Monday, December 12, 2011

Bag of Bones miniseries--fail

Ultimately--Bag of Bones

The largely unfortunate miniseries of the outstanding book by Stephen King left me with a taste of flat diet soda in my mouth. There were about three shocking, powerful scenes out of the whole four hours...and part of the problem, a LARGE part of the problem, was four hours. There simply was not time to develop the characters, let alone much of the storyline, in four hours. Bag of Bones is a long book. Stephen King writes long books. Sometimes they're unnecessarily long. In the case of Bag of Bones...perhaps the gravity of the story deserved the length. Even though I read the book multiple times and loved it, I felt zero connection to any of the characters in the miniseries except for Sara Tidwell. Jo Noonan, Mattie Devore, Max Devore, and Rogette Devore may as well have been cardboard cutouts. I had zero interest in any of them. Other than Max Devore, they had no backstory. Jo Noonan was a HUGE presence in the book, but all she did in the miniseries was ring bells, and Sara Tidwell's murdered child had almost no existence in the television version. There was not even an explanation of WHY the lake was called Dark Score Lake and the rest of Sara Tidwell's band and their particular place in history was completely ignored. This should have been a short series instead of a four hour confusing mishmash. There was one, literally one great and powerful scene. The rest of it was almost garbage.

I suppose my conclusion is that writers need to retain  as much creative control as possible over the film adaptions of their books, otherwise it's all going to go to utter tripe like Bag Of Bones and True Blood.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Observations on Stephen King's Bag of Bones, the Mini-Series, Part One


I knew by the commercials for this miniseries that it was not going to pack the punch of the book. I knew that there was entirely too much sex, racism, and rape for a prime-time cable channel. Yes, as one of my Twitter friends pointed out, this is the Walking Dead time slot, but the Walking Dead shies away from sex and most racial issues in a very cowardly way while having no problem whatsoever in splaying various degrees of rotting, ambulatory corpses across our screens. But that's the American Way, you see. We suck up the random violence and gore like mother's milk, but when it cames to *GASP* S-E-X and dark issues like racism and rape and sexual violence both random and domestic, we can't handle it. And the fact that we can't handle it is painfully evident from the sad, impotent version of Bag of Bones playing out these two nights on our televisions.

The errors thus far: Mrs. Noonan did not die in some sort of car accident. Mrs. Noonan died from a brain aneurysm while running to assist the victims of a car accident. Mr. Devore was FAR, far more terrifying and appalling in the books. Sara Tidwell's child was a boy. I'm assuming they changed the sex of the murdered child to female to somehow complement Mattie Devore's daughter and fit in with the curse on the town and all the children having similar names. I do applaud the supremely creepy scenes with the refrigerator magnets and the ringing of Bunter's bell. But. I am seeing two large problems with this mini-series.

Problem #1: Four hours is nowhere near enough time to do justice to the book. It should have been a short series, and preferably on HBO, where there is no need to sanitize the darkest elements of the story, like they did in the old Reader's Digest condensed books.

Problem #2: It's just much too clean. The book revealed, as Stephen King always reveals, the ugly, rotten, evil side of humanity. That is not coming out here yet and I fail to see how they could possibly pack it all into the second episode of the series. The book Bag of Bones is like The Color Purple amped up and with supernatural overtones. It hits you right in the face and drags you through the dirt with the characters. The book Bag of Bones did that. The mini-series is NOT doing that for me. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where I Write

This is a corner of the desk that my grandfather gave to me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcome To My World

I don't just want to tell you a story. I want to welcome you into my world. That's why I write such excessively long books. But I also write them so long for my own amusement, of course, because I enjoy it. I like feeling like I'm there. Come slowly into my world. The introductions are long, but after they are done, you'll forget where you were before.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Dear Fellow Writers,

There is no excuse for not backing up your work on a daily basis. That’s right, a DAILY basis. You have a variety of options ranging from free to inexpensive to not really that expensive, when you break it down by the month. It is unbelievable to me when I hear that a writer has lost a manuscript in progress because they haven’t backed up in weeks. BACK UP YOUR WORK. Here’s how.

1. Set up an email account that you don’t use for anything but backing up your work. Never share the address with anyone. Use that email account to email a copy of your work to yourself EVERY DAY, every file that you work on. Cost: FREE.

2. Dropbox. It’s a service that allows you to sync files between computers and even different users. You only get a small amount of storage space, but it’s enough for manuscripts. Create a “private folder” for your manuscripts. Cost: FREE.

3. USB/Flash drives. These are the little drives that plug into the USB ports on your computer. You can get one for around $8 at Walmart. Buy two, because like any other hardware, they can fail. Every night, back up your work to both drives. Preferably, you should select the option that allows you to keep both files and rename one “Manuscript 2″ so that you have an archive of each revision of your manuscript in case your latest file becomes corrupted. Keep your USB drives in a safe place, such as a fireproof lockbox. Hey, it’s your work, it’s your time, blood, sweat, and tears, so yes, it really is that important. COST: $8.

4. External hard drives. You can get a small one for around $60 that has enough storage space to back up your writing, photos, and music several times over. COST: $60.

5. Online backup services, such as Carbonite and Acronis. For $60 a year, Carbonite will give you unlimited backup space for one computer. Acronis gives you 250 GB for $50, or $5 a month. The advantage to Acronis is that it allows you to back up from up to 5 computers while Carbonite restricts you to backing up one. 250 GB is probably sufficient storage space for most users. These online backup services encrypt your files and store them on guarded servers. The initial backup can take a LONG time if you have a lot of stuff stored on your computer. After the initial backup, the online services only back up newly added files and files that are changed…such as the manuscript that you’re working on. They also store multiple past versions of each file that is updated, in case your current version becomes corrupted. If your hard drive fails or your computer is stolen, you can access your files from any computer with an internet connection and recover them. COST: $50-$60 per year.

Please, writers, please, choose at least one of the methods above and back up your work. Don’t put yourself through the heartache of losing a book or books because you didn’t take the time to back up. If you can afford it, get an external hard drive or sign up with an online backup service and back up your pictures and music as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Punctuation and Prepositions

My world has been turned upside down. It was drilled into my head in middle school English that one always puts two spaces after punctuation and that one never ends a sentence with a preposition. Now…both are acceptable. Next you’ll be telling me that Pluto isn’t a planet! So now, I have a LOT of extraneous spaces to delete from my manuscripts. I was told to try Libre Office’s find and replace feature to quickly fix that, but it didn’t get them all. So I have to do it by hand. Oy vey.

But at least now “Where y’all from?” is proper English, right?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twenty Years Ago, I Wrote This

I remember that I printed it in my high school's library and somehow forgot and left a copy in the printer.  The librarian found it and brought it to me, and told me that she was very impressed with my writing.  At the time I was very into fairies and urban fantasy.  I didn't edit this for grammar, although I wanted to.

     Shadow of a woman against the crumbling garden wall.

     Whisper of long skirts through the tall grass.  The budding roses swayed and bowed gently, as if someone were passing by.  The shadow, moving of its own accord, came and went with the movement of clouds across the sun.

     And in the darkness at the edge of the yard, where the wood began, a man stood, indistinct int he flickering sunlight that fell between the leaves.  He wore an odd costume:  a laced shirt with blowsy sleeves, a tunic-like vest, a short green cloak.  His hair was glossy black as a raven's wing, and held back from his think face by a crimson ribbon.  He stood so still that he seemed a part of the trees, of the forest;  a lean shadow in green and brown.  Sorrow was starkly evident in his green eyes.

     After a moment, the sound of a truck passing on the main road shattered the sleepy stillness of the early spring afternoon, and the yard was deserted once more...except for the shadow of a woman against the back wall of the old house.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Steve Jobs

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My First Library

There is a little library in my home town.  It's a red brick building within walking distance of my childhood home and the house where I live now.  When I was a young child, my grandfather used to take me to the library and help me carry out my brown paper grocery bag full of books.  When I was older, I rode my purple bike to the library, or walked.  There's a an old metal mailbox outside the library's front entrance.  The mailbox is painted green and is now the book return.  The library's double doors are heavy, dark wood that a kid has to make an effort to wrestle open.  Then there's a step up into the library, and the overwhelming smell of old books...a combination of mustiness and dust.  There is a wooden circulation desk with an office behind it, one librarian, three rooms of adult books, and one room of children's and young adult books.  When I was a child, they did not use the term "young adult".  If it wasn't a picture book, it was classified as "juvenile".

My high school friend, who now lives across the street from me, came over today and asked if I'd like to walk to the library with her and her young daughter.  I hadn't been to the library since I came back home.  I was afraid to go back because surely, it would all be different, all new, all perfect, and my beloved musty library with its shabby old Nancy Drew books would just be a memory.

But I walked in, and it was exactly the same.  I smelled library as soon as we walked through the doors.  I went straight to the children's/juvenile room and got down on my knees and there were my Nancy Drew books.  I took them off the shelf, one after the other, and found my name written on the date due cards in the back, with stamped dates from twenty-five years ago.

And magically, they were having a book sale, and if your name was on the date due card, you got the book for half off.  Unfortunately, the Nancy Drew books weren't for sale, but I did manage to find three books that I checked out all those years ago:

I went to the library so much that I didn't even have to write my last name.  Apparently, so did Jessica.

I signed up for a new library card but didn't actually get a card.  They're still using the same card catalogue version of filing.  The librarian said she just had to remember that I "had a card".

Some things never change, thank God.