Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A black 2008 Silverado rolled into the shop yesterday afternoon. A bearded man in his mid thirties, medium height and weight slid out of the driver’s seat with what seemed great reluctance. He smiled at me as I greeted him, waving an invoice in his hand for my attention. He’ll be Steve Silver for the purposes of anonymity on the blog.
“I don’t even know if I should be here.”
That made two of us. I was kind of snarky yesterday, but I had enough sense to keep my mouth shut. Yes, folks, sometimes we in the service business get up on the wrong side of the bed, or smack their knee on the underside frame of a 99 Ford F150 getting off the creeper. :)
“I’ll help if I can,” I reply with what I hope is a helpful expression. Mr. Knee hadn’t stopped throbbing yet, so I wasn’t sure. It might have been more of a grimace.
“I had my truck tuned up at Acme Auto (changed for anonymity). Do you know ‘em?”
I didn’t. The only time I usually hear about a shop is as a recommendation for something I don’t do here such as transmission rebuilding, or body work. Once in a while a shop has become infamous for screw ups, but that hadn’t happened in quite a while.
“Sorry. I’m not familiar with them.”
Mr. Silver hands me the invoice. It’s a nicely done computer generated sheet with a diagnostic check for a PO300 random misfire code, noting customer requested spark plugs be changed. The shop also recommended changing the ignition wires because the vehicle had over 90,000 miles on it, which had a notation of refused. They also changed an air filter.
“The truck still misses and sometimes backfires,” Steve told me.
“Looking at your invoice, my advice would be to go back and let Acme put on the ignition wires they recommended to you.”
Steve’s brows knitted and a frown formed. “That adds over two hundred dollars onto the bill. The wires shouldn’t go out this quickly. I told them they probably broke one while changing the plugs.”
“I don’t think so. You had a PO300 misfire code before they did anything,” I explained, pointing out that section of the invoice. “They went ahead with what you asked, hoping the same as you probably, that it was just a plug causing a misfire. I never give the customer a choice. I always change the ignition wires when I do the spark plugs on vehicles. They gave you the choice and it didn’t work out. The only thing to do now is get the wire set changed before you ruin the catalytic converters.”
“Can you guarantee it’s the ignition wires?”
“Unfortunately no. All I have to go on is their diagnostic check. Maintenance and common sense would dictate changing the ignition wires before getting caught up in parts changing anything else.”
“Fine. Go ahead and do it,” Steve said with a sigh. “Can you do it today? I only live a few blocks away.”
“Why not have Acme do it? They may even give you a slight break on the price.”
Mr. Silver is silent for a moment, looking away to the side of the shop at something… or nothing. He reengages a moment later. “I may have said a few things I shouldn’t have when I went back over to their shop.”
Uh oh. “I’ll make up the invoice.”
Steve picked up his truck this morning. Yes, I spent twenty minutes before I proceeded with the wires yesterday doing a diagnostic to make sure I felt comfortable doing the wires to fix the code. Sometimes you have to do things for your own peace of mind. That was one of them. With the new Delco wire set in place, all was right with the truck and it was ‘Hi Ho, Silver and away’. You didn’t think I was going to leave off without that postscript did you? :)
Monday, December 17, 2012
Audio books have started to take off in a big way. They are not inexpensive to produce, so the writer or publisher has to be very careful what is selected for converting into an audio book. Two keys I believe enhance this format for making a long commute, vacation travel, or eye problems less daunting – richness or bluntness in language where either the rhythm or gritty starkness of the novel captivate the listener. Naturally, the voice of the chosen reader must be an instrument which enhances the experience.
I’ve picked two examples for my post, one in fiction and one in non-fiction. I have read both, and know the authors: Charles Gramlich, and RJ Parker. Just click on their names to be taken to their Amazon Author Page.
Just recently, Charles Gramlich’s publisher picked his excellent science fiction/adventure trilogy Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera, and Witch of Talera to convert into audio books. I believe I know why. Not since I read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mar’s series as a kid have I found anything comparable. The richness of language in these three books would turn a hum-drum commute, or long travel into an audio/literary treat, making the time pass so quickly as to hope the novel ends before the trip. If you love literary adventure fiction, and want to try out an audio experience, the ‘Talera’ trilogy would be my recommended medium.
RJ Parker, Winner of the World Book Awards 2012 for Unsolved Serial Killings and Women Who Kill, has all of his serial killer series in audio format. The starkness of subject matter, non-fiction grittiness of true crime, and a blunt outlook on the mayhem make these audio ventures a definite plus as a traveling companion. The added bonus of this spell binding series is the follow up on each case. RJ Parker pulls no punches on his evaluation of the hit and miss law enforcement angle arrayed against these monsters who prey on others.
Because this audio book chapter in publishing is really hitting its stride, I thought this would be a good time to mention it, since I am very familiar with these two authors and their works. They provide a clear illustration of why this relative newcomer into the publishing and marketing world is here to stay.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I registered my screenplay, DEMON, with the WGA, and sent it out on the query trail. I promised I would report back if I received any feedback, or noticed anything out of the ordinary about screenplay submissions. One of the posts on the ISA claimed to have a five picture deal, and needed one more screenplay. The supposed owner of this company in LA wanted submissions with Logline, Short Synopsis, and a PDF copy of the WGA registered screenplay. The description matched HARD CASE, so I sent it in. I received an e-mail back that started out promisingly enough. They liked my Logline, but then things got goofy. The rest of the e-mail read like one of those Nigerian Princess or Bank of Africa phishing scam e-mails. They were looking to add to their Board of Directors, and blah, blah, blah… ending with a vague request I send them a letter by courier, and then they’d get in contact with me (they already had every contact number and e-mail address I have).
Yes, I know. The first impulse is to do exactly what they say no matter how illogical. However, the bloom has been off the rose for me since sending out my first queries and manuscripts by snail mail in the seventies. I answered politely by e-mail with a reiteration of entertaining any legitimate offer for the screenplay or to write any type of screenplay they would be interested in making a deal on. I also did some research on the company. They claimed in the e-mail they were brand new and therefore had made zero mistakes. It reminded me of the tone of an e-mail I received from Princess Shamira. Anyway, there is no background to research, or any info on the supposed owner. I did note that I should try looking up the posters on these ISA bulletin boards before I submit, rather than after I receive an e-mail from Princess Shamira Con. :)
I did receive what looks like a legitimate response from a director who was in a few databases. He promises to read the synopsis on my Sell Sheet, but would only contact me if interested, because of being bombarded with submissions. The form letter did have a casual tone to it, and even wished me a ‘great Christmas’ which I thought was very nice. I did find out from a few other notifications acknowledging my submissions, that as in the literary publishing world, we dupe writers will just have to assume after a couple months if they don’t contact us they’re not interested. Same old, same old.
That’s the report from deep in the new and exciting world of screenplay writing. I am nearing the 20,000 word plateau in my new killer novel, and started my third screenplay which will continue on as a sequel to DEMON. Be careful out there, my writing friends. :)
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I finished the screenplay for DEMON, based on the first book in my completed YA trilogy. It turned out to be 110 pages/minutes. I believe it’s really good. Of course I thought my HARDCASE screenplay was really good too, and I haven’t heard back from anyone on that. I’m looking into listing it on that screenplay site called InkTip. If DEMON the screenplay got picked up, I have at least another four or five movies to be done off the rest of the material. I’m starting on the sequel for DEMON as soon as I finish editing the first one. I have to come up with an excellent logline for it too. I’m going with the one below for now, and the short synopsis under it.
Screen Play Logline - A paranormal mutt from another dimension saves a group of teens one Halloween night, and nothing is ever the same again.
Mike Rawlins stops to help some older teens get their car started. Roped into a Halloween antic at a haunted house he had a bad experience at once, Mike only agrees to go if they get salt and holy water as a precaution. The night ends with a ghastly apparition penning the teens into Rawlins’ protective circle. Running out of time and options, the group owes their rescue to a mangy looking cur that dives into the haunted house and easily drives away the poltergeist. Mike names the dog Demon, and insists on walking him back home to keep him. One of the teen girls, Laura, joins him as the others leave them with beer and sandwiches for the happy Demon.
Demon’s instincts, perceptive behavior, and continuing surprises make him into an indispensible part of the Rawlins’ family. He loves watching Brian on ‘Family Guy’, eats ghosts like Rice Krispies, and is a holy terror when his friends are in danger.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
My friends at Book Trailers Showcase have their new December issue out! The Christmas issue is terrific, and my stunning full page ad for LANCELOT is near the front, along with half page ads for HARD CASE and THE PROTECTORS. The stories and articles in this issue were a real fun read. They have new columns in there done by authors on subjects in publishing and romance. It will be the last free issue, because Barnes & Noble have partnered with them to offer the magazine on their Nook and Ap's. I've already subscribed because it's the best eMag on the Web. It's still the most affordable advertising out there. Here's the link for this month's great issue.