Tag Archives: television

A small chores update

Honestly, I'm starting to wear out on chores. I've been away from the paycheck job since Wednesday at quitting time, and don't have to go back until Tuesday. During that time, I've hit the chore list hard.

I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get as much accomplished today. I managed to get my critique work done for our meeting on Thursday night. I put it in my truck, because that's my insurance policy against forgetting it when I need it.

What I didn't post about was pruning fruit trees. The sap is up now, so I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 of what I want to remove. After the trees adjust, I can trim the rest. They're all in a big pile in the back yard, and my son and I are hauling them to the dump tomorrow. Part of the peach tree must weigh 400 pounds, so I'm glad to have an extra back involved. This stuff takes time too, but it didn't do much to advance my author agenda.

Today, I worked on my beta reading project. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished now. If everything works out well, I may finish and deliver my notes tomorrow. (Maybe)

I also assembled and scheduled Thursday's Lisa Burton Radio. I have two other interviews out there in cyberspace, but it's Sunday night and the first guy finished became the first guy scheduled.

Honestly, I could have hit it hard and finished everything else, but I'm wearing a bit thin. I caught up with recordings of S.H.I.E.L.D., and don't regret it a bit. ABC scheduled this beyond reality for a working man, so I have to record the episodes and watch them later.

My other son and I also stayed up late every night playing Diablo III, and we had a great time. I think my wife is wearing out on us, but she's the one who surprised me with an X-Box. (So there.)

My so called vacation was a lot of work, mixed in with a bit of fun. We even worked two date nights into the mix. The good news is my path is cleared, or will be very soon, and my next day off may let me work on my novel.

Hope all of you had a Happy Easter.

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Caledonia on Lisa Burton Radio

Today, on Lisa Burton Radio, we're in the studio with two very special guests from the series, Caledonia. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my guests today are Detective Inspector Leah Bishop and Robert Burns, national poet of Scotland and vampire. “Welcome you guys. Thanks for joining me.”

“Thank you for having us.”

“My bio says Robert is actually the Robert Burns, the famous poet. How are you still around? You have to be like 220.83 years old.”

“I’m a vampire. And you know what they say, age just makes a man more experienced.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Yes.”

“I’m a robot.”

“Always on the lookout for new experiences.”

“All right, Rabbie, slow it down.”

“So, Robert. You’re immortal. And you still live in Scotland after all those years?”

“Of course. I guard the gate to Faerie. It’s behind a bar in a small pub in the Highlands.”

“That explains Robert, where do you fit in, Leah?”

“I was a folklorist and became a police officer. Caledonia Interpol offered me a job and I took it. I was getting away from a bad past. Then I found out everyone working there aside from me was a monster. My partner, Dorian Grey, is a selkie. We investigate supernatural crime.”

“That's juicy, he was supposed to be a good looking man. Is there anything going on with you guys?”

“Not a chance in hell. Dorian’s taken anyway, but we’re best friends. He’s bisexual, like all selkies; makes their purpose as creatures that comfort people unhappy in love a lot easier.”

“Tell us about what you're working on now, Leah.”

“There’s a serial killer in Glasgow – the first serial killing of faeries the supernatural world has ever seen.”

“Killing fairies is heinous, I hope you catch whoever is doing this. What’s going to happen if you don’t?”

“Usually they call in the human police to investigate crimes like this one. This is the first time it’s been systematically done to the Fae.”

“And, don't forget Leah, with selkies involved, the killer might have just inadvertently doomed the world.”

“So, it’s pretty important then?”

“Yes. We investigate supernatural crime exclusively, and this is one of the first crossovers into the human world or human behavior we’ve ever seen.”

“Sounds like you have your hands full.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“So Robert, what drags you into this story?”

“Well…I…”

“He’s in stupid love with a monster called Desdemona.”

“It’s not stupid. How dare –”

“We’re the ones that have to deal with you mooning around like an idiot all the time.”

“Ooh, tell us about Desdemona. That's a pretty name.”

“Well, Lisa, we met during the Fae Wars, when I was still human. Des –”

“She hates being called that.”

“Des is incredible – a baobhan sith vampire and the commander of the Fae army during the opium wars. You’ve never seen anything so beautiful and terrifying all at once.”

“Sorry, Lisa, he’ll go on about this for hours. Desdemona is a vampire, she’s also a bellydancer and owns a club in the Glasgow city centre. This idiot’s been chasing her for centuries.”

“She’s not interested?”

“I’m not sure she even understands love in the traditional human sense. Baobhan sith are not emotional creatures.”

“Now wait a minute. You don’t know that. It could happen.”

“Unlikely.”

“That's so tragic. Pining away for all eternity over someone who isn't interested.”

“There’s always hope.”

“You’ve got it bad.”

“Of course.”

“New topic you guys, I'm excited to tell our listeners about all your success. Many of us main characters would kill for your kind of success. Not only have you enjoyed eight books and counting, but there is also a television series, and a movie. What has it been like to have actors portray you?”

“Well, they’ve had three different women play me. I’m like Doctor Who in that way. Or James Bond.”

“The actor playing me is very handsome. The likeness is uncanny.”

“Yes, I approve of him.”

“You would.”

“Are you calling me a pervert, Robert?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No, but you thought it.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny.”

“Anyway, all the actors are doing a fantastic job. I’m looking forward to the next installment.”

“Yes, Burns Night. I’d like to see how that turns out.”

“The tragic hero of the story.”

“I’m not tragic!”

“Of course not. I think it’ll be fantastic. The film builds on the previous stories but can also be watched as a stand-alone show.”

“Yeah, and in this one we both work together. Dorian vanishes and Robert gets roped in to helping me find him.”

“I only did it for Des.”

“You always say that. That night was one hell of an adventure.”

“Agreed. The film is worth checking out.”

“That's wonderful you guys. I wish you every success, and I hope you catch that killer. Sadly, we're out of time. Our sponsor today is the Caledonia Series by Amy Hoff. I'll include all the links on the website.”

***

Website: www.caledoniaseries.co.uk

Tumblr: www.caledoniafans.tumblr.com

Twitter: @caledoniaseries

Facebook: www.facebook.com/caledoniaseries

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Home again, home again…

I have a list of things to accomplish this weekend. I intended to jump right in and get with it, but my wife intervened. At least she chose Old Chigago for entertainment. I get to blog and have beer. I'm sure she has ulterior motives, being at the mall and all that.

I made contact with a promotion service while at the convention. I may not hire them, but there is no harm in finding out how they would brand me as an author. Part of the weekend is to follow up via email with them.

I'll probably set up another Amazon campaign too. This was moderately successful the first time, and October might make a difference in this promotion.

I need to work up my critiques, but that won't take a long time. There is a novel to finish reading too.

The new television season is starting in force. My wife managed to record some season premiers for me, but we missed one. I really like Sleepy Hollow, and didn't know it premiered this week. Now I have to look into online ways of seeing what's going on. I'm open to suggestions here.

The good news is that I'm off Monday. I can actually pay attention to my wife, and still get a few things accomplished. Therefore, tonight is all about pizza and beer, probably some covert shopping too.

I may catch up with S.H.I.E.L.D. later tonight, or may not. Depends on how the evening plays out. I'm pretty sure Agent May misses me though.

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Let’s talk about television.

I get some of my inspiration from television, and I’ll bet most writers do too. We are products of our environment, and television is all around us. I decided to talk about what I’ve been watching this fall. Here they are, in no particular order:

Dr. Who. I may be the only person in the world who isn’t onboard with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. The problem isn’t his, it’s one of poor production. BBC is running this with the theatrical music overpowering the dialog. I really don’t know if Capaldi is good or not. I’ve only heard about a third of what he said. I’ll keep watching, because it’s Dr. Who, but I’m losing interest.

Sherlock. I’m so excited that BBC America decided to run this show over here. I got to see some episodes that ran on PBS a few years ago. So far, I’ve seen these episodes, but it was a few years ago. I like the fact that each episode is about two hours long. They have more time to mesmerize me. Really excited to see what happens after R. Falls.

Selfie. Keeping with a loose BBC connection, I only watched this because of Amy Pond… I mean Karen Gillan. They teamed her up with John Cho. It’s a modern rebelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. Gillan is hilarious as a self obsessed office worker. I never thought it had much staying power, but I’m sad it was cancelled already. I recorded it and watched it when it suit my schedule. It was up against a highly anticipated show called…

The Flash. I really want to like this show. I’m being patient, because Flash is one of my favorite characters. Right now they’re stuck in bad guy of the week syndrome. My biggest issue is that I think it was miscast. I prefer the old Flash with John Wesley Ship. I’m not offended by the racial diversity the network is obviously attempting, but… When I read the comics, Iris was a white girl. This seems to be a comic trend. I heard Marvel is doing something similar with Ben Grimm. I’m being patient with this show.

S.H.I.E.L.D. This show is much better than last year. They’ve allowed a bit of character growth that most new programs overlook. The episode when Coulson and May infiltrated the party was awesome. May was so out of character working under cover it was funny. It looks like Ward is going to be forgiven, and I think that’s a mistake. I also like the changes between Fitz & Simmons. They were a bit cloying in season one.

Sleepy Hollow. I really like this show. The cast carries the load here. The relationship between Crane and Mills is wonderful. The little bits of Crane being out of touch with modern times are hilarious. It’s a nice spice in an otherwise grim show. I’m not impressed that the horseman is one of the four horsemen, Death. I also don’t like the idea they gave him an invisible head and dialog. Sometimes the monster should remain a monster. His scare factor went from boiling to simmer. Someone once said The Force was so much cooler before we learned about metachlorians. This is how I feel about the horseman. I was a bit disappointed in the 30 pieces of silver episode. Everyone goes there. Crane and Mills carry the show.

The Walking Dead. This show was always good, and it still is. The world is genuinely dangerous, and cast members die off with regularity. There is no safety in knowing a character will be back next week. It’s gritty, scary, and dangerous and I like it.

Last Man Standing. It’s Tim Allen, do I need to say any more? The guy just cracks me up. They poke fun at very current events and do it from a standpoint of common people. The supporting cast is good, and they’ve been allowed to grow a bit too.

Note: There are no reality shows on my list. I was tired of them years ago, and quit watching them all together.

So what’s on your list? What have you given up on? What did you pick up? Is anyone still watching Bones or Once Upon a Time?

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Putting New Work out There

I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to talk about some television shows, and try to draw conclusions for novelists. This may not work, but I’m going to try it. I’m choosing television, because more of us are likely to have seen the same show than read the same book.

Besides, it isn’t nice to call out a novel, which is the work of one stressed out author. Television is a team event, and it feels safer.

The idea is that new work has to meet certain landmarks. The idea is to keep me interested. This feels the same whether it’s a program or a novel.

One caveat. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Any of you who read Wild Concept probably noticed a few. I’m not perfect, but I can still talk about this stuff. I’m a sucker for Science Fiction, Paranormal, and Fantasy. These shows all fit that bill in one form or another.

Sleepy Hollow is our first show. Ichabod Crane is resurrected in modern times. He’s the only live character in the show that wears clothing from the 1700s. He’s a nice looking white fellow with a pony tail. His modern day partner is Abby. She’s an attractive black girl. Oh, and the main bad guy doesn’t have a head.

Ichabod and Abby have a cute relationship. He’s way out of date, and as she helps him there is a nice, nearly romantic, tension that gets my approval. There are a few funny bits woven into a darker story line. Most of the lighter parts take place in broad daylight, and the dark stuff happens at night. You would think this would be pretty obvious.

For the novelist here are the points I appreciate. I can tell the characters apart. Black girl, white guy, no head – got it. Nice mix of light and dark, in more ways than one. I like Abby and Ichabod. I will go out of my way to watch this next year.

Authors don’t have the ability to use those kinds of visuals, but we have an advantage too. At least every page or two, we have to write “Ichabod said.” Pretty hard to get lost or confused. We can weave in light and dark moments, along with light and dark settings. The trick is to make our readers like the characters they’re supposed to cheer for.

I don’t give up on a book, program, or movie easily. I used to watch a show called Copper. I gave it about three episodes and quit. The stories were pretty good. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. They all talked alike, refused to shave, dressed alike, and the actors looked alike. After about the fifth time asking “Which one was that?” I was finished.

Writers can give our characters some quirks. As long as our names are distinct, we won’t have much problem. If needed, one of them can go everywhere with a toothpick or something.

Almost Human is a decent bit of science fiction. It involves a white male cop, John, who has a prosthetic leg. His partner, Dorian, is a black cyborg. These guys bust on each other like actual people. They aren’t marionettes simply following a plot. They each have a quirk that makes them slightly less than everyone else. John is a grouchy old school kind of guy. Dorian is high tech and does some surprising things. Great sci-fi effects here too.

As a writer, putting opposites together might be a good idea. There’s a stress between John and Dorian, but they have a common goal too. They’re willing to go some crazy places with the stories. When Dorian scanned John’s balls it was hilarious. I like these guys too. Likable characters, I want to watch more.

Turn is a new show. It’s about an American spy ring during the American Revolution. The characters are distinct enough. Abe looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston. It’s easy to tell him from the others. The settings are mostly gloomy, even in daylight. I’ve never seen anyone happy in this show ever. It’s pretty easy to tell that the Americans are the good guys and the British are the bad guys.

Abe ratted out some redcoats. The only one that needed to die, survived. He’s in American hands, but it’s all over for Abe if this redcoat escapes. This particular redcoat is an asshole. This works for me. Tell me who not to like.

There are good points and bad points to this one. Abe has a wife and son. We’ve seen him philandering with the local tavern owner lady. This doesn’t exactly make me cheer for him. It was three episodes before they told me that two brothers were both engaged. Abe was verbally engaged to the tavern lady. His brother, in writing to the other woman. When Abe’s brother died. Abe married his brother’s fiancé to honor the contract. Things like this actually happened in the 1700s.

They needed to tell me this earlier. I wasn’t exactly endeared to Abe when he was unfaithful to his wife and son. I might have turned away and never learned the truth. This story line brings a nice tension, particularly when the wife gave her approval to the tavern lady.

As a writer, I think it’s important to define the villain and the hero PDQ. If everyone sucks, readers might look elsewhere. I’ll give this one a couple more episodes, but I’m not sure.

Salem premiered last night. This looks at the Salem witches as if witchcraft were real. John Alden is obviously the hero here, I just don’t like him. He left his love, Mary to go fight Indians. he didn’t return for seven years. Go figure, Mary married someone else. There is a plausibility problem here for me.

This guy left for seven years, never wrote, and walks in like nothing changed. Mary is the main witch now, of course. Everyone scowls, everyone’s dirty, and everyone’s violent. (Okay, Mary seems to stay clean, and she’s always in black.) I have no reason to like a single person in this show. There is a redhead girl with a charming smile. She’s the only character that smiled in a whole hour. She’s a third tier character, and I’m cheering for her.

They could have taken 30 seconds to show Alden doing something nice. Lift a kid up to pick an apple, pet a dog, something. Lots of scowls, dirt, and grumbling from Alden instead. On the plus side, there were some cool special effects. This includes the coolest place to hide your toad familiar I’ve ever seen.

Not only do the characters need to establish who they are, the concept needs to have some degree of reality. Seven years, and Alden expected Mary to wait for him? He didn’t even write. I’ll give it a few more episodes.

So as a writer, I want to define who the hero is, and who the villain is. I want the characters to be different from each other. I want to use a contrast between light and dark, both in mood and setting. I don’t want to base part of my story on something that isn’t realistic. I also don’t want to withhold some important information that might cause someone to give up on my story. If I can include a bit of humor, so much the better.

So how many pages do I have to accomplish all this? I’m guessing about twenty. I think there’s a need to establish something on every page up to that point. What do the real experts have to say about this?

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What can Writers Learn from Television?

No, really, I want someone to tell me. Here are a couple of observations I’ve made over the years.

For TV, the main character has to have the right job. In order to get involved in amazing things, the MC has to have credible opportunities. This is why we see so many shows about cops, doctors, and lawyers.

People branched out and we see firemen, coroners, and police psychics. It may have been popular, but in real life, Angela Lansbury would never stumble across hundreds of murders. There aren’t too many shows about water department workers for a reason.

This applies to novels too. There has to be a reason for things to happen. In a novel, an average guy can stumble across something bad, spectacular or amazing. He isn’t going to have access to the big guns or the cool science though.

Character is important. I watch Once Upon a Time, but for the wrong reasons. I’m watching it for a bad example. Some of the main characters are flat and boring.

Regina/Evil Queen is horrible. She is always going to say the most vile thing. She is the first person to bully or make a threat. She’s the one who says, “You’re lying.” Lana Parilla is being wasted here. She’s smoking hot and looks great in fairy tale clothing and her mayoral suits. The minor background they gave her is too little too late.

Mr. Gold/crocodile/Dark One/Rumplestiltskin/Beast is great. He’s evil too, but he’s a complete character. He has a touch of humanity, and I feel for him when he loses his son or Belle.

Snow White and Prince Charming are boring. They’re always goody goody, and are as predictable as sunrise.

Story is important. I’ve never seen it, but how can Hostages go any further than one season? Bad guys take a family hostage and force one of the parents to do something horrible. I just don’t see this lasting ten years.

Dr. Who is at the other end of the spectrum. It’s been going for fifty years and shows no sign of slowing down. The possibilities are limitless.

I have a lot of words down, so I’ll start summing up. Our stories need believable circumstances, even in science fiction and fantasy. We need sympathetic and believable characters. We need a fully fleshed out world too. One that allows for twists and turns in the plot, and might even allow for a sequel if fans support the first one.

So, back to my question. What can TV teach us? I’d like to get the comments going. Let’s hear some opinions or issues I didn’t address.

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