Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jack Webb

"Just the facts Ma am." We all know Jack Webb as Joe Friday in 1960's series Dragnet. But, what I discovered was that he was also a crime fiction writer as well. I found this out when I was browsing the Prologue Books catalogue on . Naturally, I scooped up three titles and polished off the rest of my gift card.

Right now I am reading The Bad Blonde about a blond bombshell who is a criminal. She is involved in a nasty crime which entails disfiguring and old security guard and Father Shanley, the two fisted padre and Sammy Golden, the hard as nails LAPD detective are hot on hers and her associates' trail.

So far so good. I would say this isn't really a noir. Nor is it a police procedural. It is a crime thriller where the lines between good and evil are crystal clear. To me it is quite refreshing to read a piece that not only is  gritty, but is also spiritually uplifting.

I am also quite surprised at his prose style. It is what I would call "Clunky Kerouac". I dig it.

So, if you have some extra money, pick up a few Jack Webb titles from . Then after that, visit for more reading ideas.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Life Is Cheap

Sometimes you just have to let go and write not worrying about how it looks or sounds on the page. Yesterday I finished the first draft of my next Cain Western Life Is Cheap and I did just that. I kept a nice pace of 800 words a day and completed it in about two weeks.

I found it very liberating to just write. I think my brain appreciated it as well. Truth be told, the mind works better without a muzzle or a filter and it is good to trust it once in awhile.

In a week or so, I will go back over the story and my wife will also take a crack at it. Then we can both look at each other and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I wrote such and such a sentence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What To Do With Story Ideas That Come To You While Working On Another Story

It never fails that when I am writing a story, other ideas for an even better tale come along. The temptation is to drop your current project and lay down tracks for the new idea. Some people can do this and manage to be productive. I can't. It reminds me of that old saying "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." We all know from life experience that it never is.

If I give into the base temptation of shirking my responsibility to my present piece of writing, and going off on what turns out to be a fool's literary crusade, I find it is like eating cotton candy; sweet at first, but it dissolves very quickly after a few bites. Well that may not the best analogy, but it's the best I can do off the top of my head. Basically, with very few exceptions, cheating on my current story with a fresher, sexier idea never works out. So, here is my solution.

First, before I reveal the magic, let me say that I used to solve the dilemma by writing that story flash down in one of my story idea files. But, I find when I do that, I grow to hate my current project even more and tend to rush through it, thus not giving it the attention it deserves in order to get to the other idea.

Again, here is what I propose. When you get a brilliant inspiration for another yarn, try seeing if and how it fits into the story you are already working on. You never know, the incorporation of this idea might lead your piece in strange and wonderful directions. If it doesn't, then oh well, you can squirrel it away for later. Or, perhaps, scrap it entirely since after thinking about it and trying to implement it, you find it wasn't all that inspired after all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Faded Star

Today I read over my story Twinkle Twinkle Faded Star. It's a dark pot boiler involving the corrupt homicide clown cop named Lou Blatz. He and his partner Brody are always harrassing Huey Dusk who as you know is my clown PI modeled after Mike Hammer.

Well, when I was reading it over I realized I have a damn good story. Initially, when I started out I was having trouble distinguishing it from a Huey Dusk caper. But I think I have fixed that. Lou definately stands apart from Dusk and has his own voice.

I also believe this is more noirish than any of the other Huey stories. Although Lou is just as funny as Dusk, he most definately is a bad clown. But, he has a "wounded soul and a black licorice heart" that Serena, the damsel in distress, is able to soothe and pierce. As a result, she gets him to solve the murder of her sister, a once famous movie star. However, before her death, Serena's sister was fading into into B movie obscurity, hence the title.

Also, whereas I model my Huey Dusk stories after the writing of Mickey Spillane, Lou Blatz's tale just reeks of David Goodis. No one is really all that innocent and Huey is pretty sleazy, as seen through the eyes of Lou who as I said is even more horrid.

It was alot of fun to write and I am having a great time revising. So, someday in the near future after I have found a home for this opus, look for Twinkle Twinkle Faded Star.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gunshots In Another Room: The Forgotten Life Of Dan J Marlowe

Every writer needs to read Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J Marlowe by Charles Kelly. His experience in writing mirrors pretty much all of ours. The book does a great job of pointing out that he wasn't a top-tier writer. And financial success and fame eluded him. This doesn't mean that he wasn't a critically acclaimed writer. It is evident with such books as The Name of the Game Is Death, One Endless Hour and The Vengeance Man. But according to the biography, Marlowe was mostly scraping by and considered a genre author.

It also points out some interesting things. One of those being that he was a Republican . To me the author feels this was very evident in his approach to writing, in that he was very concerned about money and the bottom line. It was this mindset he felt that led to Marlowe watering down his character Earl Drake in The Name of The Game Is Death for his "Operation" series . Along with his political leanings the book also points out that he had  some sexual fetishes.  This made for a very complex man.  Kelly points out that his sexual proclivities  do show up in his writing. Along with that, there is a definite sense of repression that is embedded in his work as well.  

I like his work a lot. So, I need to be careful how I word this. Despite the three above examples of his brilliance, based on this biography and some of the other books that I've read, namely Shake A Crooked Town, he was a rung above being a hack. But like I said earlier, this is a pretty realistic situation for a writer. Not everyone is going to be a Stephen King, who incidentally praised him in his Hard Case novel The Colorado Kid.

I guess what I can take from this book is that, and not to second-guess the man, but if you're going to be a writer, you need to go all out and write for the love of the craft and not just money.  That is advice I need to work on following myself . Because most of the time, I have stars in my eyes.