Saturday, May 30, 2020

Year 5 of an Indie Writer: Week 22: Early Momentum Counts

Scott D. Parker

Hey! Back to words and not a video. Why? Dunno, really. Just felt like typing some thoughts rather than speaking them.

Keeping a Record

So, Summer 2020 started this week. In case you missed the video in which I talked about the summer writing season, we have a longer-than-normal summer this year which means there are more days and weeks to start and complete projects: 104 days and 15 weeks. Minus the one we just completed.

I woke early on Monday and got back to one of my current stories. One of the best things about earmarking a certain day to begin writing is the eagerness to start. I woke with hardly any effort so excited was I to pick up this Calvin Carter story again.

The enthusiasm continued throughout the work week. Each morning, I started a new habit: wake a 5:00 am and get the writing done before the day job kicks in. I’ll admit: the writing muscles were a tad rusty, but the week went by with new words added to the story and a new transition into Act III. Can’t go wrong there.

I have resurrected an old habit I used to do: keep a word count record per day. Incredibly motivating. Heck, yesterday, I reached a logical conclusion—and the alarm I set to tell me to stop writing and get ready for the day job was sounding—and I realized I had 599 words. Argh! I left it alone and got ready. But it’ll be nice to see those numbers climb.

Another thing that spurs me along is a schedule. If I frequently put myself on a Starting Date, I rarely resort to a schedule. That is, be finished with Project A by a certain date. But I have now. I want to see how it works. If it motivates me to ignore alarms and write even when an alarm’s blaring, I might be onto something.

So, the Summer Writing has kicked off well. How about your writing?

Murder by the Book and Zoom

Did you catch the Facebook Live session yesterday with McKenna Jordan, Gregg Hurwitz, and Michael Connelly? You didn’t? What’s up with that? For nearly an hour, Hurwitz acts as interviewer to Connelly, writer interviewing writer, but with Hurwitz acting as host as well as fan. Excellent interview, including the viewer questions. It’s on Murder by the Book’s Facebook page so go watch.

Grant – The Mini-Series

The big television event of the week was the History Channel’s three-part, six-hour mini-series on Ulysses S. Grant. Loved it. As a historian, I welcome popular histories that can reach a broad audience. I wrote a review about it yesterday in which I give more details. Highly recommended.

The Next Video

I kept up with The Road to The Empire Strikes Back video series this week with Episode VI: The Music. I’ve had a blast with this series and this was one I looked forward to the most (apart from the movie re-watch). Empire ranks in my Top 5 soundtracks of all time.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Lovely review for Beau Johnson's ALL OF THEM TO BURN

Reviewed by Ian Ayris

All of Them to Burn is a collection of thirty-nine stories - nineteen of which follow the exploits of Bishop Rider and his quest to rid the world of every piece of scum that ripped his world apart. The Bishop Rider stories in this collection - more vignettes of vengeance than stories- are not for the faint-hearted.

 Brutal doesn't even come close.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Clampdown

By David Nemeth

I'd like to say I have some witty hot takes about the pandemic and subsequent quarantine – actually, I probably do have a couple, but I won't be sharing them here. The internet overflows with posts like that.

I could write about this is not the time introverts have been waiting for. It's not. Introverts do not want to be trapped in a dwelling with other people.

Do something or do nothing.

Have I found some magical process that helps me discipline my time better? No. Binging and surfing still have a strong pull.

There's the dread that fills the empty spaces.

Guinness on draught, dinner with friends, and watching soccer in the stands are some of the things I miss.

I think of my wife's Aunt who passed away several weeks ago, and I wish I could drink some bourbon with a friend who's grandmother recently died.

I wait.

I read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


 Long time no speak huh?  How you guys doing? The last time we were together I was preparing for my upcoming book tour in support of ny book Blacktop Wasteland, and choosing what kind of luggage I was going to buy. 

As my grandmother would say , life is filled with swift transitions. The world has ground to a halt and in that halting is forever changed. One might ask in this new world what is the use of books, of stories, of movies about the worst of human behavior and how that can cause both despair but also be the catalyst for a kind of rough revelation. 
    I think now more than ever stories are necessary. They are vital. Not only as a distraction but as road map on our way back to normality. Books can be a kind of time machine. They can take us back to the before times or they can take us foreword through the darkness and into the bright new day of the aftermath. 
   'For my part I'm still writing , still reading and still watching all kinds of books and movies. I've discovered some new favorites like Autumn Christian and Bracken Macleod , not crime writers per se but great authors nonetheless , I've become reacquainted with old friends  like Ross Macdonald , Donald Goines and Barbara Neely. I've struggled through my technophobic tendencies and participated Zoom based Noir at the Bar events where I've heard some of the best crime writers in the world perform their work with an extra edge, an extra bit of urgency because they understand just like I do and I suspect you do too ...
We need stories. Like we need oxygen. 

     And with that I'd like to take a few minutes to tell you about a movie that you may or may not remember but I love unabashedly even though I know its got it's problems. But it also has Nic Cage in prime Nic Cage mode . A weird over the top bag of tics and twitches that only uses plastic spoons. 

    I'm talking about 1995's KISS OF DEATH. 

   In 1995 David Caruso thought he was pretty hot shit. I mean why wouldn't he? He had just starred in the hottest show on TV in at least a decade. He was the breakout start and so of course he left after the first year. A lot of pop culture critics like to use Shelly Long as short hand for acting hubris. Her name became synonymous with a performer who overestimated their appeal. 
David Caruso snatched that crown from her like a thief in the night. 
   In hindsight Caruso made a serious miscalculation. He not only left a highly respected show he talked piles and piles of that  hot fecal matter about the show and television in general. He didn't come off as an actor trying to find a new medium to express himself. He came off like an ungrateful jerk. 
   Its unfortunate that he worked so tirelessly to ruin his own career because he starred in two very interesting movies in 1995. Jade, a sad and obvious rip off of Basic Instinct( I know that sounds harsh but trust me it is accurate) and a moody dark but also hyper kinetic crime drama called Kiss of Death. 
       The plot of 1995 Kiss of Death is only tangetially similar to the orginal Kiss of Death with a giggling Richard Widmark playing sociopath Tommy Udo. In Caruso's movie he plays Jimmy Kilmartin a former car thief trying to go straight. Michael Rappaport plays his cousin Ronnie a character so sleazy and grimey he leaves skid marks on your tv screen. Ronnie is in deep with Big Junior Brown and his son Little Junior Brown played by Nicholas Cage. 
    Big Junior is a standard variety crime boss. But Little Junior , oh my, Little Junior is Nic Cage at his most weird unhinged but oddly charasmatic. Its like Sailor from Wild At Heart had a love child with Castor Troy that was raised by the couple from Raising Arizona. Little Junior is a walking talking asthamatic definition of toxic masculinty clad in all white like a fallen muscle bound angel. 
     Jimmy helps Ronnie move some stolen cars for Little Junior and of course they get pulled over by the cops. During the exchange one of Little Junior's henchmen tries to shoot Samule L. Jackson's Det. Hart. Jimmy puts his hand in front of the gun slowing the bullet. Hart is shot just below his eye. For the rest of the movie he has to continually dab at it with a white handkerchief  like some cursed monk in a gothic romance. These three characters along with a coke addled gangster played by Ving Rhames and an overzealous federal prosecuter played by Stanley Tucci circle the drain of bad decisions and machismo like toy boats in a toilet bowl.  
    No one can stand toe to toe with Nic Cage's performacne but Caruso gives Jimmy a quiet intensity and an everyman feel. It helps that Caruso is a native New Yorker with just enough big city toughness to play a gangster but also some suburban tenderness to soften his sharp edges. 
    Kiss of Death currently holds a 68 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its not a classic but I'm here to tell you it's not nearly as bad as you think it was. Yes Caruso was nominated for a Razzie for his role but I think that was more about behind the scenes politics than his actual skill. If Kiss of Death came out today it would be a smoldering hit on Netflix. As it stands it's a claustrophobic crime thriller that exists in that rareified space between bad timing and bad assumptions. 
 This is the hill upon which I stand.....
You guys seek it out and if you don't like I'll.......probably disagree with you. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

So Long, Mr. Cobb

He died yesterday, but I figured it's not too late to mark here my own farewell to the great jazz drummer, Jimmy Cobb.  He was 91, died in Manhattan, and was the last surviving member (for the last 30 years!) of what's often called Miles Davis' First Great Sextet (or Quintet).

What does this have to do with writing?  Nothing much.  Except that Kind of Blue (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960) and "Naima" from John Coltrane's Giant Steps (1959) -- to name but a few and the most famous of the things Cobbs played on -- are albums and pieces I never tire of listening to and that I find perfect as accompaniments to late-night dreamy thinking, the kind of thinking often conducive to useful ideas.  I never write with music on, but playing music before or after writing, to get in a mood or to wind down from writing or just to provoke the imagination in its wanderings, is something I do frequently, and many pieces Cobb played on during his long career I find ideal for pre-writing or post-writing music.  

Anyway, thanks for all the great stuff, Jimmy.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day


Disabled American Veterans
Beginning at 4 p.m. EST, DAV’s National Adjutant Marc Burgess will deliver a “Salute to Fallen Heroes” address on Facebook Live. DAV will then premiere their “Honor Wall” compilation video, featuring tributes from DAV ambassadors, members and supporters who will share words of remembrance for their loved ones who have passed.

National Museum of the Pacific
Livestream begins at 10 a.m. CST and includes remarks from Candy Martin, president of Gold Star Mothers of Texas/Oklahoma and the playing of “taps.”

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
Remembrance ceremony livestream begins at 10 a.m. EST. Remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

National D-Day Memorial
In partnership with Virginia-based videographer Ryan Anderson, the memorial will release two scripted virtual programs -- one on Memorial Day and one on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial
Online livestreams begin at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. CST. To Honor and remember those who sacrificed. 

Parade of Heroes
Parade of Heroes
HISTORY, the Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest Generations Foundation, Heroes of the Second World War, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., and Combined Arms presents "Parade of Heroes".
Monday, May 25th at 11:00 a.m.