Monday, February 23, 2015

The wondrous power of  a few

     Naomi and I spent a week in Orlando as a warm-up from this brutal winter.  For three sunny days we roamed the pair of Universal theme parks and Disney’s Hollywood, and we were thoroughly enthralled.  The $660-million Wizarding World of Harry Potter alone is phenomenal, the best such attraction we’ve seen.  Shrek, The Simpsons, Despicable Me, and Spiderman were also standouts.

     On the tram from the vast parking lot to the Hollywood entrance, there was a timid six-year-old brown-eyed girl seated opposite us beside her Latino mom.  The girl wore a pink fairy princess dress and a glittery crown and held a wand.  We thanked her for allowing us to ride in her carriage, and she smiled shyly.  I suspect she’ll remember that enchanting day at Disney for many years.  In the thronged Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter fantastic otherworld of magic, grown people were wearing wizard hats.  Smiles and good cheer were abundant everywhere we went.

     Disney’s four Orlando theme parks drew over 50 million visitors in 2013 while the two Universal parks attracted over 15 million.  That combined single-year total is nearly equivalent to a quarter of the entire United States population.   I’ll bet virtually all those visitors found the experience uplifting, as did we.

     It occurred to me that the wonderful power behind these parks originated as elusive wisps of imagination in the minds of only a few dozen unusual people.  Disney, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, Michael Crichton, the writers and illustrators of Marvel Comics and the creators of the Simpsons and Shrek and Betelgeuse and other purely fictional characters. The digital conjurers of Pixar.  They all must have been highly satisfied to see their imaginary creations made real by a host of clever engineers and craftsmen, and to know their work continues to bring smiles and enchantment to the souls of so many millions every year.


Note: One of my short stories, a SF yarn titled “Silent Screams,” was named “Highly Commended” at the online Writers’ Village, where you can find lots of good advice about stellar storytelling.  It was one of 17 story contest entries I’ve submitted over the past two months.  I’ll let you know how those other entries fare.  You might want to enter a few such contests yourself.  It’s excellent writing practice, if nothing else.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tips from the mountaintop

             If we resolve to achieve success in our writing (especially in thrillers and suspense) during 2015, we can do no better than to heed the hard-earned wisdom of those who have summited the best-seller lists.     
Catherine Coulter has written an incredible 66 NY Times best-selling novels.  She shares excellent tips on how it can be done here:

During a ThrillerFest conference panel, four top gunsDavid Hewson, Lisa Gardner, John Sanford, and M.J. Roserevealed these seven writing sins:

Ann Rule certainly rules in the true crime genre.  Intense curiosity, a background on the fringes of law enforcementand a fortuitous (though dangerous) stint as a volunteer alongside then yet-to-be revealed and arrested serial killer Ted Bundy in a Seattle crisis clinictook her to the best-seller lists.  Good advice for wannabe true crime writers here:

Notice anything special?  All these web pages are from the same fount of writing information, the venerable Writers Digest organization.  They’re publishers of a respected magazine devoted to the craft, and of valuable annual guides like Writer’s Market, sponsors of excellent online writing classes and of prestigious writing contests.  They’re long-time staunch supporters of struggling writers everywhere.