Tag Archives: Jaws

Blood in the Water #FREE This Weekend

The 89th Academy Awards Ceremony – that’s the Oscars to you and me – will take place this Sunday and in celebration of this momentous occasion I am making my latest novel Blood in the Water available for FREE download all weekend!

bitw-cover-front

What is the connection between Blood in the Water and the Oscars you ask?

Well, in addition to being the basis for a future Best Picture Winner, it has loads of connections!!!

First, the main character in the story is named Bob Oscarson, but he goes by the nickname Oscar.

oscar

Not enough for you?

How about this…in the story there are sharks – and as we all know Jaws (a movie about a shark) won 3 Oscars…Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Music. It was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (Damn you Jack Nicholson).

jaws-collage

 

The Oscars will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy has interviewed Oprah Winfrey on his show, and Oprah once hosted a famous book club – so there’s that. (We won’t get into how she never promoted one of my books…)

book-club

Blood in the Water is a novel, and many Oscar winning movies have been based on novels.

Blood in the Water is FREE this weekend (I may have already mentioned that) and you can watch the Oscars for free as well!

free

 

As you can see – the connections are numerous (if not tenuous) – so don’t hesitate…get your FREE copy of this future Oscar winning story today! (or tomorrow, or Sunday – but not Monday, that will be too late!)

reading

As always – thank you for reading (and I’d like to thank the academy…)

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How Many Tools are in Your Writing Toolbox?

In the world of professional baseball, teams send scouts to colleges (sometimes even high schools) to evaluate young talent.

There are five aspects of the game that these scouts look for, and naturally, the more areas a player excels at, the higher he is rated—they are hitting for power, hitting for average, fielding, throwing and speed.

scouts

A player who demonstrates proficiency in all five of these areas is rare, and is referred to as a five-tool-player.

Bo Jackson, Mike Schmidt and Kirby Puckett are a few examples of such elite players.

Naturally, it isn’t necessary to be a five-tool player to be successful in Major League Baseball, but obviously it is to a player’s advantage to possess strength in as many of the five as possible.

So it is, too, with writing.

Bo

You don’t have to be a five-tool-writer to be successful, but you should work to excel at as many of them as possible. In the ever-changing world of independent publishing they will all serve you well.

What are these tools, you ask…

Well, there is no official scouting report naming them that I am aware of, but I have compiled a list that I think are key skills all writers should strive to possess.

They are:

 

  • Coming up with a good concept

I call this the What if idea…every good book starts with a great what if. For example – What if a giant shark staked a claim off the shores of a small New England town and terrorized the residents?

In my opinion…the what if is the foundation of the story – and like any building, a story is only as good as the foundation upon which it is built.

  • Knowing how to turn a good concept into a good story

Once you’ve got your concept, the next trick is turning it into a good story. You’ll need to develop good characters, give them obstacles to overcome and a journey to complete – all without losing sight of your awesome what if.

snoopy writing

  • Writing a first draft that contains all the proper elements of a good book

I don’t believe in formulas when it comes to anything creative, least of all writing…However – there are certain guidelines you should follow when writing your book. There are dozens of websites and blogs offering in-depth analysis to help you. They’ll tell you all about tent poles, conflict, dialogue, plot points, pinch points, and everything else you should know about. Again – I don’t consider these things to be rules, but they are, at the very least, worthwhile suggestions.

  • The ability to work well with your editor

Probably the biggest problem area for authors – of all levels. Let’s be honest…we spend months, maybe years, writing a masterpiece, and some glorified English teacher who has never written anything more detailed than a resume is going to tell us to butcher it?

The short answer…YES!

edit

It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You sit there for an hour looking for a certain piece and somebody walks up and, after two minutes, picks up the piece and drops it in. Fresh eyes…they make a huge difference and the as the writer, sometimes we are just too close to the work to see the flaws – and believe me, there are flaws.

  • Marketing skills

This is probably the most difficult concept for writers to warm to. Not in the same sense as writers disliking editors – but in the sense that too many writers have the attitude that their masterpiece will sell itself. The reality is the exact opposite. Your book might be the next Gone With the Wind or Harry Potter, but unless you hand it to Steven Spielberg personally, and he reads it, and loves it. Nobody will ever hear about it. The number of books published every day is mind boggling, so if you don’t get out there and push it, your sales numbers will be less than spectacular.

I’m not trying to discourage you.

On the contrary I’m trying to help you. I want every independent author out there, myself included, to be wildly successful.

I’m also not saying that the five tools I’ve outlined above are all you need to be successful, but they’ll help.

It should be noted that I am, by no means, an expert.

What you have just read is merely my opinion – and I welcome any additions, alterations or suggestions to make this blog more useful.

Let’s help each other.

help each other

 

As always – thank you for reading

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New Study: Movies Can Save Your Relationship (not really, but here’s a fun survey)

Many of the articles I write begin as stray thoughts that occur to me while driving. I don’t know why, but for some reason driving puts me into a semi-meditative state and I think about things that I ordinarily wouldn’t consider.

Today’s installment is just such an example.

It began with the question…“If I were stranded on an island, which ten movies would I want to have with me?”

island

I know what you’re thinking…”If you were stranded on an island, wouldn’t you be more concerned with getting off the island than watching movies?”

Perhaps, but for the purposes of this article, this is an island with electricity, plenty of food, a high-def TV and DVD Player.

Anyway – coming up with my ten movies was a piece of cake, but then I had another thought…

“What if I was stranded on this island with a member of the opposite sex?”

Putting aside the obvious implications…what movies would they bring along?

How would the two lists compare?

Would the “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” thing come into play? Surely our movie selections would lead to conflicts.

venus and mars

Did either of us think to bring popcorn?

I know – deep stuff.

Anyway – I decided to conduct a very un-scientific poll to get a general idea of how bad it might be.

So I polled six men and six women and asked them to list their “Top 10 Desert Island Movies”.

My test subjects were chosen at random and none were told of the other’s choices. They were each sent an email with the exact same question – “As quickly as you can list ten movies that you would want to have with you if you were stranded on an island (obviously this island has electricity)”

I was very curious about the results – would I get one set of lists containing “shoot ’em up” movies and another set containing “chick flicks”?

Would everybody be able to list 10 movies? (two of my subjects couldn’t.)

How drastic would the differences be?

Would there be any duplication?

How many different genres would be represented?

This information has absolutely no sociological value. Come to think of it, it has no value of any kind, except that it occupies my thoughts while I drive – and it gives me something to write about.

Relax – I have no intention of listing 100+ movies for you to read through…I’d just like to point out some of the interesting findings the survey yielded.

There were 105 different titles named – covering 14 genres.

Men listed 58 different movies while women picked 50.

Only two movies were chosen by both men and women – Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Green Mile.

The most commonly named genre was comedy with 25 selections.

Most common by men was comedy (18 times) and the most common by women was drama (10 times). I gather from this that men would prefer to laugh while the women want to get, well, dramatic.

Surprisingly, at least to me anyway, was the fact that only five movies were picked by more than one person.

raiders jaws2Raiders of the Lost Ark was picked by three people (two men, one woman).

The Green Mile was named twice, once by a man and once by a woman.

Jaws and Saving Private Ryan were each listed by two men and Castaway was listed by two women.

Here’s an interesting observation;

There were three movies chosen that were about people being stranded on an island; Castaway, Six Days and Seven Nights and The Swiss Family Robinson.

Perhaps these people (all women, by the way) thought they could use those movies to gather ideas to help survive.

When it came to which types of movies were selected by the different genders there wasn’t anything extremely surprising.

Men chose war movies four times – women none. Same with sports movies, men four – women zero.

The romantic comedy (aka “chick flick”) was chosen seven times by women and once by men. I have to admit this surprised me. I thought the women would have selected these films much more often. Does that make me a sexist?

Action movies were split almost equally, men eight – women seven.

Sci/Fi was a even split with six each.

Most of the rest were split fairly evenly as well.

In the end, my great “desert island movie” survey showed me something very interesting…when it comes to watching movies with a member of the opposite sex there’s really no huge conflict.

Sure, a man may have to sit through Failure to Launch before he can watch Jaws and a woman will have to force herself to sit through This is Spinal Tap before she can watch The Proposal – but is that really such a bad thing?

After all – you never know how long you’ll be on the island, so a couple of hours is really just a drop in the bucket.

castaway

I guess when you look at it, watching movies on an island is a lot like being in a relationship…if you’re willing to compromise on the things you’re farthest apart on, the rest will be that much easier and being on that island won’t be that bad after all.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Writing Tips From the World Series

Warning: I’m going to talk about baseball for a minute, but only briefly, I promise.

I was watching game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals and something unusual happened in the first inning.

The Red Sox had runners on first and second when David Ortiz hit a ground ball to the second baseman which should have resulted in a routine double-play. Unfortunately (for the Cardinals) shortstop Pete Kozma failed to handle the toss from the second baseman, resulting in a bases-loaded/no out situation for the Red Sox as opposed to having a man on third with two outs.

Kozma

In baseball, and especially in the World Series, that is a huge difference.

The Red Sox went on to score three runs in the inning and eventually won the game 8-1.

Even before the game was over the baseball pundits started with the what ifs.

What if Kozma hadn’t dropped the ball?

They began giving their predictions and analyzing how the inning would have been different. When the game was over the talk was about how that play changed the game – and you can bet your bottom dollar that when the World Series is over they will pontificate for days, maybe even weeks, about how that one play affected the outcome of the series.

If the play had gone a different way (any different way) there would be as many potential results as there were fans in the seats…maybe more.

What does this have to do with writing?

Quite simply…you can crerate an entire story with those two words…What if.

what if

The What If  is a fiction writer’s best friend and if you aren’t asking yourself what if often, you should be.

I once saw an interview with Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, and he told about how he once read a newspaper article about a shark attack of the New Jersey shore…and he asked himself what if a shark decided to stake a claim in a certain place and stay there until the food source was gone…

jaws

That is not an exact quote – but the what if part is. When I heard him say those two words a bell went off in my head.

What if…is the key to mapping out your story.

You start with a basic what if concept and build on it by asking what if whenever you get to a fork in the road.

Asking it once will create a ripple effect, and each answer will bring about its own what ifs. Some of them will be dead ends, you may have to back-track and change an answer here and there to create a new path…but eventually you’ll have a story.

Like the baseball game, the number of potential answers is virtually unlimited, as are the outcomes.

The beauty of writing fiction is – unlike baseball – you get to ask the what ifs before it’s too late.

That’s why I tell people I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you find yourself stuck…just ask yourself what if. And keep asking it (and answering it, of course) until you are writing again.

It’s not a shortcut – there are no shortcuts in writing – it’s more like a navigational tool that will allow you to predict the outcome of the game before it’s played.

Now if we could only put down a few bets…

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