Near-apocalyptic Snorker

OK, so I’ve been trying to figure out for freakin’ years just what it is that I write. Thrillers? Sort of. Suspense? Kinda. Mysteries? Not really. Humor? On good days.

And… drumroll… It finally came to me.
The Near-apocalyptic Snorker.

Huh???? I can see the wheels spinning behind your eyes. “How the hell did you come up with THAT?”

Welcome to NaS 101.

First, we’ll start with the middle. (Don’t we always, but I digress.) Apocalyptic. Most people think it means the end of the freakin’ world. And, to most of the world’s religious definitions, CAPITAL A Apocalypse does mean the end of the world. Everybody’s toast, kaput, all-she-wrote. The freakin’ fat lady sang.

But what about LITTLE A apocalypse? The etymology is Greek apokalyptein – or “uncover”.

Heaven knows (yes, that’s intentional) we’ve certainly uncovered a lot of things in the past couple of years. What the hell, maybe the “uncovering” even began with Watergate. Besides, uncovering could mean a lot of things, and I do a lot of uncovering in my plots.

Ex. 1 Combes threw back the tarp to uncover the body in the truck bed.

Ex. 2 Berni’s ex-husband, the ex-race driver, threw back his martini so fast that his toupee slipped, uncovering the warts on his head.

Ex. 3 Vaz threw back the blanket to uncover Macie’s…


Public Consumption

OK, so The Flyover War project is getting a bit consumptive, of both energy and time. Unfortunately, doing things that haven’t exactly been done before often are. It’s a lot like publishing your outline, then figuring out how the heck you’re going to stick to it now that it’s out there. Or like building a house in components, confusing as hell while it’s going up in pieces all over the lot, hoping the foundation you laid actually works, and then finally tying it all together.

As I laid out the intial strategy for the project, and as it comes together piece by piece, the concept I had in my head was like filmmaking, but without the camera. In the process of making a film, it’s very rare that the scenes are shot in the same order in which they’ll appear in the finished product. For an outsider looking in, the filmmaking process seems disjointed, often disorganized, with a number of people, or teams of people, working on seemingly unrelated activies, simultaneously in a dozen or more different locations. Somehow, within the scope of the director’s vision, the efforts of dozens, even hundreds of people all seem to come together in a perfect union — 120 minutes or so in length.

Most novels come together in a completely different way. A solitary author drafts, hones, polishes, redrafts, submits, reworks, resubmits, and finally sends an completed manuscript to a publisher. At this point, the editor, the cover designer, and the marketing teams build the finished project from the author’s foundation.

A relatively new concept in the the publishing world, the brand or franchise model, expands the basic concept of novel production to include many of the elements used in the creation of a film. The franchise project may actually begin in the hands of a packager, who pairs a brand-name author with a development team that may include apprentices and co-writers, then involves the marketing and branding people from the projects inception. Sounds a lot like movie making to me.

The key thing that all franchise projects have in common is an immense scope. Like a major film, the franchise novel (or more accurately novel series) has immense revenue targets, in the millions and tens-of-millions of dollars. At this level, dozens and perhaps hundreds of people tackle myriad tasks and assignments necessary to bring the project to completion.

Then, the inevitable happens..


Almost Live from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference

A little tongue-in-cheek at 5:30 am on April 23.

Interesting Article on CNN

CNN on-line published an interesting article on self-publishing today, and sometimes it turns out that the responses are more interesting than the main article. I won’t go into a lot of detail, because you have a finger-clicker right there in front of you [and I hate taking the time to paraphrase what somebody else has already written]. To sum up, the article talks about Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, about a woman with Alzheimer’s. Good for her! She spent a year and a half working on the project and after several agents told her “nobody wants to read about Alzheimer’s” she published it herself. This isn’t an ex-cop  sitting in a basement pounding on keys with dreams of being the next James Patterson, it’s a woman with a touching story that, as it turned out, touched at least 300 readers.

So the agent says, “300 sales wouldn’t even pay for my morning latte.” OK, probably true. But it might have done something for the 300 people who bought the book that a decade’s worth of Venti half-caf-half-decaf-two-percent-low-cal-hazelnut lattes could never do.

Bogart once said “you got a message, send a telegram.” That was before lightning fast world-wide communications and the freakin’ Xerox Docutech laser printer.

Go for it, Lisa!

ttfn, rlc

CS Indy Interview

I’m juiced. I did a newspaper interview last week with Jill Thomas of the Colorado Springs Independent. No details until her article comes out this week, but I would like to say that the Indy has been a great supporter of Pikes Peak Writers and the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.



Harlan Coben, you’ve broken my heart

I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not in THAT way.

For someone who spends hours in a car every day, audio books weigh in right up there with the microprocessor in the advancements of the 20th century. I listen to at least one every week, sometimes two.  A lot of my driving is late-night from Colorado Springs to the northern Denver Metro area, and the first thing I learned about late night audio books is that “literature” doesn’t cut it. Yes the words can be beautiful, engrossing sirens that pull you into the world the author has created – right off the freakin’ side of the road!

Gimme Action! Give me a complex plot and a lot of things that keep my brain cranking along throuht the winding highway through Monument Hill.

Coben is GREAT at that. Ok his first couple of audio books were self-narrated (hmmmm, ‘nuf said) but this guy Scott Brick is a true master of his craft. Coben always has an array of important characters, many more than most of the genre I feel, and Brick is able to bring each of them a unique and highly identifiable audio personality. [Stage aside: A fellow Colorado writer, Charlie Callaway, once asked Coben how he kept all the complex details of his stories so well organized, and Coben’s response was a nine-word classic I will remember forever – “I just do, don’t know how, I just do.”]

OK, I can read your minds. What does this have to do with your opening line? How the freak did Coben break your heart?


Boomersaurus is extinct…

Ok, so I knew all along it couldn’t last forever, just thought maybe a little longer. A little over a year ago, a virus did a bit of nerve damage regarding my vocal chords. I worked with a marvelous speech pathologist who brought me back a long way – unfortunately a five hour show is out of the question. Thing is, I did 90% of the vocals for Boomersaurus. The band guys decided they didn’t want to find another singer, so after a long hiatus, we decided to furl the flag. will be intact for a little bit yet, then will live on only in the Way Back Machine.

Realistic Characters – REALLY Realistic

Every day something new comes at me from the websphere that I hadn’t thought of (and me a strategic kind of guy). Today is certainly no exception.

I write a lot of stuff that has corporate executives at the core of the story. OK, not too uncommon in these times. The place it gets interesting is that a number of my “executives” and even their companies are starting to show up in on-line business directories. Damien Grade, Chairman of Damien Holdings; Geoffrey Fynch, CEO of BeriCraft Aviation and Isham Spengler, CEO and Head of Security for Acolytica all showed up this morning while I was doing an unrelated Google search. Can Patrick Donleavy, Vice President of Davis/Utley be next? (Stage aside: all of the “Spenglers” from Ghostbusters Inc also showed up in the same business directory with Isham.)

Every one of my pages contains a “fiction” disclaimer. Apparently these directory scraper programs haven’t been trained to read disclaimers. Who knows, after my organizations and executives show up in enough directories I can set up some IPOs. 🙂


Learn to Write A Friggin’ Synopsis

Jeeze Laweeze! Again it’s been forever since anything new has appeared on this page. Why? Is Ron one lazy SOB or what? Nope! Probably the opposite. But being the guy that I am, I’m going to lay the blame specifically on [somebody else]. It’s all about that last post, wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay back on the 30th of May. That darned deadline. That June First Deadline!

So, Ron – I can hear you asking this question – why did you wait until the day before the deadline to get started?

Ha! I have an answer. Because the day of the deadline I had other stuff to do. Like commute 100 miles to work – barefoot – in the snow – uphill both ways. [OK that last part is Bovine Scatological material, it’s only partly uphill both ways.]

Anyway, that day in fourteen hours of hell taught me an important lesson. I’ve got to get faster at making stuff up. [Better yet to take one of Pam McCutcheon’s synopsis classes.]

To top it off, that fourteen-hour exercise showed me that I did indeed have some holes in the story. Nothing major, but the synopsis exercise coupled with a conversation I had at Pikes Peak Writers Conference with a major thriller-writer-guy planted the seed of a new plot line to make the story a lot more interesting. Bottom line is that the entry went in as is and the next morning I began a massive rewrite on the project. [We’ll ignore the fact that I’d told an agent a few weeks earlier “You bet, done and all ready to go.”]

Three hundred rewritten pages later, the manuscript was “in the mail.” [email whew!] I have a new book underway, and ten minutes to update my blog.

ttfn, Ron

How to HATE a Book!

I never thought I’d say this. I LOVE to read, I’m surrounded by books in my office and throughout my house. But in the past 14 hours, I’ve grown to hate a book. The tough part is that it’s one of MY books.  I’m getting it ready for the Colorado Gold contest, so I won’t say anything about the book except that I HATE IT!

Why, you ask? This book has been “done” for a while. I’m doing a little bit of tweaking, but hey, you know how it is. A writer can make a project last FOREVER if he (or she) wants to. My marvelous critique group (Nancy, Vicki, Mike, Rick, Jodie, Claire, Charlie, Dave, et al) have ripped it to shreds for rebuilding a number of times. It’s hot! It’s ready!

Now I need an 8 page synopsis. Therein, the discovery of how to hate a book. OK, so I shouldn’t have waited this close to deadline. My BAD. OK, you never, ever try to come up with a finished work on first draft. (OK, I do it hundreds of times a year. I LIVE for FINAL first drafts. – Maybe THAT’s why I don’t have a Maserati in my driveway.) Knocking out a synopsis in one sitting is not only STUPID, it’s INSANE. At the end of page 1, I felt good. Still going strong at three and four. THEN OMG! How can I call this a [genre censored] when it doesn’t have a [scene description appropriate to genre] scene in chapter 22. It’s gotta have it. The book is RUINED without it. Each word I typed in the synopsis made me hate this terrible, worthless book even more.

Then I came up with a solution. I got up. I put my computer into hibernate mode. I reached for a glass, some ice, and that bottle with all the red wax around the top.

I’m cooking!

ttfn, rlc