Saturday, July 25, 2009

Korean Daily Newspaper: Interview and Video about Blogging Heroes

Interest in Blogging Heroes continues. A couple weeks back Young Choi, a journalist from The Seoul Shinmum Daily (South Korea's oldest newspaper) came to interview me about the book and blogging.

The interview is here:

Scroll down for the video interview. It's in English (Korean is one of the languages I do not speak) and has Korean subtitles. If I look odder than usual, it's because I'm squinting into the afternoon sun. The interview and video were conducted at the United States Air Force Museum (highly recommended, by the way).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Letter-Writing for Writers

Remember when you wrote real letters--hardcopy sent via street mail? I imagine there are some younger people who have always used E-mail, but at some point in their lives nearly everyone has written letters.

I became a prodigious letter-writer in the 1970s, staying in touch with fellow science fiction fans, model builders, and other friends across the U.S. and Europe. This continued through the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, until nearly everyone got on the E-mail bandwagon. (I think about 25 percent of my correspondents were using email by 1985.) By the turn of the century, I wrote only the occasional hardcopy letter to older friends and relatives.

Several years ago I went back to writing letters regularly to people who also use E-mail. It's a nice break, printing out and mailing missives the old-fashioned way. Sometimes I write them by hand.

Interestingly, I find myself using all of my writing skills and technique, even dialogue, in letters. The vocabulary is adjusted to the recipient and/or subject, but I get as much satisfaction from a well-crafted letter as I do from a good article or short story.

In addition, writing letters gives me something to fall back on when I'm temporarily stuck and can't get into one of my commercial projects. It gets my mind off being frustrated over the block, and keeps me in the writing groove. Try it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mr. Ken's Wild Ride

Ken Moore, a well-known Nashville SF fan and art expert, passed away last week. He was one of those people who is a real "character" without knowing it. When a thought hit him, he acted on it and (sometimes) thought about it later.

Here's a remembrance of Ken, just one of hundreds of tales that those who knew him can tell.
A family vacation in 1980 took us through Nashville, and we stopped over to visit Ken Moore, a science fiction fan friend who lived there. He wanted to take us to lunch at a restaurant in town owned by a friend of his, so we drove there from his house in my 1977 Chevrolet Nova. Once we were seated in a spacious booth, the owner made a point of coming out to greet Ken and meet the rest of us. The only other diners in the place were a couple over in a far corner.

As we were finishing the meal, Ken ordered a screwdriver (at least, a drink that looked like a screwdriver). The girl waiting on our table brought it out, then returned to the kitchen. The couple left at some point, and several minutes later my son, who was 5 at the time, tried to call our attention to two men running across the parking lot. “Look at those guys,” he urged. “They look like they’re on a wild goose chase!”

We adults were busy discussing important science fiction stuff, and just said, “Oh, yeah. They’re running, aren't they?”

About that time the restaurant owner and waitress burst out of the back room. “We’ve been robbed!” the owner said, voice trembling. “They had a pistol, a .38! Made us lay down on the floor. I thought they were going to shoot us ... but they just took the money ... came out here!”

“God damn!” Ken yelled. He jumped to his feet. “Gimmie your keys, Mike.” Caught up in the moment, I just handed them over, like a fool. Ken darted out door.

It took a couple of seconds for me to realize what I’d done—and what Ken was thinking of doing. I trotted out to the parking lot just as he was starting up the Nova’s engine.

“This is my car,” I thought, “with an over-excited Ken Moore at the wheel!” Like most guys, I was kinda partial to my car, and figured I ought to go along so I could at least witness its fate.

I yanked open the passenger door and hopped in as he put it into gear.

“They went that way,” Ken said, pointing with the half-full glass in his right hand. With his left, he steered us out of the lot and into the middle of the street. Then he took a drink and waved the glass in my direction. “Here—hold this!”

I took the drink. There followed what I’ll always remember as “Ken’s Nashville Thrill Ride.” Scarier than the fiercest roller coasters at Opryland!

In memory, it’s cinematic blur of squealing tires and hard leans to the left and right. Ken took as around corners and through U-turns without slowing. He stopped every half-minute or so to ask someone on the street whether they’d seen two black guys running in this or that direction. There was a lot of bumping over railroad tracks at high speed, and swaying in and out lanes to pass or narrowly miss hitting other cars.

Caught up in Ken’s determination to do whatever he thought he was going to do if he caught these guys (run over them, I guess), I literally clung to the dashboard and hoped he didn’t catch them. After all, we were chasing two guys with a gun—and all we had was a 6-cylinder Nova!

Ken gave up after ten minutes, and we limped back to his friend’s restaurant. To this day I don’t know whether they caught the crooks. But I left Nashville with a bona-fide souvenir of Ken’s wild ride: a broken shock. And I didn't spill a drop of Ken's drink.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fiction Tip

Fiction Writing Tip #438: Don't take your characters anywhere your readers wouldn't go.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Visual Research Online: Article in The Writer

When researching biographies, I find information in strange places (like eBay listings). I've written about my research techniques in the past, in The Writer and Online magazine.

I'm back at it in the August issue of The Writer (page 36) with a piece about finding photos and videos from which you can extract information that you might not be able to find anywhere else. It's out there--but don't forget to have a second source for everything!