Archives - August 2003
August 21, 2003
I guess as one gets older, our self-concept changes. We see ourselves as an older person, losing our attractiveness as the years speed onward. And we're okay with that; it's just nature. Grow old gracefully.
I am blessed with a youthful appearance. At 41, I can pass as a college kid on most days. I even got carded the other day buying a lottery ticket. The legal age for that is 18. But a strange thing I've noticed in the last few years has me perplexed. I always figured that as I got a little gray around the temples, I would attract the women who weren't attracted to me in my youth, because in my actual youth, I looked like a little kid. Women the same age passed me by, always going for the more mature-looking (but not necessarily acting) guys with normal male secondary sexual characteristics. So now that I am a bonafide older man, I thought that at the least, I would get an occasional flirt from a younger woman, even if I have no plans of acting upon those flirtations. Nope. Here's the list of those who flirt shamelessly with me, in order of the most frequent:
Middle-aged gay men.
Old ladies (and I don't mean 40-year-old three-martinis-at-lunch Junior League gals; I mean little old blue-haired ladies)
Very, very large African-American women
Little girls (and I don't mean 16-year-old pierced-navel, butterfly-tattoo-on-the-tailbone hotties; I mean little girls).
My friend Jena in L.A., when I told her this tale of woe, said that she wasn't surprised; I was, after all, a Twinkie. Unhip to the jargon of L.A. street life, I asked her what that was. It is a term to describe a young, blue-eyed, rather feminine blond-haired boy that...well, you can guess the rest. But barring the effects of any future chemotherapy, or a sudden traumatic shock, I won't be aging anytime soon. I'm sure I'll just skip the hot-older-man period of my life and jump from boy-man to old-man in one fell swoop.
So after all these years, I've reached the apex of my masculinity only to find that I have become:
An unhealthy snack for guys who religiously watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
August 16, 2003
Tom Clancy and the Temple of Popularity
Tom Clancy will be in my burg in a few weeks. Book release signing party. They're booking the whole CONVENTION CENTER for it. Thousands will attend. I can't help but feel a tinge of jealousy in seeing that. Don't get me wrong; I like Tom Clancy. I think he's a good writer, and I think he's a class act. He deserves a book signing audience that will look, minus the costumes and nut jobs, like a Star Trek convention. I guess that kind of adoration is what all us indies strive for. Most of us will never get it. But we have to try.
I might go to the event. First I'll get a T-shirt made with "L.A. Stalker" and a semi-nekkid pic of Kate Donovan on one side, and "davidkilpatrick.com" on the other. Might sell a couple of books.
I had a techno-thriller in the works once. It was pretty damned good, too. I took Clancy's cue and did extreme research into special ops, spy technology, and Soviet military doctrine. The characters were good, the plot moved along well; it had USA-network-movie-of-the-week written all over it (ha!). Anyway, my wings got clipped when the damn Cold War ended. The whole plot fell apart. No more Evil Empire, no more story. Another manuscript went into the closet. I guess I could take it out, dust it off, and rewrite the thing but it wouldn't be the same. So much for timing and global politics. Peace sucks; give me the crushing, constant terror of thermonuclear destruction any day. It makes a good climate for writing.
Other novels of mine that went in the can: A police thriller about the methamphetamine trade. It was actually a complete manuscript. My agent at the time sent it around. The most memorable quote I remember from one publisher: "Sloppy, slapdash work." Nice. The same publisher later called Undercover White Trash "an agreeable mess." Then there was the World War II coming-of-age novel. That went belly-up when my research into the daily life of German citizens just wasn't found. It's in the closet someplace, too. So old, it was written in longhand on legal pads. It was PC: pre-computer.
I guess all this is to say that it's okay to put something aside. Lay it down and move on to something else if it just isn't coming together
P.S. McAfee update. Their online tech chat kept kicking me off, putting me at the end of the cue each time. Got down to 73, then went up to 124. Complained by email. The mother f***ers never responded, and the only alternative is to call them at $29.95 per call!. Even their billing department hasn't responded. I still couldn't get it to run. So I uninstalled it and bought Norton. Works like a charm, and my programs are loading about 2x faster without McAfee's dinosaur getting in the way.
August 13, 2003
My online subscription to VirusScan was renewed 8/7. On 8/8, the f***ers disabled it. Since then, I've been trying to get it back; I have to "verify" online. It keeps taking me to a dead page. I've talked to two online techs and have done everything THREE OR FOUR TIMES. An hour and a half the first day, then at least a half-hour for two more days. It still won't verify. Then the little shitheel tells me, "Oh, we're having a problem with our web site. Try back in a few days." A FEW DAYS? While the most virulent worm ever seen on the net is sweeping the world? I don't have a FEW DAYS, ass munch. So I've waited my days, and go online to talk yet again, to try to get them to verify me or to at least puppet me through it. Geewhiz: I'm 113 in the cue. Nice. Oops. Make that 111 now. Should be getting to me around...midnight? And all this for something I ALREADY PAID FOR. Oh, making progress. Now I'm the 99th person in line. If these bastards don't take care of me tonight, I'm cancelling the credit card payment, uninstalling this shit program, and I'm getting Norton. Hey, 98 now...
August 11, 2003
Just saw a commercial on TV that piqued my interest. It was one of those sex-sells spots, you know, the ones that use sexual imagery to hawk some product. The sellers mate their product with the viewer's primal desire for sex. They project imagery of their product with sexual themes, and in our primal cortex, we weave the two together to form a feeling about that product. The product suddenly isn't a thing; it is a sex thing. An object of eroticism. And because we have that attraction to it, that mental boner, we toss one into the shopping cart. Then we roll over and light up a cigarette, because we just completed the micro sex act that began in our subconcious when we first saw the commercial days or even weeks before. I think some people out there call this psychological phenomenon a "meme" but don't hold me to that.
So what was the commercial that got my testosterone flowing? It was a 30-second spot showing a series of beautiful women, most naked or nearly-naked, soaped up in bathtubs and showers, hair pulled back in that just-woke-up-getting-ready-for-work look men find so appealing. Kind of like the imagery of a woman wearing a your best dress shirt and nothing else...anyway, I digress. Soapy, wet, beautiful, leggy women, one right after another. What were they selling? Girls Gone Wild tapes? 1-900 phone sex numbers? Spark plugs?
Nope. How about: Women's razors.
That's right. It is some new razor designed for leg-shaving. Has a bar of soap-looking lubricant stuff surrounding the triple blade. You've seen the spot, I'm sure. Watch it closely. The imagery is straight-out erotic. The lighting, the poses, the camera angles, the sets; they're all designed with a sensual, no, sexual feel. Why? This product certainly isn't being marketed for men. It isn't for some guy who, while zipping into the Safeway for a six-pack, sees one on display and buys it. "Honey, look what I bought for you at the store!" Nope. The imagery is aimed at women.
This has always fascinated me. The same imagery they use to sell stuff to men, semi-naked women in sexual situations, is the same imagery they use to sell entirely different stuff to women. A very interesting psychological phenomenon, especially when you realize that the vast majority of female buyers aren't lesbians. So why is there a beautiful and curvy young woman on the cover of every women's magazine? If the pattern for men was the same as the pattern for women, there would be a hunky shirtless fireman on the cover of every women's magazine. I've only seen that on the cover of Men's Health (what's up with that magazine, anyway?).
I guess that just shows how much I know about women. Or maybe I'm reading something into the commercial that just isn't there. Projecting my own subconcious fetish for soapy, wet, leggy epilating women.
Anyway, gotta get back to the TV and see if I can catch that commercial again.
August 7, 2003
Thanks to Trailer Park Girl for posting another review of UWT and Stalker. She apologized needlessly for taking so long to do it; late or not, she came through for me like 97% of other so-called supporters haven't. Her reviews:
Shame on me! Some months ago, I was contacted by a writer named David Kilpatrick who had stopped by my blog. (David has since been adding value to my “comments” box on a semi-regular basis.) David offered to send me complimentary copies of his books L.A. Stalker and Undercover White Trash if I would agree to review the books. I agreed to review them, he promptly sent me the books, I read them, I quite enjoyed them … and, you guessed it, have yet to publish reviews of them! Here we are, more than halfway through the summer (heck, I guess it’s fall already in places like Minnesota), and my readers have not yet been acquainted with these works, both of which make for excellent summer vacation/beach reads. As Sugarmama observes, both books would translate well into screenplays. (If Undercover White Trash gets made into a film, I would love to play one of the trailer-park characters.)
Now Sugarmama, who received review copies from David more recently than I did, has written good reviews of both books. And I’m going to do the lazy thing and say (truthfully) that I totally agree with her reviews, and could not have summed up the books or the reading experience better myself. So go read Sugarmama’s reviews. And go visit David Kilpatrick’s site! He’s got other good books as well, and the summer is only half over! David has never once given me a hard time about my failure to hold up my end of our agreement. David, please forgive my slacker ass. Or don’t!
Thanks again, TPG; no forgiveness needed. And as for Sugarmama, in her review of Stalker she complained that I used the term "erection" too much. Maybe I did. Here are some alternatives from my slang dictionary; Sugarmama, please choose a few for the sequel:
Boner; hardon; love missle; morning glory; pitch a tent; beef bayonet; beaver cleaver; the Bishop; cock; hose; Johnson; pecker; peter; pipe; pink sword; schlong; shaft; spunkmaker; stiffy; tallywacker; tool; trouser snake; woody; Irish toothache; horn; flagpole; pants-pusher; pride; riser; stalk; hammer; spike; sequoia; throbber...
Ha; just goofing with you, SM! Thanks again!
August 6, 2003
I need to do something. I'm sick of marketing. I've taken off a year to do this, putting my writing aside. I feel like one of those state fair hucksters standing in front of the geek exhibit, yelling for everyone to come check out the freak who eats live chickens. I need to get moving on a new project. But there's so much to do; my mind is reeling. Here are my choices:
Start a new novel I've been developing for a month (Down side: no $$$ potential. Up side: can't think of one, except if I can pull it off, I will be worshipped as a literary god).
Start a new novel I've been developing for two years (Down side: no $$$ potential. Up side: fun as hell).
Finish a novel that is half-done already (Up side: Won't take long and will be fun. I put this one down to finish L.A. Stalker. Down side: A movie is in the works with the same subject. This could be a plus, however; I could ride that movie's coattails. Down side: could get my ass sued off. And no, it isn't I Was A Male Avon Lady).
Start one of two non-fiction works I've been developing (Down side: not that much fun. Up side: the most lucrative possibility. Non-fiction outsells fiction about 20 to 1, plus one could pay off in sales through live lectures/classes. I've done that kind of thing many times in the past and always wished I had a book to sell to the audience. Could have made a small fortune).
Design a new cover for Elephants and re-submit. (Up side: I can start marketing that book because potential buyers won't have to get a second mortgage to pay for it. Down side: Gotta find a cover photo and design the thing).
Finish the screenplay for L.A. Stalker. (Up side: Huge $$ potential. Down side: I hate screenplays. The format is too confining. Writing a screenplay is a lot like writing a short story for a contest; you really have to count the words and leave out 90% of what you want to say).
The last option is to sit on my ass and not start anything. But that really isn't an option...
August 5, 2003
Time Part II
Last month, I ran an entry about making and sticking to a writing schedule. I noted that having a schedule, with a clear goal in mind, will focus you on your writing. If you write one page per hour, it will take the average writer about one year to finish a 300-page manuscript. Since most books fall there or well short of that mark, you can have a rough draft in a year or less. If you set the goal of having your book done in a year, it can be done. However, 300 manuscript pages (about 225 book-size pages) translates into about 7.5 40-hour work weeks. Fitting this much time into your busy schedule will take sacrifice, and that sacrifice will impact you and those around you to a degree you might not expect. I concluded by saying those people who are important in your life will have mixed reactions to your dedication.
First, they will tell you they admire your determination. When you disappear for your scheduled writing time, they will feel a mild sense of unease. Abandonment will be there. So will envy. Jealousy. But in the early stages, their respect for you and your work will overpower those emotions. Now of course, those who don't support your writing, those who dismiss it as fantasy, will not have a sudden sense of admiration for you. But those who do will see your determination, your scheduling, as you chasing your dream. They will be willing to go along with your plan. For awhile.
Next, you will find them growing anxious. Their anxiety as the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, will grow. You will miss important things, like birthday gatherings, your weekly coffee sessions at B&N with them, your monday night football parties. You won't be there; you'll be writing. They will try to contain themselves, but their anxiety will turn to anger. They'll resent your writing at this point. It is a mistress keeping you away from your friends and family, a usurper, a concubine. As their anxiety grows, your emotions will soar. Freed from these mundane activities, you will find that your book is finally taking form. It is becoming a living thing, consuming not only your time, but your thoughts as well.
When they finally lay their guilt trips on you to reel you in, which they will, you will put your schedule on hold. They will sense victory as you go back to your former life. You will feel bridled. They will feel better, and you will feel worse. Your dreams are slipping away. In your mind, you will still be writing, piling up the ideas so your dream doesn't grow cold. Sitting at the bowling alley or the church pew or teeing one up on the golf course, you will be thinking of the next chapter, the next plot twist, the way you will develop the main character... Your friends will see that you are with them, but you are not really THERE. You go through the motions, but your heart and mind are not into it. Their anxiety and resentment will reach a peak at this point. You may even get the big ultimatum: It is either me or the writing; choose now.
At this point, you will have to make a decision, and those choices will be: 1) continue as I am, and damn everyone's opinion. If they don't stand by me, then f*** them; 2) I'll scale back my work schedule...maybe I'll finish in two years instead of one, or; 3) This is too much trouble. I'll lay down the book; it was a stupid plan, anyway.
I can't help you with that decision and neither can anyone else. You just have to stand back and take stock in your writing; Just how important is it to you? I made my decision and my writing came out on top. My relationships have never been the same; those who are my true friends, and my family, have stuck it out. Those who didn't fell by the wayside. Can you live with that?
August 1, 2003
Nice reviews from fellow blogger
The frank and witty Sugarmama graciously posted reviews for a couple of my books on her blog. She didn't do this in exchange for anything; just because she liked the books and decided to support me. In the writing game, you learn quickly who your supporters are and who aren't, let me tell ya. Here are her reviews if you want to see them here, or go to her blog to read them:
Undercover White Trash / L.A. Stalker
I read DK's novels during my recent travels to New York and to the beach in Florida. The two novels had a few things in common. Both were a perfect fit for what I was seeking: entertaining travel/beach reading, not difficult to digest - something to entertain me while, at the same time, allowing my brain to remain on vacation. In both novels, DK weaves interesting plot lines and has a talent for colorful characterization.
UWT made me laugh out loud several times. This is a rare feat, one accomplished in the past by David Sedaris, who I consider a master of satirical humor. The lighthearted story of UWT is somewhat a reverse Pygmalion/My Fair Lady (where a poor, unrefined woman is immersed in wealthy society): Edward Prescott, a weathy ad agency executive born with a silver spoon in his mouth, is sent on assignment to immerse himself in the culture of the less affluent but still urban, trailer-park-dwelling people. The realist in me finds it hard to believe that the protagonist could really pull the wool over anyone's eyes regarding his background. I had to maintain a suspended state of belief in order to follow the story, and I occasionally muttered, "Yeah, right!" Nevertheless, the story held me captive until the end of the book. I held off sleeping on my flight home from New York in order to finish it. UWT offers the reader humorous, yet candid observations regarding the habits and attitudes of people who are in different social classes. At the end of the story, the protagonist returns to his wealthy way of life (however, he had a few slips during his white-trash-saturation period), but retains some of the practices and beliefs he assimilated into while living at the trailer park.
L.A. Stalker is a novel about a movie star who hires a hit man to kill three people who had been stalking herself and two of her famous friends. The plan backfires when the hitman becomes obsessed with the movie star and begins to stalk her. The movie star becomes smitten with the cop assigned to find the initial stalker, and he becomes emotionally involved, so much that he risks his life and professional credibility to discover and eliminate the hitman.
The book focuses on the fact that stalkers derive sexual pleasure from being in power and controlling another person. I mentioned to DK that the book mentioned erections too often for my comfort zone. Perhaps "he became aroused" would be a more acceptable phrase for my Southern sense of propreity (ok, you can stop laughing at me now. I *am* a good girl! Sometimes!). Well, books can get away with being more pornographic than movies. People who read books (as opposed to people who don't read, and let me tell you, there are a lot of them around here) are exposed to (pardon the pun) a higher degree of violent or sexual content because Tipper Gore has yet to slap a Parental Advisory rating on the cover of books (however, we do have a parental system of checks and balances, and here in Alabama the rabid parents like to ban Harry Potter and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye). In a roundabout way, what I am trying to say here is that LAS is an NC-17 rated novel.
While I did feel uncomfortable reading LAS at times, I think that was DK's intent. Those of us who have no contact with many of the evils in the world (yes, my life is sheltered) will feel shocked at times when reading the book. He characterized the movie star woman (the main female character) as someone who had suffered from sexual abuse during her childhood, which explained much of her adult behavior. I felt pity for the woman, despite that she had more money than I could possess in fifty of my own lifetimes.
LAS was about twice as long as UWT, and although I don't find myself the kind of person who enjoys crime/action novels, I couldn't put this one down, either. It is a digestible read and I finished the novel in approximately 1.25 days, during my vacation at the beach.
Both novels have plot lines that could very well be transformed into screenplays. Hooray for DK's active imagination. And go check them out (see links at the top of this post) if you want to read something fun.
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