Friday, December 21, 2007

Musical Inspiration #13 And A Holiday Break

I'm going dark for a few days to celebrity the holidays with family, but to keep in the Holiday spirit and as our morning musical selection...a special tune. I remember this one from when I was a kid. I remember for years trying to find a recording of it. It wasn't until sometime later I discovered a 45 of it at a record store.

But now, thanks to YouTube, you can both hear and see the performance.

When worlds collide...Bing Crosby and David Bowie...Little Drummer Boy

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Musical Inspiration #12

Something for your Thursday morning. A little Black Eyed Peas:

Black Eyed Peas - Where is the Love?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Musical Inspiration #11

Today I thought I get things going with a song that's actually mentioned in THE CLEANER. For those of you who have read the book, this song is playing in the background auring the bar scene at in Ho Chi Minh City.

I love the video that goes with it, too. For your are the Gorillaz:

Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Gift for me #1 and #2

Here's gift number 1...a full color cover proof the the US release of THE DECEIVED:

It looks INCREDIBLE in person. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the title is actually embossed silver. Even my name is embossed (though in black, not silver). When set side-by-side with THE CLEANER, the spines are a beautifully matched set. Awesome job by the good folks at Bantam Dell.

Holiday Gift #2 for me...THE CLEANER is out in Australia!!! Waiting for my copy (cover is similar to the US cover but in red). I also hear is it selling VERY WELL. WOO-HOO!!!

(thanks to Grace Erb for taking the photo!)

Musical Inspiration #10

Courtesy of one of my favorite Los Angeles blogs.

Thirty years ago (apparently today) Declan MacManus, or as most of us know him Elvis Costello, performed on Saturday Night Live. He was supposed to play "Less Than Zero," but apparently he had other ideas which ended up getting him banned from SNL for twelve years.

Read more about the incident here

And now...Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cinematic Inspiration #3

So we've seen a clip that demonstrates tension:

Opening of TOUCH OF EVIL

And we've seen a clip that highlights character:

Lee J. Cobb's monologue from 12 ANGRY MEN

Today, we put them both together, and take a look at how character and suspense work hand-in-hand. Let's have a look at this absolutely fantastic scene between screen greats Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman. Is it safe?

(Note: the sound cuts out at the end, but still, you can see the power of this scene.)

Marathon Man

Musical Inspiration #9

I've always been fascinated by the voice of today's musical treat. There's emotion, strength, sadness wrapped in nearly every note. If I'm writing a particularly emotional scene, her music will definitely be in rotation on my iPod.

This morning, a week before Christmas Eve, I'd like to share with you the little sparrow...

Edith Piaf - La Vie en Rose

Learn more about Edith Piaf here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Musical Inspiration #8

(Sorry for the late start today...busy morning)

Since we went with one of my favorite musicians yesterday (David Bowie), today I thought we'd lighten it and go with the hilarious Bowie parody done by The Flight of the Conchords...

If you've never seen the HBO show The Flight of the Conchords you are seriously missing some brilliant writing and acting. Find in. Watch it.

In the meantime, I give you this snippet from Episode 6:

The Flight of the Conchords - Bowie's in Space

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cinematic Inspiration #2

Character is the base of any good story. Writers do it with descriptions and actions and dialog. Actors do it the same way minus the paper and ink (or computer screen and keyboard).

I give to you this afternoon one of the great monologues in film (and stage) history.

Lee J. Cobb in 12 Angry Men:

Musical Inspiration #7

Today, perhaps one of the coolest people on the planet, David Bowie. I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert a few years ago, and it was one of the best shows I've ever attended.

Here's a live performance of one of my favorite songs:

David Bowie - Hereos

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Artistic Inspiration #1

One of my biggest dreams is to learn how to paint and draw. Unfortunately a big obsticle I'll have to surmount is the fact that I suck at drawing. But someday, I swear, I'm going to take a painting class and just go for it.

Sadly, because of that lack of drawing skill, I know I'll never be able to really paint the type of art I love. Mainly illustration based. I'm not just talking about cartoons or manga or animie, though there is some fantastic work being done in those realms I enjoy very much, but I'm also talking about illustration beyond the pages of a cartoon book or graphic novel.

Recently, I stumbled upon the art of James Jean.

You can check out his website here.

Browse through his illustrations (the links are on the left side on his home page.) There's an amazing quailty to what he does. I get lost in each image, and as I stare at them, I can't help but to start coming up with story ideas. Many, of course, are based directly on what I'm looking at, but many are not. These are the ideas freed in my mind by the images James has created.

It's not just James Jean's work that does this to me, other illustrators also do the same. But I have to say I am definitely drawn to works that have similar otherwordly qualities like his work.

He has a book out, too!

Process Recess 2: Portfolio
Consider that a hidden gift idea within this Inspiration. (Note to close friends, I do not own this book myself, but boy would I like a copy...hint, hint...)

Musical Inspiration #6

Music has a texture, a tone, a feel that can evoke strong emotions. Sometimes it doesn't even matter what the lyrics are, it's all about the passion and strength of the performance. I often listen to music when I write. Depending on the scene I'm working on, the more emotion the tune the better.

Let's start today off with one that always pulls me in. Haunting...beautiful,,,

Evanescence - My Immortal, Live at the David Letterman Show

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cinematic Inspiration #1

Let's look at building suspense. You tease your audience, you pull them along letting them know something is going to happen, you put your protagonist(s) in harms way...will they get caught in the action?...will they survive?...the anticipation...the tension...then finally the moment arrives...

Sure, hundreds, if not thousands, of people know how to build suspense...but it takes a real master to do it in a new and bold way...and in one take...

From 1958, the classic opening scene to TOUCH OF EVIL by master director Orson Welles:

More on TOUCH OF EVIL here

Musical Inspiration #5

Can't beat the classics...(the video and audio are just a bit out of sync, but who cares, it's Hendrix, baby!)

Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Gift Idea #2

Yes...another book. But a historical fiction piece this I couldn't put down when I read it. A story of Stalinist Russia...set in Moscow, pre-World War II...may I suggest The Archivist's Story.

Read more or even purchase a copy here.

From the book description on Amazon:

Moscow, 1939. In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison, a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there. The writer is Isaac Babel. The great author of Red Cavalry is spending his last days forbidden to write, his final manuscripts consigned to the archivist, Pavel Dubrov, who will ultimately be charged with destroying them. The emotional jolt of meeting Babel face-to-face leads to a reckless decision: he will save the last stories of the author he reveres, whatever the cost.

From the margins of history, Travis Holland has woven a tale of the greatest power. Pavel’s private act of courage in the face of a vast bureaucracy of evil invigorates a life that had lost its meaning, even as it guarantees his almost certain undoing. A story of suspense, courage, and unexpected avenues of grace, The Archivist’s Story is ultimately an enduring tribute to the written word.

Highly recommended.

* * *As is, and will continue to be, the rule, I make no money from any recommendations.* * *
~ ~ ~Well...unless I recommend my own book(s)...which somehow would seem wrong...but, who knows? I might do it anyway!~ ~ ~

Advertising Inspiration #1

Advertising? Inspirational? You bet. While there is a ton of advertising dreck out there, there are a few gems that are visually stimulating, clever, have great story, or any combination of these things.

From the Netherlands comes this highly entertaining ad...I have no idea what it's for, but it really doesn't matter...think of it as a great short story...

Musical Inspiration #4

Let's start the week off with a BANG...

Arctic Monkeys - A Certain Romance

Friday, December 07, 2007

Interactive Inspiration #1

Final post for today...a little (odd) fun for the week.


When you get there (and after you feel slightly creeped out) like on the directions link on the left.

DON'T FORGET... new short story!


Holiday Gift Idea #1

What better thing to start off with than with one of my favorite thrillers of the year...NO TIME FOR GOODBYE by Linwood Barclay. From the Amazon description:

The house was deathly quiet. That was the first sign that something was terribly wrong. Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke that morning to find herself alone. Her family—mother, father, and brother—had vanished without a word, without a note, without a trace. Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is still looking for answers. Now she is about to learn the devastating truth.

From critically acclaimed author Linwood Barclay comes a new suspense thriller that strikes to the core of our most primal fear. What if you woke one day to find your entire life had changed? If everyone you loved had disappeared overnight without so much as a chance to ask why?

Cynthia and Terry Archer still live in Milford, Connecticut, not far from the old Bigge house on Hickory Street. With a solid marriage and a young daughter, the Archers seem on track for a successful future. But the questions raised by Cynthia’s past still haunt her, and her obsession to find the answers threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked for. For Cynthia, there can be no closure until she finds out why her family disappeared—and how they could have left her behind.

Terry thinks the segment on the popular TV crime-stopper program Deadline is a mistake. But his wife hopes that someone watching will have a lead to her missing family. Sure enough, it’s Cynthia who spots the strange car cruising the neighborhood, hears the untraceable phone calls, and discovers the ominous “gifts.” And as Cynthia’s nerves begin to unravel, no one’s innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time the first body is found, it’s clear that her past is more of a mystery than she ever imagined—or may ever survive.

Someone has returned to this Connecticut town to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And by the time Terry and Cynthia discover the killer’s shocking identity, it will be too late even for goodbye.

Read more or even buy it here.

Or visit Linwood's website

* * *As is, and will continue to be, the rule, I make no money from any recommendations.* * *
~ ~ ~Well...unless I recommend my own book(s)...which somehow would seem wrong...but, who knows? I might do it anyway!~ ~ ~

Musical Inspiration #3

A classic to get Friday started...

...and a lesson in just do it...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Musical Inspiration #2 - Who says we don't have the spirit in L.A.?

Eerily accurate....

News - Short Story

For those of you jones for the next Quinn story (THE DECEIVED due June 24th), SURPRISE! You don't have to wait that long.

I have a new short story entitled JUST ANOTHER JOB on Authorlinks' Celebwire, and it's a Quinn story. Check it out here, just scroll down until you see my mug or the cover of THE CLEANER.

UPDATE: The link works now. After you get to the download page, you'll see a rectangle button to the right that says DOWNLOAD STORY NOW. Click there, and you're set! If you're still having problems, try refreshing your page. That's worked for a few folks, too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Musical Inspiration #1

I've posted this video before, but I love the performance so much I have to do it again. KT Tunstall...notice at the beginning how she is records a couple of sounds (a guitar strum, a tamborine hit), then replays them basically becoming a one woman band. I love this performance. Always pull it up when I need a lift.


So my virtual silence (read the double meaning) over the last several months has been noticed by at least 2 of you. A combo of a lot going on outside the world of the Internet, and a bit of blog burn out (i.e., what am I going to write now.)

Well, I've finally got it figured out. This blog is entitle A Writer's Sphere, and, damn it, that's just what it is. My sphere. My world. What makes me tick.

I'm going to write and post whatever I feel like. I'm going to share things that inspire me, and help stir my own creativity. I'll post thoughts when I have something to share, and also some news about upcoming releases and signings and appearances and all that. I'll even have special post series...for instance, this month I'm going to also post gift ideas for you to consider this holiday season.

Also (as if that's not going to be enough), you'll be hearing more from me elsewhere than just here at the good old AWS after the new year. More on that later.

Without further ado, I'M BACK.