Friday, November 21, 2008

Deadlines!

I've got deadlines for two books breathing down on me. (Not to mention that third book, due in February!) So blogging is going to be hit and miss the next few weeks ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MONK ends with season eight

Detective series Monk -- the most successful series in the history of basic cable -- officially ends after one more season. Reportedly, we'll finally discover the truth behind the murder of his beloved late wife, Trudy: Monk to Clean Up for One Last Season (Yahoo! News)

Related links:
Mr. Monk and the Finished Manuscript
The stars shine for MONK 100
MONK: New therapist, new episodes
ADRIAN MONK: The face of OCD
Mr. Monk And The Continuity Police
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heartsong Mysteries coming to retailers

The first wave of cozy mystery titles from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries is now available through your local bookseller. Also coming to retailers are the first two 3-in-1 "omnibus" titles, available December 1:

Cozy in Kansas (Ivy Towers Mystery Omnibus) Featuring In the Dead of Winter, Bye, Bye Bertie, and For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, by Nancy Mehl

Alibis in Arkansas (Sleuthing Sisters Mystery Omnibus) Featuring Death on a Deadline, Death of a Diva, and Death at a Diner, by Christine Lynxwiler, Jan Reynolds, and Sandy Gaskin

Find A Bookseller Near You
ABA Bookseller Directory
CBA Bookseller Directory

Saturday, November 15, 2008

BRAND VS. VARIETY

One ongoing struggle for a working artist is navigating his or her way between the rock and the hard place of "same" and "different." As artists, we want to stretch ourselves, trying new and different things. We get bored if it's always the same thing, the same place, the same deal.

Yet the working artist is expected to stay relatively the same. Oh, sure, we can try something different -- as long as it's not too different. We're expected to be a "brand." When you read our latest book (or listen to our latest song or look at our latest painting), our name on that product promises to meet certain expectations.

(Of course, part of the problem is whether the work is, in fact, a "product" or "art." If it is a "product," the response from the "consumer" is pretty important. If it is "art," the artist is free to ignore the expectations of the consumer, as long as the artist doesn't mind shoving the unwanted results in a drawer.)

Mystery writers are expected to write mystery stories. Fantasy writers are expected to write fantasy stories. Romance writers, science fiction writers, and thriller writers are expected to write romance fiction, science fiction, and thriller fiction.

As a consumer, I get that. I appreciate the importance of the "brand." I don't go to a pizza place for the tacos.

Fair or not, I also apply these expectations to media. I enjoy a broad range of media and entertainment -- but when I pick up something by a familiar author, it can be a disappointment if it isn't what I expected. (If a jar labeled "mustard" turns out to be salsa, it can be the greatest salsa in the world -- but I wanted mustard.)

But as an author, I want to write a lot of different things. I want to write impossible crime whodunits and cozy mysteries and crime fiction and extra-biblical speculative thrillers and superhero sitcoms and stuff with giant monsters. I also want to write podcast audio dramas and YouTube micro-comedies and stageplays for the International Mystery Writers Festival and mini mysteries and crime teledramas for the BBC and comic books and comic strips.

The folks who have read my fiction to date may be on board for several of the above, or even most of the above ... but very few would be on board for all of the above. It's not easy to find readers equally interested in Diagnosis Murder and Gozilla. (Hence, my launching a separate blog, Giant Monsters On The Loose.)

All of which is to say, my lovely wife and I want to do some comics together. And, given that my "name brand" carries an expectation of some kind of zany mystery or crime fiction (albeit, with my own special bent), we want to be strategic. So we are developing a new comic strip to pitch to a newspaper syndicate. It's a crime serial, very close in tone to the fiction I've been writing. As such, it is reasonable to expect the novels and the comic strips to build off each other, introducing new readers to my work from both directions.

Once that comic is launched, we can then develop some of our comic book ideas. Those move a little further afield, so we'll likely start with the idea that is just a little off to the side ... and gradually work our way toward the big, crazy, giant monster comic book. Each step of the way, we hope to carry some of our readers from the previous project(s), and also pick up some new ones. Very few will want everything -- but if the spectrum I'm working has say, five channels, you may like two or three of them. And that's enough.

As we go along, we'll have to figure out what the brand "Chris Well" means. Because I want to do a lot of different things.

Now if I can just find the time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton 1942-2008

Author and filmmaker Michael Crichton died Tuesday of cancer. He was 66. His best-selling novels, including 1969's The Andromeda Strain, 1975's The Great Train Robbery, 1990's Jurassic Park, 2004's State of Fear and 2006's Next, have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. His credits as a screenwriter, director, and producer include 1973's Westworld, 1978's Coma, and 1996's Twister.

Crichton was also creator and executive producer of the television drama ER. According to Wikipedia, in December 1994 he had the No. 1 movie (Jurassic Park), the No. 1 TV show (ER), and the No. 1 book (Disclosure).

Links:
Remembering Michael Crichton (Macworld)
Author Michael Crichton, Dead at 66 (New York Observer)
Author Michael Crichton wrote about traveling too (Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Crime writers on PUNISHER

As I posted yesterday on my genre blog Giant Monsters On The Loose, the editors at Marvel Comics have called on three crime novelists to each contribute an arc to Marvel's MAX ("mature readers") title Punisher: Gregg Hurwitz (The Crime Writer) has scripted "Girls In White Dresses," which runs in Punisher #60-#65, through December; Duane Swierczynski (Severance Package) follows with "Six Hours To Kill," appearing in Punisher #66-#70, January through May 2009; and Victor Gischler (Shotgun Opera) wraps up with "Welcome To The Bayou" in Punisher #71-#75, which kicks off June 2009.

Editor Axel Alonso promises the three stories to be "fast-paced, ultra-violent, and gritty ... but each story also displays the unique skills of each writer." (Full story at Comic Book Resources.)

Sequels to ROAD TO PERDITION

Max Allan Collins is set to write and direct two sequels to Road to Perdition, the Oscar-winning 2002 film based on the original graphic novel written by Collins, with art by Richard Piers Rayner. The first sequel, Road to Purgatory, revisits Michael Sullivan, Jr. (son of Tom Hanks' character in the first film), back from World War II determined to avenge his father's murder.

Related links:
Novelists who write comics
Crime writers who also write comics

Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy 75th, John Barry!

Birthday greetings to composer extraordinaire John Barry, who turns 75 today! Although he has written music for a variety of media, he is best known for his lush, epic, often melancholic film scores, five of which nabbed him Oscars: 1966's Born Free (for which he was awarded both "Best Score" and "Best Song"); The Lion in Winter (1968); Out of Africa (1985); and Dances With Wolves (1990).

He has also scored the likes of Zulu (1964), The Ipcress File (1965), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Somewhere In Time (1980), Body Heat (1981), Hammett (1982), Chaplin (1992), and Mercury Rising (1998) -- not to mention, a record eleven James Bond films: From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), Moonraker (1979), Octopussy (1983), A View To A Kill (1985), and The Living Daylights (1987), in which Barry had a cameo.

Variety celebrates his birthday with several articles about Barry's career in films, television, and theater:

Composer with the midas touch
Five oscars reflect his elegant simplicity

John Barry reflects on 10 of his scores
'Goldfinger' 'Midnight Cowboy' reconsidered

Barry succeeds in theater and TV
Obscure works attest to composer's ambition

Collaborators reflect on John Barry
Scores continue to move filmmakers

John Barry invented the spy movie score
Unique arrangements ushered in a new genre

Related links:
John Barry at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
John Barry at the Internet Movie Database
John Barry at The Danish Filmmusic Society (DFS)
Biography of John Barry
Official Somewhere In Time Website
Filmtracks' Tribute to John Barry
John Barry: A Life in Music
John Barry discography at SoundtrackCollector.com

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Making a film on a microbudget

The folks at MyFlik has released a series of DVDs that, altogether, form the screenwriting workshop "Writing A Great Script Fast." From the site:

Writing A Great Script Fast In A Nutshell: Story is the hardest thing to learn for most digital filmmakers these days since the technology has become so easy to use and inexpensive. How would you like to write a great script in about 24 hours while learning almost everything you need to know to tell brilliant visual stories for the rest of your life? Click on the link above for more info and downloads.

Order the DVDs from Amazon:
Part 1 Introduction & Basics
Part 2 Brainstorming For Story Ideas
Part 3 Creating Original Characters
Part 4 Character History
Part 5 Metaphors & Symbols
Part 6 Symbolic Story Elements
Part 7 Symbolic Story Themes
Part 8 Drama & Hero Journey Plots
Part 9 Other Types Of Plot
Part 10 Plot Twists, Goals & Endings
Part 11 Setups & Short Films Plot Points
Part 12 Feature Film Plot Points & Symbolic Settings
Part 13 Treatments & Finding Nemo 40 Plot Points
Part 14 Adding Conflict
Part 15 Scene Reversals
Part 16 Plot Weaving
Part 17 Dialogue & Monologues
Part 18 Suspense
Part 19 Humor & Screenwriting

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.