a dark branch to bob slightly against a backdrop of night.  He named that bird, called it Oliver.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THALO BLUE #004

Instructions from the dispatcher via the 911 operator had told Officer William Sheers and his partner, Owen Lipnicki, that a forced entry would be necessary.  “Suspect is possibly armed.  Victim is potentially injured.  Location: front-facing east bedroom.  End of the hall.  Last door on the right.  Hurry.
After careening through a ridge of packed powder and across an icy street gutter the cruiser’s tires stuck to a halt on the front lawn, the officers unstrapped a two-man battering ram from inside the trunk and carried it to the front door across the snow-covered yard of scattered evergreens.  Their black boots crunched and squeaked in the blue-white snow.  In the distance, more sirens blared.  Three more cruisers would appear in less than four minutes.  In less than two it would all be over.

Monday, December 13, 2010

THALO BLUE #003


The sirens grew.  Sebastion, in his cubby-spot, heard them too, became red in the face with the renewed hope they brought.  And here, this intruder, this stranger, heard them rise.  Perhaps this was at an end.  They were close and he had nothing, no way out this time.  But they didn’t know he was here, didn’t know he was sitting on this sofa, in this room, in this house.  They didn’t know that because there was no way they could have.  The other homes on this street were too far off to have heard that window break, too far off and too hidden by thick stands of trees, to have seen him in the yard trying the handle on the back door then climbing up on that box of firewood.  No one would have called anyone.  And besides, this house was empty.
He had stood on the bricks of the flower enclosure in front of the only window with a light, pressed his fingers against the sill, and peeked through the dim glass and beyond it.  Nothing.  No one.  Not a figure to behold.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

THALO BLUE #002


The stranger bashed the base of a small sculpture—an opulent copy of the Bust of Nefertiti—through the television screen in the living room as images of a car commercial flashed across it for the last time.  His hand held Nefertiti by the throat, long and slender it was, and the follow-through gouged his skin all the way up to his wrist in dozens of places.  Sparks and a brief shot of smoke blew from the tube and the glass of the screen burst outwards with a loud pop.  The volume, that terrible squawk of voices and music, stopped immediately.  But the static, that steady squall which brought metal grinding on metal to his brain, was not finished.  He saw the blinking orange numerals of a digital display in the blackness.  He reached for them and ended up yanking a stereo receiver from its spot on the shelf.  Trailing cables pulled taut until they snapped from their connectors and the stereo unit was pitched to the carpeted floor.  The room plunged into loud silence; the noise was at an end.  It had become unbearable in his head, that static buzz, had strained inside his temples from that first moment, when he had landed across the bluish bedspread.  He simply couldn’t take it any longer.
He turned—quiet was again his ally—and then collapsed onto a plush sofa-couch under the white sheer drapes of the living room window.  Smearing tacky blood across the fabric of the couch, he brought a shaky hand to his head, leaned it against his palm, tried to steady it.  And then, with his other hand—his left—he removed a .45 caliber derringer from the waistband of his wrinkled pants.

Monday, December 6, 2010

THALO BLUE #001


One: THE LANGUISHING;

Long Drawn Out Silences

Listening to the silence is as important
as deciphering the noise.
-Drawing Lines in the Sand:
A Way of Life,
DAVID R. G. LANGTREE
This life just goes on and on;
Will it end?  And when?
-THE BOOK OF THE DEAD,
September 21
I. Fade Away Divine
Sebastion Redfield awoke to the squeak-crunch of footsteps in snow outside his father’s bedroom window.  Alone, he lay there unmoving, as before, and his mind fluttered, caught in that dreamy world somewhere between sleep and this reality.  But his eyes remained closed.  In his mind, past the protection of the room’s fogged window, only the icy eaves existed.  The early morning cold was unbreakable, and behind the fa├žade of it, all the house fronts on this street sat back behind canopies of crisp dark foliage and branches which shielded them from prying eyes.  Evergreens were dusted in white.  Tangles of leafless trees were coated with clinging hoar frost.  There was a fresh layer of new fallen snow on absolutely everything, and the world was still.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THALO BLUE // Web Serial Starts MONDAY!

I've been hard at work prepping my next novel to become a web serial.

That's right. You read it correctly.

THALO BLUE, Book One is going to begin rolling out here on THIS page on MONDAY as a web serial.  Please check back to see when it lands. I want to share this one with everyone and get as much traction as I can with it. Dare I say, it's the best thing I've written?

So, what's it about?

A young man on the brink of true adulthood experiences the trauma of his life when a trespasser breaks into his home. Sebastion Redfield and the psychiatrist assigned to help him recover from the break-in begin to unravel a more disturbing truth about his ordeal: that someone or some thing has been hunting him.

Bit by bit, we'll learn about Sebastion Redfield and his personal curse, his burning need to become what he considers a 'real' artist and whether the thief in the night will finally be able to possess what he's been after for so long.

That's right, readers, it all begins this MONDAY! Check it out. 9:00 AM sharp. Hope you enjoy the read!

Coming SO soon, it's scary. And I mean that in more ways that one... ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tids of Bit

The Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event begins NOW! All through the month of December, Darcia Helle at Quiet Fury Books is hosting the giveaway and everyone is free to enter.

I'm sponsoring 25 prizes of my book, On The Gathering Storm, but much more importantly are the prizes being donated by loads of other authors -- all of them so fantastic in their genres.

Seriously. If you like reading and want to discover some intriguing new talent, check out this giveaway!

(Hurry! The giveaway event ends on December 31!)


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Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick is not only senior to me in years (and not by many of them, truth be told) but he is also senior to me in a great many earthly pursuits. One of them is knowing people. He's gotten to know me very well over the last weeks, through my tweets and blog posts and a few email exchanges. He has read my novel, On The Gathering Storm, and liked it. His review is one of the trippiest (and best) I've ever received. The man known as JBK out there in the nethers of the web was, for all intents, inside my novel. And he, like few others, have been able to describe the essence of being there.

Joel interviewed me recently and the result, along with many of his simultaneously verbose and concise (?!) thoughts are encapsulated in his current Featured Author article. I invite you to check it out, leave a comment for Joel, and tell him what a service he's doing for indie authors of all shapes and sizes. The man needs applause. (He craves it.)

But he also deserves it.
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