Sunday, January 31, 2016

Feel the Beat: How to Propel Plot

I did a reading in New York this past week as a part of the Mysterious Bookstore launch for Orchard Grove, my new standalone noir novel from Polis Books. After the reading, a fan asked me how I'm able to balance my dialogue with the prose while pushing along the plot so swiftly. It wasn't an easy question to answer. In many ways, it was like trying to find an answers for why do our hearts beat? Or why life?

Ask one hundred authors how they go about writing something and you'll get one hundred different answers. But for me, it's a matter of rhythm. Of creating a specific beat to the writing, much like a drummer laying down the back beat behind a particular piece of music. I'm able to make this analogy because I'm a drummer. And when I'm drumming, I feel the beat more than I hear it.

It's the same with writing.

I'm able to create 3,000 new words a day, not because I grind through it, but instead because of an ability to create a specific rhythm or beat that I feel inside my body and that is made manifest on the paper (or digital screen of my laptop). The steady beat comes about by a balancing act of description and dialogue. Never should one overtake the other or the entire piece of music will crash and burn. The reader senses the rhythm, and whether they end up liking the story or not, they will almost always point out, "Holy crap, I just could not put the book down."

Sometimes I'm writing to a frantic punk rock beat and other times, I'm writing to a more creative, improvised jazz rhythm. Sometimes it's funk, and other times, I'm writing to a slow, lovely but sad ballad like The Long and Winding Road, strings and choral voices bringing tears to my eyes.  

Looking for a way not only to write more words per day, but to create novels and stories that are unputdownable? Think in terms of rhythm. Feel the beat, man...Feel the beat. 



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Obama Cries, But We All Feel the Pain

Appeasement in Syria, failing to act on a line drawn in the blood-soaked sand. Russian military taking action in defense of the brutal Assad regime. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, and other allies abandoned, left to go it alone. A devastating treaty with our enemy Iran which guarantees their acquiring a nuclear device sooner than later. Isis killing Christians, children, the handicapped, with all the efficiency and inspired hatred of the Nazis. Al Qaeda on the rise once more in Afghanistan. Europe strangled by Syrian refugees some of whom have already been arrested for raping several German women on New Years Eve. France reeling from two ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks. An ISIS attack in San Bernadino California. And now, North Korea tests a small H-Bomb...

And yet our pillar of strength...our crying.
He's crying over gun control in the wake of a world on the verge of total calamity, and the outbreak of World War III.

Where were your tears, Mr. President, when 32 years old Kate Steinle was murdered by the bullet of an illegal immigrant in San Fransisco a year ago? Where were your tears for James Foley when ISIS beheaded him on You Tube (you went golfing). Where were your tears when so many were slaughtered by ISIS at the Paris Charlie Hebdo headquarters (you sent James Taylor in your stead). Where were you these past eight years when black youths are dying by the dozens sometimes on a weekly basis in your home state of Illinois from guns purchased on the black market (no amount of background checks will ever stop that violence...the background checks will only make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families against criminals, terrorists, and tyranny)?

But yesterday, instead of tending to the grave issues that threaten the very security not only of the US but the globe, you enact feeble gun control measures during a theatrical political performance in the in White House East Room in which you cried real tears. Perhaps the tears are truly heartfelt, and the response of a man who hates to see innocent life so senselessly snuffed out. We all cry for those dead children in Sandy Hook and their parents. Your tears are not unique.

But perhaps you're crying for different reasons. Perhaps you're crying over the dismal failure of your policies both foreign and domestic, over your failure to recognize the enemy for what it is...radical Islam. Perhaps you're crying because you have no choice but to take the weak route of executive action, because the American people do not like your policies as evidenced by the Republican take-over of congress. Perhaps you're crying, because during your tenure as Commander in Chief, Smith & Wesson stock has risen more than 900%. Maybe you're crying because you feel so utterly alone in your mission to transform America into something none of us recognize.

I wonder how many tears you would be crying if you could bypass the constitution entirely by
--Revoking free speech (Political Correctness)
--Taking away our guns and abolishing the 2nd Amendment (a tactic utilized by dictators ranging from Stalin to Hitler)
--Relying on a propaganda driven left wing media (The New York Times, MSNBC, etc.)
--The undermining of our police force (New York City, Ferguson, etc).
--Pitting black against white (Black Lives Matter)
--Gross expansion of the Democratic power base (amnesty for illegals, open borders, the taking in of unvetted refugees, the welfare state, Obamacare, etc.)
--Undermining the safety of the United States by empowering our enemies (release of Gitmo detainees, the swap of deserter Bowe Bergdhal for the Taliban 5, the Iran Nuclear Deal, etc.) 

But then, these things are already happening.
So I don't see why you're crying.

Perhaps you're crying because while your Gun Control press conference was taking place, the locks on the cells of 17 Gitmo detainees who are said to be so dangerous, you will not release their names until they have reached their new destinations for fear that the American people will rise up against the measure, was also occurring.

Maybe the stress and strain of it all is just too much. Maybe you just can't take it anymore. Perhaps when the tears start to flow so freely from the one person we all depend upon for strength and resolve in leading the free world against so many dangers, we are all in big trouble. Maybe we should all be shedding tears right about now.