Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gram Parsons


Pride and Prejudiced Against Hollywood Movies

I understand Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier were considered to be wonderful actors.  That said, Pride and Prejudice is on TCM right now and its awfulness is laughable. 

Maybe Hollywood's intention was always making money and telling stories that would get people to cough up their money to be entertained.  Is there something about being vaguely historically accurate that would prevent people from being entertained?

Baring all else, every Hollywood studio had a costume department.  Did no one look at a Regency gown?  Yes, they were ugly, but not half as ridiculous as the meringues Greer Garson is wearing--sleeves so enormous she has to turn sideways to get through the doorways.

I know Elizabeth says she is quite old when speaking with Lady de Bourgh, but I thought Lizzie meant about 22, not 35.  This is like Norma Shearer, who I quite like and am grateful she took such good care of Irving Thalberg,  playing a 15 year old Juliette.  Come on.  These women were too old for the parts.

The Bennets were supposed to be, if not poor, then certainly not rich.  You should see the huge house Hollywood put them in.  If they had this much money, what was Mr. Darcy's problem with Elizabeth and her family?  The Bennets being well-off completely undercuts and undermines what Jane Austen set up.  Oh well, writers are always too close to their work so what the heck did Austen know about her story anyway?

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I signed up with Pixels of Ink.  Every day (dismayingly) there is quite a list of free or cheap books available at Amazon.  I download only the ones I think there is at least a 50-50 chance I'll get to.

Unfortunately most are disappointing and wind up DNF (Did Not Finish).  Many of them lack a center.  They lack a central conflict.  As I'm reading I can't answer the question "What does this character want?"  We are we left with the sense that nothing is happening because without conflict, nothing is happening.

Man v. man
Man v. nature
Man v. self

It's not enough that your main character discovers they are a fey child or have a super power.  Saving the world is great, thanks for your efforts on my behalf!, but you need someone trying to prevent the saving of the world.  There must be an adversary.

Someone famous in the romance writing world gave a seminar and said "If your main character is an arsonist, the love interest has to be the fire investigator."

You need to personalize the struggle, the conflict.  Then you need to dramatize this conflict.  You must show incidents with rising intensity of the conflict playing out.

Again I will tell you go read a book on screenwriting.  Nothing will give you a clearer description of the three-act dramatic structure than that.

You're not writing a script?  You're not writing a drama?  Yeah, you are.

Readers don't care, all they want is a good story?  That's how you create a good story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

People are Strange

Not when you're a stranger--I could find that song, it's by The Doors, right?--people can appear to be fine and then they surprise you by coming off the rails.

I had someone stalk me once.  Luckily not in a threatening way but it made me understand how easy it was for this person to lose their handle on clear thinking.  In the throes of this behavior, it makes sense.  All it requires is to step off the path and then everything else can be viewed through another prism.

No, this rumination is not apropos of nothing but that's the end of the rumination.

D600 w/ 40 mm

The D600 is an extraordinary camera.  From a technical standpoint, I'm not smart enough to know how the D4 is appreciably better for 4 X the price.  As I understand it, it's a more substantial body that can take being in the field better.

Yes I did drop my F once and that pretty much would have meant sending it into Nikon Repair but it was stolen a couple hours later so I never got the chance to know if it could have survived it.  I'm not on a safari or climbing Mt. McKinley.  I think my equipment is pretty safe.

From a personal standpoint, I took this photo, cropped it and uploaded it.  Even as wonderful as I thought the D7k was, I always threw some sharpening on it.  I would bump clarity, contrast and blacks.  (There's my secret revealed.)  What's here is an unprocessed image.  I'm not interested in trying to improve it.  I think this is good and leave it alone.

Maybe not every shot can be left so alone but it shouldn't be my responsibility to do what the camera's supposed to do.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

D600 Test Photo 2

This camera has an affinity for light.

D600 85 mm f 1.8

I sent this to a friend and she said "It looks almost 3D"

Followers of this blog, know I've been talking about a stripped down Nikon that would deliver the finest possible images for the lowest possible price.  This is that camera.  Nikon got it right.

You may not like the placement of the buttons, but at least, at the very least, discuss the quality of the images it produces.

If you can't take a remarkable photo with this camera, it's not the camera.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

D600 First Test Shot

It's not just a little bit better than the d7k, it's a lot better.

This is a raw image, taken with a 40mm Nikkor macro lens.

Unfortunately, it almost impossible to see on a blog/website how stunningly sharp this is.

It's basically the d7k body, a little bigger but not very.  It feels the same in the hand as to weight.  The buttons are all in relatively the same places.  It takes the same battery.  I took the chip and the battery out of the d7k when the 600 arrived so I could just go out and shoot.

It's happy with an FX lens or a DX which is framed in the viewfinder so you'll know how cropped down the image is.

I know there are nitpicky little things some people will glom onto and complain about but if you just want to go out and shoot and get a fantastic image, this camera will do it.  I don't know about shooting in caves or sporting events or hanging upside down off the Eiffel Tower--those people probably wouldn't be happy with anything.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used D7k?  I'll include the 55-200 zoom.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nikon D600

I actually don't know when it was formally released today or on the 11th but at any rate, today is the day I pre-ordered it from Amazon.  Why Amazon and not BH Photo?  Because I've returned stuff to Amazon before and it's really easy.  They're supposed to start shipping on the 18th but who knows how many people are ahead of me in the queue.

As with any Nikon all lenses will fit although older lenses will not be metered or have auto focus.  After I've said that I can tell you I have a Nikon lens that absolutely does not work on my D7k.  So YMMV.

My 40mm DX will work and my 85 FX 1.8 definitely will work so I got the body only.  It was still much more than the $1500 bandied about earlier in the year.

I'll take a bunch of test shots and if I don't fall in love, back it goes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How To Be Discovered

Some years ago a man who had written a movie you'd probably remember asked me about writing books.  He told me this story he wanted to write and I couldn't follow it, maybe it was something about super-powers and invisibility.  My agent gave it a definite nyetski.  Movie ideas don't translate into good books.

I think now they do.

Books are more like novelized movies than ever.  I won't name names but think about it.

There are so few ways to rise out of the multitude of books out there.  Some people don't think freebies work anymore.  My good friend thinks they do and runs them constantly.  Do reviews help?  Some say yes but if they're written by drunk trolls then no.  If they're all 5 star whether the book deserves it or not, readers are cynical.

Ya can't win but for losing!

What's the answer?  Be more Hollywood.  Seriously.  Have a high concept story (don't throw everything and the kitchen sink in, that's not high concept, that's the town dump) execute it relatively well, get a great cover, write a great blurb and wait.  People will show up.

Here's 1 definition of high concept Steve Kaire.

"I love high-concept books. A lot of the books I read and represent are high concept and get a lot of film interest. I define high concept as a premise that can be boiled down into one sentence and sets it apart from other stories by its unique hook or angle." –Paige Wheeler, literary agent

High concept is simple and unique.  It is different.  It's not another story about vampires or the zombie apocalypse unless you really have a new twist on it.

It's not about bumping up the gore factor or the porn scenes (altho erotica sells. it's still not high concept).

It doesn't always work but it works so much of the time that people want it.
The movie Speed worked.  Snakes on the Plane didn't.  It should have but no one remembers it now.  The title told the whole story, who had to watch the movie.  Jaws.  The Poseidon Story.

Come up with your own list.  It'll be educational.

If you want a lot of attention fast, this is the way to go.  High Concept.

(No I'm not being horribly shallow talking about movie ideas on the anniversary of 9-11.  I already rewatched the tapes of the morning news shows of the day, I already did my crying, and I'm still certain most people don't get that it's not over.  You can't choose peace when your enemy choses war.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Go Read About Screenwriting

While I was in California and I was in television, I never did a movie.  That's not to say I didn't try.

What does this have to do with digital  books?  Just about everything as far as I can tell.  The same techniques apply to both businesses.

Let's assume you are not writing great literature.  You're writing commercial fiction.
I had someone say they wanted to have their book discovered by Hollywood and turned into a movie.

That's a good goal. I don't think it's very easy when Hollywood is constricting and making increasingly uninteresting sh*t for the masses.  Don't blame me, check the box office stats on it.

But okay you want someone in Hollywood to find your book and maybe make it a cable movie.  Or a webmovie.
Whatever level you get to, you'll be happy, right?

Write a book that sounds like a movie.

Then pitch it like a movie.

Blurb it like a movie.

You want to write an ebook that will get noticed?  Do all of the above.

With one proviso--don't write off-genre like I do.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Worst Blogs and/or Websites

Black backgrounds.

Am I right?  Almost impossible to read.  If they used a bold type font in white, it would be better but they never think of that.  Sometimes they even use yellow.  I've seen blue.  I never bother to struggle I just leave.

Is there a hidden meaning in the choice of a black background?

Someone more knowledgeable about digital book sales than I assured me Christmas themed works sell well.
Great!  I need something that will sell!  Does it have to be a romance????  Yes.  Okay.  Thinking cap on.  Okay.  I'll cobble together a couple ideas that weren't happening and use them in concert and have a Christmas tale to tell.

I finished Bittersweet 1 and instead of jumping right into something with "meaning", I decided to do Christmas.  Oh yeah, I am so there.  And before 1000 words were written, I had the whole thing turned on its head.  But I like it so I'll have to finish it.  It'll be a novella so it won't be that time consuming.  Part of the time consuming is I'm making the mistake of attempting to illustrate it to some degree.  If only I could draw!    I do have pine cones left over from last year so I could take photos but I don't think that will work. 

So if you were wondering what I was doing and why I didn't show up here for a week, I was writing and designing and having other things happening that were very distracting.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Morning Thought Dump

August was a much better month for Kobo sales.  They still have a way to go on their basics like navigation.
I like knowing where the sale was but big blue blobs on the map are an interesting graphic but simply having it in text
Dream Horse-Canada
would be fine.
I like how BN does it.  It tells you what sold that day.
Unfortunate there's no running total.  We need the both.  What just sold TODAY and what is the MONTH total.
Has no one mentioned this to them?

I'm doing all the clean up work on Mounted.  No idea what I'll do next.  Eenie-meenie-mynie-mo would be as good as making a decision.

Isn't traditional publishing ridiculous?  Well ridiculous until they offer me a 6 figure deal, which they won't so I can very easily say they've become something bizarre and anachronistic.

The new Nikon D600 will likely be announced at some big shindig called Photokina on Sept 13.  The waiting list will stretch into next year.