Tag Archives: stuff

Writing dialog

Here’s an overheard conversation between brothers, 4 and 5, in bed in the dark. I wish I could write dialog like this.

J: Remember when we were driving back from Papa and Grandma’s after opening presents?
C: Yeah
J: You fell asleep and I saw Santa. He was going back to Papa and Grandma’s house. But they don’t have a chimney! And no one can unlock the chimney, not even Santa.
C: But God can unlock the chimney, cause he’s special.
C: I wish it was gonna be day in 3 minutes.
J: Me, too.
C: I wish it was always daytime.
J: When we go to heaven, it will always be daytime.
C: And we can’t even bring our house up to heaven. Not even our furniture.
J: And not even our guns. There won’t be anyone to fight in heaven.
C: Yeah…but we can hit Daddy.
J: I can jump off the roof of our house.

Do The Math

The Value Proposition: Movie vs Book.Let’s be honest. When it comes down to it, most decisions are about the bang for the buck. Most people don’t think twice about throwing down admission price for the latest blockbuster movie of their flavor of choice. In my area, that’s $10 a head for prime time. Of course, the movie experience isn’t complete without some kind of concessions, soda, popcorn, candy, hot dog, whatever, at loan-shark prices. Now you’re up to around $20 for 2 hours of entertainment, or $10 per hour.Now let’s take a novel. The Passage has been hot this year.It’s $16 in hardcover at Amazon.com right now, running at 784 pages. Let’s say you read a page a minute (which is pretty fast). That’s 13 hours of entertainment, or $1.23 per hour. A movie costs eight times more per hour. Eight times. You can get The Passage in paperback or Kindle at $10, running you $0.77 per hour. A movie costs thirteen times more per hour. Are you getting this?
You can have 2 hours of movie and only get half of Deathly Hallows for $10 plus rapaciously-priced popcorn in a chair next to a stranger who hogs the arm rest, or have 13 hours of book and get all of Deathly Hallows for $7 plus any food your heart desires at sane prices in the most comfortable chair in your home.Here’s the funny thing, the psychology of it. At the movies, you step up to the window and the girl says, “Ten dollars,” and you don’t blink. At the bookstore, you pick up a book, you see the $16 price tag, and you think, “Really? Sixteen dollars?” and you put it back down.Does anybody else think that’s weird?

Muffin Man Research

Took a little road trip this weekend to check out county courthouses, jails and sheriff departments for my work in progress, Muffin Man. We spent Friday night in San Antonio. On Saturday we hit five small county seats:

  • Hondo, Medina County
  • Uvalde, Uvalde County
  • Leakey, Real County
  • Bandera, Bandera County
  • Kerrville, Kerr County

We had lunch in Utopia due to my conversation last month with Karen Valby, author of Welcome to Utopia. We capped the day off in Fredericksburg at the Lincoln Street Wine Market for wine, cheese, fruit, a cigar and live music. Highly recommended.Then a late night drive home to sleep in our own bed. Over 300 miles in 15 hours on Friday, with stops to take photos and such. Over 400 miles in 30 hours for the whole trip. Check out the map to see where we went.

View Muffin Man Road Trip Oct 2010 in a larger map

Literary Lone Stars

Occasionally I emerge from my bunker and venture forth into the metropolis to engage other citizens on matters of great import. This evening I attended the Writer’s League of Texas event called Literary Lone Stars, primarily to hear Joe R. Lansdale, whom I recently began reading. In the course of the evening, I heard three other authors, Doug Dorst, John Phillip Santos, and Karen Valby, read and talk about their work.Valby started off and got my attention with Welcome to Utopia, a book about a small Texas town relatively isolated form popular culture. I was seeing all kinds of parallels and contrasts with Welcome to Fred, although Utopia, small though it may be, is much larger than Fred. Then Dorst read some selections from Surf Guru about reptiles that were hilarious and riveting. I’m aching to get to his book, but it goes in the To Be Read shelf along with dozens of other worthy candidates for next book to pick up. Johh Phillip Santos read a selection that opened with a sentence that nailed me to the wall: “The mind and the heart leave no fossils.” Wow.Lansdale completed the evening with some readings and extemporaneous stories of his childhood in East Texas, a resonant chord for a Fred, Texas ex-patriot. Reviews of his books I’ve read this year to follow in the coming months. Mucho Mojo.The takeaway for me was the sheer joy of being able to hang with writers, not just the presenters, but other writers at all stages of development, and just soak up the vibe, something I didn’t have access to in Honolulu, paradise thought it may be. I dropped $100+ in retail-price books simply because I wanted to support what these people are doing. I also got autographs on them. Maybe they’ll be worth something one day after I read them. Heh.Programs like this give me a reason to excavate my gnome-like frame from the bowels of my solitary unibomber isolation and inflict myself upon the greater population. Joy abounds. Woohoo.

Back in Action

I completed the 3,000+ pages of screenplay reading last weekend and am back to reading actual books. I’m in the final pages of three books. We’ll see which one crosses the finish line first. Also working on the novel projects, Endless Vacation and Muffin Man. And doing a lot of remodeling. And the day job. My, where does all the time go?