Hollywood Ending…

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Haven’t we seen this movie (hacked) a hundred times already?

Okay, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of Insanity… and Hollywood. Think sequels! Here’s a big idea to remember in this technological age in which we all live; the last thing that is yours, the last thing that no one can steal from you, the last thing that no one can use against you, is your own internal thoughts. They are privately held in your mind. They are the very origin and exacting definition of “intellectual property.”

That’s a term Hollywood knows well. They’ve got thousands of lawyer’s and hundreds of ways to screw you out of your intellectual property, while having the FBI protect theirs. But I digress.

We are talking about the smartest people on earth here. That must be because we shell out 35-billion dollars a year for their games and movies -almost everything they produce. Well, these masters of technology, art and marketing, forgot that an E-mail, a computer and even the Internet, are not extensions of their central nervous system. That cybernetics is not an extension of who they are. These inept TECHNOSPIENS are seduced away from the common sense logic that the web is not a part of their private, mental space, but instead a public, at times very public, space. When these high-priced executives foolishly think it’s secure they believe they are actually communicating, one-on-one with another person in private.

We now know, and have seen this movie at least a hundred times so far, that they are in fact connecting through at least a dozen nodes, network choke points and just as many opportunities for someone to invade the communicated thoughts of these geniuses. Their most insightful, embarrassing and detrimental thoughts that is… laid bare to the world. Smug little comments and corporate secrets, all damaging to their business and stature that they freely expressed in an E-mail. AN E-MAIL!… HELLO.

This is so unnecessary because Hollywood has made at least a few dozen movies (including optioning my book, The Eighth Day) about when evildoers assume identity; erase a person’s data, or hackers hack (starring Gene Hackman, I believe) . BUT not once did these enlightened folks ever get the very message they were sending out to an enraptured audience… that being: Beware the Internet, take heed that Big Brother is always watching, listening and digesting your entire “on-line life.”

Of course they have an excuse. In most of their dystopian-internet yarns, the evil is the government… the all powerful, all knowing and very capable federal government (only in the movies, by the way) So here’s the behavioral truth brought out by how these guardians of the public taste and trends- these titans of Hollywood conduct their own lives: They never really thought the government would do this to them. At this point I have to remind you that the name of this blog and my tag line is, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens.” After all, they support political candidates and causes. They donate, in a way, by waving their huge appearance fees to show up for a lowly “cause non-celeb” and make it an instant, cause-celeb! We can deduce from the actions and false trust in the Internet, that they never held much faith in their own storylines, namely that someone would, purloin, scrub, scrape or out-right expose their private E-mails … Amazingly these are the same folks who thoughtfully considered how many millions to spend on, and how many movies to “green light” into production about Edward Snowden!

Well they got it half right and half wrong… it was the government, just not ours. How do you say, “That’s a Wrap!” In North Korean?

P.S. How do you say, “Did they mention, The Eighth Day, in the e-mails and whether or not why were considering funding the movie?” in North Korean?

Calling Anthony …Anthony…Carlos Danger

From the public files of, “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens…”

The master of intelligent suspense, author Linda Fairstein, was recently on the radio discussing her new book, Death Angel, when she related a story to the show’s host that in her first draft she had created a character that was a New York political type who had gotten mired in a Sexting scandal. Her agent pushed for and succeeded in getting her to remove the character from the manuscript because it was, and I am paraphrasing, “too unbelievable” or some such expression of, ‘far fetched’… it should be noted that Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades as well as a brilliant author!

Welcome Anthony Putz:

In case you haven’t heard, here in New York, we got a guy from Brooklyn running for Mayor, Anthony Wiener.  He’s a freak of the highest order. His ego knows no limits, matrimonial or legal.  He practices a form of “electioneering” that takes all the wrong lessons from our political past and combines them into one very ugly new paradigm.  He’s a object lesson of why sometimes technology in the wrong hands, his hands pointing back at himself, doesn’t deliver on the promised utopia it might otherwise had achieved. Continue reading

The “D” Word: Paula Deen’s rise to Number 1 on her way down!

Authors take note. Paula Deen has become a very controversial figure.  In the popular media she is toast, very well buttered toast.  Sponsors, networks and I am sure, even many of her hanger-on friends, have dropped her like radioactive slag.

But! She shot up to NUMBER ONE on Amazon!!  You know, Amazon- with 130-million-billion active titles of which I was once #95,651 (#343 now and trending upwards according to my psychic.  Although, I don’t think my psychic has my publisher’s phone number?).  

But no matter, the fact is that while a transgression from over 25 years ago has plummeted her standing in our popular culture, AMAZINGLY at the same time, it has rocketed her to NUMBER 1, NUMERO UNO, on Amazon! Now that’s a deal with the devil any author would pay double for. 

So all you folks in the media take notice, here’s my big confession…

comin 1962 I called lunch room monitor, Joey Mantone, and I am quoting here: “A big, fat, stupid, Doody Head!”  

And just to add insult to the verbal injury, I know that I stuck my tongue out at him when I said it. 

How’s that? Pretty horrible and despicable right? I mean it’s got to be good for at least a spot in Amazon Top Ten!  I mean, “Doody Head”!  C’mon, these days, in some quarters, that’s referred to as the “D” word.  Or is it the “DH” word…?

Elements of Literary Style… for Dummies

books stack_0Somebody once gave me as a gift, a book on the Elements of Style. I assumed it wasn’t as a prescriptive, in that they thought my worked lacked it, but more because it was a simple solution to the problem, “What do we get Tom for his birthday? To which the answer was probably right in front of them in a bookstore, “Oh, here’s something about writing, he does that… and it’s only $14.95!”

I approached the book with appropriate interest and anticipation of what secrets to trade craft lay between its covers.  To my dismay it turned out to be a “slog”.  It read as a lengthy, dry, dissertation that was droll and lacked any dynamism to motivate me to turn to the next page.

It angered me.  After all, isn’t the whole issue of ‘style’ a concept emanating from the good side of the literary arts? Isn’t it a positive entity, one that enhances the reader’s experience? Yet, here the author (lecturer, in the most gruesome sense) felt no compassion, compulsion or responsibility to his reader/student to try to utilize any style in his presentation, no attempt to do the hard work it would entail to romance his presentation, add challenge or wonder to the litany of the very style he was attempting to impart. Not even a jocular quote on style from GBS, if he ever said one. Nothing… flat line.

Readability, if I may forge the term, is an index of many factors, one of them being  ‘style’, that becomes the connective tissue of a story, indeed the sinewy strands of communicating neurons that allow the mind to flow with the story, a current that unconsciously holds the reader magnetized to the track the author wants to lead them down. Not so much for this book.

Indeed this was a book that one had to be assigned to read out of fear of flunking the course.  Then it hit me, Textbook! A book whose sole ingredient, to the exclusion of all else is, text! – Without subtext, context, pretext or super-text. (See my short blog; Writing Tip # 4 Text Appeal)

Yes, I know, many of you would argue, “The one place you don’t want style is in the elaboration and illumination of style as not to obfuscate or diffuse the examples.”  And you would most likely be correct, but it didn’t work for me, I had to put it down, I never read it, couldn’t read it and couldn’t force read it, so I left it on the shelf.

Which by now, as you probably realized, is self-evident by the lack of style (whatever that is?) by which I wrote this blog!

The MUSE is on the loose- II

Earlier in this blog, I wrote of M.U.S.E. or Metaphysical Universal Story Enlightenment.  Recently the spooky apparition appeared again, while I was doing final research in preparation for the publishing of my third book, The God Particle.  I was (leisurely) looking through a jaunty romp of a dissertation on sonar dynamics as it relates to thermo layers and cavitation anomalies of audio wave propagation in salt water.  Well as you know, when you are that deep into a subject you stumble on other things.

In my research of (here’s another ‘couldn’t put it down read’!) Deep Water Submarine Tactics of the Cold War 1962-1970, I stumbled across a mild reference to the undersea tapping of Soviet military phone lines (see the original M.U.S.E. blog for the amazing story of how I conjured up the name U.S.S. Halibut) but what I didn’t know then, when I wrote that blog, was that there was another Metaphysical shoe about to drop.

When I was writing the sub-plot of the nuclear missile submarine which introduces my main character, Brooke Burrell’s love interest, Captain Mush Morton.  I had already used the Halibut phone tap in the story, but now I needed a super-spook, retired. An individual who was a master spy and designer of some of the biggest and most effective spy missions ever, (like the tap) to tie that plot to Bill Hiccock at the White House.

Reaching into my character name bag, I played with a few names for this super spook. I played with, Marshall (too obvious), Mack (no, I already had a Mack in The Eighth Day). Then I randomly heard on the radio in the background someone mention an old radio personality, Gene Klaven.  I liked Klaven, so bang, my super spook retired, was now Russ Klaven (friends call him Clay) but that was months ago, last week in military history files I found this…
Later, in a brainstorm, Commander John Craven dreamed up the idea of tapping a Russian undersea telephone cable under the Sea of Okhotsk…   The sub, Halibut, was refitted for the mission and a “tap” was designed for the effort.

Okay, Craven – Klaven.  Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Close enough to make the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up and take notice.

Yes the Muse is on the loose again, and I take it as a sign that I am doing something that resonates with the universal intellect.

You may now readjust your writing shockra.

Knock Knock!

Tip 2 – Find a way in.

We enter rooms, houses, buildings, and cars through doors. Try not to enter a scene the same way. Look for another way in that’s unique, artful, dramatic, funny, ironic or unexpected. The same goes for ‘the beginning’ of a scene, sequence, chapter or arc. It is not necessarily the place to start. Maybe, imagine a few seconds or minutes in, a few feet or yards, a couple of beers, the 2nd cup of coffee or the roll over and go at it again. Any of these may be better, more interesting and less plotting and trodden than the natural beginning, as time and real life would have it. “Spit in the Ocean, again? Okay, but the third time is the charm, and this time I’m going to win.” Keeping a four year old focused and seated was not a skill they taught Jack Harrison at Quantico, but when he signed up for the Secret Service, the thought never crossed his mind he’d be assigned to the surviving child of the attack on the President’s family.

Up cut dialog is also intriguing in that partial thoughts, sentences and expressions create engagement and foster imagination. Then (if you’re good) you will deliver a context, which the reader did not consider but is elated to discover. “Then you’ll be correct,“ he said as he left the room. Francine didn’t know how to take that; was he playing with her? Daring her? Or just couldn’t muster enough feelings to care one-way or the other?

The same is true on descriptions of setting or circumstance. Two paragraphs detailing the furniture, curtains and rugs of the room which the insane matriarch of the most dysfunctional family to ever procreate is sitting in, to me, is a snooze. But, “Golden afternoon sunlight was fighting to get through the heavy, pleated and dusty drapes that hadn’t felt the healthy suction of an upholstery attachment since Hoover discontinued the canister model.” Two graphs later, drop the notion that, “The checking in the fine king wood veneer of the spindly French Empire style writing desk with ormolu fittings, testified to the unforgivable crime of neglecting the fine antique’s thirst for tongue oil. That alone made him want to slap her pruney, pancake-crusted, Patrician face.” Done. You get the room and her.

Right now, there are 33,218 English teachers reaching for the red pen to fail me. But hey, this is my Tip.

Next Tip, #3 TEXT APPEAL!
Text, Context, Pretext, Subtext, Supertext – The Emotional GPS

Did Bin Laden read my book?


Let me start out by saying there is absolutely no proof supporting the rumor that a dog-eared copy of my book, “The Eighth Day”, was found in the Bin Laden compound. (hat tip, Lawyer Robert Rosenblatt) Yet, rumors can be persistently pesky little gnats always buzzing around.  Like the one that I got an $8 million dollar advance for the film rights to “The Eighth Day.” Let me categorically state for all you who are reading this, and any IRS agents, that I have not received that check yet.

But as someone once said, “Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?” of course his name is a fact that never came with the story so he will remain “someone.” As an author, some rumors are cool, “I have Alec Baldwin on speed dial”,  “I used to hang with Raquel Welch”, “Tom Clancy liked my book.”  “Bill Clinton gave me the final green light to write, “The Hammer of God.”

Now, here’s the thing, that last one, about Clinton, was True! Yet, with all these other tall tales out there, who’s going to believe it? For years I hesitated to publish “Hammer” the sequel to “The Eighth Day” because I didn’t know if the “secrets” revealed within would hurt America’s National Security.  After a generous, and in-depth discussion with the former president, he assured me that as far as global thermo nuclear war was concerned, those “secrets” were, at best, theories, but ones that never the less, ever crossed his desk or was part of the SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan, which was the secret playbook for American Nuclear response).  So, here I sit cut by the double-edged sword of the rumor mill. While any unfounded item, at minimum, gets your name out there, they also create a fog that makes it hard to see the truth underlying the main plot point to my second novel in Bill Hiccock’s Quarterback Operations Group, Thrillogy.

I have to tell you, it’s enough to push me to spend the entire 8 million on an ad campaign to set the record straight.

 

PTS8JHS5KZ4Z

It Ain’t What You Write, It’s How You Say It

You write. You write. You write some more. And you never think about TIME. You don’t think about time when you’re writing, and you certainly never think about the time it takes someone to read it. It just never comes up, until you have the wonderful experience of recording part of your book on tape. (For you people who were born after 1980, tape is what we used to record audio on before it got all digital-y. )

You go into the studio, and the engineer sets up a mic. He says, “Okay. Let’s take it from the top.” And all of the sudden, you are speaking the words that you wrote, and the world changes. Suddenly, you’re saying to yourself, “Why did I write that? Oh, God. Did I really put those words together?”

And all of a sudden, all the scary parts of ‘vernacular’ slam into your prose that you’d thought was perfect. You read your work, only to find out that you may have written it as pleasing to the eyes/mind with a somewhat tinny ear. But you forge ahead, because, hey, after all, you’re paying for the time. Continue reading