Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide

GUTSHOT STRAIGHT goes on sale next Tuesday and I hit the road the day after: 18 cities in 25 days (full book tour schedule here). By the standards of any self-respecting indie band living out of a 1988 Ford Econoline van, it’s not that brutal of a schedule, but I won’t have the redemptive power of rock and roll to sustain me. Or roadies.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sleight of Hand

I hate it when writers who write about writing resort to forced, labored, pretentious analogies to illuminate the mysteries of the craft. Whenever I read something like, “Writing, when you think about it, is as delicate and sacred a process as butter-churning,” I picture that poor bastard of a simile shackled at the ankles and marching across a rice field in southern Louisiana

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bad Beats

A few nights ago I attended an author reading at Full Circle Books, the venerable and excellent indie bookstore here in Oklahoma City. The author was Hank Stuever, a Pulitzer-nominated journalist from the Washington Post whose new non-fiction book, TINSEL – about Christmas in the heart of 21st-century America (Frisco, Texas!) – is getting great reviews and making year-end best-of lists.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gutshot Straight's Second Review

The Booklist review for GUTSHOT STRAIGHT just came out and it’s starred. All I can say is: Wow. (Well, what I actually said, upon reading this review, was a string of jubilantly grateful profanity punctuated at the end by “Wow.”)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Riding Along - Part 2

From my recent ride-along with a patrol unit from the Will Rogers Division of the Oklahoma City Police Department (read the first installment here), Big Difference #2 between TV cop shows and real life:

Good Cop/Bad Cop

In screenplays and novels, you’ll often see law enforcement characters employ the Good Cop/Bad tag-team approach when questioning a suspect or witness. One cop character offers the carrot (“You’re a good guy, just talk to us and I’ll make sure the D.A. knocks down that felony charge”), the other cop character swings the stick (“You’re scum of the earth, if you don’t talk to us I’ll drop you out of this window”).

Good Cop/Bad Cop can be a great narrative device if approached in a fresh way (one of the best versions of all time is in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL). In real life, though, the dynamic can be a lot more complex.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gutshot Straight's First Review

The first, pre-publication review of GUTSHOT STRAIGHT came out this week, in the Nov. 2 issue of Publishers Weekly, and it was an excellent one.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Riding Along – Part 1

I’m currently researching a new project. Last week, thanks to the generous cooperation of the Oklahoma City Police Department, I spent an evening shift with a patrol unit from the Will Rogers Division on the south side of the city. I probably don’t need to tell you that there’s not a huge correspondence between most TV cop shows and real life. Big Difference #1: the Straight Answer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adequate Sex

My copy editor for GUTSHOT STRAIGHT is a woman named Maureen Sugden, who is smart, hilarious, and ruthless. Every single thing I deserved to be busted on, she busted me on. And she did this busting in such an artful, good-cop/bad-cop way that while I felt ashamed of my mistakes, I also felt immense relief that Maureen had protected me from them, and from myself.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

State of the State Fair

A couple of weeks ago I attended (i.e., was forced by my wife to attend) the Oklahoma State Fair for the first time since I was a kid. Here are a few impressions:

Carnies
The carnie ride operators didn’t seem quite as toothless, seedy, and doped-up as I remember. Nor did they seem to take the same demonic delight in their jobs.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gun Crazy

I was lucky to grow up during, and luckier to survive, the tail end of an era when parents were less cautious about a child’s physical safety. No bike helmets, for example, and lots of unsupervised play time in storm drains and at abandoned construction sites (“Go outside and find something to do. Be home by dark”).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Did He Know...

As a fiction writer/screenwriter, I spend much of my day making stuff up (my wife uses a less polite, more colorful metaphor for this activity).