Monday, July 31, 2006

Shouldn't have done this. I'm surfing the web and I find this article on Wikipedia about the highest-paid spec screenplays:
Gotta rethink my screenplay strategy.
Oh, well, it was fun for a couple of days. Chill did not make it into the next round. Still, there's the possibility that an agent, producer, and production company rep could call. Maybe.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The email announcements stated that 3600 screenplays were entered in this year's contest. 336 made the quarterfinalist list. On the list:
On Monday, they announce the semi-finalists. Pins-and-needles time.
(Can't believe they didn't like Darkfall or Distraction. Okay, I'm being greedy.)
Oh. Logline for Chill. It's a hard horror tale that involves the bird flu pandemic:
As plague ravages the world,
billionaire Juno Prosper plans a party …
where Death will be the Guest of Honor.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

She's moving slowly. In fact she has crashed beside my desk chair. Doesn't appear mad at me but I don't think she enjoyed her adventure. Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I missed the little furball.
Tomorrow a new adventure begins. I have to give her liquid medication in a dropper twice a day until it's gone. There's also pain medication if it appears she's hurting. This should be fun.
Currently the only lady in my life is a six-year-old, blue-eyed, pure white cat with a deformed tail. Her name is Sabrina. Today, I had to take her to the vet for a deep teeth cleaning. She was showing the beginning signs of Gingivitis. First, I had to make sure she didn't eat anything after 6PM yesterday. Around nine last night, she noticed there was no food in her bowl and she started talking to me. If you have a cat, you know what I mean. She seemed to forget after a while. Today is my day-off from work which is why I scheduled the vet appointment for today. Anyway, I had planned to sleep-in a little. That was the plan. 6AM I wake to Sabrina standing on my chest and her nose almost touching mine. In cat talk, I'm sure she said, "I want my breakfast." I slept for a little while longer then I got up and showered and shaved. Sabrina followed me everywhere.
I think she was irritated with me. I mean, after all, I only have four jobs in her world and none are difficult.
1) Fill food bowl.
2) Fill water bowl.
3) Clean sand box.
4) Scratch neck and occasionally tummy.
How could I forget Number 1? "Dumb human. You were trained better." At 8AM, I slide Sabrina into cat box. Now, she's not disappointed in me. Now, she's mad. I carry her blue box to the car. Now I've really done it. I've forgotten to feed her, I've put her in the box, and I've put her in the car. Sabrina is no longer mad, now she's pissed and telling me at the top of her little lungs. Then we arrive at the vet's. Inside the office, the howling ends and tiny whimpering begins. I feel like the meanest man on the planet. I sign the papers and the assistant takes Sabrina into the back. I supposed to call them at 3PM to see when I can pick her up. I keep repeating the chant, "She's a cat. She's a cat." Doesn't work.
She's my cat and I like her.
I wonder if she going to be talking to me tonight. I wonder if she's going to come anywhere near me.
C'mon, three o'clock. I miss the furball.
Exxon-Mobil reported a second quarter profit of $10.4 billion. It is the second highest profit ever announced by a public company. Exxon-Mobil holds the one number spot for record profits which it announced last year for the third quarter. Don't think anymore needs to be said. Full story:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bewildering Stories and Me
My flash story, "Waiting...," is scheduled to appear in the August 28th edition of Bewildering Stories (
The quarter finalists of the 2006 Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition will be announced this Friday. Semi-finalists revealed on July 31st. Finalists on August 11th and the Winners on August 15th. We entered three screenplays this year:
Chill (horror)
Darkfall (science fiction-horror)
Distraction (suspense thriller)
The amounting suspense is almost unbearable. (Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but only slight.) Will any or all of these wonderfully-told genre tales make the cut? Updates will be posted as they come in. Keep fingers crossed.

"This isn't funny, Scotty. Why don't you try beaming the Captain down without his clothes? Oooo ... I found a new species."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Yes, I used the sun block ... why? Did I miss a spot?"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Heat wave continues. A Stage 2 (voluntary reductions of electricity) has been called. A record-breaking consumption of juice today. Yep, it was 121 in Palm Springs yesterday and not much cooler here in Riverside. No break in sight. Global warming ... big exaggeration. Okay, it's never been this hot for this long at this time of the year before. Co-winky-dink. It is. Global warming is a myth that the tree-huggers conjured up. I know. There were WMDs. There is no Global warming. Got it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Another day of triple digits and warnings of rolling blackouts. Add a moderate earthquake and a thunderstorm. I'd say we're just about covering all the bases here. Weather reports are predicting a break about midweek. I say there'll be a break about mid-October.

Friday, July 21, 2006


To pitch a movie screenplay, you need a solid line or two. If they like that, they’ll listen to more. I collected a few terrific taglines and you’ll find them below. I have no idea whether the writer or the marketing department came up with the lines.

In space … no one can hear you scream.

You don’t assign him to cases. You turn him loose.

In a galaxy far, far away…

The show has been cancelled...but the adventure is just beginning.

This time it’s war.

They're young...they're in love...and they kill people.

See it before you go swimming.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

For Three Men The Civil War Wasn't Hell. It Was Practice!

He loved the American Dream. With a Vengeance.

Man is the warmest place to hide.

If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl... It's On Too Tight!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jason Sizemore (editor and publisher of Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest) has a terrific entry on his blog A Writer's Vanity (
It is advice from s/f writer Jennifer Pelland on building a writing career. Good stuff . Check it out. Oh, yeah, here is Ms. Pelland's blog:

Friday, July 14, 2006


Every year San Jose State University holds its Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also called "It was a dark and stormy night" contest) for the worst opening line for a novel. This year's winner was penned by Jim Guigli from Carmichael CA. It reads:
Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.
If you'd like to see some of the other entries go to:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I’m in the garage the other day. Moving some box boxes. I opened one. Inside are paperback books and a couple decades worth of dust and dead bugs. Oh, yeah, testosterone is seeping out of the box, too.

I was a good kid. A-B student in school, usually A. Received Good Student of the Month awards. Played baseball and traded baseball cards. (Still have some including a Nolan Ryan rookie card). Wrote for the school paper. My folks were proud of me. Except when I tortured my little brother but that’s what big brothers are supposed to do. It’s in the Big Brother rulebook.

Anyway, I also read constantly. I devoured books like candy. Our family was comfortable but money wasn’t plentiful. I picked up most of my reading material at garage sales, flea markets, and swap meets spending a dime or a quarter on each book. I wish I could say that I read classics like Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick and Treasure Island. I didn’t. And in this box in the garage was the proof.

The quiet student, the good son read Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm series, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee tales, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer stories, and Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer adventures. I read novels by Richard Stark (a Donald Westlake pseudonym), Harold Robbins, Ed McBain, Robert Parker, Ross Thomas, Carter Brown, and Elmore Leonard. (I still read Leonard. In fact I have eight hardback copies of his novels in my library. I’ll have to look and see if any are First Editions.)

Most of these books have long faded from my memory. For the life of I can’t remember anything about Carter Brown’s novels. When I “googled” his name, I saw that he’d written a couple hundred books turning out about eight-to-ten a year. His books were all just over a hundred pages each. Fast reads but unmemorable. My guess is I bought them for their lurid, sexy covers. Hey, I was a kid. I remember Ed McBain’s books were about the cops in the 86th Precinct but beyond that they’re in the gone file. So are Richard Stark’s stories about career criminal Parker. I remember that Harold Robbins’ The Carpetbaggers was the “first” book I ever read that had sex scenes. But not much else. Spillane’s novels were page-turners but his politics would make today’s hardcore conservative-types blush and stammer. (And rightly so.) It would be interesting to read Robert Parker’s novels in order and see how Spenser and his buddy, Hawk, have changed over the years.

On the other hand, I may pull out a couple books by Hamilton and John D and reread them. I recall Matt Helm and Travis McGee being cool and written in a solid lean styles. Plus Helm and McGee were “manly men”. That’s not PC today but …

From Hamilton’s The Terminators (1975):
"You've got to shoot the thing to accomplish anything significant," I said. "Just waving it around chanting ancient incantations like ‘Put your hands up,' or ‘Drop that gun,' or ‘Don't come any closer or I'll pull the trigger,' won't buy you a thing. Yank it out and fire it or leave it alone. And if you shoot it, do a good job. Use both hands like I showed you, hold steady, keep firing, and really perforate that target. Never mind the Cossacks attacking from the left flank and the Apaches galloping in from the right, whooping and hollering. Get that guy in front of you and get him good. You'll be surprised how discouraging one thoroughly dead gent can be to a lot of people."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Submission News
Three stories came back. A 20-day rejection from Flash Me and a 3-day no-thank-you from Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest.
A 1-day acceptance from Bewildering Stories ( for a 500-word flash tale called "Waiting..." Should appear in August. It is my 84th acceptance. :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006


The first sentence of a novel and, especially, a short story is very important. Readers and editors may give a novel a few pages before deciding if they will continue onward with the book but a short story will probably get a paragraph or two. So the first sentence is the tale’s opening bid. I decided to look at first sentences from some of my published works to see what they told me. If anything.

“Follow me, sir. I’ll show you the way.”
--Rebel Nation (novel)

“Pay me.”
--The Inheritance (novel)

The spaceship sailed, corkscrewing, from the wormhole.
--To the Mountain of the Beast (novella)

“He’s coming, Crusader,” Fabiyan said.
--The Beast of Lyoness (short story)

Dave Barboza did his best to appear relaxed and confident.
--Human Resources (short story)

A half-day’s ride from the city of Daarmoor, as we traveled east along the old spice merchant trail, Kree and I first smelled the stench of the funeral pyres on the wind.
--In the Garden on the Far Shore of the Styx (short story)

As the first rays of sun pierced through the dark clouds like broken twisted fingers, the corporate helicopter skimmed along the Yucatan coastline nearing the construction camp.
--Costa de Mala Muetre (short story)

“Forget everything they told you at orientation,” Zane said, stopping beside the ivy-cloaked gate.
--Blood Alley (short story)

I have met Melinda.
--Melinda (short story)

I was already awake when Hondo tapped my cheek with her monkey fingers.
--Blood Hunt (short story)

As I spurred the Appaloosa along the valley trail, its hooves raised a gray-black specter of ash into the chilled air with each step.
--Sanctuary Defiled at Ananyas (short story)

My mother and stepfather passed away sometime Wednesday.
--Final Soulcatchers (short story)

The smell of blood tinged the cold night air.
--The Hunters (short story)

What did I learn here? A couple of the lines aren’t too bad, a couple could’ve been better and the others really don’t tell you much about the story. The intention of all were to get the reader (and/or editor) to read to next sentence. Did I succeed in that goal? I guess. All were published. Hmmm…
{Side note to self – do not use the image of sunlight as broken fingers again. You’ve used that in more than one story. End of side note to self.}

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Billy Wilder's Top Ten Tips to Good Screenwriting
As told to Cameron Crowe:

1. The audience is fickle.
2. Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go.
3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
4. Know where you’re going.
5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They'll love you forever.
8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then -- that's it. Don’t hang around.