Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Butler Did It – Again: Mystery and Thrillers as a First World Problem

Let’s face it folks: Mysteries and Thrillers are more often than not a first world problem sort of indulgence. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when was the last time you picked up a book or watched a show in which everyone involved WASN’T of a certain – shall we say – social class? And yet you flip the page of the newspaper or turn on The First 48 and… well… it’s a little bit different isn’t it? No Lexuses in the $450,000 driveway, no petty squabbles turned homicidal amongst the Real Housewives or wherever. In short: when the fictional world of homicide mirrors the real world of homicide it becomes NATIONAL news: OJ Simpson, Drew Peterson etc. But when it’s your average run of the mill street shooting you tend not to see too many novels about it and the most it gets is a 3 minute blurb on the evening news. (Honestly – do NOT get me started on the evening news. I’m apt to go completely off the rails in to a frothy hateful mess.)

For starters, let me just say I’m not trying to be political about any of this. If I do venture into that in regards to this here bloggy thing and you manage to take some offense just take a deep breath and relax. There’s plenty of room in the genre for everyone. All I’m trying to say is that we pick and choose our stories, right? Mysteries are more often than not a tale of class and the intrigues of the upper crust. They are awash with the splash and flash of a certain segment of life – particularly if we’re speaking about the ones on television. When was the last time you saw Castle investigate the mysterious homicide of a well-known drug dealer? Or CSI bothering to work a scene in a flop house? Nah. The sorts of scenes don’t play well on the screen of glitter.

Things are written this way because of the escapism involved. Your average gutter homicide just isn’t terribly interesting to readers, right? But why not? Writers need to connect the victim and the suspect and they need the reader to identify with both and it’s so much easier to do this when everyone involved is of a certain strata of society. In most instances, of course, the investigator is somehow outside of this strata which enables them to observe it and impart their observations in the form of a critique of sorts. Just think of all the times television mysteries (and many literary ones) explore and engage in sub-cultural analysis. Now either the investigator can do this analysis from the perspective of being almost brutally ‘normal’ which is fine. What  better representative of the cultural center than those who are tasked with patrolling it? Or they can be from their own distinctly abnormal subculture – think Lisbeth Salander who is pretty much in her very own, self-created category and therefore an apt critic of all of them.

Any way you cut it: the group or social structure at the center – the one being critiqued by the investigation – needs to be enough ‘us’ to be identifiable but distant enough to allow us to agree with the critique and internalize it in some way. We have to agree, in short, that ‘those people are a little weird.’ Implied in this, of course, is the idea that it is this centrally identified ‘weirdness’ that results in homicide.

Just for instance – think of House. Ingrained in the opening scenario of the episode was the connections that revealed the case, right? Weren’t they almost always tied to something distinct about each person? Dancer, Actor, A guy who’s happy all the time? Wasn’t it their central ‘non-us-ness’ than proved the case and revealed the malady to which they were afflicted?

Generally in thrillers it is much the same story though writ on a much larger scale. The implication is always ‘to save a world’ and generally entails a race against time to preserve something threatened with destruction but implied within is the idea that the world to be saved is not the world of the impoverished, the lower class, the forgotten or ignored. It’s our world: the world of decent jobs, homes, kids and pets.

But what if you were to work differently? We’ve already seen in some examples going all the way back to The Great Gatsby an attempt to humanize the criminal element and it continues on through Red Harvest, The Godfather, Breaking Bad. I’m a huge fan of Red Harvest actually. Not only because it’s very funny in spots but it’s one of the few examples I can think of off the top of my head where the goal of the hero is nothing short of the absolute destruction of the status quo. He’s not trying to preserve anything. Which makes me think that Hammett was aware of the class conundrum in mystery way back when. Would it kill us as writers to write towards speaking for the dead – whichever social class they happen to come from?

Think about it from the perspective of a news article (once again. I HATE the news but this is just an example) Even in cases where the victim is not a middle class soccer coach they always attempt to find something redeemable about them don’t they? “22 year old man, father of 2.” and they almost always consistently leave out the portion of the bio where he’s also a drug dealer, has 5 priors for assault with a deadly weapon etc. No. They humanize first, in the off-chance that we might immediately identify with them otherwise there would be no news and it wouldn’t even be worth their time reporting it. What would your immediate response be if the news was: ’22 year old active member of the (insert gang name here), well-known heroin distributor, found murdered today. So and so had priors for assault, intent to distribute, Burglary, Armed Robbery. He also had three children on whom he owed 3 years of back child support.” Would you even care?

But what if you wrote it like you did care? What if it was your job to care? What if it was your protagonists job to care? Could you write that story? Would you write it? If so why not? (It seems oddly appropriate that the Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil just came on my iTunes) Is this the sort of story you would even want to read? If not why not?

As I’ve addressed other places in this blog i feel like we mystery writers get a wee bit too taken with the way things are. We seek out the standard plot lines and work within the standard of first world problems. And yet we have a booming fantasy/sci- fi genre these days who seek to create new worlds and new ways to portray those worlds. One of the ways they do this is by soaking themselves in the seedier, less ‘swords and sorcery’ side of fantasy. They re-imagine. I think there is a new world out there that is really no less fantastic than any of those: flop houses, alleys, homeless squats, prostitution rings. Get dirty people. Write scenes that make you want to throw up. Don’t they always say you need to get out of your comfort zone? Be willing to take your mystery out of the upscale clubs or town homes. Imagine the last place in the world you want your own body to be found. Write that and do it like it’s your job to give a shit, knowing the whole time that you’re the only one who does.

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Categories: Mystery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yay! Yummy Spiced Apple Cider Smoke!!!

I promised I would have an update on the travails regarding the disappearance of the Safe Cig and my attempts to replace it. Hold on. I’m going to go check real quick if there is an update on them…

Nope. Still gone.

Anyway. A week or so ago I wrote that I would be trying something totally new. I was just done with chasing down suppliers, trying to find another cigarette sized replacement and then going in for buying up all the disposable ‘filters’. I bought a Joyetech eGo-c. It’s a nifty little device I have to say – a lot more complicated and a bit messier than the traditional replaceable ecig but well worth it. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they have trouble with coherent english in their advertising. In fact, just have a look and do your own research on them rather than trying to crawl through their ad copy.

For starters the thing is bigger. More like the size of a cigar complete with a plastic mouthpiece. After a lot of research, I learned you can get many different parts for the mouthpiece thingy. Apparently people who are into ‘vaping’ tend to take this stuff pretty seriously. It also has a button to activate the atomizer. Most ecigs do not. But then this isn’t really an ecig. It’s more like a mini hookah or something.

In any case it was a little daunting at first. The package comes with two large batteries and the usual sundries: a USB cable, wall plug, a small carrying pack, a bunch of refillable cartridges, a five pack of replaceable atomizers and two rubber mouthpiece tips (one of which was recently eaten by one of my cats) One of the biggest advantages of it is that all of the pieces are individually replaceable which makes for a cheaper investment in the long-term than the usual up front costs of most ecig packages. I paid a total of 72.20 for the whole deal from LiteCigUSA who is, apparently, a registered distributor of the Joyetech products. I just hopped on over there and checked the price on the atomizer heads and it appears that they run about 25 to 30 bucks for a pack of 5 but they ought to last a bit longer on average than your standard e-cig cartridge. Probably quite a bit longer, actually, as you can replace them individually without resorting to throwing out the whole thing.

In fact, it seems the whole product is designed to keep down the costs and make vaping accessible. So far i have purchased one 15ML bottle of smoke juice from Johnson Creek Smoke Juice for 9.95 that lasted me a good week of almost constant vaping. I am now on my second package of Johnson Creek (a sampler pack of 5 5ML bottles) and I’ve calmed down a bit so it’s lasting a bit longer. The Smoke Juice packs come with everything you need to refill the cartridges. The 15 ML one even had a little feeder bottle that slips into the aperture of the cartridge and allows you to refill nice and quick without getting your hands all grubby from trying to pull the plastic cap off. Obviously 9.95 is a bit better price than the 14.00 Safe Cig was charging for a single refill of seven (possibly faulty) cartridges.

Another little advantage to the eGo-C is that there is apparently a variable voltage battery you can get. I don’t have one yet but allegedly it will help you control the strength of your vaping. I don’t really know how it works but it seems pretty nifty. I’ll probably write about that in a future post once I actually get one.

Really, however, the biggest advantage is the smoke Juice. There are quite a few distributors out there so take your pick. I’ve gone with Johnson Creek because it’s close to home and I like to get my stuff quick which is not something I could say about the Safe Cig. Even when I paid extra for delivery it could take a while and occasionally they lost an order so it’s nice to have something a little more secure. The smoke juice is cheaper. There are more flavors (oddly enough my current personal favorites are Spiced Apple Cider and Island which is basically like smoking a Pina Colada. Delicious)

So all in all I’m pretty happy. If you’re still looking for something similar to Safe Cig Erik recommended in the comments section of So Long Safe Cig that you look into South Beach Smoke. I’ve read on other sites that V2 is doing a special for former customers of the Safe Cig (though I don’t have the details) and even Johnson Creek Smoke Juice has their own Vea that they’re selling, but again – I know nothing about it. And here’s another resource, though if you’ve stumbled your way here chances are you’ve already been to Vapegrl at least once.

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Please Pass the Melon-baller… – A Review of Transformers 3

… I need it to remove my eyes.

I have never hated a movie more. There. I said it. Except now that I said it I’m not entirely sure it’s true. I don’t generally HATE movies. I dislike them sometimes, I think some are an enormous waste of time but it’s rare that I actually HATE a movie. It’s just not worth the effort. As of the moment of this writing I can only think of 3 movies off the top of my head that have kindled a rage in me the likes of which might astound biblical plagues, Mongolian warlords, or alien scourges. Those movies are: Titanic, Pearl Harbor and now Transformers 3. Were I a horrible soviet era tyrant copies of those three movies and everyone responsible for them would be purged and sent to Siberia. Or sent to Siberia and then Purged. or maybe I would simply have them put in a city square and have people hurl grapefruit and insults at them. That would do it. I clearly wouldn’t make a very good Soviet era dictator.

Now, Titanic and Pearl Harbor – as you may have noticed – are different. They are execrable. But their sin is primarily because they ginned up a stupid story where the actual historical story was infinitely more interesting and dramatic. They’re saying: I COULD watch Casablanca but Pamela Anderson’s Barb Wire is on. Sure. I will admit that there are folks (probably teenaged boy’s in the early 90’s) who would take Barb Wire over Casablanca but these people are insufferably stupid. I was a teenaged boy in the early 90’s. I should know. If you want the worlds most obtrusively hackneyed love story heaped on some of the most compelling factual drama you can go that route and watch either movie. Just don’t comment below and please find a different site to read.

Transformers 3 is different. Where Titanic and Pearl Harbor got filthy drunk and stumbled into awfulness, Transformers courts awfulness like a one toothed meth addict scrounging for the last resin caked spoon in the house. It’s terribleness is awesome to behold. It dwarfs Battlefield Earth and Plan 9 From Outer Space and stands proud: daring others to surpass it. It makes the viewer question themselves, their sanity, their grip on life. Dark, twisted, Lovecraftian nightmares from the deep will put this on their Netflix and quietly retire their aspirations for world domination and subjugation unless they suddenly turn the moral corner into charity and opt for domination just to preserve the artistic integrity and heritage of the planet.

This is in clear violation of my own policies I know. I just can’t help myself. So maybe a revision of the policy should be: I will not review anything I don’t like except in cases where the virulent hatred of something has so infected me that I can’t help myself.

I won’t waste my breath on particulars. You needn’t worry about spoilers. How could i spoil something that is so rancid and rank that it passed spoiled a millennia ago? I can only say that in the opening 20 minutes of this piece of garbage we are reintroduced to Sam Witwicky – the single most unlikable, unsympathetic character ever snorted from the nostril of any writer ever. Witwicky, as played by Shia Le – oh screw it. I don’t even want to spell it correctly – is an obnoxious, arrogant, illiterate, whining, sniveling, entitled, uninteresting zombified chipmunk. He chatter’s out dialog like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Like its toxic waste. And it is. Everything he utters for the first portion of the movie just makes you want to punch him in the throat and you can’t imagine why any other character in the movie who shares screen time with him doesn’t do just that. Frances McDormand, an actress i love and respect, has the character to do it and she doesn’t. Josh Duhamel (I liked him in Vegas) could and he doesn’t. Even his walking collagen laced Barbie girlfriend (a prerequisite in any Bay film) has more character and chutzpah than him and SHE doesn’t do it. Hell, I would go for the supposedly noble but idiotically vapid Optimus Prime to squash the little turd like the annoying insect he is but Prime ‘likes’ him. WHY?????????? THERE’S NOTHING TO LIKE FOR GOD”S SAKE. Steaming piles of Chernobyl Bear Poop have more personality and character than Witwicky. JAR JAR BINKS is more likable. There I said it. Phew. I feel better.

And now that I’ve said it I feel obliged to admit that I didn’t finish watching it. I know. People are going to say: how can you review something if you didn’t sit through the whole thing. Honestly. It was self-preservation. In the first half hour we have Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, John Turturro, making complete asses of themselves. Malkovich does what he can but it’s not his movie. Which is a shame really. Between his character (written as a prototypical american boss with prototypical OCD and control issues) and McDormand (written as a ball busting stereotypical government bureaucrat) we may have actually had a fun movie. Turturro has been a lost soul in all of these movies, unfortunately. Nothing you can say about it except that somehow Bay manages to squash a decent actor into another sniveling waste of a character with no function and seeking some purpose.

But we don’t stop there. Nope. When executive producers sat down at the poker table with Bay they couldn’t reckon that he was ‘All in’ on every hand. We have a cameo from Buzz Aldrin allegedly lending legitimacy (and thereby eroding America’s accomplishments in space) to this incredibly moronic plot. Then we have Alan Tudyk. Ahh… Ugh. That one hurts. I’m still stung by the last images of Alan Tudyk’s Wash, impaled on a spear after safely landing the Serenity. But here he’s a former assassin turned bodyguard straight out of an ancient SNL ‘Sprockets’ segment. And then we have the voice of Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime. It’s almost as if the producers of this epic piece of sci-fi sewage cobbled together as many respected talents in Sci Fi Acting as they could and held a gun to their head while filming. I’m still trying to tabulate the amount of respect lost for anyone involved in this mess.

Transformers clearly cost a fortune. If you superglued all of the dollars pissed away on these films you could walk to Mars on a ribbon of green. You could sew them together and make money suits for everyone in the world ten times over. You could use the paper to allow 3 year olds to write better screenplays than this. What you get for this fortune, unfortunately, is a clinic on what is wrong with the world. In that it’s practically poetic and would be admirable if it weren’t so unironic. It intends, and succeeds, in making a crap load of money all the while eroding our sense of the spectacular or even entertainment. If this is what we pay to watch just where is the nearest cliff to jump off of?

It is now on instant streaming from Netflix, presumably so that Netflix can help create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed. To all the boys aged 13 – 18 who are taken up and were relieved of the shrapnel in their pockets to watch this garbage: go play a video game. It’s actually better for you in terms of moral and intellectual development than watching this. better yet read a book. ANY book.

 

Categories: Movies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivation Not Motive: Some Thoughts on Character and Plot in Mystery Writing

Sorry I’m a little late. I don’t know what happened to yesterday but I blew it. The whole day. I don’t know what happened to it. I think it was eaten up by an allergy attack – my head was full and stupid and my eyes felt like they were about to pop out of my skull. It wasn’t pleasant. So I blew off the blog for yesterday and literally crawled through the writing quota. I know. You’re wondering how one can literally crawl through a writing quota and now think I’m one of those assholes who throw out ‘literally’ all the time. I suppose this is one of those gray areas. If you’re a total word snob with no appreciation for fun ‘Literally’ will bug you but I won’t retract it. If you’d seen me trying to write yesterday you’d know why.

Anyway. I have a serious beef against Motive in thrillers and mystery. I hate it. HATE it. Writers tend to think that it’s really important to the appreciating the antagonist to haul out the litany of why they do what they do. Personally I could care less and can’t possibly know. I’m much more concerned with the Who and the How. I feel that we’re really looking for Motivation not necessarily the motive. Sure, it’s still important to your story: Motive, Means and Opportunity and all that, but just be careful in how you handle it. Do NOT become heavy handed or dazzled with your own brilliance in making this intricate maze of motive that all will gape at and be amazed. The best stories are the simplest: the one’s that have plenty of room to explore your characters motivation or the vector of their journey.

Motivation is, simply put, the driving force behind a character. Sit down a few seconds and consider your own motivations. Unless you are a vapid, shallow twit you probably have dozens of motivations bubbling up in your little skull at any moment: love, money, success, fame, fortune, respect. They compete for your ego’s attention, vie for prominence in your actions and drive you from one thing to another. Now, if you know this about yourself why get so wrapped up in the why of your antagonists? Sure, plot is largely built on Why someone had to die but in my opinion and more germane to your character is what motivated them to do it? Fear? Rejection? Poverty? Hunger? This is where your character lives. It’s their basic fundamental psychological position. This is the space that gives you room to explore their psychology and to do that you’re going to have to go deeper than the basic ‘i’m getting revenge for my wife cheating on me.’ or ‘he stole my car’.

Watch CSI sometime. Seriously. This may be the only time I advocate watching CSI for anything other than comedy. Actually, in this case you’re watching it for comedy too. It’s really a very funny show if you’re a writer. In fact I would take CSI for comedy over any sitcom out there. It’s not simply the mind-bogglingly silly way they lurch the show from point A to B (then to C, D, E, F etc) it’s the final payoff you get when you finally get the scoop on why Arnold Fwoopdidoo III killed his wifes mothers brothers sisters cousins uncle with a plastic spoon and a teaspoon of salt. Usually (I would say about 90& of the time) the motive is something so completely idiotic that no one EVER would come up with murder as the solution. And I mean no one. Not even true serial killing psychopaths. It’s inane. Honestly, I don’t know how CSI writers look themselves in the mirror every day. Or they’re laughing their way to the bank.

What I’m saying is everyone’s been cheated. Everyone has had something stolen from them at some point. Many people have been cheated on. Many people have done the cheating. These things happen but most of the time they don’t end up in homicide (in spite of what the news would like you to think.) So what is it, psychologically, that snaps in someone? That’s far more interesting than ‘He slept with my wife so I killed him’. What does that look like? How does it twist the brain? This is the meat of motivation. To do it well you will need to engage the reader with really exploring the perception of it rather than the usual interrogation moralizing by the officer and the long-winded exposition from the suspect.

I tend to think – and this is just my opinion – that much of that snapping point is simply the flip side of something we tend to think of as noble. That’s the area where procedural or thriller becomes interesting to me. What does it look like when Love turns to Rage? What does it feel like when the pursuit of justice becomes the desire for vengeance? Isn’t this what fascinates us so much about serial killers and profiling? It’s the fact that they live in the hinterlands of ideals, they operate from the knife-edge of disgust and adoration of their own psyches. Put a weapon in the hand of someone who completely loses control of their motivation (or someone to whom losing control IS a motivation) and see what happens. I guarantee that it’s much more interesting than cooking up a silly elaborate plot based on motive.

 

Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FREE EDITS/FICTION DOCTOR!! ONE TIME OFFER (not really. I may offer it more than once…)

Look people. I get it. You want to be a writer. God knows why. Maybe you’re a masochist. Maybe you have visions of dollar signs, travel, book signings, fame, fortune, the adoration of your colleagues. Maybe you’re insane. Actually, scratch that maybe. Unless you’re already published and churning out thrillers like it’s a roman galley you are obviously insane. No one in their right mind would actually want to be a writer.

Whatever your motivation I want you to write better. It’s that simple. As long as you’re going to plumb the depths of that lunatic psyche of yours you may as well do it with panache, right? Quixote didn’t come to the edge of his insanity, look over and say ‘nope. Not doing it.’ Nay. He swan-dove into that mother fucker. He did a triple lindy. Cyrano? Same thing. Okay. They’re literary characters and not writers. But the song remains the same.

So. If you want to write better I think I can help. That’s pretty simple too. And before you get started with the usual “who’s this guy to think he can make me write better?” My answer is: Do you care? It’s free. FREE!!!

I’ve written 5 self published stories (The Meg Brown Mysteries available on Kindle) I have two novels in the works, I’ve co-written two screenplays and did a third on my own (which I shall never speak of again) I’m working on a 6th (7th and 8th Meg Brown Mystery right now). I’ve helped edit a runner-up in a screenplay competition. And yet I’m not a professional. So there’s your answer.

News flash to you folks: Neither are you.

Chances are you found this while stumbling aimlessly through the dense forest of fiction crap that’s out there. I’m not very well-known. I’m not flashy. I live in Wisconsin for god’s sake. If there’s a flashy portion of the universe I’m in the state that it’s furthest from. Which means, if you’ve found me, you inhabit the same fictional hinterland. But i can make you better.

Let’s be honest. The most frustrating thing about working and writing in your little vacuum is not having much input. You write the thing and if you’re very lucky you have a handful of friends and family who read it and tell you how great it is. You aren’t stupid. You know they’re being delicate. You know they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They look at you like the un-medicated psychopath you actually are and they tiptoe around their input because… well… look at you. You CHOSE to write a book. Crazy people do that. People who live in cabins and have manifestos do that. Normal people do not write books. Let me put that in all caps. NORMAL. PEOPLE. DO. NOT. WRITE. BOOKS.

What you need is a reader. An editor. Someone who actually works at trying to understand what you’re getting at and can help you get there. Someone who will point out the flaws in your love story. Someone who will tell you that they figured out the plot of your story on page 10 of your 1000 page epic. Someone who can point out where your transitions suck. Someone who actively tries to give a crap about your characters and wants them to be better. Someone who thinks your murderers motive is garbage. Someone who can actually read your tripe (or genius) and help you get the satisfaction YOU want from it.

I’m not here to make you rich. I’m not here to promote your book and chances are very good that I won’t (unless I really like it) I’m not here to help you get an agent and I couldn’t tell you how. I’m here, and I will help you, because you know you want the help. And for the time being at least, I’m absolutely free. It’s up to you to see the value (or lack thereof) of my services. You can take all of my edits and tell me to go pound sand. You could praise me. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. For now it’s free.

So there you go. That’s all I’ve got. If this is something that even sounds vaguely interesting to you just send me a little comment and we’ll get the ball rolling. I’m sort of making this up on the fly so every client (if there are any) will get individualized treatment because, frankly, i have no idea how to go about starting this thing off. I’m just pissing in the breeze at this moment. If it’s a sunny day and you feel the rain, send me a message.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Seminar News – Crime Writers Seminar in Santa Monica

Well i missed last weeks regular mystery writing post. Oops. In my defense i was diligently trying to construct a flat packed entertainment system. There were… ahem… complications. It took two days and by the time i was actually done the whole week was a wash. I hate hate hate hate weeks that i don’t write. It hasn’t happened in a while. I tend to get a little testy – particularly considering i have such a crap load of projects to make it through.

Anyway, i recently brought you news about the Writers Homicide School which you absolutely MUST attend if you are to write fiction in which folks get dead. I’ve recently had the misfortune of reading a short novel from someone who clearly DIDN’T attend this seminar and… yeah. It wasn’t pretty. In fact if you reverse pretty, dip it in sewage, light it on fire, and dress the results in a vomit caked tutu this little story is what you’d get. Rancid potatoes smell better. Derek Pacifico, who runs the Homicide School also offers crime writing consultations. I haven’t had the resources to avail myself of those particular resources yet but i certainly would if i could.

Anyway. This here blog isn’t about that, though. It’s about a new seminar that i’ve recently heard about taking place April 13-14th at the John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, CA. It’s being put on by the Filmmakers Junction. Which means you’ll likely meet some filmmaking types. If you’re a midwesterner like myself these folks are fascinating in and of themselves. Take notes on the seminar. Take notes on the people attending the seminar. Go to the Starbucks and hang out and wait for semi famous folks to show up. Network. (I saw Hugh Dillon of Flashpoint there, which is incredibly ironic as i’ve got his picture in Scrivener attached to the lead character for one of my novels. Unfortunately, i didn’t talk to him. I was a bit confused as to the proper etiquette being from out of town and all.)

Seeing as i’m currently unemployed it doesn’t appear likely that i’ll be attending. But i’m trying gosh dernit. Mainly because Santa Monica is gorgeous and i love it and would like very much to get away from the snow and the cold but also because it’s a fantastic opportunity.

This is direct from the email i received about the event:

The Crime Writers Weekend will be two days of discussions with former and current members of the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department. The speakers will be from various departments such as Gangs, Murder for Hire, SWAT, Undercover, etc. and will give you insights into how their jobs really worked. The hope is that it will help and/or inspire you to come up with new and better scenes for your screenplays and novels.

If i can i’ll be there. Maybe i’ll suddenly get a job. Maybe my efforts at my own writing will suddenly take off and everyone will be reading and buying copies of the Meg Brown Mysteries by then. More likely i’ll be attending on a worn and cat chewed shoe string if i make it at all. But for the rest of you well heeled scribblers, scribes, writers of stuff it might be a good opportunity. If, by some miracle, it directly results in a paying gig keep me in mind while you’re enjoying the palm trees – and get me the hell out of here! (he says after shoveling out for the fourth time today.)

Categories: Mystery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So Long Safe Cig?

I’m going to guess that, if you’ve made your way here, you’re wondering what happened to the Safe Cig. Good question. I don’t have any answers for you. Two weeks ago was the last time i checked to order from them and as you probably already know they were out of almost all refill varieties (except the ones no one liked). The other day i was informed via a response to my blog article Safe Cig Vs. Blu that the web site is down. Today, I checked and it rerouted directly to Seminole e cigarettes. There is a link at the bottom of the Seminole page to connect with Safe Cig which i tried and… it doesn’t work.

So i’ve got nothing.

It really doesn’t matter anyway as i’m done. I’ve gotten really tired of trying to track them down with product, refills and all that stuff. I’ve thrown away untold riches (that i don’t have i might add) to try and procure an alternative to cigarettes. I’ve spent a poop-load on disposables while i wait patiently for the supply to return and i’m just done, frankly. I want no more of it and i sure as hell am not going to switch to Blu. BLEICH. I’d rather boil up toxic cleaning solutions in a crock pot and stick my head over it. Yuck. There is no more disgusting vaporizing cigarette than Blu and you would have to find some seriously diabolically evil tobacco executives to dream one up.

Nope. I’m DONE.

If you’ve been buying from Safe Cig for a while you are probably aware of the precedent from a few months ago when they had a similar dearth of supply and all of a sudden VOILA! They’re back on the scene with NEW products. It may happen again. Time will tell. But i’m jumping ship as much as i loved their Royale flavor. Yumm….

That’s not to say i’m going back to smoking regular cigarettes. Nope. I’m going to try something new. Or old as the case may be. I’ve ordered a Joyetech 310? I think? vaping system. Basically it’s a refillable system so you don’t have to worry about the supply of cartridges suddenly disappearing over night. I guess the idea is you fill a little tank and refill your own cartridges of e-juice of e-smoke. I’ve chosen Johnson Creek Original Smoke Juice (mainly because i’ve heard some good things and they’re located in my home state of Wisconsin so i can get supplies a little faster.) They also produce their own e-cig type thing which i haven’t checked out but if you’ve run dry on your safe cig stuff it might be something to look into.

Now just to be clear: I do not yet have the system so i’m not making any recommendations yet. I got a delivery of the smoke juice yesterday and it smells pretty nice but i don’t have anything to put it in yet so i can’t definitively say that it may be a good alternative to the Safe Cig. When i get all my ducks in a row here i’ll happily let you know.

In the mean time – if you’re really getting desperate i’d recommend the E-tron disposable. It tastes pretty good but i’m not going to lie: it gets expensive fast and i’ve already had a few that didn’t vape properly straight out of the package. When they work they seem better than most of the other disposables out there.

If anyone has any info on the new Seminole thing though in comparison to the old Safe Cig let me know and i’ll happily share it in the next blog on the subject (which may be in a couple of days)

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