Villains

I heard an author on TV talking about his book I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). In the book the author examines the modern interpretation of villainy. One of the discoveries he said he made was that villains know the most and care the least. I thought that sounded like a clever definition until I started thinking about it. I haven’t read his book, I’ve only heard an interview with the author. Given that, I would like to modify his definition. I think villains know the most and care the least about everyone else. Their wants and desires are uppermost, so in effect, they care the most about themselves. What they want supersedes what everyone else wants. Heroes, on the other hand, usually put other people’s needs ahead of their own. They let go of their wants and desires for the better good. They are willing to sacrifice their dream and goal in order to help someone else. So a possible definition for a hero would be someone who, once they know everything, is willing to sacrifice their desires for the good of someone else or for the good of the whole. A simple example would be Lightning McQueen in the animated movie Cars. He sacrificed his desire to be the youngest car to win the Piston Cup in order to help the retiring champ finish the race so he wouldn’t end up forgotten and bitter like Doc...
The Danger of Words

The Danger of Words

I grew up in California. For most of my childhood I went barefoot or wore thongs. Yes, we called them thongs. It wasn’t until I moved to Ohio when I was twelve that I ever heard the term flip flops. And it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that thongs was mis-appropriated by the lingerie companies to mean something entirely different, although there is a vague design similarity between the items. That’s my back story prior to taking a walk today with a guy (for professional reasons, and no, I’m not a streetwalker). Since it was in the 90s I dressed appropriately, including a pair of black thongs. After we walked a ways, I tripped. This is fairly normal behavior for me. I inherited the klutz gene from my dad. I can still remember my mother coming to me panic-stricken telling me to quickly distract my dad as he was in the garage with the hood up on the car. She was afraid he’d jiggle something and break it and she needed the car that afternoon. He was also known to cut himself changing lightbulbs. Nuff said. Back to my walk. Luckily my trip wasn’t of the face-planting variety. It was just a small stumble, but it’s always embarrassing when that happens around a stranger. My mouth took over and here’s what I said: “Those darn thongs. They sometimes make me trip. It’s my dog’s fault. He likes to eat my thongs and by the end of summer I have to buy what’s still available. These are men’s thongs and they are a bit wider which is why...

Using Experiences in Writing

I had a disturbing experience last Sunday. I heard a bunch of coyotes howling behind my house. (The picture I’m showing is one I took several winters ago) It was still daylight and I went outside to listen to them. I had been expecting the coyotes to show up soon. We’re having a bunny explosion in the neighborhood and we’re on the coyotes’ regular circuit. They come and take care of the bunnies and mice then they move on to their next feeding stop. I usually see them every three months or so. I enjoy the sight of wildlife—there’s a lot of it in my area. And I try to be practical about it. Yes, the bunnies are cute, but unchecked, there would quickly be hundreds of them. I’m very respectful of the coyotes, and give them their space. I also never let my dog out alone in the dog run. He’s just small enough that they might go for him. Enough back story. Last Sunday, while I was listening to the coyotes howl, and enjoying their songfest, the howls suddenly changed and I heard a dog’s bark mixed in. Next followed a vicious fight that ended with the dog being killed. It’ll be a long time before I get those sounds and cries of pain out of my head. It was so fast, there was nothing I could do. I didn’t know exactly where they were. I could just hear the sounds. I felt such horror and frustration that I couldn’t stop it. I wanted to yell at the coyotes to focus on the bunnies and leave the...

Movie Trailers

I hate it when movie trailers give away the entire plot. How’s that supposed to make me want to see the movie? There are no surprises left. If I know the story why pay $10 to see it? Then there are the times you see a movie you were looking forward to and realize afterwards that the only good parts were in the trailer. That feels like a ripoff. In those cases I think they are trying to make some money on the movie before the word gets out it’s crap. I recently saw a movie trailer for Paranoia. It sounds like a cross between Wall Street and Duplicity with a strong cast. I put it on my list to see. Then I went to the movies on Friday to see Wolverine (great movie, BTW) and saw another trailer for Paranoia. This time it included a big plot twist. At first I thought, Oh, cool. But then about a second later I thought, Wait a minute. That just gave the whole movie away. It really turned me off. It’s taken all the surprise out of the story for me. Curiously, my friend, Hilari, said it made her more inclined to see the movie. Before, she wasn’t that interested as she didn’t feel the characters had much to recommend them—remember this is about big business, corporate secrets, and greed. I like dark characters so that didn’t affect my interest in seeing the movie. Plus it has a strong cast and I trust certain actors not to sign on for a flop (yes, I know everyone has them in their past...

Getting Ideas

Earlier this year I was struggling to think of a new novel idea. I had been focusing on apps for the past year and a half and I felt it was time to get back into novel writing. But having been working in a different field for so long, I found it very difficult to change gears. I couldn’t think of an idea. I didn’t panic right away. Usually I get ideas from things I see—newspaper articles, news on the TV, a story I don’t like and how I would change it, etc. Generally it’s a buffet of ideas and I pick which one seems the tastiest to work on. Only this time the cupboard was bare. I figured I just needed to open myself up to ideas. I hadn’t had my mind working in that way for too long. I was busy with freelance work so I wasn’t too concerned, but then I realized several months had gone by and I still didn’t have an idea. Now I was starting to get worried. What if I never thought of another good novel idea? Okay, I realize that’s ridiculous, but there is still that little worm of doubt working away at my self-confidence. I decided to change tactics. Instead of waiting to be inspired by an idea, I would simply think of one. I went back to my old idea file to see if anything looked promising. Unfortunately, I had used most of the ideas that were worth developing and my older idea file seemed to have vanished. I think it’s on one of my old external harddrive backups...