Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bucket of Blood, 1959 & House of Wax, 1953 for Mod Movie Monday

Bucket of Blood, 1959 and House of Wax, 1953 for Mod Movie Monday

From now through Halloween, each week Mod Movie Monday at Tiki Lounge Talk will feature a new vintage horror movie for your viewing pleasure.
Stardust Mysteries
Murder Behind the Closet Door
Tiki Lounge Talk

Friday, September 10, 2010

Here's a little snippet from Chapter 3 of Murder Behind the Closet Door

They reached the edge of the property. There were brambles and weeds that hid what was left of an old rotted chain-link fence, parts of which still stood two feet high. They carefully picked over the weeds, shining both lights on their path. Rocco tore his pants on a piece of rusted fence, and let out a quiet but evil-sounding curse. Riggins did all he could not to laugh.
Ahead to the Right was a boarded up bungalow. The roof was partially caved in and the back porch had collapsed long ago, but the house still stood. There was a pile of scrap metal behind Slate’s garage that cast jagged, eerie shadows from Rocco’s light. Small dead trees and weeds obscured most of the house, but they could still make out “CONDEMNED” stenciled across each of the boards on the windows.
They made it through the thicket and headed for the old car. Riggins shined his light under the trunk, noticing a lot of rust and scale on the ground under it, and large dark patches on the cracked and worn concrete slab on which the rear of the car rested.
“See those dark spots?” He said.
“Yea, you think it’s old blood stains?”
“Could be.”
“After all these years? Could be oil spots too.”
“Could be.”
The car dipped at about a 15° pitch to the driver’s side due to the two flat tires. When they got closer, they could see that all of the glass was still in the windows, but each pane was so encrusted with grime that the light simply bounced off. Holes from the size of quarters to baseballs were rotted through all along the bottom of the fenders and doors. But it still held itself together.
And then they were at the trunk.
A cold sweat was breaking out all over Riggins. He hated this detail on any investigation, finding bodies of murder victims. It made him sick a couple of times, like the time he found the teenage prostitute hacked to death with a kitchen knife and stuffed in a trash can. But there would be no blood this time; if this guy was still in here, he was nothing but rags and bones. He hoped.
And of course there was a good chance there was nothing in there at all. After all, a junk car in a neighborhood like this is usually attacked by kids as soon as no one is looking. He thought about the Dodge 440 up the same street with no wheels or glass. He found it very odd this car was still intact, aside from the rust.
“I’ll hold the light…you use the crow bar. Shouldn’t be too hard…the trunk’s all rotted out around the lock,” Rocco said, taking a step back. Apparently he didn’t like this detail either.
“Ok, here goes.” It only took one pry of the bar to snap the rusted metal of the 30 year-old sedanette like peanut brittle. The springs were still good though, and the trunk popped up fast and easy.
It was the first time the trunk was opened in 20 years.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stephen King Fans love Murder Behind the Closet Door

Spoke with another satisfied reader of Murder Behind the Closet Door today. She's only 70-some pages into the book and is already hooked. Two comments she made gave me a very happy feeling inside. First, she said my writing was very descriptive, to the point that she could see the characters, the places they lived in, the Wildwood boardwalk. Second she compared my style to Stephen King's early works, which was not only a compliment by itself, it also made me smile because that's exactly the style I was going for in this book. Spooky, dark, mysterious with surprises in every chapter.

She also said she envied my ability to write. Another great compliment, and from a professional in the media industry, too. I thanked her a zillion times, but didn't go into detail as to how I got to this point in writing: practice. I've been writing for close to 30 years now, from when I was in school (I wrote several short stories and a full length musical-comedy before I graduated high school), through the 1990s where I wrote for The Atlantic City Press' At The Shore entertainment guide to the dozen or show comedy-murder mysteries for Stardust Productions. Along the way (and through the present) I've also done commercial and advertising copywriting, from tag lines to multiple-page brochures. And of course there are the blogs, including Tiki Lounge Talk.com and The Retro Tiki Lounge on Facebook.

Being a writer is more than just being creative. You've got to get those creative ideas down in a natural, flowing form that people will enjoy reading. It has to make sense, have a purpose, and be fun to read. Practice makes perfect. Knowing decent grammar and syntax helps too. When you can do all that, then you're a writer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jumping back into writing

The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy...from being extra busy at the Ad Agency to caring for dying puppies, I haven't had time (or the energy) to do my daily writing. As is often the case with writers, I was on a role and am finding it hard to get back in the groove.

I've got the ideas in my head. I've got the plan of action. It's just opening the file and writing things down that can be a drag after two weeks. So I've made a new plan.

I'm not going to write today.

I've got a bunch of things I want to get out of the way first, and I'll get them all done today. That leaves tomorrow, Labor Day, free to do anything I want...including writing. So that's the plan. A day off from writing on my own terms. Tomorrow I sit down and write the beginning of the end of my new book, Murder on Tiki Island.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wish I had an Advertising Budget

Absolutely, publishing a book today is a miracle dream for people like me. It's marketing it that's a challenge.
When I was a kid (the last few years before the home computer began changing the world) getting anything published meant typing up a manuscript double-spaced on 20lb paper and sending it out snail mail to agents to read. They'd read a few pages and give a yea or neigh, and if you wanted it back you had to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. There were no public photocopiers, and when they finally came along in the late 1970s copies were 25 cents each. So copying a 300-page manuscript meant $75. Kookie.

I remember I wanted to turn a short story I had written into a book. Just one book, just for myself. I didn't even have a decent typewriter so I tried to lay out the pages by writing the story in calligraphy on parchment paper. Well, my hand shake a lot, even then. That didn't work out so well. Somewhere in a box I have several shaky pages of handwritten story along with a cover I tried to use from another old book. Oh well.

Fast-forward to 2008. Internet-based printhouses are advertising printing for self-publishing authors at incredibly low rates. Instead of buying 1000 books at $4.00 each, you can get a short-run of high-quality books for as little as $5 each. So you can upload your Word file to their site, design a cover online and buy 100 books for $500. Still sort of out of the money for most of us, but a great improvement.

Fast-forward to 2010. Amazon very sneakily has started their own publishing print works to support their web store. Basically they realized they could make just as much money off of authors buying copies of books as readers. So they launch CreateSpace.com, and offer aspiring authors the opportunity to design their own books and covers and upload the files quickly to the site with $0 money out of pocket. That's right, I said $0. Once the files are reviewed by CS, the author simply has to buy a proof copy...generally around $4.00 to $12.00...and that's it. You get your proof which is a full-quality printing of your book. Done. Ok the proof and start selling your books one-off at no cost to you. In fact, you make royalties every time a book is sold. Not a lot, but something.


Now here's the problem: I wish I had an advertising budget. Now that Murder Behind the Closet Door is in printing, is available for purchase online, and will soon be available in Kindle format, the only thing holding me back from making it a best seller is getting people to find it.

I've done a lot with social networking and have sold several copies through that route. But if I could spend a few hundred dollars a month on marketing, I think I could really get it to take off. Of course I'd lose a lot more money than I'd make, but the point is to get the book out there, get it in the hands of people who can get it looked at by agents or publishers to get a mainstream book deal. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

In all modesty I now know the book is damned good. I've talked to dozens of people who have read it, most who don't know me from Adam, and they've all had great things to say about it. Some have even left reviews on Amazon.com...all great, four and five stars. So it's commercially viable. It's a great story with fun characters and the subject matter has a wide appeal. All I need now is the right set of eyes to fall on it.