Death In Common Cover Art

For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, here’s the cover art for Death In Common. Bob Freeman did a splendid job!

death

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Reposting The Process

With the publication of Death In Common on the horizon, I thought this would be a good time to repost an entry I wrote back in NOvember dealing with the process I went through of getting accepted.

When Rich first announced his anthology over on SL, I was intrigued, and intimidated. Intrigued, because I loved the concept of poems based on a serial killer, but intimidated because I don’t know jack about writing poems. I did have an idea of what I wanted to write. When Rich kind of prodded me in an email to submit something, I thought hard about whether I should or not.

My idea was simply a reinterpretation of an unpublished story I’d written many years ago. It concerned a guy who finds a homeless man shading himself by the side of a building. He offers help and gets no response. Somewhat discouraged he drops some money and a business card in the man’s hat and walks away, never realizing he was talking to a corpse. It was about lost opportunities, wasting life, and offering help when it’s too little, too late. The finished poem, now, in no way resembles that, however. As I wrote my first draft, a prose poem, it didn’t exactly fit in with the the theme. I’m going to be careful and not give anything away in what the content is, though I can describe the process I went through.

The first thing I did was read some prose poems that Rich sent me some link to, in order to get an idea of how to frame my story. What I did, ended up being a 750 word flash fiction piece. What that did was give me the story I wanted to tell (though even that changed as well). Rich advised me to make some cuts, add some actual poetic content and revise.

The next revision was closer to a prose poem, but still not quite there. Rich asked me to make each sentence its own paragraph. I did this sent it to him and he said, “Now pick 20 sentences that are the most important.”

I groaned. This was really the hardest step for me. It was like him telling me, “Pick which organs are the most important in order for you to live.” What I tried first was printing out the whole piece, cuting each sentence into a strip, (there were 45 or so) placing them in a bag and picking 20 at random.  That worked about as well as you could expect. It may have been successful for William Burroughs, but Burroughs, I’m not. I went through each line as if it were someone else’s piece I was editing and not my own. It was the only way I could make this work. I spent a few days on this, but finally decided on the ones I wanted to keep. Gone was my first line, “A year after his birth, Gary’s Mother stuck her head in an oven and turned on the gas.”  I liked the line, and still do, but it was about paring down; taking a block of clay and sculpting it into something recognizable as poetry. I sent the results to Rich and sat on pins and needles as I awaited his notes.

And I got them. He restructed the result into stanza form, suggested some deletions, asked for some additions and more structure. This was the equivalent to me of jumping out of a plane with no parachute. It didn’t help that work was asking for mandatory OT, my nephew was with me for a few days, and I was stuck on what to do.

Oh, and did I mention, I also needed to shape it into something that fit into the structure of the collection? At this point, the connection to the commonality of the poems was tenuous at best. It amounted to an almost complete rewrite.

Line by line, I went through it all. Keeping more than I thought, deleting lines that were more plot than descriptive, adding more, changing words, removing small words. By the time I was finished, I had no clue whether what I’d written was even readable, let alone publishable.

And here is where the tide began to turn. The light at the end of the tunnel, if I can beat a dead horse phrase. There were many changes to make, but not major ones. I still had to add an element that really tied the piece to the rest of the collection, and I did that based on one word I’d taken out in an earlier revision. The changes in the next couple of passes were clean up, refining the piece to its final state.

It’s a piece I’m incredibly proud of. Not because it’s my first sale, but it was something I never thought I’d been capable of writing. I drew on resources and an inner determination I never thought I possessed.

Is it any good? It’s not for me to decide. As we know a lot of crap gets published, but given the pedigree of writers, the excellence of the editor, and the track record of the publisher, I’d like to think it’s an okay piece.

Once the collection has come out and people have had a chance to read it, I’ll put up the first draft, so you can judge how well I’ve done.

Nikita Wants to Get Physical With Me

He left a message here, http://raingods.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/la-femme-nikita-stand-his-groundo/ if you want to read the entire blog he rants about. I will however answer response again, and therefore quote his entire message.

Listen good you queer, You don’t run my life and quit acting like you do. I will pay no mind to beat your ass in. You call me the pussy because I don’t take to gays lightly. You need yourself a nice hot woman to break your anger towards me. What’s wrong no woman in your life — that’s right you became a homo when no woman would go near you. What would you do if I had a new girlfriend harass her too as you are starting to harass my friends

Okay, I’ll listen good Nikita, even though you never say  anything worth hearing. First, it’s apparent, you have no life, otherwise you wouldn’t be pretending to be a writer, publisher or that you had/have Bell’s Palsy. Even your doctor said you didn’t have that. Second, I have no interest in running the life of a witless, barely literate man-child, and even if I did, I’d do a lot better than you ever would, or could.  My calling you a pussy has nothing to do with your rampant homophobia, besides we all know, you dream of dick. And no you can’t suck mine. As for no woman going near me, project, much? When was the last time you had sex, let alone a g/f that you didn’t have to either blow up or tie up in a sleep sack to keep them from running?

The chances of you ever having a g/f are the same chances of a snowbal surviving an AZ summer for 5 minutes. Slim to none. And if there were some girl dimwitted and ignorant enough to be your g/f, it’s obvious she has problems and Adult Protective Services would have to be called.

As I said in another post. You’re irrelevant, and we’re here to remind you of that, everytime you sneak on the internet and make threats of violence, and expose your homophobia.

Nikita’s Irrelevancy

When you get down to it, that’s what he is irrelevant. Irrelevant to writing, to publishing, to anything having to do with creativity. He won’t even be obscure, as that would connotate some type of infamy. When Nikita goes to that POD in the sky, no one will remember him.

No one will weep, nor will anyone mourn his demise. The best he can hope for is someone saying, “Who?”

He’s demonstrated time and time again, that he is incapable of being a writer, publisher, or even a decent human being.  and yet he thinks he actually has a career. He actualy thinks people take him seriously, that his “magazines” and “anthologies” are anything more than basketweaving to keep the mentally ill occupied.

it also cut my authors deep too.

Are these the same authors you haven’t paid? Or the ones you tru to screw out of thumbdrives in order to have them submit to your self published crap throwing?

I am keeping my hostility off lulu.com because it is not worth losing my account over.

Yes, something to be proud of, there. God knows, self publishing is the only way to get your incoherent ramblings published.

The fact is Nikita, no one will ever care about, let alone buy, all the awful crap you put out. That’s evidenced by your last “signing” when you couldn’t even give anything away.

Now, if you spent more time actually learning how to write,  taking your meds, and being a good boy, not to mention stop being a douche bag, maybe you could get something sold. I doubt it, because teaching you how to write is like teaching a pig to sing, but hey stranger things have happened.

It doesn’t matter though, Nikita. no matter what you say or do, you will never be relevant, read, or respected. you will however always be retarded.

Bitchin’ Camaro

Okay, it’s not a Camaro, but I still think its bitchin. What is it? Why my Azure Netherwing protodrake of course. Every day for about 3 weeks I’ve toiled in the netherwing mines, searching for eggs, skinning monsters, poisoning workers, and throwing a booterang at the lazy bastards sleeping on the job.

And the time came, when I hit exalted status, to meet Illidian, who seeing through my disguise tried having me killed.  A mysterious gnome turns into a protodrake and rescues me. As a result I’m able to fly around on one of these…

wowscrnshot_031209_060528

Waiting For the Watchmen: Conclusion

People are always bound for disappointment, whenever their favorite book, comic, etc are adapted for film. Very few are able to stay close to the source material, simply due to the inherent differences in the medium. As much as I love the LotR movies, they veered off from the book, rearranged some things and left other scenes out completely; yet the spirit of the books was there. Everything that mattered was there.  I’d love to have seen Tom Bombadil in the movie but also realize it really added nothing to the book, and would probably slow down the movie. Yet many other scenes came to life for me, and the trilogy are three of my favoritte movies. Okay, maybe The Two Towers not so much…

I mention that and use it as a comparison because Watchmen goes to the extreme in adhering as closely to the book as possible.  Many scenes are shot frame for frame from the comic.; much of the dialogue is taken from there as well. I’m rereading it now and actually surpised at how much of the original dialogue made it into the movie. It’s to Alan Moore’s credit, that writing from 20 years ago is as relevant and contemporary as it is today.  The slavish devotion to recreating the comic on screen is also one of its downfalls, and keeps it from being a classic. If you had never read the original source material, and only knew about Watchmen from the commercials, you’re liable to be scratching your head by the end wondering what the hell just happened.  If you are familiar with the graphic novel, you’ll probably love it or hate. Indeed, from opinions I’ve seen so far, there’s no middle ground on this one. 

I happen to love it, in spite of some things that I have problems with, which really have nothing to do with the adaptation itself. The acting is really uneven. I mean really, really uneven. Fortunately the strength of the other performances compensates somewhat, but it prevents you from getting involved with the characters when you’re cringing at the acting. Specifically for me, it was Patrick Wilson as dan Dreiberg (the Night Owl) who struggled to keep up with his costars. It’s a shame because, he has almost as much screen time as Rorschach, and Dr. Manhattan, who both happen to give the two best performances.  Silk Spectre also has some dodgy bits, but tends to redeem herself by looking nice in latex.  Some of the scenes on Mars, are plagued by really poor, and almost cheesey special effects.  Given the general excellence of everything else, it makes me wonder if they were running out of money for some of those shots, or it was simply harder than they had thought. Some of the violence was way, way over the top, specifically a bit that was added to Rorschach’s scene in prison. Although it fit in perfectly, and I suspect Moore himself would love that bit, it was a bit too gruesome. Finally, in terms of things that bring it down, is a critique that is two sided. It’s a drawback, but also a strength. Someone forgot to tell Warnr Bros. that Watchmen is as far from mainstream as you’re likely to ever see.  In fact RN Lee over on SL compared it to an art house film, and I completely agree. It doesn’t follow any of the conventions a blockbuster movie should have. The action, while excellently done, are few and far between in a movie that runs 2 hours and 43 minutes. Instead, you have to listen, and watch and pay attention. so that’s a negative for the mainstream unwashed masses, but a plus for those of us who view movies as somethign a bit more than mindless entertainment.

As for the change in the end, I like it. Sure there’s no giant squid, and I never liked that in the original anyway, but what they did was far better, more suited to movies, and made more sense. 

In the end, if you’re not a rabid fanboy, who thinks the whole thing would be ruined if some small bit isn’t included, you’ll love the movie. If, however, you think not showing Mason Hollis’ death is a gamechanger, well, you’ll still have you graphic novel, your ppreeeccciioouusss.

for the rest of us, we have a comic adaptation, one of the best we’ll likely ever see.

Waiting for the Watchmen

I just bought my ticket for the Watchmen. 10:15 AM  on 3/6/9.  It’s one of those rare movies that has gotten me excited enough to actually go out and see it. Most movies I see are via netflix, or DVD’s I buy or trade in. This will be the third movie I’ve actually gone out to see since December of ’07. The other two being Sweeney Todd and The Dark Knight. Sad I know, but ticket prices being what they are, I can’t justify spending the money. The theater I’m going to is in Downtown Phoenix, a good hour plus by bus, but I have other errands in the area and this just worked out the best.Also, it was only 6 bucks including the service fee for ordering online. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this geeked out by a movie. I guess the closest I’ve felt like this in the past is with the LotR movies. Watchmen came out at a time that was one of the best in my life. As pessimistic as the comic was, my youth and optimism was it’s equal. My life was full then. A good job, nice apt, lots of friends, and my creativity was at its peak. Moore showed me that whether in comics or any other medium, nothing was impossible. There was a way to tell any story your imagination might conjure.  It was a magical time in my life, and of all the books, comics, movies, etc, I’ve owned over the course of my life  Watchmen is one of only two books I’ve never really been without a copy of. The second would be The Illuminatus Trilogy. 

So it’s with great anticipation I look forward to this new incarnation of Watchmen, if only to relive my youth for a couple of hours.