Saturday, August 28, 2010

Write It Down

I am a note taker. I have to be. If I don't write down something I'll need to remember later, invariably I'll forget, or spend a few minutes trying to remember.

One of my friends would tease me about my getting older and that I can't remember stuff, but I think I've always had the problem. If I don't write it down, I'll forget and be disappointed in myself because I forgot something that could have been wonderful to remember. Whether it's grocery lists, appointments, meetings, or story notes, I may, at first, think it's dumb I should write something down-sure I'll remember it later, it's so simple-but ten minutes later walking the isles with five out of the six items in my basket ready to go, I'll stand there in the middle of the food store like I'm an alien plunked down into one of Earth's strange cultural establishments, staring off into the distance like E.T. wanting to go home...and wanting to be home because I can't remember the sixth item. And if I then shrug my shoulders and think I'll get it next time...when I get home, it's the one item I really needed to make the next meal.

How many great ideas have I forgotten for stories or little tidbits have I wanted to include but didn't because I didn't write them down at the time I thought of them? I don't know, I can't remember.

I am getting better, though. Slowly, in incremental steps. Yes, I still forget to note down grocery items, but story ideas and extra bits I usually get down on paper. The problem I run into afterwards is making sure I remember to refer back to the notes when the time comes to write the particular scene. Normally, it's not too difficult to add the bit in if I did forget the first time around.

When I do research and am obtaining information from someone regarding a particular subject, or jotting down descriptions of scenery, I'll write down far more than what I'll use in the story. But that's ok, because I'd rather have too much than not enough and come off sounding as if I didn't do my homework.

Filing is also a problem. Well, filing is not the REAL problem, space is. My apartment is too small to have all of my writing papers in their own slots.

Currently my filing system is composed of about five large piles with-hopefully-the unimportant or past stuff on the bottom and the current stuff, or stuff I think I want to get back to soon, on top. And those little notes? Well, that would take an excavation team to sort through those or to even find them in the first place.

Of course, it's important for us writers to be organized, in our own fashion, but that's the nature of the beast and we all have our own methods of dealing with filing and note taking. If you can be meticulous, great. If you're a piler-if I can create a word here-then don't whine when you can't find something.

Either way, please don't rely on your memory; you have too much else going on to try to remember that cool little factoid to include.

Write it down!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Killer Nashville, 2010

Welcome to Killer Nashville!

Whether you’re just a mystery fan, a writer, or a published author, this conference is for you.

Killer Nashville, almost three full days of seminars, talks, freebies, books, and people.

This year’s conference began on the night of Thursday, August 19 with a trivia contest. Three teams vied for prizes answering questions regarding mystery books, movies and television shows. I was a member of the blue team named Blue Poison. After the first round of questions, we were holding onto a one point lead. In the second round, the Green Hornets pulled into a commanding lead with their knowledge of movie trivia, although, to be honest, I knew most of the answers; I just wasn’t fast enough getting our captain to hit the light. However, the third round of questions proved that most of our team were couch potatoes, but we ended up with a victory. Each member received his or her choice of a trade paperback up to $20 in value. The Hornets came in second and received another book and the losing team, The Scarlet Letters, received a ‘thanks for coming.’ Everyone, though, had a lot of fun and word spread; next year they may not have room for everyone.

I say that because last year attendance numbers ranged around 150. This year they more than doubled last year’s. The Franklin Marriott was a great hotel to hold the conference with plenty of room except for some of the seminars which ended up being SRO.

The seminars covered a variety of categories all designed to help the writer/author. Forensics, character development, surveillance techniques, police procedures, self defense tactics, weaponry. For the writer wanting published there were seminars on query letter and synopsis writing. Plus, several agents and editors from various publishing houses attended to listen to pitches and to accept submissions. For the soon to be published or already published author, several panels offered marketing tips. Internet management, networking, interview tips.

Many fans showed up to see the guest of honor – Jeffrey Deaver. Saturday afternoon and later that evening at a special dinner, Deaver spoke about his life and writing. Look for The Burning Wire, his latest Lincoln Rhyme novel out now; Edge due out later this year; and Deaver’s contribution to the James Bond world scheduled for a May 2011 release.

The conference ended Sunday afternoon with a couple of special seminars, preceded by a local Search and Rescue dog team. An Australian Shepherd, two German Shepherds and a furry five year old St. Bernard were present to be viewed, discussed, and loved.

The seminars were plentiful, educational, many with almost too much material to be given in the hour ten minute time limit. However, I think the best things about the entire three days were the people. Authors, editors, agents, writers, fans, marketers, private detectives, law enforcement officers. I met so many wonderful people and will continue an email relationship with them. Last year, I met a man who assisted me with a marketing strategy that helped me get contracted to Echelon Press. This year, I met another gentleman who agreed to look over my website and guide me in the field of internet networking. Sunny Frazier, (, is including me in her ‘posse’. That should prove interesting. A link to her will be up on the website.

January 15, 2011, is the release date for Night Shadows; Beta is scheduled for July 15, 2011. I have to thank Killer Nashville and all who were involved and attended-Clay, Beth, Sunny, Doug, Amy, Mathew, Kim, Mary, Joe, and so many others-for helping me get e-published and who will support and encourage me. I’m looking forward to doing the same for them in the future.

Keep a watch out for Killer Nashville 2011!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Urge

Do you feel it coming? It's there, you know, waiting just over the horizon, peeking at you, softly whispering its presence. It's there, getting ready to pounce. Once it does, there is nothing you can do but succumb.

Each of us feels it in our own unique way. It can come upon us anytime, anywhere. In the bathroom, at three in the morning, while eating dinner or making love (ok, I, personally have never felt it at that particular time, but someone probably has), on a train, in the rain, in a box, with a fox...Dr. Seuss help me, I'm babbling...

For me it happens a few times per week. Usually at work. I'm sitting outside or in the lobby reading a book (at the time of this writing I'm reading Firestorm, by Nevada Barr. I'm also recording The Fury, by Jason Pinter)and suddenly it leaps into my brain and my body and my blood. I fidget and try to concentrate on the book, but I know I'll have to stop reading and follow the urge.

Actually, I love it when the urge hits. You do, too. I know you do. You wouldn't be what you are if you didn't. You love to fall under its spell, thrive on the rush and are happy to let it carry you where it wants. And you pray there are no distractions to derail you. Because you love the rush, you love the high, you love the pain in your hand and the mental exhaustion after it's over. Sometimes, you have to consciously step off the track and take a breath before jumping back on again.

Name it what you will, The Zone, The Urge, The Need, The Desire, it's there and you want it. Even those who haven't felt it for awhile want it. For me, it can't be forced. I can't hunt it down and make it conform to my will. If I do, it becomes misshapen, skewed, altered and the results are substandard.
For me, I have to wait, sometimes days, let it stalk me. While I'm waiting, I'll go ahead and find a temporary Zone and ease on down the tracks on my own and that's okay, too. Taking the time, making the time.'s always out there, waiting, watching, sometimes teasing. It may touch, then pull away and leave me wondering, clutching at emptiness. But usually, it's merciful and leaps back into me in a short time.

I imagine some of you reading this post are wondering just what type of craziness is this guy talking about. Is he on drugs? Is he craving liquor?
Maybe his need is chocolate ice cream. (Well, not so much anymore with the new diet. Yeah, that's another story) What is it?

Those in the know don't have to wonder. It's been openly discussed amongst the ones who feel it. It's no secret; it isn't sheltered and hidden away like an embarrassment. There's no need to be ashamed of it.

Of course, it's the rush, the urge, the need to write. To pick up pen and paper, to open up a word document on the laptop and write. I know a man who write two hours every morning from five to seven and though I haven't spoken with him about it, I know he feels it, too, at other times during the day. I know a man who has just recently had his second book published and he feels it, too. I know a woman who is so close to crossing the publishing line, she tastes it, and she gets that urge more than I do.

It's what you do, write. It's what you are, a writer. Some are beginners, some are dabblers, some are those who can write only crap no matter how hard they try (and believe me, I've met some of them). But they all feel it at some point. The serious know what it is and know what to do with it when it comes.

You can't resist. You don't want to resist. Resistance is futile.

I only write this, because I'm feeling it now. I've gotta go.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In A Neighborly Way, Part 4

So, to recap, I've lived next to and above a drug dealer, an unwed mother and several people who are familiar with a nightly head count and who have heard the words, “Lights out!” and “Lock down.” way too many times.

The really fun people have lived below me. First up after the elderly lady (I REALLY miss her) were a mother/father/son. Before I go on, let me explain that if I stand at the top of my stairs, I can hear everything-I mean, everything-above a normal conversation's volume from the lower apartment.

It's the largest unit, but still, sound does travel. All sound, if you know what I mean. (Refer back to the first tenants I spoke of in the old apartment building). Anyway, this 'family' was the worst for fights and arguing and kid crying constantly and banging and crashing and stomping. I never heard a happy moment. Now, the interesting part comes when they up and just move out and the ex-Marine and the landlord, after a few months, go in to clean out the place. During the clean out the woman comes back and protests that she doesn't have their stuff out yet. The landlord's reply was basically, “You do now.” The tenants had destroyed cabinets, doors, door frames, put holes in the wall and literally turned the place into a landfill. The ex-Marine told me they took out six Dumpster loads and six truck loads of trash. They had found, uh, inappropriate items and, uh,-how can I put this delicately (sorry, I can't)-used feminine products in with the child's toys. I'm glad they're gone, but unfortunately, somewhere in this world, another house is being de-valued and a youngster is growing up in misery.

Next up are the (seemingly) happy family. Mother/father/son. Son laughs when dad plays with him, there are sounds (short-lived) of, uh, wedded bliss, if you know what I mean, and if by if you don't, have your mother explain it to you. Ah, but all good things... I hear some mildly heated discussions about drug abuse and infidelity and how she doesn't support his band and his dreams and soon they are adios.

A single guy moves in for a couple of months and I don't see him until about a week before he leaves. Never knew too much about him.

At the time of this writing (several weeks before posting), there is currently another threesome (bearded biker/his world weary, looking wife (who, according to another neighbor has been smoking way too much meth, the older son and sometimes his girlfriend. They are on there way out, hopefully within a week, or more hopefully within a couple of days.

I don't know too much of the problems they've had with the landlord (other than they threatened to kill him and who, by the way is an entire posting unto himself, but because I still pay rent to him, I guess, I'll forgo the details, other than to say-criminal [no unfamiliarity there], has left the place unpainted for a number of years, has been trying to install central air since April, didn't fix a bathtub stoppage for two months and a broken bathroom faucet [which HE broke] for four months. But otherwise...a niceguy.) but for the first few days after they moved in, there was a lot banging and slamming and crashing and the dropping of what surely must have been sixteen pound bowling balls. And argue? Oh, my word. Snipe a little here, yell a little there, stomp around mad and sulky for awhile, then repeat it all the next day. On the first beautiful day of this year, they started in at eight in the morning and she was still pick, pick, picking at him twelve hours later. I have stood at the top of my stairs eavesdropping on numerous occasions and still don't believe the nonsensical spats. Most of the time, he'd get fed up with her and storm out and race away on the motorcycle.

Currently, their problems have turned personal as a couple of days ago, I had trouble with a breaker tripping. I subsequently came to learn from the landlord that downstairs has had their power off for awhile and the reason my microwave kept tripping the breaker was because the rats down there have been nibbling at my cheese. Unfortunately, I probably won't get reimbursed, but I sure would like to go John Wayne on their butts.

So, what's been the point of these last neighborly posts? Well, aren't all these experiences just absolute wonderful fodder for stories? Feel free to use any characters mentioned and contact me for details if you want. The stories are so much better told orally. Now that I have them written down, I can refer back to them and pick and choose for future stories of mine. I mean, you just can't make up this stuff

Plus, unless and until I move to the next place, I predict the world will keep coming to my doorstep and the pile of usable material will just keep growing.