Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Poe-ta-toe? Poe-tah-toe? Toe-ma-toe? Toe-mah-toe?


On occasion, I think about those new folks in our country who have to negotiate the English language, and wonder if they experience the same confusion and bewilderment as I did in my early school years.   

I’m not referring to speaking the language; I’m referring to reading and writing it. I used phonetics in/inn the title to emphasize the point, as the two/to/too different pronunciations are actually spelled the same way/whey. Then there/their is the opposite of that—words that sound the same and are spelled differently: creek or creak, council or counsel, principle or principal, capitol or capital. These last three always trip me up. Thank God for proof readers. Spell Checker won’t help you/ewe here/hear.  

Ok, this is fun, but it’s making me a little crazy. What prompted me to ponder all this was a story I was working on. I never paid much attention to these variants until I began writing, and in doing so, realized what a quagmire the English language really is. Working on a short story the other day, I wrote the line:

“Cole nodded toward the large manila envelope laying on the table in front of her.”

Ooops! Is it “laying,” or “lying?”  You just can’t trust the grammar checker for these things. To be sure, you have to look it up, which is exactly what I did. I happened upon a Writer’s Digest article a while back that had several links to various interpretations of how words are misused. But in searching for them here, I found a site that has everything (or most everything) in one place. I like it better.


Enjoy your/yore self.

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Best Regards,
DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
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Friday, July 4, 2014

What is a Character Arc?


If you’re like me, there are some movies you watch every time your spot them on TV; favorites you choose to watch again regardless of anything else that’s on. Other than A Christmas Story, which only airs at Christmas, mine are The Sandlot, The Green Mile, and Scent of a Woman. There are probably a few more I can’t think of at the moment, but I wanted to chat about Scent of a Woman, with Al Pacino and that other guy.

Now I’ve seen this movie at least five times, stolen lines from the dialogue, and used them as my own. “I’m in the amazing business.” I used that one on Maggie on our first date. We’re married now, so needless to say, it worked. And she still thinks I’m amazing. 

Go figure.

So it played again today, on the 4th of July. I stopped what I was doing and settled in to watch, and to see how many lines of dialogue I could repeat along with the characters. About the time prep-school student Charlie Simms, there by benefit of a scholarship, met retired U.S. Army  Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade for the first time, it struck me what a beautiful piece of writing this was.

LTC. Frank Slade was an asshole; a despicable human being who made everyone around him uncomfortable and want to run for cover. He was easy to hate, or at the very least, dislike with vigor, and for those who have not yet seen this movie, he was also blind. Frank was a man in pain, and all he knew how to do was lash out and feel sorry for himself. It was the base starting point of Frank Slade’s character’s arc.

As I watched the movie, I studied how the Slade character began to change as he set his plan of suicide in motion in New York City. As events unfolded, Slade continued his anti-social ways, but at the same time, began to warm up to Charlie; a kid facing misplaced disciplinary action for an act of vandalism, witnessed by him, but perpetrated by others on the Headmaster’s car. Charlie refused to rat out the offenders, and due to that, faced expulsion. Slade began to look upon Charlie, who was virtually alone in the world, as a son. By the time all was said and done, Slade reclaimed his humanity by helping Charlie through his ordeal. When the movie was over, LTC. Frank Slade had completely changed for the better. 

End of character arc.

I'm certainly no expert, but that's basically how it works. Slade was in fact, the antagonist that changed by virtue of Charlie. Charlie provided the conflict and foiled Slade's suicide plans by restoring his faith in the value of living. Giving Slade a reason to live was the goal, albeit unintended, the school hearing was the inciting incident, and Charlie’s redemption due to Slade’s participation was the happy ending, or climax.
   
If you need a great example of a character arc, see this movie. There is a bit of language in it, but it’s no worse than what you’d hear in a gansta rap song now-a-days.

Best Regards,
DB

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wonder Why You Can't Get Any Writing Done?



I use Sundays to write. I have the whole day if I skip church, and it's usually the first thing on my mind when my feet hit the bedroom floor.

... Well, the second thing, right after watching all my Sunday Morning shows.

So around noon, when I stop yelling at the TV and the talking heads on the Hi-Def, 40-inch screen, I switch off the power, and head to my office. And since I have to pass the kitchen anyway, I take a moment to whip up my third cup of Bailey's laced coffee to loosen up the ol' gears.

Yesterday, we returned from a successful Oxford book signing. Following the hour drive, I felt a bit lightheaded when I got out of the car. Maggie said that worried her. She wanted me to see the doctor because it could be a blood-pressure problem. 

So naturally, I thought about dying. 

Then I wondered if she would be able to decipher my computer filing system and find all my completed manuscripts so she could rake in the potential fortune after I move on to the great writer's office in the skyor wherever, now that I've skipped church. I decided that with my cryptic and scattered filing system, she wouldn't be able to locate those potential "great American novels" … not without spending a great deal of time—time she could use to spend my fortune. I decided to create an easy-to-find file just for completed manuscripts. Then I would knuckle down and get to work on the new book.

As I began sorting through files, I stumbled across an old short story I just happened to discuss with a colleague while at the book signing yesterday. I decided to send it to him so he could get a better feel for what we had discussed. But it was years old, so I had to read it first.

… and then re-write it.

That complete, I sent the file and turned back to the writing awaiting me. As I “back arrowed” through the files, I saw one titled, “List of video trailer post sites.”

“Wha….?”

In it were sites I had noted years ago in the event I needed places to post a book trailer that I didn't have at the time. Since I had one now, I naturally wondered if they were still there.

Oh, they were there alright. Each and every one of them. So I started with Google Video.

I discovered my existing Google account got me in, and when I logged on to the site, I saw Facebook-like posts of people I know, posting things that they've done, and I wondered why I had nothing there. So I read their posts and decided I needed to add something.

A reader had posted a very nice review of Chain of Evidence on Amazon and Goodreads, among others, earlier in the day, and I thought I should post it on this newly discovered Google site. So I did, and then I went ahead and posted it on a few Facebook sites as well. Then I read a few posts before remembering I wanted to post the trailer on the video site. But before I did that, I had to help the wife carry in the groceries. And cobble together a vodka and coke.

That completed, I had to find the trailer. It was on my computer somewhere, I was sure.

A few minutes later it was back to Google to post the clip. But wait. What’s’ this? Google Play? Maybe just a quick detour.  

“What do you want for dinner?” Maggie calls. I look up. I swear someone moved my clock ahead.

With another Sunday shot, I went back into my office to close up for the day, thinking about all the writing I didn't get done. But just as my computer was spinning down, I remembered that I forgot to create the Completed Manuscripts file.

So I scribbled it on a Post-it note and went to bed.


Sound familiar?


Best Regards,
DB

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Book Signing in a Quaint Little Town



As any author will admit following several vodkas or their libation of choice, after their dream of being published for the first time becomes reality, their fantasies turn to their first book signing and the throngs of adoring fans that will be in attendance. They picture long lines of readers that come in all varieties of shape, size, age and denomination, eager to have the book they just purchased signed and personalized by their now most favorite author. 

Of course, that’s why they are called fantasies.



One has to work for such a privilege, and the first book signing is just one of the first steps in a long series of appearances and interviews that will hopefully take the author along a road toward becoming a household name. My first bookstore signing happens this Saturday, June 28, at Mystery Loves Company Book Sellers in Oxford, Maryland. They had asked if I had a poster they could use to promote the event, and since I hadn't been to the store, or to Oxford in several decades, I decided to drive the poster down.

Oxford is a sleepy little resort town at the mouth of the Tred Avon River just off the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland’s eastern shore, and as I rode into town, the first thing that caught my attention was the 25 MPH speed limit. In today’s fast-paced rat race, I was glad for it. The speed allowed me to drink in the scenery as I made my way down the town’s main, single lane street.

It was as if Time had overlooked this small berg, with people walking dogs or riding bikes at a pace where, it would seem, they had not a care in the world or a place they had to be. In many ways it reminded me of the neighborhood where I grew up; tree-lined one lane neighborhood streets where, if two cars approached each other from opposite directions, one had to pull over to let the other by. I passed several small country stores that catered to tourists and residents alike; antique and nick-knack shops, and a real estate office that fit into the scheme of the town like a puzzle piece. I found myself wondering what a little house on the water might cost in a historic town like this. 




Then I answered myself.

“More than you have or ever hope to have.”

 I found the bookstore and chatted with Kathy, the owner, for a bit, and then took a drive through town. The colonial architecture was a step back in time to the days where people used horse & buggy to travel back and forth, and as I made my way around, I pulled over many times to take in the charming country porches with their rockers and hammocks, and the white picket fences running along the inlaid brick walkways. It seemed a majority of the narrow side streets led to the water’s edge, and at the end was usually a bench or several big lawn chairs in which to sit, and let your troubles go as the tranquility washes over you. 

                   I parked the car and sat on one of the benches … just for a few minutes.

There are B&Bs here too, and I fully intend on taking advantage of one in the very near future. But for now, I am focused on the signing this Saturday. So if all this sounds like a place you’d like to come and visit, or take a swim, or just have a nice dinner at one of the restaurants, maybe you’d like to stop into Mystery Loves Company Book Sellers to say Hi, and maybe find a book or two that strikes your fancy. If mine happens to be one of them, I’ll be there this Saturday, June 28th, from 1 to 3 pm., and I’d be happy to personalize it for you for a small fee.

OK … I’m only kidding about the fee.

Come down, say Hi, and treat yourself to a day from your childhood.

Best Regards,
DB

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


"The difference between the right word and almost the right word

is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

Mark Twain

When I started writing seriously in 2005, everyone who loved me (all two of them) encouraged me in a similar way. My daughter Danielle bought me a Merriam-Webster Word Calendar for my desk so I could learn a new word every day. Maggie, on the other hand, subscribed me to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, and I began receiving an email on a daily basis, each with a different word. The object of all this was to help me grow my vocabulary, because everyone knows that being a writer requires a vast knowledge of words.

Right?

Poppycock - \POP-py-cock\ Noun: Foolish words or ideas, empty talk or writing.

For a while, I actually tried to memorize the words flowing across my sphere of consciousness. I found I couldn’t memorize them any better now than when I was in school, except for the ones I liked. I didn’t remember their exact definition, but I understood the words and knew how to use them. Some of the others I tore from the calendar and stuffed in a drawer, or saved away in a file for later use. On occasion, I’d roam through those saved words and dust my manuscript with a few here and there; words like:

Wax - \wax\ intransitive verb (what the hell is an intransitive verb?):
1     :  to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity
a
b :  to grow in volume or duration
c :  to grow toward full development
2   :  to increase in phase or intensity —used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets
3   :  to assume a (specified) characteristic, quality, or state :  become <wax indignant> <wax poetic>

“Wax” is the opposite of “wane.” This is an archaic word seldom used in regular discourse, but I read it in a book somewhere, liked it, and decided to see if I could use it. The dialogue, as I remember it, went something like “… he waxed poetic, memories of Sunday school.”

COOL! 

How many people could I have scratching their head on that one?
But I never actually found a place to use it. The odd thing was, I started hearing it every now and again. Weird!

I did, however, use this one:
Cupidity - \cu-PID-i-ty\  Noun:
1:  inordinate desire for wealth :  avarice, greed
2:  strong desire :  lust
It’s neat how words can mean different things depending on how you use them. When I used it, it was all about the Lust.

It’s true that a writer needs a decent vocabulary in his toolbox, so I still pay attention to the word-a-day emails. When I see one I like, I may go back and substitute it for something I used earlier. That’s not cheating because I learned something new, but because I’m not constantly trading new words for words already written, I realize that being a writer isn’t about using a vast quantity of “nickel” words; it’s about how you use the ones you already have.

Some of the most powerful and endearing quotes are just good ol’ fashion English, and there ain’t nothing fancy about ‘em.

“Ask not, what your country can do for you.”
“Honor is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”
“There’s no crying in baseball.”

See what I mean?
Do the best with what you got … grammar notwithstanding.

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Best Regards,
DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
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Illustration used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com






Monday, May 26, 2014

What Causes a Month's Anticipation, a Night’s Sleep, and Three Minutes of Terror?



This August past, after Intrigue published Chain of Evidence, I discovered the value of marketing. I did the usual things, Facebook, Twitter, book signings, and conferences to name a few. Marketing is very time consuming, especially when you’re just learning how to do what needs to be done. Daunting, is a word I would use. One Sunday morning I tuned into my local station, an NBC affiliate, and saw one of the WBAL-TV11 personalities interviewing a local author on his new book.

 I sat up and took notice.  
How can I do that? I wondered.

I started sending emails to the station, and any producer they had listed on their “Contact Us” email link, all to no avail. I even tried engaging Intrigue’s marketing director, asking her to send emails or make calls to see if she could manage to schedule a spot.

Nothing drew a response.
Those folks are very busy, so I gave up on the effort.

Then, several weeks ago, Intrigue Publishing secured a spot at Baltimore’s City Lit Festival presented by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. They invited me to come, but it wasn't mandatory. I mistook the festival for another smaller one, and elected not to participate. It turned out to be a good decision.

While watching my morning news that Saturday, one of the station personalities, Lisa Robinson mentioned in an “oh-by-the-way” fashion that she was moderating a Q&A for one of the featured authors at City Lit. That’s when it dawned on me. It became clear as to which festival this really was, and that a WBAL personality would be on hand in the flesh. All of a sudden the planets had magically aligned. This was far too fortuitous to ignore.

When Opportunity knocks, one must answer the door.

DB Corey & Lisa Robinson
City Lit Festival
I arrived at the festival a bit later and found Intrigue’s location within the library. The Intrigue folks are not local Baltimoreans and were unfamiliar as to who Lisa was, so I told them what I had in mind. I attended Lisa’s session and when she finished, I introduced myself. Minutes later, I ambled up to the Intrigue table with Lisa in tow. That’s when I stepped out of the picture so our marketing director, Sandra Bowman, could do her job. And what a fine job she did. Weeks later, she sent me notification that WBAL had scheduled me for a slot on Memorial Day weekend.    

Begin four nerve-racking weeks anticipating how it would go, tossing and turning the sleepless night, and the minutes of terror leading up to the spot. All unnecessary.

Well, now I can say they were unnecessary; hence the benefit of experience.

I drove to the station with the windows down so I wouldn’t sweat like a pig from nerves and arrived a full thirty minutes early. The guard, a woman with a smile that reminded me of everything good about people, escorted me to the studio where she turned me over to Lauren, the show’s director.

Lauren - Director
Lauren looked far too young to be directing a TV news broadcast, and I wondered if she knew that TV used to be in black & white. She was attractive, very friendly, and had a soothing demeanor about her that said “relax.” Well, she actually said, “relax,” and then added, “you’ll do fine.”

I wasn’t so sure.

Lauren on the News set


Enormous overhead lights lit up the set, but I found they weren't hot, as I expected. I fully thought I’d be sweating my bald head off under those things, but as I realized afterward, I didn’t perspire a lick. The famous “Green Screen” took up a full wall to my left, and three TV cameras were stationed around the news and weather sets. They moved about the floor by themselves and Lauren expertly avoided them, occasionally engaging controls attached to each unit, and I watched in wide-eyed wonder.


As I sat in a chair off-set, Lauren directed my attention to the brightly illuminated news desk. “You’ll be working with Lisa,” she said, and gestured with her hand. 


Lisa Robinson on set
I looked around the camera to see Lisa Robinson studying her notes. “You’ll be up in about ten minutes,” Lauren added. Then she smiled and went about the business of broadcasting. At sixty-five years-old, there ain’t a whole lot that can impress me anymore.

But she did.

Jennifer Franciotti, Lisa Robinson, and DB Corey
So for the next few minutes I chatted with the gal who would be up after me. She was doing a spot on doggie ice cream, and even brought a Chihuahua with her. I tried to pet him, but I think he smelled Murphy, my chocolate lab, and would have nothing to do with me. That’s when Jennifer Franciotti, the other half of the weekend morning team, walked up. She was as sweet and friendly in person as she is on TV, every bit as pretty, and walking around the set bare-footed. I found that immensely attractive in a folksy kind of way, and couldn’t help but smile. We chatted for a few minutes and she reassured me that everything would be fine. She walked me to the news desk and sat me next to Lisa. “One minute,” Lauren said. Jen offered a reassuring smile and moved off set.

At this point I would normally describe what came afterwards, but in this case, I have video, and all I have to do is say, “Roll tape.”


When all was said and done, it wasn't as traumatic as I had envisioned. Everyone said I was (insert cool adjective here), and didn't seem nervous at all.

I think, if I manage another Live TV interview, I may take it more in stride. At least I hope I will. I don't think I can take another month like the last one.

Best Regards,
DB


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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How TV Teaches


When I was a kid, my father always said that TV would rot my brain. Back then, perhaps he was right, but fortunately, only part of my brain rotted. The rest is fairly intact. I know this because tonight, I had an epiphany. TV taught me something about writing.

I am a huge fan of The Blacklist. James Spader won me over when he played Daniel in Stargate back in 1994, one of the most awesomest movies EVER! But that aside, The Blacklist is wiping up the Monday night ratings.

Have you ever heard of a Lexical Ambiguity? Sure you have; you just didn’t know what it was. Don’t feel bad, neither did I. Of course, I’m hardly a bastion of grammatical knowledge. I will say that I’ve learned more in a few years as a writer than I ever learned in high school, but that should surprise no one, considering today’s high schools.

In the season finale of The Blacklist, several characters were engaged in dialogue as to the identity of the bad guy. There was a flashback to several suspects who all said the same thing about a passenger handcuffed to a guard in an aircraft who escaped after the plane crashed.

“He cut his hand off.”

How would you interpret that statement? There are two guys, one good, one bad, handcuffed together when the plane crashed. The bad guy escaped. The guard is in the hospital.

“He cut his hand off.”

Noun: Lexical Ambiguity – the ambiguity of an individual word or phrase that can be used (in different contexts) to express two or more different meanings.

So? Who cut whose hand off?

I run into this all the time in my writing. It’s confusing. Who did what to whom? There is no way to tell when out of context, and sometimes, even in context. So to get around this ambiguity, I use the character’s name on one side of the sentence so the reader doesn’t go … “Huh?”

See? TV doesn’t rot your brain. Well … not all of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambiguity

And I’m not telling who did what to whom.
Sorry.

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Best Regards,
DB

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Malice Domestic 26, Conference & Fun



In my short writing career, I've been to five writers’ conferences. Malice Domestic was the fifth. “It’s more about networking than selling books,” a colleague told me. He was right. I sold exactly one. But I thought I’d go and try to make good use of my people skills; a concept that went right out the window the second night.

Friday started things off with an introduction for first-timers like me, followed up by The Malice Go Round, a speed dating clone where authors moved from table to table introducing themselves, dropping business cards and the like, and pitching their latest efforts to fans and others. The rest of the day included a crime lab talk by the very entertaining Max Houck, Director of DC’s Forensics Lab, and other sessions geared toward the conference, and Agatha Christie.

On Saturday, things really kicked off. Authors began arriving, some from as far away as the west coast, Canada and the UK. They checked in and sat on panels that included talks on various aspects of mystery writing such as theme, characters, history, sexism, paranormal, and romance, to name a few. There were master classes conducted by experts in the fields of poison, forensics, and police procedure, anything and everything one would need to write a really, juicy, mystery. 

When the day began to wind down, authors assembled to sign their books for anyone who wanted autographed copies, and I began to notice the women filtering in, most wearing lovely evening gowns, to join their significant others for the cocktail hour that preluded the Agatha Awards Banquet.

Throughout the event I bumped into several authors I already knew; Allison Leotta, Tracy Kiely, and Penny Clover Petersen. But I also met many authors for the first time, writers such as Hank Phillippi Ryan, Brad Parks, Sasscer Hill, Kathryn O’Sullivan, and Anne Cleeland. You can imagine my delight when I introduced myself to Anne, and she said, “Yes. I know who you are.”
Absolute heaven for a new writer like me.
Anne Cleeland - Author of four novels, 
with her latest, Murder in Retribution, coming soon
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Author of Agatha Winner The Wrong Girl












Kathryn O'Sullivan
Author of Murder on the Hoof

So putting my people skills to work proved fruitful, until I was about to leave. I am a Field Engineer by trade. An IT Specialist. I fix things and answer questions. So when one of the women on the elevator pointed to a section of unoccupied elevator floor and said, “I don’t understand why the Concierge wouldn't let anyone else on,” I took it upon myself to provide her an answer. 



But it seems that instructing an elevator full of women on the dominant physics of weight-loading factors vs. power-lift ratios of a small box full of people, is not such a good ideano matter how well intentioned. 

They all turned on me like a pack of hungry jackals.

After that, it was like saying the F-word in front of a nun. Nothing good could possibly come of it.

Perhaps my next book should be on elevator etiquette ... and weapons to carry.

Best Regards,
DB

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Friday, April 25, 2014

ARRRRGH! A Pirate Murder Mystery … and Dinner


As writers, we each have a favorite genre or two, and maybe one or two comfortable formats we gravitate to. I tend to lean toward Thrillers and Mysteries for the novel and short story formats, and I generally reserve essays for Humor. Now, as far as formats go, I didn't really think about them all that much, but a week or so ago, a friend of mine said:
“Hey! You’re a writer….”
I looked around to see who he was talking to.
“Think you’d like a pirate murder-mystery?”

Turns out he was talking about a dinner play. Now I've been to exactly one play, not counting the ones forced on me in high school. I've never written a play because plays aren't really my thing, but Mark went on to tell me that the play was being put on by the Brewmaster/Owner of The Heavy Seas Brewery here in Baltimore. Mark is a beer aficionado and knows a good beer when he drinks one … or two … or….

... as I was saying....

Come to find out they were having the play in the Heavy Seas Alehouse downtown on Bank St., a brand new watering hole touting Baltimore’s rich nautical history. The play was themed around—you guessed it—pirates. It sounded like fun, so Maggie and I joined Mark and Debbie for a mid-week night out.

We arrived a little early, so we moseyed up to the bar and caught up on stuff. The interior was immaculate and maintained a Caribbean ambiance with rich dark wood, sturdy furniture, and a metal front door so heavy that it took a fair amount of strength to open. It boasted the brewery’s flagship beverage on tap, and for my money, I found it pleasant, fresh, and comfortable.

Debbie and Mark are beta reading my next novel, and we discussed writing and other mundane things over a couple beers as we waited for things to get started. The play, Huge Done It? A Pirate Murder Mystery, was written by Adam Mack, produce by The Murder Mystery Company, and performed by local actors, who just happened to be milling about in costume minutes before we were ushered into the Captain’s Lounge for the play. Little did we suspect that some of us would have roles as well.

Anne Bonnie
According to Maggie, who loves researching just about everything, the actors scrutinize the audience for specific qualities before the show begins to see who they can shanghai to fill out “audience” character roles. No sooner than we were seated, the cast—Capt’n One-Eyed Willie (Steven Foote), Capt’n Long Jane Silver (Jess Rivera (Yes, Jane. This gal was a hoot!)) and Lady Pirate Anne Bonnie (Alexandra Goldstein)—began roaming through the small audience assigning roles to the unsuspecting. 


Steven Foote
Capt'n One-Eyed Willie
Jess Rivera
Capt'n Long Jane Silver
Alexandra Goldstein
Lady Pirate Anne Bonnie 







Doctor A.R. & Capt'n Kidd



They zeroed in on Mark and me right away, gave us name-tags and hats to identify who we were, and a dossier with everything we'd need to become characters in the play. Mark starred as Captain Kidd (the first murder victim), and I played Doctor A.R., pronounced ARRRRGH! In fact, there was so much ARRRRGH going on that night, I woke up this morning still ARRRRGH-ing and agitating the dogs to no end.

Each character had a bio, and secrets … lots of secrets … and the rule was that if someone asked a question during the investigation of these heinous crimes, we couldn't lie. But we could say nothing … unless bribed with Buccaneer Bucks. 

In actuality, the cast, staying in character, functioned more as actor/directors, setting the tone and directing the play where they wanted it to go, keeping it on track while guiding the audience/players. Out of about thirty people, ten were recruited” for roles and no one declined—it just looked like too much fun.


Doctor A.R., Anne Bonnie, One-Eye'd Willy,
and Capt'n Kidd (deceased).
As I mentioned earlier, each character had a bio and lots of secrets known only to them. Mine, for example, was a fear of touching dead people and “winging it” when it came to Cause of Death. Not a good phobia for a doctor to have. I was a bilge rat, a scallywag, a scoundrel, and the two actresses referred to me as a scurvy dog the whole night. At first, I thought they actually knew me from my single days. Then, somewhere around the main entrĂ©e, it dawned on me that each of these roles had rich and complex characteristics and foibles that entwined with each other. Every character was connected to every other character in some manner, and usually not in a good way.

This little play contained all the necessary elements a good story must have: plot, setting, conflict, character flaws, motivation, opportunity, infidelity (implied), betrayal, and all that goes with them. The writer could easily replace last night’s murderer (Blind Hugh, who wasn't blind at all, by the way) and replace him with any other character without a lot of re-writing. Each character was created with reasons to want to kill another character.

Aye! ... Brilliant!  

So there ye have it, matey! I won’t be gettin’ into the rest of it, other than to say that if ye ever get the chance to see one of these intimate little dinner plays, ye should. Aye, they be good clean wholesome fun for your entire crew, and something most out of the ordinary.

Oh, I totally forgot to mention … I took home the Best Actor award as well.

ARRRRGH!

Best Regards,
DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
DB Corey on Facebook - http://tinyurl.com/mltv6rs 
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Meet Myster Write on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeetMysterWrite

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Do You Do, When You’re Not Writing?


I don’t get sick very often, but I’m sick today; not so sick that I can’t do stuff, but sick enough to be whiny, and to drive my wife crazy. So I climbed from bed, complaining the whole way, and trudged to my office, making Maggie wish she had taken a different day off to prepare for Easter.

I’m not 100%, but I decided to see if my sick brain could learn something. I pulled up a course from Writer’s Digest that I signed up for last weekCreating Engaging Blogs by Dan Blank. I decided to see what he knew that I didn't. I found, it was considerable. 

  
By and large, my blog (this one) isn't bad, but he pointed out little things that could make it better; not so much regarding content, but more along the lines of appearance and function. One of the points that stood out concerned the description of the blog … what it’s about, and who might enjoy it.

Ooops!

Mine had no description. And the more I looked at it, the more I realized I was lucky to have any readers at all … not counting my family of course. I made them read it. So I started changing things; the background, the template, and some of the gadgets. I added a description, and changed a few other things. The cool part about a podcast is the ability to pause it. I’d learned something and compare it to my blog, pause the podcast, and fix stuff. Worked out pretty well.

Another critical point he brought out was the “About Me’ page, or in my case with BlogSpot, my Profile from the Google site; another aspect of a blog that I lacked. He stated that a blog should not be about ME ME ME, but more about how it benefits the reader, and what the reader will gain from it. I write about writing, the writing process, the journey to publication, and occasionally digress to other things—both funny and sad—that I have found interesting, or that have profound effects on me. I like to think my readers enjoy these little diversions as well, but on the whole, I tell my readers of my adventures in the land of writing and publication, and hope they gain a bit of insight.

For example, somewhere in my blog is a post on reading excerpts before a crowd of strangers, and another on the things one might say when asked what their book is about. These are the things aspiring writers aren't concerned with until they come face to face with them, so I point them out in my blog.

If your profile is all about you, that’s fine, as long as you tell the first-time reader how you and your blog can benefit them. Mine was about me, not the blog, so I changed it. I expect I’ll get around to the cool stuff I did later as things progress.

Best Regards,
DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
DB Corey on Facebook - http://tinyurl.com/mltv6rs 
DB Corey on LinkIn - http://tinyurl.com/oftk7do

Meet Myster Write on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeetMysterWrite

Friday, April 11, 2014

Creative License



I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me to “write what you know.” I write crime thrillers and mysteries, but I don’t really know them, per se. I was never a cop. So I use my imagination, a little insight, and a bit of inspiration to invent stuff. That’s what fiction is. But when I wrote the sixth chapter of my upcoming novel, I needed a graveyard, a priest, and a church. Simple, right? Many churches have graveyards, and all churches have priests of a sort. So I started with the church. I drew on what I knew. I began to pull in memories of the church I went to as a child.

I grew up Catholic, and went to small church that was little more than the basement of a Catholic school. It was perfect for the book; small, poor, and exactly what I needed. But it didn't have a graveyard. So I created one. I exercised a little Creative License and turned the plat of land they reserved for a new church into a graveyard. Growing up, we knew a proper church would be erected because every Sunday, they held a second collection specifically for its construction. Something else I “knew.” So I wrote the chapter with the church, second collection and all, with the priest and with the graveyard. It all worked out fine.

Last week, I met my brother for a couple beers and a bunch of oysters at a Biker Bar. The oysters were free for just a tip to the guy wielding the oyster knife. It was a good deal. When Maggie and I left, I decided to show her where I grew up. It wasn't far from where we were, and neither was the church. So we drove there as well. Pulling in, I noticed a new building that wasn't there when I was a kid; some sort of assembly hall. But it wasn't a church. In the fifty years I’d been gone, the priests who mentored me in the ways of Christ were long dead, the church was never built, and I was disappointed to find that the land reserved for it now functioned as soccer field.

Church / Soccer Field / Graveyard
At the corner of the field is a plaque dedicated to the priest who was the pastor so many years ago. He died a Monsignor. I used all but the plaque in the novel because I “knew” them, and even brought that priest back to life, but  I employed Creative License to create the one thing I really needed to make the scene work.

The graveyard.

Until I went there, I had no idea the land had been used for a soccer field instead of a church. And even though I feel a little cheated out of a birthright, I guess the kids like it better that way. And let’s face it—I wouldn't be going to that church at this stage of my life anyway. But after applying a little Creative License, I have to admit—if it can't be a church, then I think I like it better as a graveyard.


Best Regards,
DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
DB Corey on Facebook - http://tinyurl.com/mltv6rs 
DB Corey on LinkIn - http://tinyurl.com/oftk7do

Meet Myster Write on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeetMysterWrite  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Does This Novel Make Me Look Fat?


I went for my annual physical a while back. I’m in pretty good health, Doc said … all things considered. BP is a little high as is my cholesterol. “We’ll use meds to get that under control. Other than that you’re in great shape,” he said. “Except for your weight. You need to lose a few pounds.”

A few pounds. OK. But as many of you out there in the Blogosphere knows, losing weight is easier said than done. 

I quit smoking when I turned 60, so I expected to gain some weight. But that’s about the same time I started writing for real, and, when I started writing, I also started sitting. A lot. Now I, for one, happen to consider writing an exercise, since I work my brain to write. Ergo, sitting, being part of my writing process, is exercise too, but I might be the only one who thinks that way. Regardless, the issue remains; the exercise of writing involves sitting.

So I sit. And I write. But there are times when I sit and I think which is not writing and not exercise because then it’s just sitting. And when I’m sitting but not writing and not exercising, I’m munching. 

Welllll…  When I’m sitting and thinking but not writing and not exercising because it’s just sitting and munching but not drinking, I have to wash all that down with something.   
 
That’s why ancient scribes invented beer.

So when I sit and not write and think and not exercise and munch and wash all that stuff down with beer, I’m actually getting my daily sitting/writing exercise because I’m reaching and lifting and chewing, but still, it didn’t seem to work.

I had to get serious.

I switched to sugar substitutes, sugar-free gum, and diet soda; diet salad dressings, baked potato chips, and low-cal cookies; small bags of M&M’s, low-fat double-whipped triple-churned ice cream, and lite beer. I even cut my large double-pepperoni-and-sausage pizza intake to five a week, but still I lost no weight.

So, getting back to the doctor—remember the doctor?— Maggie says because Doc thinks I need to lose weight, and the sitting/writing exercise I get isn’t enough, she’s going to make me snacks and meals that are better for me, and will help me lose weight. And the worse part of all this, she thinks we’re going to have lots-o-fun.
 
“I didn’t marry you just to have you die on me now,” she told me. She’s been waiting for this like a kid waits for Christmas. She sees us going to the grocery store—hand-in-hand and all starry-eyed—picking out nothing but “healthy” food. I can’t wait.

The more wheat germ, the better, I say.

So to counter my over-weight condition, she bought all sorts of stuff to sprinkle on my food. Stuff I never heard of, like Organic Ground Premium Flaxseed with Omega-3 and Lignans.

What the hell is Flaxseed?
And Lignans sound like something you should eradicate
… like termites.

Oh, you think I’m exaggerating, do you? Here’s a text message she sent me the other day:

Morning honey ... I’m getting you Egg Beaters and low calorie low carb stuff. Low calorie bread is good. Wheat or whole grain ...Cheerios … diet soda is okay. They say in moderation, cheese is actually okay. I'll pick up more stuff as I come across them in my reading. Look at the labels. You don't want sugar in the first three ingredients and you should try to keep your carb amount not above 55 grams a day. So look at the labels.

Love you lots. Going for a run.
xoxoxo  

Going for a run.... The woman is effusive. You can almost hear the freaking excitement in her voice. I think she’s enjoying this more than sex. 

In addition to all this, the Doc gave me a list of foods I can and can’t have.
For instance:
I can have lean meats, fish packed in water, chicken without the skin (Who can eat fried chicken without the skin?), and few breads, like Melba toast. I guess the doc thinks I’m still teething, as well.

In place of bread, I can substitute beans or dried peas. So I tried that. I slapped some light mayonnaise on a couple of dried peas and tried to make a ham sandwich. It wasn’t easy because it was so hard to hold. It wasn’t very filling either, so I made another one.

What I can’t have is duck, goose, coconuts, avocados, lard and alcohol. No problem there … except for maybe—you guessed it—the alcohol.
 
So Maggie comes home from work one night, very tired. I offer to order Chinese, but now, I have to see if they have dietary meals. Of course, all I need do is ask.

“Ha-row, Rucky Dragon.”
“Yes, I’d like to place an order for delivery.”
“What you rike?”
“Do you have any dietary dinners?”
“Di-a-tery?”
“Yes … low-fat”
“Ro-Fat? I’m solly, no Ro-Fat here.”
“You don’t have any low-fat dinners?”
“Ro-Fat work here no more. Rives in Okrahoma now.”
“No! No! ... Low-fat MEALS.” 
“Ro-Fat no cook. Dishwasher. Quit rast week. You want order something? Robster? Pork flied lice? Egg loll maybe?”

I decided on steamed veggies. Maggie was so happy, she poured Flaxseed all over it; made it crunchy, so I pretended it was fried chicken.


All in all, I expect things will work themselves out. Maggie is a pretty good cook, so I’m sure she’ll be able to do something with me in the next few weeks, even if it’s just rolling me out to the car for my next doctor’s appointment.

DB

Website - www.dbcorey.com
Twitter - @dbcorey
DB Corey on Facebook - http://tinyurl.com/mltv6rs 
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Meet Myster Write on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeetMysterWrite