Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming on Sunday, 3/2

.I'll tell you what I want from a good mystery series, then serve up a list of the writers who score.

If you like it, let me know and I'll follow up with more pieces in this vein.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester: Flash Bulletin 6: Part 2

Part 1 laid out my strategy of 'writing' my way out of a corner that fear and inertia had painted me in. I'd treat the move as if I were writing a long book--breaking it down into doable parts...then breaking those down into each day's work. These parts resembled chapters...and, in the adventure, as in a good book, I had to keep things moving at a good clip and in a clear progression. So far, so good.

I saw the parts quite clearly: deciding on a date...selecting employers to approach and ways of doing so effectively months in advance...figuring how to coordinate leaving my apartment in August, when the lease expires, and finding a room till it's time to move...etc.

I set into action mode by downsizing with a vengeance: filling giant trash bags with everything I didn't need. Within a week I'd bagged and trashed about 600 pounds and felt that I was on my way. Even so, however, I needed something more: I needed a turbocharged version of the secret weapon I'd invented in November.

I can't reveal its name yet or all of its specifics. But it's 'job description' may prove to be equally useful. It needed to be pocket-sized...capable of tracking my steps easily and monitoring my progress...giving me daily updates of my status with the timeline...and it had to drive me relentlessly to take more significant action.

With the changed weapon at my service, I:
--Began organizing all personal papers while bagging more trash.
--Contacted truckers and storage firms for quotes.
--Revised my basic resume, intended for clerical work, and began to draft a new one for editorial or proofreading work.
--Registered with a nationwide temp agency.
--Returned to gym after months of home workouts.
--Completed the recovery of my lost new novel, soon to be my seventh ebook.
--Emailed the publisher of a Seattle paper about my doing a column when I arrive.

I think I can say I'm approaching high gear!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester: Flash Bulletin 6: Part 1

Sometimes when we paint ourselves into a corner we may need to write ourselves out. This Flash Bulletin will tell you how I need exactly that when faced with a life goal that mocked me--and two demons that blocked my escape.

Though I'd moved across country a half-dozen times--once with 300 bucks to my name--my dream of a move to Seattle grew more distant by the time. I'd grown older, times had changed and the move's logistics floored me. Seattle was close to becoming the dream that got away.

I was living from payday to payday and couldn't see how I could finance the move. The harder I tried to figure it out, the more fiercely the demons assailed me. Can't-itis, the king demon, said: You can't find a job out west until you make move and you can't find an apartment there until you have a job and you can't even send your stuff until you have those two. This demon's cousin, Too-Too, pitched in: You're too old to pull this off and you've been working way too long at your present joe job and you're too poor to find a mate and there's too much competition for you to win at selling ebooks.

But something astonishing happened this week: a miraculous shift of perspective. I'd come to see myself, at least in regard to the move, as a helpless sad sack trapped in a pitiful circle of woe. When the miracle happened on Tuesday, I felt flooded in the most wonderful light. I saw with perfect clarity that I wasn't trapped at all. Not if I chose to see myself as the hero of a story that I had the power to write. Say, a thriller about a man down on his luck and facing some mighty tall hurdles...

Now, I knew something about writing after publishing ten books. And among the top lessons I'd learned were these:
1) I need to work by outline, blocking out my stories in clearly defined parts.
2) On the road to redemption, the hero must show a fighting spirit no matter how often he falls. And we need to see this early on.
3) He must move forward, tackling his demons and taking key steps at key times. We can't abide a loser for 80% of a book, though we may abide a loser who shows a winning streak even if he stumbles. Certainly, by the halfway point he'd better show his stripes.
4) In the writing itself, the key thing is to stay on track, getting it down on paper, no matter how wretched the first draft may be.

With these lessons in mind, the move seemed eminently doable--if I broke it down just so, and continued to regard myself as an action hero...temporarily down on his luck. I chose a move deadline: October, 2014. Next, I listed the slew of things I'd have to do: from packing to research to making the money to move, etc. The list looked as formidable as finishing  a novel. But then again, I'd published ten. So I did what I'd do if writing the move as a novel:

I broke it down into parts, things I'd need to do each month. And to start off on the right action footing, I filled a 55-gallon trash bag with clutter and garbage and junk I won't need.

Part 2, coming soon, will offer more specifics--and tell you how I put to work the secret weapon I mentioned a few months ago.

The Seattle Can-Can has begun!




Monday, February 17, 2014

One Day Delay

The promised manifestation update has been delayed till Monday, 2/17. Meantime, do check out my post on Facebook today regarding a bus-bound adventure and topless teenage nymphos.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Coming Monday!

The snow from hell has melted. Once more we set boldly forth to the fray while the year is still young and our plans still have spunk.

On Monday the 6th Action Manifesting Flash Bulletin will bring you up to date, give you some tools you can use...and provide some telling clues to the nature of my 'secret weapon'.

Here, Live on Monday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Make Love to Your Kindles with this Valentine's Day Sale!

From February 12-18 Books-a-Fire offers twenty great gifts for all Kindles--from free to just $.99! Choose from aranormal, romance, mysteries, suspense, fantasy, nonfiction....

Two of my books--Southern Scotch and April Yule--are included. And I'm thrilled to be part of this lineup.

Here's the link:

http://www.booksafiregiveaway.com/

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Meet the Real Reb MacRath: Part 6

Let's continue our fearless revolt against authors who won't give you the time of day about their spiritual makeup--the very stuff, you might say, that fuels what they bring to the page. For today, here's a series of pet passions, things that ring my bells and sometimes curl my toes. I, Reb MacRath, am inordinately fond of:

READING
Mystery/Thriller Authors (*=ebooks)
Lawrence Sanders
Michael Connelly
James Lee Burke
Trevanian
Raymond Chandler
Dash' Hammett
Sue Grafton
*Brad Strickland
*Bill Kirton
*Valerie Laws
*D J (Debbie) Bennett

Ancient Classics
Ovid
Horace
Catullus
Tacitus
Homer

19th Century
Byron
Pushkin
Dickens
Oscar Wilde

Contemporary Literary (*= those I've read on ebooks)
Mark Helperin
Truman Capote
Gore Vidal
*Leverett Butts
*Catherine Czerkawska
*Dennis Hamley
*Valerie Laws
*Chris Longmuir

Poetry--Modern
Yeats
W H Auden
Leonard Cohen

WRITING
In this order, I enjoy:
Research
Revision/editing
The mudpie phase of the first draft

FILMS
Directors
Sam Peckinpah
Alfred Hitchcock
Quentin Tarantino
Brian DePalma

Actors
William Fichtner
James Coburn
Gene Hackman
Brad Pitt
Lee Marvin
Richard Boone
Tom Cruise

Fave Movies
The Wild Bunch
Straw Dogs
The President's Analyst
Harry in Your Pocket
Kill Bill 1 and 2
North by Northwest
The Exorcist
Jaws

MUSIC
Rod Stewart
Leonard Cohen
Brian Wilson
George Gershwin
John Lennon
Amy Weinhouse
Eminem
Bob Marley

TV SHOWS
Breaking Bad
House of Cards
The Good Wife
Chicago PD
Prison Break
The Blacklist
Boston Legal
Have Gun Will Travel
Invasion (canceled after one season)


FOOD
Oh, I try to eat well and do love a good salad or Green Superfood smoothie, etc. But I must confess:
There is nothing I love better than:
CHICKEN PARMESAN!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coming Sunday 2/9

An all-new edition of The Real Reb Macrath will go Live right here tomorrow. Learn a few surprising things that curl my toes and ring my bells.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Prison Break: The Brilliant Lost Fourth Season

Almost everyone loved Prison Break: namely seasons 1 and 2, by general consensus. From then on, you might conclude, it was all downhill--starting with the half-length season 3 and ending with a train wreck known as Season Four.

But, as I'm about to show, the train wreck really must be called the Final Season, not the Fourth. And by the time I'm finished, if you're a fan of 1 and 2, you'll want to view the real 4 in a hurry...and I'll tell you where to to see it. You may even see the flawed third season in a different light.

Prison Break began as the darling of viewers and critics alike. Though it made for brutal viewing, it offered great characters, production values, scripting and acting. Its real problems began with USA Today's TV critic, Robert Bianco, who took a vehement dislike to it and ridiculed it relentlessly as a bloated epic that should have been made as it was originally pitched: a five-episode mini series. According to Bianco, greed alone compelled the producers to stretch it out year after year.

Stop right there. Producer Paul Scheuring makes clear in the DVD extras that PB was pitched and always meant to be a five-year epic. And each season would have its own feel. 1: something like Escape from Alcatraz. 2: something like The Great Escape. 3: a dark riff on 1--with the cons re-imprisoned in a brutal new joint...to break out the mysterious Whistler. 4: something like Ocean's 11--with the re-escaped then captured cons forced by Special Agent Self to find and steal six Company cards. 5: something like the Bourne Idendity with the betrayed cons out to bring down the Company.

But by Season 3, cancellation rumours grew in frequency and volume. 3 itself was put on a short leash, the writers and cast scrambling to pull it off in only 13 episodes. Budget too seems to have been greatly reduced--the prison looks hopelessly fake. And the combination of second-rate effects and truncated length caused viewers to see it as a failure. It was not--but we'll come back to that in a minute.

Thank Bianco again for what happened next. Though viewer rebellion forced the network to grant the show one final season, the producers found themselves in a hopeless situation: under no circumstances could they stop the show at the end of season 4. They owed their fans a good deal more than that--and they also owed the show. What to do?

They cut the intended lengths in half, then spliced the two together.

And where is the real fourth season? Episodes 1 through 12, ending with 'Selfless'--in which the cons run headlong into the Big Reveal: Don Self is a murdering s.o.b., who's played every one of them and is now the proud owner of Scylla. But in the splicing of two seasons, the sensational impact is lost and we move on immediately from Ocean's 11 to  Bourne.

I've just finished watching the real season 4. At the end of the 12th episode, I set the disc aside, wanting a break--as I would have enjoyed if there had been a fifth season. I wanted a break to recover from the impact of what I had seen: a lost masterpiece, recovered. 12 episodes were all that were needed to give us one hell of a story:
--Six cards are ingeniously stolen.
--Alex Mahone hunts the assassin who murdered his son--and transforms from a strung-out villain to a sympathetic and heroic figure.
--At the same time, the assassin Wyatt hunts down Alex and the others, with orders to wipe out them all.
--Don Self proves as dangerous as the other villains combined--but with his own tragic back story.
--Greta equals T-Bag the show's star psycho.

This season also contains what I believe is its single most powerful moment. In episode 6, Blow Out, Mahone is caught and arraigned...but tracked to court by Wyatt. Not one line of dialogue. But not one line is needed. William Fichtner says it all with his face, conveying a dozen emotions--from rage to blood lust to fear to despair.

The producers and writers worked wonders in condensing 4 to 12 episodes. And in separating it from 5, as we should, the shortened season 3 no longer seems like a freak.

Do yourselves a favour and view season 4 as it's meant to be seen. Then let's all take a break and see if season 5 holds up.