Monday, December 28, 2015

"Beauty and Battle" A Review of Barry Lancet's New "Pacific Burn"

Get Pacific Burn on Amazon

Pacific Burn is  murder, betrayal, and insane martial arts mixed with near-pornographic descriptions of Japanese art, ceramics, and folkways. 

Well, as pornographic as a tea bowl can get, anyway.

This combination of hard-nosed private eye with art expert wouldn’t work in a traditional Western genre except that Jim Brodie, the hero, is clearly a modern samurai following the Bushido Code. Samurai weren’t only the slashing and bashing class in ancient Japan, they actually invented the tea ceremony, black ink calligraphy painting, and those raked gravel gardens. Inner peace and external mayhem weren’t seen as a conflict. 

The bifurcation of Jim Brodie is shown by his split professional life. In San Francisco, he is a dealer in ultra-fine Japanese art that inspires descriptions like this: “...the black was superior, its glaze luxuriant but subdued. The interior walls swept downward in a dramatic touch. The bottom had a full, luscious curve that finished with a subtle indentation at the center.” (You don’t want to buy that damn tea cup, you want to take it out for cocktails and hope you get lucky!) 
In Tokyo, he’s a tough and experienced private eye who’s on a first name basis with both the police and the yakuza and, in case you thought the bit with the bowl means he’s a wimp, kicks some serious ass. “I dropped to the ground, pushing both hands palm out to break my fall, then flipped on my side, Supported by my forearm and strong leg and leveraging the momentum of my leg sweep, I “walked” my free hand in a rapid circle…helicoptered my legs around and knocked him off his feet.” 

Lancet takes this terrific mix of beauty and battle and layers in the ruinous aftermath of the nuclear meltdown in Tokyo, a killer so deadly that street toughs give themselves up to avoid him, and the sort of expert descriptions of the places and patterns that make up the real Japan that usually belong to John Rain. In the end, though, Brodie is the quintessential American private eye: one man standing alone with only his personal honor to prevail against a venal society out to break him and everything he loves. 

Wait. Isn’t that the image of masterless ronin with only their personal honor to live by? 

OK, it’s Sam Spade meets the Magnificent Seven. Art meets action and creates a world-class read."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dan Morgan's Book "Last Stage Manager Standing"

Mainland grad rubbed elbows with TV news stars

Daniel B. Morgan wrote 'Last Stage Manager Standing' about experiences

Daniel B. Morgan learned to love television by hanging out with his grandmother, Lilian Richards, after school.

Richards loved her soap operas, “Guiding Light,” “Search for Tomorrow,” “As The World Turns” and “The Edge of Night.” Morgan, who graduated in 1965 from Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, was no die-hard soap opera fan, but he grew to love the medium of television and decided to make a career in it.
Morgan spent nearly 50 years working as stage manager for ABC, CBS and NBC and PBS. He has written a book about his experiences, “Last Stage Manager Standing.” The book, with an introduction by journalist Connie Chung and released by Page Publishing of New York City.
“I’m a people person,” said Morgan, 69. That came in handy performing the various duties of a stage manager.
“We represent the director and the producer when they are not there,” he said. “We organize the confusion.”
Morgan was born in Northfield and grew up in Pleasantville, Ventnor, Atlantic City and Northfield. Most of his time in television was spent at CBS from 1978 to 1984 and ABC from 1986 to 2008. He worked on newscasts and with news departments.
Morgan worked as a freelancer and was never on staff at any of the networks. His book is both a memoir and a group of connected barroom stories.
A stage manager wears several hats, Morgan said, from shrink and cheerleader. He might do something as mundane as getting a soda for the on-air talent or be the one to tell composer and bandleader Duke Ellington when to start playing the piano.
In 1968, Morgan started his career at ABC News. He was working when American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Ellington had been commissioned by ABC-TV to compose and perform a 10-minute song titled “Moon Maiden,” which marked his debut as a vocalist.
Morgan knew Ellington’s drummer, Rufus “Speedy” Jones, because he had seen him play with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson on Steel Pier in Atlantic City in the 1960s.
Morgan worked with the top news anchors of the time. He won a Peabody Award for his work with the late Peter Jennings during ABC’s coverage of 9/11.
“Peter was incredible,” said Morgan. Jennings not only read the news, but would write the two stories of each broadcast. “Peter was particular. He wanted the studio at 48 degrees.”
Morgan also listed Ted Koppel and the late Charles Kuralt as outstanding journalists.
“Mike Wallace (of ‘60 Minutes’) was fair, but he would tell you if he was out to get you,” Morgan said.
Morgan worked with many people who became famous, including Bill O’Reilly, Brian Wiliams, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Meredith Vieira and Barbara Walters.
He said he does have one regret from his decades working with talented, ambitious people, usually under the deadline pressure of producing nightly newcasts.
“I learned I probably could have been more diplomatic or more tactful,” said Morgan.
Morgan misses the days when more television shows were live, and he found the people who used to work in television to be more genuine than today’s practitioners.
“The Monica Lewinsky scandal changed everything,” he said.
The rush to cover the story of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who had a sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton, caused news organizations to move away from some standards, including needing two sources to put a story on the air.
Morgan left the television business in 2013. He said he may write another book or move into radio.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bob’s Your Uncle: An Interview with the Voice of the Westerns—Bob Rundell

As Western readers know– only certain voices can work when it comes to narrating Western novels. That voice has to be special, articulate, weathered and above all– authentic. Bob Rundell is a relative newcomer to the world of Western novels, but he is becoming one of the most prolific Western audiobook narrators available through ACX.
This interview is with the very popular Rundell. For those of you looking to get your Western on audiobook, you may want to use him. For those who love Westerns, you will certainly want to hear him.
Welcome Bob!
Hi! Thank you for asking me to do an interview for this site.
You are more than welcome. Let me start by asking why you like to work on Western novels? 
The characters are more diverse, genuine and believable.
What is it about the Western that gets your interest? 
The values of the times and the believable characters in their setting.

Bob’s Your Uncle: An Interview with the Voice of the Westerns—Bob Rundell

Monday, November 2, 2015

Myles Knapp does a 2 Minute Pitch for Revenge School

All Right. All right. 
Take off that motorcycle helmet and speak up.
I'm a busy mogul. So. 
Where do you get your ideas? 
All my ideas come at the keyboard. Type, type, type. Two hundred words. Or maybe ten thousand or fifteen thousand. Sooner or later a couple of words will jump out at you screaming:
“Wowee, Zowee! Here’s a good idea.”
 Of course some ideas, often the best, come from my wife who says, “Here’s something you could do.” Then I grouse about it. And say things like I’m the writer. And it’s my story. But she’s mostly always right.

Yeah, my 5th wife was like that. A real pain...
[Mr. Mogul! You know she has a restraining order against you saying that!]
I swear the next time, 
I'm just going to find a woman 
I don't like and buy her a house.  
 What's Your Teaser Pitch?
A vigilante groups open a “Revenge School” where ordinary people learn how to get more than even. Lessons include “Delivering Instant, Painful Justice,” and “Getting More Than Even.”

Ok, I like the sound of that.
[Of course you did, nimrod. That's how he got in the door!]
I gotta fire that girl one of these days. 
Who is your hero and how does he change in the book?
The leader of the Revenge Team is Pay. He is a big man who to helps victims help themselves. He is addicted to the adrenaline of violent justice.I don’t believe the stuff going around about characters needing to be complex with a mixture of good and bad or weakness and strength. (The standard example used for this thinking is Hannibal Lecter. Industry pundits say he is a great character because he is full of contradictions. I say *&^%. Lecter is a great character because he eats live humans brains. And unless you are a writer I bet you don’t remember much else about him except, perhaps that he also ate Fava Beans.)As far as character arc, what was Superman’s character arc? He was popular for years without a character arc. It’s only recently that people in the industry decided he needed an arc. I don’t think readers or movie goers care one little tiny bit. They just want to like the hero. And they want him to kick evils butt.So, I don’t worry about Pay changing much. In the first story, his client, Richard, is a fairly typical American male in that he doesn’t have the skills necessary to protect himself and his family. Richard’s character arc is to move from mouse to man.

We can sell that as the Courage Not to Change. 
Or something. 
Anyway. why this title?
Because, after I wrote about 10,000 words, those two words jumped up and screamed TITLE.
And because I showed it to several writers I respect and they all said, “Darn Good Title.” Or, “That’s a Franchise title.” And I could see them thinking, “Boy I wish I’d thought of that.” And, “If this guy doesn’t do something with that idea, I wonder if I can use it.”

I hope you sued that last jerk into bankruptcy. 
The logline--what am I putting on the posters? 
I’ll give you a choice of three. 
For Movie People: It’s Death Wish, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon smashed together and updated for the 21st century.

For Book People: Its Robert Parker’s Spenser combined with a bit of Bond & Bourne to create a 21st century vigilante team that gives the power to deliver instant painful justice to the universal everyman and everywoman.

For Real People: A team of heroic friends help victims deliver instant, painful justice. (This one is my favorite.)

Don't make me think! It triggers my need for 
Peruvian Marching Powder! 
Breath Deeply and Think Quiet Thoughts.
OK I'm back. 
Why should I buy your book? 
And just one answer this time...

What? I make the jokes here! 

I'm sorry Mr. Mogul sir. Please get down off your desk.
Here’s what you can expect.
  1. A few hours of entertaining escape.
  2. You'll learn something about ways to protect yourself.
  3. But if you are looking for “Literatoor,” (Literature, often pronounced with a rising inflection and a pinky finger held carefully away from a china tea cup, by an erudite gentleman in a velvet smoking jacket) this is not the book for you.
  4. This is the kind of book you read anywhere—in bed, on the porch in your favorite rocker, on the bus, in the subway … It’s the kind of book you read with a beer, or wine, or iced tea or coffee. My favorite reader comment was from a guy who read it on his phone while he was waiting in lines at Disneyworld. He said, “Revenge School made the interminable lines something I almost looked forward to.”
Dynamite! We can sell it to 
Disney / Katzenberg / Slo Jam / Legendary! 
We'll make gazillions! 
[It's Valerie, nimrod!]
                             Whatever, sign this guy up and find me an NA meeting.
Buy Revenge School At Amazon

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Two-Minute Book Pitch for DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS by Jeff Markowitz

[It's Charlie and I'm a guy.]
Who is this idiot and how did he get into my office during tanning time?
[You're always tanning and he had an appointment]
Hmmmph. OK. 
Can't you take off that beard? No? 
OK. Let's get this over with. 
How did you come up with the idea?
I was walking on the beach one night in North Cape May when I imagined a body, dead at the waterline. The knife was still warm in my hand.

North Cape May? 
That's really Wildwood--
dead bodies are a dime a dozen in Wildwood.
 Never mind. 
What’s the Teaser Pitch that got you into my door? 
Richie's girlfriend suggested a romantic getaway, promised him a week-end he will never forget. So why can't he remember what happened, when he finds her lifeless body on the beach?
Richie is pretty sure he didn't kill his girlfriend, but his memory is hazy. One thing, however, is clear. When Lorraine's body is found, he's going to be the prime suspect in a murder investigation. If her body is found. Disposing of the body turns out to be harder than Richie could have imagined. Losing it, however, is easy.

 So your Hero is Richie?
I'll bet he can't forget.
 I can see young Donald Sutherland in the role 
or maybe that kid with the googly eyes on Mr. Robot.
How does he change in the book?
Richie would tell you that his story is a classic case of Why do bad things happen to good people?  He had the bad fortune, he would tell you, of discovering his girlfriend, dead on the beach, and then things just sort of spun out of control. He’s a sociopath, but I bet you’ll be rooting for him all the way to the end.
Hey, this is Hollywood. 
We got nothing but sociopaths out here.  
Why this title?
The title evokes the scene, captured on the book cover, when Richie finds his girlfriend’s body on the beach. Also, the following morning, when he wakes up next to his dead girlfriend and breathes in the aroma of her favorite perfume.

OH! I get it! White Diamonds that the old fat broad was pitching.
[That would be the immortal Elizabeth Taylor, you idiot!]
Sure. Sure. Whatever. 
See if we can get her.
 What’s the logline?
Did you ever have one of those days? And you haven’t even gotten to the bad part yet.

Not bad. Not bad. 
 Why should I, The Rich and Insanely Handsome Book Mogul, buy it?

You’ll feel better knowing that someone is having a worse day than you are. And the chum cannon scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Chum Cannon? 
Hmmm. I could use that on Elon Musk...or better yet WITH Elon Musk. 
Sweetheart! Stop the Presses! We're rolling out... What's the name of this book again? 

[Right after I file this week's sexual harassment complaint.}