Friday, April 26, 2013

Bullet Time News or The Conviction of Joyful Things


Howdy, folks...

Been a long time, and I hope you are well. 2012 flew, and 2013 is on track to do the same. Hoping to blog a bit more in the upcoming months. Here's an essay that was published earlier this year. And kinda explains my absence from the interwebs. 

XOXOX
DSH 

 
• CCN.com article redacted.

I look at a 500 word CNN article and for my convenience I see just to the left there is a 300 redacted word summary. I can just read the bullet news. Why would I do this? Because I’m busy, I don’t have enough time and the other 200 words of facts or quotes or context just might slow me down? Perhaps. Is our information hunger so voracious that bullet points are enough for me to digress and move onto the next stream?

Perhaps.

But I do know this: we can’t keep up, even refreshing our browser every minute, every hour, skimming headlines. How many times have you clicked to go to a website you are already on? Think about it. I bet you have. I certainly have. There is no way to keep up, no matter how much we redact the information in those streams. The bottom line is that information consumption is a sum zero game.


Digital content doubles every 18 months - circa 2009


• Why is this? To save us time. And what are we spending that time on? More redacted articles.

And with this time saved by reading redacted news or articles, what do we do with it? Become frustrated and angry at the world because of the 15 second ad before a “newsworthy” kitten video? (true story). And then take the time to register and leave a comment expressing said anger? Sad.

And the other extreme is business executives who are too busy to read the latest book on business theory or leadership. But don’t fret, they now have the option of a service which will distill the thesis of the book to a 2 page synopsis and a list of bullet points.

Makes you wonder if the author couldn’t have just written that redacted version to begin with. But then you say who would buy a book of bullet notes? Well, it seems the CEOs are buying the book and a service to do this very thing. I wonder if the service is a subsidiary of the publisher. If not, I bet they wish they were.

It seems to me we’re allotting the mortar of our precious time, when it we should be using bricks.


Why Multitasking Isn't Efficient - WedMD


• And suddenly we’re a stream of facts without context. Memes and blips and sound bites etc without context. Everything becomes an advert’s tag line. Can we sell something in three words, two words, one?

I used to see almost a hundred movies a year back in the day. Now it’s less. Quite a few. But make no mistake. I read the reviews, I read the credits. I can have a conversation about the movie, and if not about the nuances or key moments, I can say, “oh yeah, so and so did that,” or “didn’t she do this other movie” and go from there. For some reason I retain that kind of information and it has served me well in many movie meetings. But for everyday life...
• And we seem to be headed to a more and more redacted time in America. Youtube clips, texts messages. FB statuses. Memes. LOL. BRB. U R. Luv.

Just writing this short essay I stopped to check out SI.com. Just what is going on that I might have missed in the last several hours, scratch that, last hour. Honestly, last ten minutes. We’re conditioned to push that lever (refresh) in hopes of being rewarded with a new nugget. It’s called random reinforcement. It’s what keeps tourist and residents alike feeding slot machines. Or in my case Amazon books sales, FB, WWF, email. And yet when I read a book I can only manage a chapter at a time because there is the urge to do that cycle like checking your mirrors and gauges in a car when driving. I get anxious I am missing out on something I know is mundane.

• We have redacted ourselves out of authentic experiences.

You get to pick the things you can enjoy, but it seems we are enjoying life less and less. We’re impatient and ready to move on to the next thing. And what are we hoping the next thing will do for us? Give us a chuckle a cry, an aha moment? Think back to your last aha moment, that last religious experience you had.

You know the kind, at least I hope you do, that unexpected opening band that made you believe that yes I am a part of things and they are singing my soul Рyes, there will be sprit speak like this in here so check your non-funny cynical clich̩ ridden sarcasm at the door. Done, ok? Or read the last chapter of a book and was affected. It stuck with you for days. Or weeks. Perhaps a year later you went back and reread it. You wanted to share it with the world.

When was the last time you had an experience like that skimming something? You may have missed these moments because of that redaction. Or failed to grasp the nuance. Maybe you should make a list of these things that gave you such an experience. I have. The things that give me joy. The first time I wrote such a list, I thought to myself, why don’t I do these things more? And the initial thought was, I don’t have time.

But that is the lie of the lazy, isn’t?


The Busy Trap - NY TIMES



• Writers are generally taught that we should write every day. Flex that muscle. But any trainer or physical therapist will tell you one of the keys getting into shape and building lean muscle is rest and recovery.

And to that I add: guilt free rest and recovery. And yet, when I pause long enough there was a five month period in my life, when I remember being-- what is that elusive term? Oh right, Happy. On the heels of a collapsed labor of love project, I quit writing. For about five months. And you know what? The world did not miss me. Newspaper and magazine and Facebook and the internet did not call asking what I’ve been up to. The news I missed was just a variation of the news I’d read five months prior.

But here’s what I did on this break: I enjoyed the world. I planted a garden. I made my own BBQ sauce (two styles – Red Eye Jack and Smoky Bee). I learned to play bass guitar. I joined a cover band—our only gig a backyard block party. The cops were called. Which was a huge blow to me because we were getting ready to launch into Lenny Kravis’ Are You Gonna Go My Way, which is not only a rockin song, but lets the bass player run a little apeshit. And I had spend many hours woodshedding that little ditty. So there it goes. Oh well. (Man, us fortysomethings got the cops called on us. How old school… heh.)

But then the cops said, no, no. Play one more. That’s right the cops said: Play. One. More. And we did. And it was glorious.


Are You Gonna Go My Way


On this hiatus, I enriched my life with activities that required me being present and active and thinking. It did not drain me, it recharged me. I pledged that I would do this every year. And perhaps add a new hobby – going back to photography a creative outlet with instant results and rewards. And quick to share.

But instead for some inexplicable reason I doubled down and went to grad school. I have not gotten back to that hiatus yet. Oh I’ve taken some time off, said no to a few projects, but I really have not done it guilt free.

And yet, I often look back on those five months or so as if they were a great Renaissance period in my life. And yet maybe they were. I felt fulfilled. Less stressed. I enjoyed my time on this planet. I wasn’t looking for an endless stream of nuggets of redacted information or vicarious experiences. I enjoyed life whole and without redaction.

• But the good thing is we can still pick our own adventure.

Louis CK - "Bored" is a Useless Thing To Say



• The amazing thing with life is you get to pick your own adventure. Our lives are unique. Strive to make them even more so.

It’s ok. Turn off the TV. Turn off the internet. Pick up that magazine, the one without the celebrities, that book. Read. On your porch, your stoop. The park. Slow your brain down. Chew your food. Digest it. You’re not missing anything. It will be there on the internet waiting for you. Or out on DVD in a few months. But that time, quality time, that quality adventure time to follow your bliss will not be.

The response to this from some colleagues is the classic Tyranny of the Should. I really should, I can’t, I have to… and as a playwright friend of mine once said, “people just don’t like to be reminded that bold choices are still possible.” And when our friends or colleagues make those bold choices aren’t we a touch jealous, a bit in awe, if not outwardly, then deep down inside?

And you might just discover something worthy. So go ahead pick your own adventure. Plant a garden. Write a poem. Cook dinner with a friend. Take a train ride. Take ukulele lessons. Write about the funniest moments in your life. That idea you have, that idea, that simple million dollar idea. Explore it. Research it. Sketch it. Or just listen to a record. Side A. Side B. With a friend. (I recommend RUMOURS). Enjoy these rituals. Commit to the conviction of joyful things.

Now please, excuse me, while I make my adventure list for spring & summer, and suggest you do the same. Experience something from beginning to end and enjoy the middle. That’s where they hide the cream.


David Scott Hay is an award-winning writer based in Chicago. He loves you very much.
www.davidscotthay.com
mailto:david@davidscotthay.com

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

Howdy folks:

I hope this finds you all well and heading into 2012 with goals, dreams, and good health and hearty laughter.

I haven't been blogging as much lately for a few reasons. Mostly just to recharge. 2011 was a banner year, as they say. Looking back I finished my MFA, released and marketed three novels, published 4-5 non-fiction essays - most of which originally appeared here before getting picked up by Digital Americana Magazine out of New York.

I finally put to bed (for now) THE MARKER, the Civil Rights play I've been collaborating on with David Barr III and Glenn Jeffers. It opens in Shreveport in February as a local  production for us to work out any bugs before going to regional theatres that have shown an interest. Looks like possible LA meetings for the subsequent screenplay adaptation of the project. So that'll be my next official project.

Meanwhile...

The beginning of 2012 had shown great promise as a little promotional effort have helped the sales of my novels a great deal. Additional ads coming out in the next 5 weeks will boost it even more (fingers crossed). I did do some heavy outlining on the FALL novella, HELL'S GATE (A US Armored Cavalry Regiment finds themselves in a strange new land... a novella bridging Book One and Book Two: WINTER: The Siege of Heaven) and its sequels. Sales for this are only getting better, as are the reviews. Intelligent discriminating readers are finding this Bibical literary fantasy right up their alley. It's not for all fantasy readers, but I had a blast writing it and plotting the continuation has been challenging and a bit diabolical. The novella, which was originally going to be the prologue to Book Two, has kinda of taken on a life of its own. It'll be more military action/horror in a fantasy setting and will introduce a key character for the rest of the series.

And after a slow start, my darling baby FOUNTAIN is finally reaching more readers. It's that kind of book where every sale seems like a victory-- and it contains my best writing. But, then again, like I've said: genre sells.

Oh, and there was an offer from a publisher for all the above. We're still in talks. It's a brave new world out there.

Meanwhile, 2012 is hopefully going to see a successful play opening, a screenplay project and that novella completed.  Not a big year production wise, but 2011 laid the groundwork and I'm slowing down and unplugging more. Enjoying family, life, reading, and Skyrim.

Best,

DSH


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jerry by Hobie Anthony

Hey folks:

Glad to see ya. Here is a subtle piece of flash from Mr. Flash himself, Hobie Anthony. What I love about Hobie's work is that it isn't flashy. It doesn't showboat, but there's always a razor or two that'll cut you. And later that day you'll wonder why you're still bleeding.

Enjoy,

XOXOXO
DSH



Jerry paced back and forth, a towel wrapped around his left fist, waiting for another customer to walk down the stairs to the basement bar for a drink. He wrapped the towel tighter and let out a sigh, all he had was two barflies, a couple of low-lifes who couldn't see fit to leave him alone on a Sunday night. It was getting on to 2am and Sports Center was showing the same old highlights it had for the past, well, for a while. He pressed play on the cd player and Whisky River came to life.

He checked his watch. No call from Marnie. He tightened the rag.

Jerry poured more brandy and refilled his glass of beer. He wrapped the towel tighter. Jerry looked at the television to see another incomplete pass from Favre and punched the bar.

The door opened and a group came in. He knew their drinks from memory the second he laid eyes on them, a few different beers and a couple highballs; he gave them a good price and made a clean fifteen bucks on the tip, putting his jar at about fifty bucks, judging from the looks of the jar so far. He could maybe break even for the day if more people came in, and came in quick.

The two barflies at the end looked around nervously and ordered a pitcher and two whiskys each.

At two fifteen, a crowd started streaming in. More bar people from up and down the street. There was the buxom blonde with the big, Cheshire-cat grin whose laugh echoed off the drop ceiling and popcorn-covered floor; the kid with his arm in a sling; the guy with awful bleached-blonde hair that he had cut himself after too many cocktails; the guy who usually kept quiet except for when he was too loaded to know better. There was the girl with the lazy eye and dreadlocks who propositioned him one night, a blow-job if he'd give her drinks for free after hours. That offer stood good.

He talked to the Cheshire-cat blonde. About Marnie. She gazed into his eyes and told him to bring shots for the two of them.

The tap poured and shots were filled and refilled again as bottle caps went flying towards of the trash, landing on beat to the jukebox. Games were played and change was made, and the tip jar filled with ones and fives and tens. No time for brandy. No time to think about that young thing who split, left town without the courtesy of a good-bye. Nothing to do but tighten the bar rag, wipe up spills and empty ashtrays until last call.

Hobie Anthony writes prose and poetry in Portland, OR. A native of the South, prodigal son to Chicago, and new NorthWesterner, he seeks to understand this America. He can be found or is forthcoming in such journals as The Los Angeles Review, Crate, Prime Mincer, The Other Room, R.kv.r.y., Ampersand, Pank, Prime Number, and Soundzine, among others. His novella Silverfish can be found here: SILVERFISH

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Still Open for Business and Other Random Things

Howdy Folks:

Where the hell did last month go? 

Here is a short list of things I meant to blog about.
  • Essential tools for self-pub
  • Batman vs Superman
  • Human Spirit/Space Shuttle
  • Ten Random Facts About Me
  • Great Indie Books I've Discovered
  • A new flash fiction piece.
Some will come to fruition. I'm planning to do the Space Shuttle one shortly and hope it makes it into Digital Americana Magazine. I do not have a piece in the upcoming issue. Mostly due to the fact the piece I was working on just didn't gell. Perhaps I'll revisit it at a later date.

In the meanwhile, I've met some cool like-minded and talented folks over on Twitter (@DavidScottHay). I'm trying to be more interactive there and less book book book. As far as Arson Books, we're a little behind on the revamped website which is a bit of a bummer, but folks gots jobs and gotta eat. I'm eyeing a few authors to approach about putting out their books on our 'label'. But these things never happen quick enough.

I've had another great month for the eBooks. Met my goal and the numbers are now demanding that I put out a paperback version of FALL complete with the new illustrations (see a previous blog). Hope to have it to market by Thanksgiving.

Work on the spin-off (Hell's Gate) and sequels (Winter, Untitled) has slowed due to a screenplay gig (Star) and an impending production of my co-authored Civil Rights play The Marker in Feb. We're still editing and polishing, but have to get a version out ASAP to the director and designers. The screenplay is at the 1/2 mark and I hope to have a rough done by the end of Oct/mid November with an official broadcast after the holidays. Very excited to be working with this producer. She's a go getter and world traveler.

I was slated to crank out the novella of Hell's Gate in November. That could still happen (yeah, right) since it's mostly outlined, but I think the play and screenplay and its rewrites will take me through the end of the year. It's good to be busy. But I'm still scribbling notes for the FALL  books, so it's not a complete stand still. Page generation will probably start in the spring though. Or late winter. Or summer. Heh.

Thanks for checking in.

I'll post a new piece of flash, shortly.

xoxox
DSH





Friday, August 26, 2011

Ruby by Hobie Anthony

Howdy folks:

Premiering a new piece of visceral flash fiction by Hobie Anthony. It'll stick with ya.

xoxox
DSH



The snow had finally melted and warm rain came down to swell the river, flooding the countryside. I was glad to get out of the house into the back yard and walk on the soppy ground. I took trash to the can in the alley and a burrito wrapper fell from the bag. I leaned over for the trash and there it was, the horror and surprise of it; there lay a woman's ring finger still with a man's ruby ring between the knuckle and the bloody stump. The woman's nail was torn and jagged as though it had clawed something rough and hard.

The finger was perfectly preserved by the cold and felt like it was beginning to thaw, how frozen meat will feel mushy on the top but solid towards the frozen, bony center. The ring fell off onto the ground. The ruby was clear and flawless, perfect in a gold setting.

There were no tracks around the site, they had vanished into water. Had the finger been carried there on foot or in a car? I thought back. Maybe I'd heard a car the night before last, while we were arguing over wages missed due to snow-days or sloth. But, maybe that was a wishful memory, implanted to forget some point of truth or fact my wife had pointed out. She was good at that.

I could see her there at the window, doing the dishes from last night, dishes we left to soak when we'd moved into our third beer and I'd opened the whisky; she had dealt the cards for cribbage and we ended up on the floor, her knees were cherry red this morning.

I took the finger and rubbed it between the palms of my hands. The blood thawed and oozed a bit. I wiggled it a bit at the joint, and I kissed the jagged nail. I cleared a hole and pushed the finger deep into the middle of the garbage bag; I held the ring in my pocket, flipping it over and over.



Hobie Anthony writes prose and poetry in Portland, OR. A native of the South, prodigal son to Chicago, and new NorthWesterner, he seeks to understand this America. He can be found or is forthcoming in such journals as The Los Angeles Review, Crate, Prime Mincer, The Other Room, R.kv.r.y., Ampersand, Pank, Prime Number, and Soundzine, among others. He is now focused on putting together a new book.



Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hulk and I by Martin King


Howdy folks: 

We have a guest blogger (our first!) today: Martin King. He is zipping around the internet doing 100 guest blogs in a 100 days. Check out the link below for even more. But enjoy this one.  

xoxox
DSH



Today’s tale we are going to touch on TV programmes. What for, we’ve already had one of those. True, but then TV was a big part of a child’s life or perhaps more to the point made a lasting impression.

It is hard to imagine what television sets were actually like back then. I mean we had a fourteen inch portable that came with its own, inbuilt indoor aerial. But if you thought that was bad enough, my mate had one of those TV combination sets. For five minutes they were ‘the next big thing’, you know they had a radio, cassette deck and mini eight inch screen all built in.

But back to my black and white set with a dial for changing channels. If you wanted to turn your set over, it had a dial on the front a bit like a radio station tuner, but for the TV channels.

So now I’ve set the scene picture this (sorry for the pun), every program we watched were in black and white. Now one of our favourite programmes was the 70’s rendition of the Incredible Hulk. Every week chartered an episode of Dr. David Banner going from town to town and giving a bad guy the what for. And at the vital moment he would turn from a normal guy into this big, pale grey monster.

Wait, let’s just rewind...doesn’t the Hulk turn green. Well true, but not if you have a black and white set. Every week we watched it, we never saw him turn green once. That is until one Saturday our family were invited around to a friend’s house for tea. Yippee! Me and my sister couldn’t wait.

So the big day arrived and we went round to this family who were friends with our parents. And yes, they had a colour TV. So at the usual time we arranged for them to put in on and see him green for the first time. To our horror, the night’s viewing had been disrupted due to an election. How inconsiderate!

Yes, you’ve guessed, we never did see our hero Mr. Banner turn green. How sad.

-- Martin King


[Editor's Note - The original color of the comic book Hulk was gray.] 

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series: http://martinkingauthor.com/blog/7094550076

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FALL: The Art of the Book…


Howdy folks: 

As an old school fan of fantasy, I was always delighted to find a book that had a handful of illustrations, the most prominent in memory being, of course, the wonderful work of John Howe and Alan Lee on The Lord of the Rings.

Though we devour words, an occasional work of art inside a fantasy tale is such a delight.

I was lucky enough to hook up with renown UK fantasy artist Sandara Tang for the cover to FALL: The Last Testament of Lucifer Morningstar (The Fallen Trilogy: Book One). To be honest it was an existing piece I saw in her portfolio, but it was perfect for the book.




We worked out a licensing deal and I tweaked for my purposes. I needed it to be a bit brighter to make the text pop and make sure the cover itself didn't wash out as a thumbnail for the various sites. As you can see by the finished cover, I also flipped it so the text flows into Lucifer's body and you're not fighting where your eye gets pulled.



 I love her work so much that I commissioned some original artwork for the book. It was hard picking a handful of scenes to illustrate. I didn't wan them to be all action. So I tried to find a good mix. It was very difficult as my wish list o f must have scenes grew to about a dozen.

In the end I selected 4-5. Here are a sample of a few of the roughs she sent me for approval. With my comments.



 The Mark of Cain. In the story it's described as a silver circle. In the early ebooks, it was a clip art type thingy with a circle and a dot in the center. ZZZZZzzzzzz. So I asked her to give it some flair. i didn't give her any notes on this as I though ti was perfect. Note a touch of asymmetry for the left and right hand sides of the designs.  You're looking what just might be my next tattoo.


Although I love this one of Honeybone hanging from the Tree of Life in Eden, there was some miscommunication. The pose, hair, and clothes have been completely redone, but this was certainly an impressive piece. And remember these are just QUICK SKETCHES to get the composition down. I've since seen the new one and it's killer. Oh boy…

And then we have this one….


This is Lucifer returning home. That's Michael in the BG getting pissed and next to him is our gimpy angel Duma. We went back and forth on a few details. I pointed out we needed his dagger, which is key throughout the story. She added a sword which I thought was great. I don't know how I missed it on the first go around.

I'm excited to see the final art work and get it into the book this autumn. I  may even post a piece here.

In the meantime… just $1.01 for the rest of the summer.

FALL: The Last Testament of Lucifer Morningstar (The Fallen Trilogy: Book One)

Thanks,
DSH

 DSH is the author of the postmodern literary novel FOUNTAIN*  as well as two genre books Cloning Christ and FALL: The Last Testament of Lucifer Morningstar as DS Hay (clever, huh?).


He is also a Contributing Editor for Digital Americana Magazine.

And is currently co-authoring the Civil Rights play THE MARKER with David Barr III and Glen Jeffers, slated to premiere Feb 2012. david@davidscotthay.com