Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Comic Book Movies

Scott D. Parker

It was the funniest of trailers. It was the grimmest of trailers.

I have yet to see the new Avengers movie. From all indications, it's going to be the most popcorn-y film of the summer. I've seen all the trailers and, frankly, laughed out loud on almost all of them. How can you not just relish in the snarky hilarity of Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayer of Tony Stark? Dude could read a phonebook and my sides would be aching. If I wasn't laughing, the geekboy goosebumps prickled my skin. Man! Have you seen these scenes? Alien creatures attacking New York! Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor having a spat! Hawkeye falling from some high place still shooting his arrows up! And the Hulk! Well, he's just the Hulk. These scenes--and likely the whole movie--are a culmination of all that comic book readers have wanted for…well, since forever. To some, it may end up being the ultimate comic book movie.

On the other hand, there is the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. From all indications, it was attached to the Avengers movie, but it's available here. As I've mentioned before, Batman is my favorite superhero and the last film, The Dark Knight, is one of the best comic book films ever made. It had grandeur, it had scope, it had Heath Ledger's Joker, surely a trump card if there ever was one. It had substance, in short, and depth. This new film, opening in July, will bring to a close what will turn out to be one of the great sagas of film history. But it sure does look depressing, right?

Both films--both outlooks--are based on comic books. Avengers brings the fun. The Dark Knight films bring the angst. The irony is that, for years, the opposite was true in the pages of the comics themselves. Marvel (Avengers) Comics was all about angst, isolation, and the other deep issues the permeated that universe. DC Comics (Batman) skirted depth for fun. How many different Bat-vehicles did Batman have? And, yes, there really was a Bat-Hound. And, yes, Max wore a mask.

Why am I bringing this up today? Because of comparisons. It's already started and will continue until New Year's Eve 2012: which comic book film won the year? Moreover, you *know* the fanboys will have another proxy war over the "better" comic book film. It shouldn't matter. They both share a common origin; that they take divergent paths is only a talking point. It doesn't--shouldn't--make one better than the other. They are different, and different is good.

I fully expect to be wowed by the Avengers movie, to leave the theater with the same exhilaration I felt upon seeing John Carter, the newer Star Trek film, Pirates of the Caribbean #1, Iron Man #1, and Mission Impossible #4. My juices will be flowing and I'll be jazzed for hours. In July, I fully expect to be astounded that a movie--a comic book movie, no less--can carry the sheer weight of four years of expectations and to have pulled off the rare feat: a third movie that bests the second. I expect the scope and the size of the last Christophen Nolen/Batman film to be so good, that it immediately garners Oscar talk.

Two comic books, world apart, but comic book movies nonetheless. They both will be good, just very, very different movies. And that's a good thing. The medium can use it.

Survey Question:

I had this thought earlier this week and I'd like to get y'all's opinion.

Do you like reading books or having read books?

Put another way: do you enjoy the act of reading or do you like having read a book and talking about it (or proving that you have read a particular book) better?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Off Course

By Russel D McLean

Recently I came across a press who commission all of their novels only through degree programs. That is all of their commissions had to be from students from writing courses (MFA's etc etc). They would send the top manuscripts to book groups who would then rate each one and the response of the groups determined which books would be published.

In theory the reading group idea is somewhat sound. Reading groups are often indicative of heavy book buyers and if a book becomes a “reading group book” that can lead to heavy sales. But I have to question the wisdom of only taking work from writing students.

Most authors I admire do not have a “degree” in writing, or gained one only after publication as they sought to better understand the mechanics of their craft. Two clear exceptions are a) Our own Dave White and b) Scarlett Thomas*. Both of these are naturally talented writers, and I love their work. But most of the writers I love didn't go to college to learn writing. If they did go, they completed something only tangentially connected to the craft. Even studying English does not mean you are qualified to write, but more to understand what writers do.

Having read a number of writing students' works over the years through collections and occasional invites, I have come to the conclusion that studying the formal mechanics of writing too soon can occasionally stifle an original voice. While craft is important, it cannot come at the expense of the unique nature of an author's voice. Yes, it helps if you know how to craft and create a novel, but when that gets in the way of your intentions and holds back the very thing you are looking to show off to the world (your voice), something is wrong.

Now I'm not prescribing an end to writing courses or saying that they automatically neuter the unique voice. That would be an insane statement. They can hep some people, and they have helped some people. But I think that for some writers, it is better to go and experience the world without being a “writer”. I think that while an MFA or equivalent may help some, it may also hinder others.

The wonderful and terrible thing about being an author is that you do not need – and should not need – a degree to do what we do. Yes, you need to put the work in and learn, but often the best way to do that is as you're going** and not in a classroom.

Authors should not be mass produced. They cannot be. And while some may indeed benefit from learning in a classroom environment, to believe that only the best work can come from there is folly.

*I am not connected to internet as I write but I am fairly that as well as teaching a writing course she also holds a degree

**this tangentially links to my argument about why authors benefit from years of struggle and why instant gratification may in fact make for poorer writers.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Post: Crime And Horror

By David Accampo
My new comic book series, Sparrow & Crowe, co-written with Jeremy Rogers and illustrated by Jared Souza, is a mash-up of crime and horror. And it's not unique in that category; the two get squished together quite often. 
But as I've lived with this book, which I've described as "Chinatown meets The Exorcist," I've put a lot of thought into the meaning of both the crime and the horror in the set-up.
I've asked myself, "Why do crime and horror fit together?"
I mean, on the surface, they shouldn't. Horror is primal. It works on a purely childlike level. As early as you felt pain, as early as you could imagine something in the dark sliver of your open closet door, horror has lurked in the recesses of your mind. 
But crime fiction. That, on its grimy surface, is the grown-ups' game. Because, as my friend Jay Stringer reminds me, crime fiction is social fiction. It's about the haves and the have-nots. And, most often, this a function of adulthood. It's a conflict that comes from living in the world for a time. When we're kids and we don't have something, we look to our parents. But once we're out of the house? We begin the slow, inexorable decline of morality where we must face the endlessly repeating question: "What are you willing to do to get what you want?"
So, they don't fit, right? Crime and horror? They seem on opposite ends of the spectrum. Too often I feel like the genre mix serves as little more than a costume change; supernatural elements spicing up an old crime tale like some kind of Goth wardrobe adjustment. 

Our story centers on a man named Doctor Xander Crowe. Once a popular psychologist and best-selling author, Crowe ran into a mind he couldn't dissect — a demonic intelligence living inside a little girl. Unable to cope with this new reality, Crowe failed. The girl died. And now, fallen from grace, Crowe scrapes together his living performing séances and minor exorcisms. Until he runs afoul of a Los Angeles mob boss who wants to hire him to exorcise the demon living inside his daughter.
All very noir, isn't it?
And we quickly learn that this entity inside the mob boss' daughter is one that's very familiar to Crowe — a fact that terrifies him. 
In the world we've created, the demons themselves aren't actually all that scary. As is often the case, it's what they represent. In the film The Exorcist, the horror doesn’t stem from the character of the demon(s) living inside young Regan. It's about the terror Regan's mother feels as she watches, powerless, as her daughter succumbs body and mind to an alien presence that seems to want to destroy the girl from the inside out.
The scary thing about demons, and why they endlessly fascinate me, has always been that they seem to operate outside of our understanding of human motivation. If you're writing to scare: mission accomplished. You need go no further. But if you flip the story of The Exorcist around, I've always wondered: why does the demon act as it does? What does it want? It wants something it doesn't have, whether that involves stealing a soul or wreaking havoc on the mortal plane for some nefarious purpose, there is a motivation to act. What happens when you write the demonic presence as a unique character with its own desires?
And now we're back to crime.
Fear and desire, then. That's where horror and crime come together. 
And it is at these crossroads that we find our Doctor Xander Crowe, terrified to fail again and lose another girl while desperately wanting to understand this thing because he is still, at heart, an analyst — he combats chaos with reason and knowledge. Fear and desire, two emotions wrestling between the gaping maw of Hell and the cold muzzle of Don Marino's gun pressed to the back of Crowe's neck. If we’ve done our job right, that's where the black heart of our series lies.
Sparrow & Crowe #1 is currently available for pre-order, and due to hit comic shops in July. We're an independent comic book published by Hermes Press, which means that we may not be in every comic shop. To ensure you receive a copy, visit our website,, or make sure you tell your local comic book store to order you a copy in the May edition of the Diamond Previews catalog. Because we want this book to sell and we're terrified of failing. 
David Accampo is a writer, podcaster and award-winning filmmaker. He co-created the audio drama, Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery, which Rue Morgue called "a Blue Velvet-esque town with a Lovecraft bent.” His short fiction has been published in online publications, including GROK and Mullholland Books' Popcorn Fiction. His upcoming comic book mini-series, Sparrow & Crowe: The Demoniac of Los Angeles is on his mind a LOT, as you can probably tell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do Writers' Conventions Still Matter?

By Steve Weddle

A couple of years ago I went to a conference. I wrote about it here. Great fun.

But pricey.

Of course there was the $43 to get the urine out of Dave White's pants (totally my fault, but still).

And the hotel room that was around $200 a night. It's one of those where they tell you it's $120 conference rate or whatever but then there's tax and a separate room tax and then a separate room-with-a-door tax. I mean, it was Philly, so it wasn't like DC with its extra $87 for-the-hell-of-it tax, but it wasn't cheap.

And the conference registration fee, which was worth every penny.

I mean, you start adding up NoirCon and Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime and Murder in Muskego and one in Canada and one in Florida and Malice Domestic. You could go broke.

So maybe you have to choose. Or maybe you go to all of them and use your $150,000 advance to pay for hotels and bacontinis. I dunno.

I guess what I'm wondering is what many folks have asked me via email and in person.

Are you going? Why? Why not?

I guess it's become popular these past few years to say that people won't attend conferences because they can meet in the Gopher Chat Rooms and on MySpace, or whatever the kids are into now. You can twitter away all day chatting with people. You don't have to wait in line at a signing table to meet authors. You can shoot them a message online. Email them. MyFace chat. You can connect for free, without having to battle the "Bring Out Your Dead" piles of flesh at the Atlanta airport or $12 hotel bar bourbon.

Then you've got the folks who say that nothing beats hanging out in person and getting to know people.

But, as a man with fiscal responsibilities, I have to look at the ROI of something like a convention or conference.

I wouldn't give back my trip to NoirCon. Met some nice people there, as well as a couple of complete assholes.

So my thinking is that conventions and conferences are most certainly worth the time and the money -- if you choose what works best for you. For example, I doubt there's much overlap between NoirCon and Malice Domestic.

What do you get out of conferences that you don't get out of chatting online and emailing and MyFacing?

Do you have a favorite conference? One you'll never again attend? One you'll never miss? One you wish existed?


Speaking of authors I'll probably never meet -- Frank Wheeler, Jr has a new book out. Right now. Like now, folks. It's called THE WOWZER.

In the Arkansas Ozarks, old-timers spin tales of the Wowzer, a giant panther-like creature that decapitates those who wander too far into the woods. County sheriff’s deputy Jerry was raised on Wowzer stories, but they aren’t enough to stop him from carrying out his own business in the remote hills. Jerry’s more than a sheriff’s deputy; he moonlights as muscle for local drug traffickers, who sometimes need people to get hurt—or get dead. 

Fortunately, Jerry’s pretty good at his job. And since Tom Haskell runs the sheriff’s office and the drug-protection racket, Jerry doesn’t see much of a moral dilemma. That is, until he starts thinking about getting out of the trade, and then things get complicated fast. For starters, Jerry’s girl Maggie flees the state after learning about a disturbing diagnosis tucked inside Jerry’s psych report. 

And now Sheriff Haskell is dragging his feet paying Jerry his cut of the drug money. Is Haskell just reluctant to lose his top muscle? Or is he plotting to take out the man who knows his dirtiest secrets? Fans of hardboiled, “country noir” fiction will love gnashing on Frank Wheeler’s violent and darkly comic debut, sneaking a glimpse into the mind of a killer whose inner monster is about to be unleashed. 

Because I love you all, I will send to one of our commenting people an electronic version of this book. So, to the comments, folks.

Monday, April 30, 2012

HISHE: Sons of Anarchy Season 3...

... or where I brazenly, and perhaps foolishly, re-write season three of Sons of Anarchy

I just finished watching seasons 1-3 of Sons of Anarchy.  It's now one of my favorite shows and I'm looking forward to watching Season 4.  Season 1 starts of wobbly and, as far as a crime fiction story goes, a little conventional.  It finds its legs after a couple of episodes and gets stronger by the end of the season.  Season 2 builds on the strengths of season 1 and gives the viewer a great season of television. None of this is to say that the first two seasons are perfect, but they are damn good. 

Then there is season 3.  There are a lot of viewers who dislike season 3 for various reasons.  More on that in a minute.

A couple of thought trains collided for me.  First,  I enjoy the pieces that How It Should Have Ended do, some more then others to be fair, but they are a fun extension of my middle school arguments about whether Bruce Lee could beat Darth Vader and what would happen if you used a nuclear bomb on a vampire.  Second, I liked the ideas that Belated Media put forth about The Phantom Menace and how it could have been streamlined to make a better movie.  Not all of the ideas work but overall I appreciate what they did. 

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Third, after exchanging some editorial notes one of the Snubnose authors thanked me but in truth I was just connecting some dots based on what was already there. It just needed a fresh pair of eyes to get that final polish. 

I want to explore the disconnect between the season 3 that I watched and the season 3 in my mind.  I don't know what you would call this: a review, a re-write, a critique, a polish, editorial notes, fan fiction.  But I'm going to do it anyway. 

Here's what I would have done with season 3 of Sons of Anarchy to make it better.  I tried as much as possible to use what was there.  I also haven't seen season 4 but I have looked at some of the information on it. 

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-No Lem (or Kozik, or whatever the hell his name is) - I wouldn't have introduced this character.  First, he doesn't look like a biker.  He looks too pretty (even with that neck tat) standing among that grisly cast.  You wanted to throw a Shield alum some work, great, but not this part.  The feud between Lem and Tig is kind of stupid when you finally learn its origins. He ultimately drags down the existing cast that we have come to love.

-Hale - Hale shouldn't have died.  The Hale/Tara/Jax triangle was a great mirror with the Unser/Gemma/Clay triangle.  They complimented each other nicely.  Especially since we started to see Hale work with Jax and the club on a limited basis.  Seeing Hale slowly come to grips with the "devil you know" component of town life and law enforcement was interesting.  There was more to be done with this character, his relationships with other characters, and his relationship with the town.

-Opie - I think over the course of the third season it's time for Opie's role to be more defined.  He's a quiet character and I'm not suggesting that he suddenly become more verbose and the center of action.  But, it's just a matter of connecting some of the dots.  He is Jax's oldest friend; his quiet nature makes him an observer; he is there for Jax.  Right now I would say that he should be one part Bobby and one part Tig for Jax.  The get shit done guy and the one who sees clearly for Jax when Jax can't.  Moving forward Jax will need that and there's no one in the club who he trusts more. 

-Tara: Here's the bottom line with Tara.  Even though the internal timeline of the show up to this point is shorter then the external timeline of the air dates and the viewer watching the episodes the external timeline is perhaps more important.  So with the third season of the show it's time to treat Tara differently as a character and mark her movement into the club life and some of their affairs.  The next couple of sections will be about Tara.

-Tara and Tara and Jax- I'm not a big fan of the break up then get back together aspect of Jax and Tara's relationship this season.  On one hand he's hurting and pushing people away from him but on the other Tara has proven she's in at this point so it's time for everyone (including herself) to stop treating her like a fence-sitter.  Again, it's just a matter of connecting the dots that are already there.  When the club comes to get Jax from the house early in the season Clay has nothing but good words for her ("You really stepped up").  In season 2 when she was treating Bobby he said he was "in good hands".  Also, and this may sound trite and obvious, but she has a nickname (Doc). A lot of the club members have nicknames (Tig, Happy, Opie, Half Sack, Piney, Chibs) or go by shortened versions of their names (Clay, Jax).  It's just one of the many ways that club members self identify and identify one another so it is no small thing that Tara has a nickname too.      

Additionally, most women in and around the club fall into two categories: the crow eater and the old lady.  Tara is an old lady but she also has another role within the club, she is their doctor.  She can have doubts sometimes, she can have moments of clarity about her life ("I'm your old lady") but lets stop pretending she's not a part of the club.  Her being a woman but not just an old lady flips the script on pre-defined gender roles in the club and lets her have more power and respect above and beyond even that of her mentor, Gemma.

Since Jax is still hurting he can still push her away but have her stand her ground, in words and in action, by fighting for her family, her man and her life.  When Jax tells her she should go she tells him no, she's not leaving her home.  When Jax is away in Ireland she holds the fort down with Tig because she understands her responsibility to the club.  This also plays into larger show themes that protecting the club is the most important thing.

Before going to Ireland Jax breaks up with Tara one last time, doesn't go home that night, and fucks Ima the porn star.  The next morning Tara goes to the clubhouse and walk in on the two of them.  Tara leaves in a huff. Ima thinks she's won.  Jax kicks Ima out.  Lyla confronts and slaps Ima and Tara sees this.  With what I've said about how Tara should be above here's how the scene should have went down. 

Tara goes to the clubhouse and walks in on Ima and Jax. Instead of storming out Tara walks over to where Ima is standing and punches her in the gut. Ima doubles over, Tara grabs her by the hair and drags Ima out of the room, down the hall, and through the clubhouse with Jax shouting after her the whole time.  Lyla and Opie see this.  Opie makes an attempt to stop Tara and momentarily succeeds.  But Lyla joins in and puts the boots to Ima and drags her to the clubhouse door.  Tara breaks free of Opie and re-enters the fray.  Both Lyla and Tara drag Ima out of the clubhouse, down the driveway and kicks her into the street with a final kicking and spitting.  You end the scene with Jax getting in Tara's face and saying "what the hell did you do that for" and Tara responding calmly "you aren't getting rid of me that easy" then walking to her car, getting in and driving away.

Again, it's all about connecting the dots that are already there.  Tara shooting up Ima's car foreshadows this act of violence and Gemma attacking Cherry with the skateboard foreshadows this violence.  Additionally, there is a hierarchy to the women.  Think about it, Gemma is in the number one spot and Tara is in the number two spot (and being groomed for the top spot).  But no other club member has an old lady so Lyla, by default, is number three.  Even this is foreshadowed earlier in the series.  When the club gathers all the loved ones at the clubhouse before going to war it's Gemma, Tara and Lyla, arms around each other, that make the visual tableau as the men ride off.  Even though it's never explicitly stated, Lyla knows she is the number three old lady.  With Gemma out of pocket both Tara and Lyla step up and get shit done.

From what I understand of Ima's appearance in season 4 it would need some tweaking but not much.  This theoretical season 3 beat down could have dovetailed nicely with the Ima events in season 4.

-Tig & Tara - While the club is away Tig is the main club member left behind.  It should be up to Tig & Tara to hold down the home front.  While doing so they could have some nice interactions where they talk about her increased role in the club.  Tig is protective of Gemma but it also wouldn't be a stretch to say that he is protective of some of the other old lady's, IE: Tara.  Imagine a scene where the two of them are out, Tig leaves momentarily and some strange dude comes up to her and is hitting on her and won't leave her alone.  Tig comes back and Tara tells him to take care of this asshole and he does. This would further solidify her place in the club and show her comfort level in getting one of the guys to do something for her.  Further, Tig actually doing it would be his acknowledgement  of her place in the club. 

-Tara's kidnapping - A couple of things should happen with this sub-plot.  First, in my season 3 Hale is still alive.  I'd like to see more of a collaborative effort between the club and Hale and Unser in trying to find her.  I believe that the club consists of men of action so the whole elaborate plan to try and meet the kidnapper's demands by arranging Alvarez's "death" for 24 hours is a bit ludicrous.  These guys would be beating the streets looking for her.  Their blind and wild action would also add an element of danger because Tara and her kidnappers could be anywhere and would counter balance the more considered approach that Hale and Unser would take. 

Inside the house Tara would still shank her one kidnapper. The administrator would be allowed to go but she would be instructed to go to Teller Morrow to tell the club where Tara is at.  Salazar and Tara would be in a tense stand-off and at some point he would get the upper hand and put the boots to her.  Tig, Hale and Unser would find her bleeding out. She would be taken to the hospital and would have a threatened miscarriage. 

The change would do a couple of things.  It would allow the action to be more streamlined, action packed, suspenseful and tense.  Also it would shave off the part of the existing sub-plot that don't make sense (letting the administrator go but staying behind) and are in place only to serve later reveals. 

-Ireland - I'm not a big fan of the Ireland portion of the season.  It wasn't bad it just wasn't great.  Also, we knew the boys were going to wind up there so the constant plot machinations to keep them from getting there felt artificial and external and you could see the beams of the story.  For example Bobby's previously unheard of ex-wife who just happens to be married to a bounty hunter who can give them intel on Abel's location that turns out to be false anyway.  Plot wise it's a giant cul-de-sac with new characters and Sutter and crew are better then that.  With that said I'm going to mostly leave that arc in place. 

But. I think there is a better way to handle keeping the Sons from reaching Ireland until a certain point in the series arc.

The bounty hunter guy should feed the intel to the Sons much sooner about Cameron and Abel being in Vancouver and the Sons SHOULD ACTUALLY GO THERE. 

Here's the deal Motorcycle gangs are HUGE in Canada.  They are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, organized crime group in Canada.  To not send the boys there and utilize all of that history was, in my opinion, a huge missed opportunity. 

Instead of having artificial reasons to prevent the Sons from leaving for Ireland have them go to Vancouver instead and get involved in an ongoing conflict/war instead. It is a plot development that could last a few episodes and wouldn't feel forced because the Sons would feel/be obligated to support their Canadian brothers.  Then they get fed the Irish intel then they go to Ireland. 

As a side note, in the off chance there are some plans for future story arcs to take the club to Canada and someone associated with the show reads this, there is a crime writer whose wheelhouse is organized crime in Canada including biker gangs who has screenwriting experience as well.  His name in <a href="">John McFetridge</a>. Hire him.

-The double cross - The double cross at the end leaves the viewer feeling a little cheated. On one hand it's a little thrilling wondering just what in the hell is going on but there isn't single hint of a scene where Jax tells the club his plan.  This weakens the plot development.  Especially since re-watching the season doesn't answer the question.  So one little scene would work.

-Unser - The biggest change I would have made to the double cross plot is Unser's role.  Clay gave him what felt like a final send off. The removal of his badge and service weapon and the picking up of his personal weapon felt like final acts.  Instead of catching a punch he should have eaten his gun on the side of the road. It would have made the whole thing more plausible.  I love the Unser character  and Dayton Callie but with his cancer eating away at him anyway and the way of life that he worked so hard to protect slipping away and the enormity of the actions that he was allowing to happen in that moment  it would have been an epic end of third season death that would have been rivaled only by Stringer Bell's.  The story demanded a pound of flesh and he should have paid it.  Imagine how heartbreaking the scene would have been if Unser said his goodbyes, told Opie to tell Gemma he said goodbye and then shot himself with Opie and Piney watching.  There is an certain over-the-top quality to the way the double cross unfolds. This scene would have given the whole affair a beating heart. 


So that's it.  My thoughts on making the third season of Sons of Anarchy tighter and stronger.  I'm not the only one who thought the season was problematic so sound off and tell me what you think  of SoA, of my plan for the 3rd season, and what changes you would have made.  Or did you love it just the way it is (after all it does have a 4 1/2 star out of 5 rating with 180 reviews over at Amazon).

[And yes, I realize that this was a fairly geeky thing to do.]

Currently Reading: Submissions; Dime Detective by Randy Chandler

Currently Listening: Boys and Girls by Alabama Shakes

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The care and feeding of a writer

by: Joelle Charbonneau

While you read this, I will be doing the conferencing thing.  Malice Domestic is this weekend where all things traditional and cozy mystery will be celebrated by readers and authors alike.  There will be editors there (the Berkley editors take their authors to a pretty awesome steak dinner) and agents in attendance (yes – the fabulous Stacia Decker will be lurking in the bar).  All in all, it will be a weekend filled with talking about the thing we all have in common – books.

Conferences are great since you get to network and sign books and all that jazz.  Panels are typically a great deal of fun and discussing your characters and your upcoming work is all sensational business stuff.  But I would say that while these adventures are important for an author’s career, they are more important for an author’s soul.

As writers, we spend lots of time in front of the computer screen – alone.  Ok—some people would say that we aren’t technically alone since we are spending time with the people and scenarios in our head.  But really…no matter how many imaginary friends you have or how often they talk to you, writing is not a team sport.  You sit and write and you do it solo.  But writers need to get out and experience the world.  We need to observe people and place and social events in order to create realistic feeling situations on the page.  And more important – we need to be with other people that understand the pressures of writing.

Complaining about deadlines, yammering about the most horrid rejection you’ve ever received and just talking about every day stuff with other people whose feet are set on the same path is important.  Sharing those experiences on this blog, on twitter, and facebook are good, but there is nothing like being with other people who are part of the same community.  Who understand the joy of a great writing day or the agony of a terrible one without explanation.  While food and coffee feed an author’s body, it is the coming together of like minds with like purpose that feed an author’s soul.  And that is a wonderful thing.