Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twilight: Question, Answer, Question

Breaking down the opening preface to Twilight, the novel by Stephenie Meyer, I explore this process I call Question, Answer, Question that engages the attention of readers with the opening of a novel.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Confession

I have a terrible confession. I went to see the movie Max Payne. Funny in a bad/good way. A sniper with a rifle standing above and about 20 feet behind Max takes a shot at him. Ten feet to his left. Another shot, ten feet to his right. Max does a back flip and takes out the sniper with a shotgun. In another scene, people chasing Max from about 40 feet back shoot at him repeatedly, missing him by about 20 feet to the left and right. Must have a 20 foot rule; every 20 feet, miss by another ten feet. Good thing Max wasn't a hundred yards ahead, they would have been missing him by a couple of miles.

There was something in the movie that sparked a reverie, shadows. I once had a girlfriend that shadows would come over. I used to travel to her place and seal her room at night with light and write on her pillow and the pillows of her kids that they were loved and protected. Once I was sitting in bed with her, meditating while she slept, and a bright white light flashed and filled the room, as bright as a flash on a camera. A shadow about the size of a person went up the wall in front of the bed and out the ceiling.

One funny story about all this, after we'd broken up I was sitting at home in bed meditating when I felt pulled out to her place. She later asked me if I'd 'been there' at that particular time. When I admitted something pulled me out there, she told me she'd had a new beau spending the night in another room for the first time. A white cloud came rumbling down the hall and over the bed he was preparing to sleep in, and a voice demanded, "Who are you?"

He's lucky I didn't zap his manhood with a lightning bolt.

Anyway, every time I see shadows in a film (Constantine is another) it creeps me out. Damn things.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Writers Welcome to Orycon

Patty Wells speaks about the various programs offered to writers by Orycon, a science fiction/fantasy convention held in Portland, Oregon. For more information about Orycon, visit

I shot this in the
lobby area for the convention using an inexpensive wireless mic. It picked up more
background sound that I would have liked, but live and learn. This is why I like doing this kind of piece someplace I can control the environment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mike Thaler, Tales from the Back Pew

Mike Thaler, author of The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, reads from his new series, Tales from the Back Pew.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mike Shepherd Speaks about his Kris Longknife Novels

Mike Shepherd speaks about his Kris Longknife novels at Orycon 30, a science fiction convention held in Portland, Oregon. I shot several authors, including David D Levine, Sheila Simonson, and Mary Rosenblum. So far I've just edited two. I didn't take a tri-pod, since I didn't have a 'place' to shoot these. I discovered that in a hallway, it's best to shoot the author sitting at an angle to the wall behind them to give a sense of depth. In hindsight, I could have shot some hallway chats with people to edit together.

Mike was a good subject. He has a nice strong voice and he's done his share of public speaking.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Appaloosa Past

I just saw the movie Appaloosa. In the film, a woman has sex with every dominant male she comes across. I was in a relationship many years ago that had that dyanmic. At first, not knowing what I was dealing with, it seemed fine since I was the alpha male. My girlfriend was going through a divorce from a gun collector/lock smith. He didn't like her going to school so he rigged her briefcase with a blackpowder charge. When she opened it, there was a flash and a bang. He just wanted her to know what could happen if she really crossed him, like asking for alimony in a divorce.

Didn't do much for her nervous system. That and his rigging firecrackers to drawers (and doors) so when she opened something around the house, bang!

During that time, I wondered if I'd open a car door, see a bright flash, and watch my hand go sailing over my shoulder.

It was odd at the time that because I'm tall and big and quiet around people I don't know, so my girlfriend's tormentors all assumed I was plotting to do something to them. So they all took a step back when I was around. That probably did help to keep something unpleasant from happening.

Around then I became an editor for someone who'd just sold a screenplay to Columbia. A male writer. They had a brief affair, which destroyed that working relationship. Our relationship survived, but the same problem eventually killed it.

To me a relationship is a sanctuary, a place I can be with someone and talk about my day, my life, just be myself, share myself and be open and intimate with my sweetheart. It's not a circus, with me as the guy who follows the elephants shoveling up crap.

Ah, well, it was something to be young and in lust. That woman had me on fire.


A fifth edition of my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise and The Spirit of Storytelling, is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another Halloween at Collins View

The International Club holds its annual Halloween bash where I live. I performed in a skit as a werewolf in the song about Wolfman Jack. The skit went well, although I missed a cue because I couldn't see much wearing a mask. I realized how much I depend on visual information to do a skit versus listening to audio cues from the lyrics.

A group of dancers did a wonderful performance about politics. One dancer wore a George Bush mask, another Bill Clinton, another Barack Obama, another John McCain; another dancer was made up/dressed like Sarah Palin. Watching Bill Clinton close in on her for some hanky-panky was hilarious.

Bruce Fraser did a song about George Bush, Rush Limbough, and Hurricane Katrina.

A good time seemed to be had by all. Since the party happened where I live, I could go to my room when I felt like it. Crowds and noise aren't my favorite things in life.

Another Trip to the Sylvia Beach Hotel

I spent three nights at this hotel on the Oregon Coast. The rooms are made up for various authors. I was in the Hemingway room.

I finished a draft of a play. I went wanting to finish a second act. Because I had time to sit and think about the play without interruption, I realized the reason I couldn't finish the second act was because I didn't have one. The play became a more tightly-focused one act of 65 pages.

During breaks, I wrote four one minute plays. There are a few places that do one minute play festivals, but they are done for the year. It was an interesting excercise, two characters, a situation, some humor, a twist, done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Room With a View

Some tone deaf children are singing the Sound of Music outside my door. I live in a church converted to a performance studio.

My motto in life, live somewhere interesting.

It's nice when the International Club does its blow out Halloween party at this place. I can leave, lay down in my room, check my email, take a nap, go on the internet (sometimes all at the same time), and return to the party refreshed, revived, with a new sense of joive de vere, or whatever that is. Whatever it is, at those moments, I have it in spades.

They used to do dance benefits here, and the basement/kitchen area was a changing room. I was down there eating toast once when a semi-dressed young woman ordered me out. I considered stating my right to eat toast in the dressing room of my choice, but I skeedaddled when she looked at me cross-eyed.

I'm now off to a Willamette Writers meeting. A month ago a young man arrived at the Old Church where the meeting is held (that's the name of the place, and it also happens TO BE an old church) and asked a book seller in the basement if he could help the young man find a literary agent. When the old guy said selling used books had nothing to do with literary agents, the kid whaled on him, bloodying his face and head. The police caught the kid and I'm told his trial is today, so my hope is to get through the meeting without a need to call in some muscle.

When I was young in a bad neighborhood, I was never been beaten up by a single person. I was always beaten up by gangs when I went in to rescue friends who by the time I arrived to help them had usually grown wings and flown away. Small wings, not big enough to take me with them.

Ah, well, being hit on the back of the head isn't too bad, compared to being hit in the nose. That hurts.

I'm all over here, so I should leave and be all over somewhere else.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Copyrighting Characters

I sat in on a workshop at Write on the Sound offered by literary attorney Gary Marshall ( I didn't know that a character in a novel can also be copyrighted. If I understood this story correctly, when Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October became a huge success and he went with a bigger publisher, the original publisher 'owned' the copyright to the characters from Hunt. The larger publisher had to buy those rights.

Something for people who want to do a series to consider when going with a publisher.

My Narrative Tension workshop was well-attended and well-received. The book seller sold 22 of my books and ran out. I violated my own rules of always have plenty of extra books, always have more handouts than I expect to need, and always have fliers. I came up with Elizabeth Lyon in her car, so I didn't pack as much stuff.

But still...


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Deep Characterization

Bill Johnson, author of A Story is a Promise, speaks about a process he calls Deep Characterization, where someone writing a novel makes the main character an extension of themself without understanding the pitfalls.

Oregon Writers Speak

Bill Johnson introduces his series of videos featuring Oregon authors speaking about their novels, plays, and writing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Learning learning, always learning

I'm learning about RSS feeds and video streaming for a presentation I'm doing with Elizabeth Lyon. I expected just to speak about ConstantContact (email program), YouTube, and Facebook as ways for authors to connect to the world. But that meant I needed to learn about RSS feeds and video streaming.

The easy solution for RSS and streaming, these Google blogs provide an RSS feed and allow embedded videos. Once I have a video posted on YouTube, I can copy the embed code from YouTube and have the video play on this blog, or my web site.

I feel so 21st century now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Trip to Frys

I helped my girlfriend pick out a mini-camcorder tonight at Frys. She's a painter and visual artist; she uses a Mac. She's really picked up quickly on using iMovie and using photographs to create some nice, short videos that she uploads to Youtube. The most recent one took her 15 minutes to create and upload.

The new camera is a Canon that records on to a memory stick. I told her she needed a camera with an external mic to interview folks. I look forward to what she'll be creating.

Her site on YouTube is at

I'm going to order her a wireless mic off eBay.

Hard to get out of Frys without buying something, but I settled on a new mint flavored Rocky Road candy bar. Can't get through Frys without buying something.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Audio Blues

Audio is always the killer. First shoot, good visuals, good audio. Now, a bit of a hiss. A friend who's still in the biz will check my cheap Chinese wireless mic to make sure the gain isn't too high. I'm used to the old tape days where you could see a level.

I also lost the tiny little clip that keeps the mic away from clothes on the body. Amazing what a difference that tiny little clip makes. Mics love picking up things the human ear can't hear or filter out.

I decided to create a CD that will go out with the third edition of my book, A Story is a Promise and Deep Characterization. I'll speak five minutes about the concepts in each section.

I'm expecting the book tomorrow or Tuesday.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oregon Writers Speak

I've started a new site on YouTube called Oregon Writers Speak. So far I've created three videos of authors talking about their work. I did industrial and some corporate video many years ago (writing and directing). This on-line editing is an all new world for me. So far the videos are mostly meat and potatoes, authors in a chair talking, with a few inserts. As I get the basics of editing, I'll do some more interesting work.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Thoughts on Into the Wild

When I was young, I suffered from a black depression. It would last 2 days to a week a couple of times a month. When I got older, I stumbled across a yoga technique called bellows breathing. I ended up doing the technique three hours a day for a year as a way to end my black depression. Everyone around me thought I was nuts. For me it was an inner journey, where the young man in the movie goes on an external one.

What I discovered on this inner journey is that the energy in my body is a medium between my thoughts and my physical body. That the paths the energy flows through my body is a reflection of my thoughts, but also, as the energy goes out and fuses into the flesh, memories and states of feeling are held in place, in a sense, in the muscles of the body.

The cause of my black depression was that the energy flow in my body was seriously constricted, but I wasn't aware of the constrictions. If anyone has had the flu and had bodily aches, those aches are constrictions in the body's energy flow. Open up the constrictions, you don't feel bad; you just have a slightly running nose.

But, in black depression, the constrictions don't manifest as pain.

When I did the bellows breathing, in different parts of my body the flow of energy would increase. When that increased flow encountered a restriction, it would, over time, open up the restricted energy flow. Over that year I opened up restricted flows in my legs, arms, stomach, chest, lower and upper back, then my head and face.

After that year, I rarely experienced a black depression; I get a whiff of it once a year for a fews hours and it's a reminder that I need to meditate more deeply, eat better, get some mental rest.

When I went through this process, for the first time in my life I felt I really knew something; I understood how my body and mind and energy body functioned together. I knew something that no one could take away from me.

I've never run into anyone else who went through the same process, but Kriya Yoga does teach how to open up the major channels in the spine and brain.

Black depression is a terrible ordeal. I used to describe it as fading to black.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Impulse Control

I went to see a movie titled Trailer Park Boys tonight, about some low-rent thieves living in a trailer park. Funny movie; might be too vulgar for some. Apparently based on a Canadian TV show. One of the characters had a car with no passenger door. It triggered a memory for me. When I was a kid, about six, I was riding in a car with my father. We were getting close to home so I opened the door and stepped out.

Only close to home was about a block so I stepped out of a moving car.

Really, we were almost home.

I survived with just a few scrapes and bruises, but boy did my parents keep an eye on me after that, and I often had to sit in the backseat between siblings.

Flash forward many years... I'm in a relationship, visiting a friend of my girlfriend at the Oregon Coast. He'd come out to say goodbye and was hanging onto her window (a Plymouth Voyager). It was time to go, so I started driving down the street. You'd think he would have taken the hint and let go of the window, but no, he had to go along with us for several feet before dropping off.

My girlfriend was steamed. He should have taken the hint and let go. It wasn't like I smacked him to make him let go of the door.

Anyway, when it's time to leave, I'm on the move.