Larry Kahaner

Archive for the category “plotting”

Writing Humor is a Fool’s Errand

By Larry Kahaner

Some time ago, I told all 6 of my followers that I was moving from writing non-fiction to fiction. I kinda sorta lied. I still write non-fiction because people pay me money to do so. Truth be told, I still like doing journalism and in some teeny, tiny way maybe it does some societal good.

However, scores of articles and two thriller novels later, I’ve turned much of my attention to writing humor. For the most part, I’ve taken my skills in writing short-form journalism to writing short-form humor that looks like real, honest-to-goodness journalism or, at the very least, sober non-fiction. It’s not fake news; it’s fake-fake-fake news. There’s a big difference.

After all these years of being serious, I can now be not-serious, and it’s quite liberating. Plus, it makes me laugh, and these days I need all the yuks I can get.

Humor writing is difficult. As the saying goes: “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” This quote has been attributed to a ton of people from actor Edmund Gwenn (He played Kris Kringle in the Miracle on 34th Street) to Jack Lemmon to Groucho Marx to Stan Laurel. I’m not taking sides on this. The other thing I know is that ‘comedy comes from pain.’ Again, lots of humorists, a fancy name for comedians, have said this including, most recently, Jerry Seinfeld in an interview with Howard Stern. (Look it up yourself.)

Obviously, I am not an emotionally well-formed person, because I make jokes out of just about everything, especially what I find particularly painful like how the US is coping with the Coronavirus, (God Returns from Vacation… Boy, Are We in Trouble);  science bashing, (CDC Sending Magic 8-Balls to Schools to Help Decide When to Open) and racial discrimination, (I Had to Tell the Hula Dancer on my Dashboard that it Just Wasn’t Working Anymore).

You’ll be happy to know that I am annoyed or angry at a lot more than these subjects so there’s plenty of water in the comedy well for me.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that humor is profoundly personal and depends upon where you are in life, your upbringing and sometimes what you had for breakfast. What one person finds funny, another finds in poor taste. Indeed, they may find it highly offensive, and how dare I make light of horrible things like the Coronavirus?

Hello, haven’t you been listening? I make fun of everything. It’s how I cope.

There’s another aspect to humor that I’ve discovered – along with everybody else who thinks about it for even a minute. You can open more minds with humor than you can by being serious. Witness Alec Baldwin playing President Trump on Saturday Night Live or almost anything that George Carlin (RIP) has said.  

(Pro Tip: Satire is powerful. Snark is less effective.)

Anyhow, check me out at https://medium.com/@kahaner.  

It’s where I hang out these days and write stuff you may or may not think is funny. Nah, you’ll be laughing – either at me or with me. Don’t actually care which.

Larry Kahaner has been a serious writer and journalist for decades. Now, he’s not — serious, that is.

5G Nose Wire Transmitters in Face Masks Misreporting COVID-19 Numbers, says WH Insider

By Larry Kahaner

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Photo: Flavio Gasperini at Unsplash

(This article first appeared in ExtraNewsfeed.)

Washington, DC — Malfunctioning 5G nose wire transmitters in face masks are causing erroneous reporting of the number of COVID-19 cases in the US, according to a Trump administration official who spoke on a condition of anonymity.

“Many in the media have challenged why the president’s numbers of cases don’t jive with those of state public health officials. This is easily explained by these devices that are giving false readings,” the official said. “The fix may be somewhat hampered by the lack of Indian engineers no longer entering the US since President Trump’s H1B visa crackdown.” He added: “That’s not racist, is it?”

When asked about this matter at a news conference, White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said the President has no knowledge of what some are calling ‘nosegate,’ but added that any such transmitters — if they even existed and definitely not deployed by the newly-merged Sprint and T-Mobile — would be the best in the world. “One of the reasons why the administration okayed this merger is that the company promised to build the most extensive 5G network which would never be used to track anyone or anything especially in so-called blue states.”

CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, called the whole notion of 5G wires in face masks ‘preposterous’ noting that the US doesn’t have that level of technical expertise. “It’s been rumored that the Chinese have such capabilities, but we won’t know for sure until we open those crates that have been sitting in my office for several weeks. I have a ton of work on my desk and haven’t gotten to it. Plus, the White House hasn’t told us what to think about it yet.”

When asked about the face mask transmitters, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, said: “I could never understand why the administration’s numbers were always in conflict with the real count. Now, it all makes sense,” Fauci said, breathing a sigh of relief. “It’s all good.”

Larry Kahaner has been a serious journalist and writer for decades. Now, he’s not— serious that is.

Why the Pandemic Isn’t Panning out for Writers Like Me

By Larry Kahaner

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Edwin Hooper (Unsplash)

(This article first appeared in Pandemic Diaries.)

When my state of Maryland went into full lockdown in mid-March, I did not see the carnage ahead. All I thought was: “Okay, I have to stay inside for a while except for trips to the grocery store, and I will have plenty of time to work on my novel-in-progress.”

I saw my foreseeable life as if I were living the proverbial writers’ dream retreat. No distractions, no calls, no one wanting anything from me. All I had to do was take care of my basic needs, and those of my wife, and I would be free to be creative.

Three-plus months later, my dream hasn’t happened, and I know why. (Please set aside the looming spectre of deaths for just a minute — if you can.)

Contrary to popular belief, not all writers, painters, poets, sculptors, and artists are introverts. An introvert isn’t someone who sits at home by themselves and shuts others out. An introvert is a person who gets much, if not all, of their creative energy from inside their head. In a way, they are self-propelling. Moreover, an introvert has a limit on being with others especially at loud parties or large events. At some point, they must retreat to maintain their stability. Introverts aren’t anti-social; there’s just so much they can take of others.

An extrovert, on the other hand, is someone who gets their creative juices flowing by being with other people.

I am an extrovert.

I get my inspiration and ideas from sitting in a café, watching and eavesdropping on other people (not in a creepy way). I receive creative power and narrative imagination from yakking in my condo parking lot with my eccentric and sometimes annoying neighbors, chatting with retail clerks, and most of all, having lunch or cocktails with friends and family. After a few beers at a pub and loud chatter, I am not drained but energized.

It’s not that I abhor being alone with my own thoughts. Hell, I’ve been a writer for decades and riding solo is part of the gig, but I fill up my creative tank when I spend time with others.

The pandemic has erased that.

Sure, I am still writing my novel, but my output has been poor, not my usual progress. On the plus side, I had my first humor piece published. After all, humor comes from pain, and I am in a lot of it. See: ‘Quality,’ not ‘Quantity’ of Infections is How I Judge my Work, Says Kevin the Coronavirus .

There’s another factor at play. Perhaps the biggest one. Sorrow. I find myself surfing the web too much, watching TV news too much and worrying too much about what’s going on right now. I need to keep tabs on the horribleness, and it saps my energy.

Lest you think I’m being a whiny-baby, I count my blessings. I have food, shelter and I’ve been working from home for many years, so I have an income from non-fiction writing. Most of all, I have not gotten sick from the virus.

I dream that when this is over — and it will be — we will see a surge of all kinds of creative works worldwide: Street art, concerts, public sculptures, plays, and people like me sitting in bars getting energized and creative.

Take heart extroverts. Our time will return.

Larry Kahaner has been a serious journalist and writer for decades. Now, not so much — serious that is. Except for this article.

Get Your Fiction-Facts Right – or Not

Get Your Fiction-Facts Right – or Not

By Larry Kahaner

 

A friend of mine emailed me the other day about what kind of firearm one of his characters should be firing. He asked me because I know about weapons having once authored a non-fiction book about the AK-47 rifle. He described in detail how far the gun had to shoot, the shooter’s prowess (of lack of it) whether the round it fired would kill the intended victim or simply maim him. He went on to tell me about the weather conditions under which the shooting would occur. He mentioned nothing about the ironic comment the sniper undoubtedly would say once he pulled the trigger.

Maybe this chart is enough.

He needed this gun information quickly because it was holding up his progress. His writing momentum was locked but not loaded.

“TK,” I wrote back, “and move on.”

TK comes from my newspaper background. (My friend was a newsie, too, and knows the term.) It stands in for a word or phrase when you don’t know a certain fact, like the correct spelling or occupation of a person, and you will check it later. It means ‘to come’ and how the ‘c’ became a ‘k’ is a matter of some lore and conjecture, but it doesn’t really matter. See, I’m taking my own advice and moving on, too.

My buddy also cc’ed one of our other author pals and asked him, too. He, being nicer than me, actually offered some possible weapons and why each would be the one to use.

Although I am a stickler for presenting readers with the most accurate and realistic material, we’re writing fiction. Not an army manual. Unless you’re writing a military thriller where weapons are the star of the show (think some early works by Tom Clancy), the type of firearm, bomb, mace or other killing device isn’t that important. What’s more important is the feeling and emotion that the action proffers along with its contribution to the forward movement of the story. (Caveat: If you do specify a make and model of a gun make sure you get it right. There’s an entire world of gun enthusiasts who read novels just to find these kinds of errors.)

I know that many mystery authors in particular will gasp at this pronouncement. And I don’t blame them. Sometimes the exact type of poison is crucial to the story. (Seriously, are we still writing these kind of books?) Did the cops rule out a certain gun model because it didn’t fit the perp’s MO? (Please. We’re better than that.)

I also know that mystery writers attend lectures and webinars on the proper way to handcuff a suspect so they can add this detail to their novel. I have even seen half-day seminars for authors about electrocution. (I hope it’s for authors.) I’m okay with all that – and it can make a story more realistic – but sometimes a quick read on Wikipedia or a viewing of a YouTube titled “How to use a Taser” is enough. It certainly isn’t worth holding up your writing until you get the perfect answer.

What if you don’t get it exactly right? One of the biggest bestsellers of the 20th century, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, got a DC subway station name wrong. The author called it Metro Central instead of Metro Center. I live there so the error stood out, but you know something? No biggie. We’ve all seen something like this or worse. It bugs us for a few minutes, and we lament how ‘they’ could’ve looked it up. If the book is engaging enough, we’re okay with looking the other way. (Pro tip: Don’t place the Kremlin in China and you’ll be fine.) Ever watch a movie that takes place in a city that you know well? How many times have you shouted at the screen ‘they could never get between those places so fast?’

And don’t get me started on the scientific mistakes in The Martian by Andy Weir. There are scores of websites devoted to events in the book that could never happen because they break the rules of physics and/or the universe… but do most people care? That’s a nope.

One last piece of advice: It’s just as easy to get something right as it is to get it wrong. It’s far easier, though, to write around a detail and get on with the story than either of these choices.

Getting back to my friend who asked the original weapon question… I think he just wanted a respite. Writing is hard work, and distractions that seem like you’re really working on your book provide excellent cover.

 

 

Writers Suffer from Zeigarnik Effect; Don’t Worry; It’s Normal

Writers Suffer from Zeigarnik Effect. Don’t Worry; It’s Normal

By Larry Kahaner

Many writers, including me, suffer from the Zeigarnik Effect, but I never knew it until yesterday.

Will Smith;Tommy Lee Jones

You don’t need Men in Black to erase your memory. You’ll do it on your own.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts Stuff to Blow Your Mind and the hosts were  discussing lists, how they help you finish tasks, why we love them (think listicles) and, as an aside, can be considered a form of literature, according to author Umberto Eco.

They made the point that lists work because we remember unfinished items on our list but once we complete the to-dos, we often can’t recall the tasks.

This is a variation of the Zeigarnik Effect.

For example, after someone reads one of my books and starts mentioning parts they found especially interesting, or would like to know more about, I often find myself having no idea what they’re talking about. I’ve simply forgotten what I wrote. Usually, I engage in vague small talk until I can reach back into my noggin and retrieve some nugget that makes it sound like I really wrote the book. Other times, I come up with a delaying strand like “what exactly would you like to know more about,” or “what made you key in on that?”

Before I do a radio or TV interview, I find myself skimming my book and taking notes.

idiotI’ve talked to other authors and they have the same issue. Once they write something, it flies out of their brains like a flea from a skillet.

I have a close writer buddy who also reviews books for Publishers Weekly. When I told him about the Zeigarnik Effect, he said: “Never knew it had a name. When I finish [reviewing] a PW book it’s gone out of my head. Completely.”

According to Wikipedia, the Zeigarnik Effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. In my case, once I finish writing a book the details have left my brain.

As the story goes, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first studied the phenomenon after her professor, psychologist Kurt Lewin, noticed that a waiter had better recollections of meals that had not yet been paid as opposed to those for which he received payment. After the server had completed the task –the meal was eaten and the check was paid – he was unable to remember any details of the orders. Zeigarnik then designed a series of experiments to uncover the processes underlying this phenomenon. Her research report, published in 1927, showed that participants who were solving a puzzle or constructing a box – and were interrupted – were able to recall the details of their actions (which side went with another side, for example) around 90 percent better than those who had completed the tasks undisturbed.

Why does this happen? Nobody knows for sure, but shrinks believe that we don’t like to leave tasks uncompleted so our brains keep it fresher than if we had finished the job. Actually, this may explain why, when you’re fretting about a tricky plot point, you wake up in the middle of the night with a solution. You subconscious was working on it all the time. Another possibility is that we tend to recall negative experiences more than positive ones. Not finishing a task is negative, and we hold on to it longer. Other theories have been put forth, but I like to think that when you’re done, you’re done. You don’t have to think about “it” any longer, and your mind is happy to comply.

There you have it. You can rest easy knowing that the Zeigarnik Effect is normal. There is no cure, but knowing that your malady has a name can be palliative and reassuring.

The end.

What was I saying again?

Book Publishing, Like Life, is Often A Matter of Luck

Book Publishing, Like Life, is Often A Matter of Luck

By Larry Kahaner

All of us want to believe that if we work hard, are honest in our dealings, are smart and have some talent, that we can succeed in anything we do whether it’s in business, sports, or publishing a novel.luck 3

I hate to tell you that if you believe this, you’re fooling yourself. Although many super successful people downplay luck as the reason for their success – hard work and high IQs are often cited – if they’re being honest, they know that luck played a large, sometimes gigantic reason for getting where they are.

The most recent forthright person to note this is billionaire Eric Schmidt who noted in a recent interview, “I would say I’m defined by luck, and I think almost anyone who’s successful has to start by saying they were lucky…  Lucky of birth, lucky of having intellectual and intelligent family home life, upbringing, global upbringing, etc.”

Schmidt, who made his fortune by being an early investor in Google, added: “I had the benefit of being early in the computer industry, so that’s like super luck.”luck 4

This is not to take anything away from Schmidt. Certainly, if he sat on his butt and did nothing, he wouldn’t be worth over $12 billion.

 

Here’s a personal example: My colleague and friend Bill Adler wrote in the late 1990’s a book titled Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels. It’s what you think it is. It turns out that Rosie O’Donnell, who had a network show at the time, hated squirrels. One of her producers showed her the book, O’Donnell bought a copy for every audience member and had Bill on the show. The next month, it sold 30,000 copies. Luck, right?

A slew of similar stories abound.

I hear phrases like “luck favors the prepared,” and that’s true. We need to appreciate and act on a lucky break when we encounter it. We must be opened-minded to opportunities.

Why am I telling you all this? I receive emails from writers – new and experienced – who wonder why their manuscript isn’t selling or why they can’t get an agent. Sometimes it’s because your work is not, shall we say, your best. Often, however, it’s because a publisher or agent has their year filled or one morning an editor wakes up and says “If I see another serial killer proposal, I’ll scream,” but another editor thinks, “I would love to see another serial killer manuscript.” If your homicidal maniac book shows up to the second person’s desk, you’re golden. On the first editor’s desk… not so much.

But there’s no way of knowing who wants what at exactly at that moment. Editors may not know it either until they hear something on the radio during breakfast.

I read a fascinating take on luck from Daniella Levy who writes a blog called The Rejection Survival Guide and the post was called Is Success in the Writing Industry All a Matter of Luck? Levy notes that success in publishing hinges on four items:

1 – You happen to write what sells;

2 – You happen to get discovered by the right agent and/or editor;

3 – You happen to land a publisher that wants to invest in your book;

4 – Your audience happens to respond well.

Levy goes on the say: “There is something kind of depressing about the idea that so little of this is under your control… but there is something kind of freeing about it, too. If it’s not your responsibility, it’s also not necessarily your fault. If you’re not succeeding in a traditional sense, it’s not necessarily because you’re doing something wrong.”

Levy contends that we should “create because creation is an act of love.” That’s an encouraging and positive way to look at it. I don’t necessarily see it that way, but it’s valid nonetheless for some and certainly can ease the pain of rejection.

You should decide for yourself why you write and what keeps you writing despite setbacks.

Good luck.

Are the Jack Reachers a Dying Breed?

By Larry Kahaner

Is Jack Reacher dead?

This was the last question in a recent panel discussion sponsored by Mystery Writers of America’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter and probably designed to be the most provocative. I didn’t ask moderator Ed Aymar (The Unrepentant) if he meant it figuratively or literally as fans have often wondered if Lee Child’s character is dead or alive considering the hell this guy endures on a regular basis.

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The Magnificent Seven: Toxic Masculinity?

 

The panelists – John Copenhaver (Dodging and Burning), LynDee Walker (Front Page Fatality), Alan Orloff, (Pray for the Innocent) and Aimee Hix (Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs) – weighed in. One indicated that the old-style male protagonists – the Sam Spade and Mike Hammer types – who drank hard, didn’t take prisoners, didn’t suffer fools, led with their fists, accomplished their goals in a heavy-handed manner, that this type of hero was indeed over and done. (The term ‘toxic masculinity’ came up. Ouch!) Others said that the tough guy is still a viable character but perhaps may be changing, more introspective, more willing to admit that they’re damaged goods. And let’s face it, these characters have some heavy interpersonal baggage albeit it’s usually blamed on other people, the rigged system or whatever else you got. Some self-analysis would certainly be welcome.

My hand went up and I proffered that the tough guy protagonist is alive and thriving – and needed more than ever. Where our country is today, a hero who keeps his promises, acts in the name of justice, believes that bad actors should be punished and has what I’ll just call ‘old-fashioned values’ is a tonic. Sadly, our institutions are often led by liars,  those who’ve stepped on others to achieve their positions, people (mostly men, I admit with some sadness) who can’t distinguish between lies and facts, and downright cheaters. They move whichever way the wind blows thinking nothing of the greater good but only their own gain. I’m not just talking about politicians but business and social leaders, too.

I wince at how old-school fictional characters solve problems with violence, but they are at least consistent, honest and think beyond themselves. How many times have we heard one of these tough guys say: “The world will be a better place without…” before pulling the trigger? As readers, we want heroes with a solid moral compass even if it doesn’t point to everyone’s true north. That’s Jack Reacher to a ‘T.’

(For those of you who really want to feel like waffling, watch the Magnificent Seven – the first one, damn it, not the remake – and then let’s talk moral compass.)

In a world full of compromises – usually ones that chip away at our best intentions – guys like Reacher suggest a simple, uncomplicated and value-rich way of life. He and his brethren give us hope that such an existence can be achieved even though it isn’t an easy path.

Whew, I was glad to get that off my chest not only about literature but about social issues, which was, oh, yeah, the topic of the event titled Crime Fiction as Social Commentary. It was held at George Mason University’s Fall for the Book annual event.

 

 

Spoiler Alert: My Novel Isn’t About Donald Trump

By Larry Kahaner

I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but my novel “USA, Inc.” isn’t about the current U.S. president.

The problem obviously comes from my original cutline (which I’ve recently changed. Why? Read on.) “What if the US were run like a corporation and a madman was in charge?”

confirm bias

CHAINSAWSUIT.COM

 

Because of the politically and socially charged atmosphere in which we’re living, potential readers on both sides of the aisle were interpreting this teaser according to their own belief system — and many of them thought the story was about Trump.

It wasn’t. It isn’t. In fact, I started this book several years ago when the president wasn’t even a blip on the POTUS radar.

Reading the longer description sometimes helps to dispel this errant notion. (I’m not shilling my book here; I’m trying to make a point): “Relegated to the low end of the law enforcement food chain after his fall from grace at the FBI, Mike Wardman vows to find the people responsible for the  murder of his ex-fiancée and uncovers a plot to topple the government of the United States. The action spreads from Chesapeake Bay to the Caribbean island of Nevis as Mike uncovers a maniacal billionaire’s plot to use a Constitutional loophole to run states like corporations – that only he controls.”

Even so, readers’ knives already were sharpened and those on social media chimed in with comments like, “Don’t we already have this situation?” and “What did you expect from Trump?” Those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, said: “How dare you call our President a madman?” and “We need the government to be run like a business, and Trump is a business success.”

Hello… how many times do I need to say that my book is not about Trump?

These responses show me that a) people don’t read past a headline before making an assessment and b) people see what they want to see despite what’s presented to them.

Sociologists have a name for this. It’s called Confirmation Bias, and it occurs when people bring their own pre-conceived notions into a new situation.

We are seeing first hand this closing of the mind in our current political landscape where truth goes out the window and people take positions based on their own convictions and self-interest despite verifiable information to the contrary.

People are reading into things that don’t exist – like thinking that my book is about the President – because they are so quick to decide what something is about without reading beyond the headline. They want to take offense, and they want to take sides. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the president’s policies.)

There’s an old saying attributed to Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachman in the Talmud:  We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.

And that’s the real problem.

Thanks for listening and please read my book.

It’s not about Trump.

PS – Watch the trailer.

Pulpster Robert Leslie Bellem: Doing What He Had to Do

By Larry Kahaner 

First, a half-hearted apology. I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I’m not that sorry. I’ve been working on a new novel, a detective yarn in the pulpster style, and as a writer you gotta spend your time where it gives you the most payback. I enjoy blogging and hearing from my fans, but the book took precedence. george-reeves-superman

 

While I’m taking a short hiatus from my novelwriting, however, I’ve been reading the works of Robert Leslie Bellem. For those of you not familiar with him, he was a pulpster, and like his ilk he wrote as much as he could and as fast as he could.

For me, a guy who has been a working writer, author and journalist all of my adult life, I’ve always admired these scribblers. There’s no waiting for their muse, no complaining, no being a whiny baby (Oh, yeah, they often got loaded and complained plenty about low pay and crazy publishers but that’s not complaining. That’s getting your anger up so you can write some more.) and moving where the markets are buying. Like other pulpsters, when the pulp magazine market ebbed, he moved into TV, writing a bunch of episodes of The Lone Ranger, Adventures of Superman, the Perry Mason show, 77 Sunset Strip, Charlie Chan, Dick Tracy and Wanted: Dead or Alive. Check IMDB for an elephant-sized list of writing credits.

 

lonerangBellem wrote in a variety of genres for many pulp magazines, (He also wrote a few novels) but my favorite works of Bellem are the Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective mysteries. They first appeared in Spicy Detective magazine in the 1930s and the rag was called spicy because they required sexy action between consenting adults. What’s so amusing to me is that these risqué sections seem shoe-horned in, and I’m sure it’s because they were a requirement. I know that because a) I’ve been a writer for decades, trust me; I can tell, and b) they’re all essentially the same. You can tell that Bellem pulled them off a stack of index cards to satisfy the Spicy Detective rubric. His short stories are peppered with these scenes at regular intervals with overuse of the words bodice, breasts (which are often heaving), lace and peek-a-boo. Unlike his usual clever use of words and phrases in the rest of a story, these spicy scenes are mundane, overworked and clearly written just to get the manuscript past the editor.

Here’s a typical one:

“I danced my fingers over her shoulders; dislodged the negligee. Her skin was golden, like rich cream. Her breast looked taut and palpitant under a peek-a-boo lace; I began to enjoy my work. After all, I’m not a wooden Indian.” (Cat Act)

Feel free to recombine the words in a different order, and you have another scene that Bellem could insert as needed.

Besides these scenes, Bellem possessed the clever wordage, style and cadence of the pulpster’s meal ticket. They’re funny, some might argue overwritten, and clearly of their time.

“It was the brand of scream that turned your ear-drums grey around the temples: high in a feminine register, penetrating as a buzz saw, harsher than a jolt of prohibition gin. The minute I heard it I started running hellity-slash across the vast, barnlike sound stage building. I smelled trouble. Damned bad trouble. A private snoop gets hunches sometimes.” (Cat Act).

And another:

“She tried to stop me with a slug from her fowling piece. Lanza snapped out of his trance in the nick of time, though, and lashed upward with his right brogan; kicked her full on the gun-wrist. It was damned accurate kicking. You could hear her arm bone snapping. She screamed, and the Bankers’ Special went sailing in a lazy arc; clattered into a far corner.” (Cat Act)

Here’s one of my favorites because it’s funny and not funny at the same time:

“And the fettered blonde lovely looked as panic stricken as a Czechoslovakian statesman in a room full of Hitlers.” (Cat Act)

And here’s one with the classic pulpster words and rhythm:

“So I had to get hold of some geetus to keep Gertie from throwing me in the soup.” (Blue Murder)

Of all the pulpsters I’ve enjoyed and written about (See my blog entry Writing Lessons from a Pulpster) Bellem appears to have been having a lot more fun. He wrote for the lettuce, the moolah, the folding green, no doubt about it, but he appeared to be having a bit of a laugh at –  and with – the reader.

If you doubt me, the humorist S.J. Perelman noticed this, too. In a 1938 piece in The New York titled “Somewhere a Roscoe…” he wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about how much he loved the fictional dick Dan Turner and the magazine group that published the character. Perelman wrote: “I hope nobody minds my making love in public, but if Culture Publications, Inc., 900 Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware will have me, I’d like to marry them… And I love them because their prose is so soft and warm.” Perelman went on to offer examples of Bellem’s Dan Turner prose. Perelman was having some fun, too, just like Bellem, but you could tell that he truly appreciated the words for what they were: Prose that was hitting on all eight.

 

Larry Kahaner is the author of the thriller USA, Inc. 

 

 

 

So Long Thriller Guy… Yeah, We Knew Ye

By Larry Kahaner

As someone who has been writing a blog about writing for a few years, my posts often feel sweet and light compared to my longtime buddy and blogger Allen Appel alias The Thriller Guy. TG is a master at telling would-be writers how the book biz is really played, how it’s sometimes a game for suckers and to stop bellyaching about the ‘writer’s life.’ A novelist himself, Allen aka TG, not only has an impressive stable of novels but has reviewed over 500 thrillers for a major trade publication. (And wrote a cool memoir, I might add.)

small portrait allen 3

He has the goods and doesn’t mind telling you about it. His advice is tough, rugged as a moonscape, and real as a Taser in the face. Lots of amateur writers don’t like him because he doesn’t coddle, doesn’t equivocate and doesn’t tell them what they usually hear from friends and family about their precious prose. On the other hand, when you need help with a vexing hunk of writing, he’s there to work you through it – as he’s done for me over many a sandwich and red Solo cups of Jameson.

Before this sounds like an elegy instead of a celebration, let me present the last blog from the man who always reminds you to “Sit down; Shut up; Get to work.”

 

So long, Thriller Guy

“It has become obvious that the always shadowy Thriller Guy has not made the transition from scarred urban warrior crouched in his basement lair to the kinder hills and small towns of North Carolina.

I’ve thought about how to bring him to a natural, or unnatural end. Maybe going down in a brisk pre-dawn firefight on some unnamed snow-capped ridge under siege from a legion of turbaned AK-wielding hajjis. He’d like that. Or perhaps something more ironic, more absurd. I’ve always been amused by the scene in the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe when George sits Martha down after a long night of drinking and tells her, in Richard Burton’s solemn, sonorous voice, that their son Jim was killed that afternoon on a country road… “when he swerved to avoid hitting a porcupine and crashed into a tree.” How ignominious. How completely un-Thriller Guy.

At any rate, it’s clear that he’s run out of writing advice to sling around.

 

Read the rest here.

What if the US were run like a corporation and a madman was in charge? Check out my latest thriller “USA, Inc.” now available in eBook and paperback. All my books have a money back guarantee. Watch the trailer.

 

 

 

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