Sunday, May 31, 2009

John Connolly at The Great Lost Bear

A public service announcement for any fellow Mainers reading this blog (okay, fine, I'm from away, but you know what I mean):

This Tuesday, June 2nd at 7:00 PM, The Great Lost Bear will be hosting a book release party for John Connolly's newest Charlie Parker novel, The Lovers. As I understand it, the bar (a favorite of mine) features prominently in the book, and collector-types should note they'll be giving away limited-edition T-shirts to those who buy a copy of the book (you can read the details here).

In the interest of not seeming like a total poseur, I should mention that Connolly's work is new to me, having until recently read nothing of his but his fantastic introduction to the upcoming Bleak House release Uncage Me. Thankfully, that proved easy enough to rectify, and on a tip from Stuart, I picked up The Book of Lost Things just this week. Thus far, it's nothing short of riveting.

So yeah. 7:00 PM Tuesday. The Great Lost Bear. 540 Forest Avenue. If you see me there, by all means say hello -- I'll be the one trying to nurse my Hampshire Special so as to not make an ass of myself, or wind up tipsy on a school-night. (Seriously, I freakin' love that stuff. I hazily recall shaking David Geary's hand when he was guest-tending bar at the Bear one night, just for being the man who makes it.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Apparently, the fourth week is the charm.

After three weeks of beating my head against the wall, trying to get the chapter I was stuck on to work, I finally cracked it. I'd love to say that once it clicked, the deathless prose flowed like water from a tap, and that the final product's one of the best chapters I've ever written, but the fact is, that just ain't true.

What is true is that for several weeks, the chapter was unworkable crap. (Overstatement? Maybe. But it sure felt like unworkable crap to me, so really, what's the difference?) Now it's rough, and messy, but good enough for me to move on. And really, that's all I wanted. First drafts are allowed to have their rough spots. The trick, for me, is to make sure that even those rough spots have the raw materials in place that'll allow me to make something out of 'em later. I don't always know what raw materials I'm going to need later on, but something in my head always seems to know when they're missing.

So yeah. Back on track. Just another 30,000 words to go. Time to get cranking.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Blerg" or "Why Transitions Suck"

Three weeks.

For three weeks now, I've been wrestling with the same freakin' scene. Three weeks of writing, deleting, cutting, and pasting. Three weeks of moving the pieces around without the slightest investment in what's actually going on on the page.

It'd be easy to blame that on the fact that I'm smack in the middle of the New Book (which yes, has a title, and no, I'm not saying what it is just yet). I've often heard the middle tends to drag for writers, fresh off the flush of beginning a new book, but still a ways off from the Thrilling Conclusion. Thing is, that's never how it is for me. For me, the middle's usually pretty fun to write, because that's where you really get to pile on the conflict.

No, I think the problem is that the scene I'm writing is nothing more than a transition from where I've been to where I know I need to go. It's a checklist scene: Sam's got to get patched up after a meeting with a less-than-friendly bug-monster, he needs to boost himself a shiny new ride, and although he doesn't know it yet, he's about to pick up a very hungover complication along the way. All of that needs to happen to set up for what comes next, and all of it is proving boring as all get-out to write.

This isn't the first time this has happened to me (that would be here), and I'm not terribly worried, on account of last time it turned out fine, but still, there's no shortcut but to work at it until it clicks. (There is no shortcut, right? I mean, if you know one, and you ain't telling, that's just mean.) I've mentioned before I'm not the speediest of writers, but the flip-side is, my first drafts are pretty clean, and one reason why is I tend not to move on until the bit I'm writing works. I think I mostly do that out of the fear that if I only write the bits I'm looking forward to, I'll never go back and connect the dots into, you know, a story. (Also, I think all characters should have an emotional arc, and they get tough to keep track of when you're writing out of order, but that's a post for another time.)

Oh, and just so I don't have to keep typing "the New Book" all the time, I decree that I will heretofore refer to it by its initials: WG. Feel free to take up Blogger's bandwidth with predictions. Wizened Gefiltefish? Wonky Grandma? I'll never tell. (I think semi-anonymous commenter Josh won the guessing game for DH with his so-great-I-wish-I'd-written-it guess of Dastardly Haberdasher.)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Maine = Awesome

Okay, I try not to talk politics too much 'round these parts, but today's developments are just too big not to comment on. Today, Maine became the first state in the Union to pass a same-sex marriage bill in the legislature and have it signed into law by the governor, and I couldn't be more proud.

The bill passed with a final tally of 89-57 in the state House, and 21-13 in the Senate. Add to that the support of Governor John Baldacci, and that makes 111. 111 people who stood up for freedom and equality. 111 people who deserve our thanks.

Of course, the issue's far from over. There will doubtless be a referendum vote, and the chance for a so-called people's veto, but for now, there's cause to celebrate. Equal rights ain't just lip-service any more.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Giving Back

Friend and writer Lyman Feero has put together an organization called the Society for the Advancement of Young Writers, an organization that aims to foster an interest in creative writing among elementary-age children, and he's looking for writers who are interested in helping. You can read about it here.

Lyman's plan is ambitious, but his goals are both attainable and (in my humble opinion) very, very cool. If you've been with me since the beginning, you've probably already read my post on the first story I ever wrote. If not, go check it out -- I'll wait.

So why (beyond self-aggrandizement and rampant narcissism) did I ask you to go do that? Because if you're a writer, my guess is you've had a similar experience sometime in your life. Think about how it stuck with you, and how much it shaped the person you've become.

Now think about what it would be like to do that for someone else.

So please, go check out Lyman's post, and see if this is something you'd be interested in. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Close, but no cigar.

Well, folks, it looks like it wasn't meant to be. The winners of the 2009 Derringer Awards have been announced, and The Big Score didn't make the grade. But hey, I had a pretty good run, so who am I to complain?

Huge congrats go out to those who did win, and a monster thanks to all those who voted for me! And if you voted, but you didn't vote for me, well good on you, too. Know it or not, you just helped make someone's day. Those someones are as follows:

BEST FLASH STORY: "No Place Like Home" by Dee Stuart, published in Mysterical-E

BEST SHORT STORY: "The Cost of Doing Business" by Michael Penncavage, published in ThugLit

BEST LONG STORY: "The Quick Brown Fox" by Robert S. Levinson, published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

BEST NOVELETTE: "Too Wise" by O'Neil De Noux, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

EDWARD D. HOCH MEMORIAL GOLDEN DERRINGER AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Clark Howard