Saturday, August 20, 2016

IDEAS TIME TRAVEL


Sister Folio and I wrote a treatment and beginning of a script called Chartres
 
When we pitched it, we were told it sounded derivitive of Di Vinci Code. We'd created it before the book came out. I've heard many authors talk about this happening to them.  It seems ideas leak out into the air and get caught by others.  
 
Another of our scripts, No One Asked the River, takes place in China, a whipper-snapper producer said, "China? Nobody cares to watch a Chinese themed or located movie." The very next year Crouching Tiger came out, then House of Flying Daggers, Kung Fu Soccer, etc - big hits. Wouldn't it be ironic if that same producer called No One Asked the River derivative now? 

 
Ideas time travel.

We need to get our work out there when it's wanted.  If only we could know exactly when that is.

Has this ever happened to you?  If so, please share your experience with

the Inkpot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Quirky Props for Characters - Bizarre Stuff For Your People


There are many places you can get ideas for personal belongings that set your characters apart.

When I fly United, the greatest source of entertainment is the Sky Mall Magazine. 

I can’t believe what wise guys invent and others, less wise, buy.  Writers, take note; a quirky character can own quirky things.  Sky Mall is full of inspiration. On the most recent trip, gone was my favorite - the Lawn Yeti - which always made me question the mindset of crypto zoologists. 
The new Sky Mall featured improved items to thrill those-with-everything who crave unnecessary and ludicrous gadgets. 

Appropriately, I listened to Madonna’s Material Girl as I thumbed through the catalogue and saw a blow up thing that you’re supposed to lean on, not your face, your whole body.  On the next page, I learned I could rest secure in the knowledge that I could make a perfect pop-up egg in an electric Eggmaster – like it’s hard to use a pan????  Then to complement it, page 25 offered Environmentally “Green Gourmet Cookware.”  Really?  Must we be P.C. even when we cook?

Since much of my writing involves food as a theme, I thought something like that could come in handy for an oddball character.

 

HAVE A HIPSTER CHARACTER?
I turned the page and puzzled over a faceless watch  -  a wrist band where the time shows up on the links of the watch band.  Why? I asked myself. Haven’t all the gear-head, gadget-loving people moved on from watches altogether?

 

Then there came the Miocrodermabrasion System that will clear those pesky pores, featuring a pore-sized vacuum straw, no kidding!

Great for a spurned wife seeking a new lover or a desperately insecure teen maybe?

If pores weren’t your problem but your butt was, the Magic Benefit Panty promised to give those who are butt-less a seriously great bubble butt.  This is quite important when dancing these days…especially if you are shaking you stuff to the namesake song: Bubble Butt.
The last one truly confused me – a shirt with pockets under the armpits.  I could understand it if it was meant to hide a container of deodorant.  But I’m sorry, a passport, jewelry, and credit cards under your arms?  Really?  It advised me to put my cash there.  Really?  Who’d want it after it’s been to Sweat Heaven and back?   If your character wants one, it’s called a Compression Security Travel T-Shirt.  With seven (yes seven!) hidden pockets, it’s only $69.95.  But they don’t offer reimbursement for the pain of scraped and chapped underarms.  I can see a character suffering after wearing such a thing for a few hours as he perspires heavily as the bad guy sits next to him with a dinner knife aimed at his ribs.
 
GOT A NERD TO OUTFIT?
 
Sky Mall isn't the only place to discover quirky belongings for your characters.  At Uncommon Goods you can find ideas for outfitting your nerdish secondary character.  He might like a ray gun sculpture which can be had there for only $170.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Or a skateboard stool...  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEALTHY CHARACTERS?
And for your wealthy couple a map made of license plates.  They'd only need to fork out $3,900
 

If one ignores the other, maybe he hides in an ostrich pillow.
 

 
 
 
 
 




Or wastes money on a Back To The Future Flux Capacitor!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Caticorn Cat Unicorn Shower Curtain?
 
FOODIE CHARACTER?
 
Being the foodie that I am, I was especially attracted to the Spam and Ketchup cookbooks.  Each only sets your cook back about $10
 
And if your character is a low budget foodie, maybe he has a $13 Wilton 'Football' Novelty Cake Pan.
 
 
 
ROMANCE CHARACTER?
For your kinky romance character the handy dandy Baby Banana Toothbrush with Handle.

SCENTS:
Because you also want to engage your readers senses, they also sell cookie dough or zombie cologne.
 
 
TEEN CHARACTERS?
 
ModCloth will thrill your quirky teen with a taco purse
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                              a jaws necklace
 
 
and math leggings for your genius cheerleader.
 
 
 
Have fun tooling around on these and other quirky gift sites for props. They are great places to find the little fun belongings that bring characters alive. Do you know of any cool places to find prop ideas? 
    
 -----Inky
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 


 




Saturday, April 30, 2016

What’s Your Loot? Remember Book of the Month Club?


If someone handed you a box and told you there’s loot inside custom chosen just for you.  What would you imagine the contents would be?

[Books perhaps?  All your favorite genres?]
 
When you were a kid, did you ever wish your birthday came more than once a year?  How about once a month? 
 
Ready to commit $20-150/month to have unexpected goodies with a theme mailed to you every month?  It’s the new book of the month club.  They are subscription boxes. And I’m not talking about the Dollar Shave Club.
 
These little monthly “gifts” offer a general smattering of items each month, gear related to your interests.

 
[Like a book you choose because of your interests.  I remember my father getting Books of the Month-The Godfather, The Happy Hooker, Joy of Sex.  I wonder if he had a secret life.]
 
One of my sons has rated wine choices in his monthly delivery. The other son has, on top of that, delivered goodies targeted toward hipster guys-Bespoke Post.  Among other funky, foodie items, he got gourmet salts and squid ink which he used to take his homemade pasta dish to the next level.  He chooses from a short list, but many of these subscription services offer boxes of awesomeness filled with random surprises.
[like a great book!]
The possibilities are endless now that buying on line is standard practice and shipping costs are negligible.  We’re talking about year-round Christmas for all ages.

[Do we not love to go into a bookstore and browse, collecting a handful of stories we hadn’t planned on getting?]

There’s Birchbox for guys, delivering a monthly selection of grooming and lifestyle products, from face cleaner to bow ties.

Awesome Pack thrills big kids and families with board games, plush toys and activities.

Some subscription boxes are higher end--$100 and up--like Wil Wheaton Quarterly Co. curated by celebrities, style experts, authors and bloggers. You might even open up to a Dungeons & Dragon starter set.  Carrots for new parents surprises with books and toys for $120/box. 

Some are more focused like TeeBlox and Once Upon a Tee targeting fans of Doctor Who and The Legend of Zelda with officially licensed t-shirts; Brick Loot specializing in building items like legos; for college kids, a care package with snacks and household items called Pijon; BarkBox for dogs; NatureBox for snackers [popular with high Coloradans?]; Tasting Room for wine; and Kiwi Crate for 3-7 year olds who like craft projects. And one I would have loved as a kid, Tinker Crate, for older kids’ science projects.

GET YOUR GEEK ON!

The trend seems to be all the rage among geeks and gamers, who have flocked to Lootcrate, 1Up, Geek Fuel, Geek Me Box, ComicBoxer, Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty, Nerd Box.
 
 
Power Up Box, HeroCrate, Super Loot ZBox, Comic-Con Box, IndieBox. Super Loot and ZBOX from Zavvi and VillainCrate.
[Really want to invite VILLAINS into your house?]
 
 
What do the Geeks and Gamers who pay for them get?
 
[Just like a book, they have to crack it open and dip in.]
 
What the Geeks can expect to find:  South Park gear, Nintendo exclusive t-shirts, Marvel, Star Wars, DC Comics and Pokemon figures, prints and figurines, and Horror Collectibles
 
[…which made me wonder if it all the elements are legal.]
 
These thingies of the month clubs are not companies unique to the U.S.; if you are in Australia, you can order up Box 51 and Epic Crateness.  Hero Box.  
 
My favorite company name is Bento Box.... clever.

 
They claim to use a panel of experts to pick comic issues around a theme each month, that the value of each box is at least $60. But the monthly rates: $20 (1 mo.), $18.34 (3 mos.), $17.50 (6 mos.) Shipping:  $5 in the U.S. / $12 to Canada
Some are aimed at female geeks:  Fan Mail from who you may receive a Spider Man necklace and a Superman Comic, Gamer Girl Monthly (which offers exactly what it sounds like),
Instead of reading about your favorite manga or movie character, you can wear him in the form of a t-shirt.

Friend Alicia Howie enjoys her $20/month with S&H subscription to one of the most popular subscription box companies, Lootcrate, especially her Labyrinth t-shirt.  I wonder if Merle Haggard and Prince have t-shirts in any company’s box of loot this month?

What would be in your ultimate loot box?  Mine would definitely have gourmet food items, books, yellow pads, and a great pen.

      --- Inkpots

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Grain of Salt


Claire Walters, a local writer specializing in travel and food brought up a topic on the Boulder Media Women loop that caught my attention: those articles you see in magazines that don't appear to be paid advertising but are. You may, for example see an actual paid-ad off to the side of the article.  At the very least the article itself touts the product and gives contact info. The point is, the article would likely not be in the magazine if the exposure hadn't been remunerated.  YS and Boulder Lifestyle are two local examples.  But companies like Subaru and chambers of commerce have them in the form of official visitors' guides.  You have likely read many of these articles that aren't marked as advertising.  They are essentially quid pro quo. 

Our local magazines are full of advertorials. If it's not the actual point of the magazine, it's a matter of survival. I take all profiles of restaurants and other local businesses with a grain of salt (the origins of that phrase is interesting). If it weren't for these pseudo-journalism stories I might not have otherwise known there was such a person/restaurant in our midst.  I'm all about capitalism.  Though I'm unlikely to buy based on advertising, I might do the research to see if I'd like to know more.

You could say this is on the ethical edge. Sponsored content is deceptive to the extent it doesn't announce what it is....just as a variety of TV media pretend to be news. There will be readers who don't understand the difference, just as there will be people who trust the biggest ads in the yellow pages, assume a billboard is proof of value, and that Mikey liking his cereal is an endorsement.
 
And BTW "a grain of salt" was part of a poison antidote. Threats involving the poison should then be taken "with a grain of salt," with skepticism.
 
How do you feel about articles that are really paid advertisements?
 
--- From the Inkpot

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rocky Mountain Railroad Club



Presentations 'R' Us?  Not exactly, but Dick and I have been putting the finishing touches on a new PowerPoint presentation for the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club.  On February 16, 2016 we'll talk about Howard Fogg's art career and his service with the 359th Fighter Group during WWII. 

Oh, and we'll share one of Howard's elusive recordings from his Talking Giants album!

The presentation is open to the public and starts at 7:30p.m. at:

Christ Episcopal Church
2950 South University
Denver, CO

See you there!



You can learn more about the club at:  http://www.rockymtnrrclub.org/club.htm






Sunday, January 3, 2016

Voice: Your "Song" and How to Use it to Develop Characters

Beginning tomorrow I teach a month-long class for Kiss of Death, a group under the larger Romance Writers of America.  We'll communicate through an on-line yahoo loop.  I look forward to "meeting" new authors and helping other writers take a look at their own writer voices. 

The class is called:
Voice: Your "Song" and How to Use it to Develop Characters 

http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/node/108


I'll report back about the experience at the end of January.

- Inkpot

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ask Your Beta Reader


It helps a reader to know what you are concerned about. Here are some question you might want to ask so you can get actionable feedback on your book:

- What's the one word you'd use to describe each character?
- Who was your favorite character?
- Favorite scene?
- On which page do you think you know what the story will be about?
- What do you wish were different in chapter one?
- What's your favorite Chapter?
- Where did you skim?
- Why?
- Where did you cringe?
- Why
- Where did you cry/gasp/laugh?
- Why?
- What was too predictable?
- What do you consider the dark moment?
- Were you satisfied by the end?
- Why?

You'll notice there are many whys... that's because it is much more helpful to know WHY something is good or bad so you can go back and do more or less of that thing.

Remember to thank your Beta Reader!

Good editing!

From the Inkpot