Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Blood on the Moon Starring Robert Mitchum

I'm a fan of old Western movies and don't watch them nearly as much as I'd like to do. Tonight I was in the right mood for a good Western, so I settled on this 1948 dandy from RKO featuring one of their star actors, a young-looking Robert Mitchum. The reliable Robert Wise (The Set-Up starring Robert Ryan) directed it, and Luke Short wrote the novel (Gunman's Chance) the film is based on. I have not yet read the novel. Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie), Robert Preston, and Walter Brennan round out the sturdy cast of characters. Brennan is a treat. Mitchum plays Jim Garry, a gunfighter who gets involved with cattle ranchers competing to sell beef to the Indian reservation. Bel Geddes, the love interest, is one of the ranchers's daughters. Mitchum is the typical laconic, rugged cowboy drifter who has a conscience to go with his quick draw. I enjoyed Blood on the Moon, so I'll probably check out some more Westerns this winter. They make a nice change of pace from my steady diet of watching films noir and crime films. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Next Cozy Mystery Title Came Back From My Beta Reader!

Over the summer, I was developing a second cozy mystery series to complement my Isabel & Alma Trumbo cozies. As you may or may not know, Isabel & Alma are the senior sisters who live in the small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia, a delightful, quaint place to live with the notable exception so many murders occur there. It's no laughing matter, but the fussy, feisty, and funny Trumbo sisters are always on the case. They've been solving all the mysteries they've taken on to investigate, too.

Now, I've created as my protagonists the retired married couple, Piper & Bill Robins, living in the Northern Virginia suburb of Beverly Park. They feel compelled to investigate a close neighbor's homicide, and so the Robinses series starts off.

I finally sent the debut title to my beta reader, and the results came in yesterday. The good news to report is there's nothing really major to fix beyond the usual edits (although quite a few small things were caught). I also got the comment there is a lot more LOL humor found in Piper & Bill's cozies than in Isabel & Alma's cozies. I was heartened to hear that comment because I wrote it to be funny.

I'll blog again as I make progress in putting out Piper & Bill's new cozy mystery. I'm still looking at a December timeframe for publication. Thanks again for your interest!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Mike Hammer Starring Darren McGavin

Mike Hammer with Darren McGavin starring as the private eye is the first syndicated TV series based on Mickey Spillane's famous hardboiled detective. I watched a half-hour episode titled "A Mugging Evening" which appeared as one of the last shows in 1959 when the series ended after just two seasons. I've always liked McGavin in the other films and TV shows like Kolchak I've watched him in. He plays Hammer with a lot of sly humor and tongue placed firmly in cheek. Spillane was said to have had practically nothing to do with the show's production except to grab the money and run. There is one good fight scene in this episode near the end. Hammer, of course, is romancing the older sister of the murder victim. The older sister is an ice skating instructor in Central Park and wears nice clothes. I guess her job pays well. At any rate, I enjoyed seeing the Hammer episode although I doubt if I watch many others.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Storyboarding My Cozy Mysteries on Pinterest

I've been on the social media platform known as Pinterest for about a year, if memory serves me. It's probably the least used social media platform I'm on. Lately, I changed that level of effort when I began to storyboard my future cozy mystery title "Sweet Betsy" in my Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series. The Trumbo sisters, both retired and in their 70s, reside in the fictitious small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia. For some quirky reason, Quiet Anchorage has a high incidence of homicide, and they are called upon to do some sleuthing and come up with solving the murder case. The fun I've had is creating a Pinterest board with the different pictures I pinned there of what I envision Quiet Anchorage might appear like. "Sweet Betsy" is still a draft, so I can make any changes I want to it with little pain. I've pinned such places as the town's bakery, florists shop, grocery store, and water tower. I tried to match the descriptions I have in mind to the actual pictures I've pinned with varying degrees of success. Maybe the board will become more useful as I do more pinning. We'll see. Click here to reach my Pinterest storyboard.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Man Bait (Hammer Films)

This 1952 British film noir was released as The Last Page in the UK, but as the more lurid-titled Man Bait in the US. Despite the racy movie poster, it offers a nifty plot with a couple of twists. Hammer Films (better known for their gothic horror pictures up until the 1970s) produced this first movie and the others that followed in Britain, and Lippert Pictures distributed the films to the Yank audiences. George Brent, Marguerite Chapman and Diana Dors (her debut film) star in the picture. The middle-aged Brent plays a bookstore owner who is blackmailed by his gorgeous employee Dors after she kisses him in his office. He balks at paying up, and she turns up the heat with disastrous results. Her sleazy and greedy accomplice, played by Peter Reynolds, provides the muscle. I had to wonder how much longer such an independent bookstore as this one will be around while I watched the movie. The late crime novelist and critic Arthur Lyons (I liked reading his private eye novels) mentions Man Bait in his nonfiction "Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir!" from Da Capo Press. Man Bait isn't a bad way to spend the 84 minutes to watch it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Just Back from the Farmers's Market

It was pouring down rain this Saturday morning, so we decided to brave the elements and soldier out to our favorite Farmers's Market. (Is it right to spell it as Farmers or Farmers' or Farmers's or even Farmer Market? I've seen so many variations on the spelling. I'm going to use "Farmers's" throughout this blog post). It's so late in the growing season that not much is still left to select from, but we like the different varieties of apples and pears set out by the vendors for display in their bins. Good thing for us shoppers the vendors had put up their canvas canopies to keep the rain out of our faces. It was interesting to see who else was intrepid (is that the right adjective?) enough to schlep out to the Farmers's Market. Even with the foul weather, everybody we saw was in a congenial enough mood. We picked up some Asian pears to eat for breakfast as well as a bag of apples called Crimson Tart. It's a new variety, and we liked the tasty samples left out for the shoppers to try out. We're still waiting for the Gold Rush apples, our favorites, to come into season. We're big apple lovers and eat them throughout the winter. Anyway, there's only a couple of weeks left before the Farmers's Market closes down for the year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: THE NAKED KISS (Sam Fuller, Director)

This 1964 neo-noir film written and directed by the great Sam Fuller is a strange bird, indeed. Constance Towers plays the hard-edged prostitute Kelly who breaks out of her profession and goes on the lam to escape the wrath of her pimp with his underworld contacts. She ends up getting off the bus in a small town called Grantville which features a children's hospital set up by the wealthy scion of the town's founding family. She has a one-time tryst with the local police captain and then gets hired as a nurse's aid at the hospital where she excels at her job. She falls in love with the scion and seems to have finally hit easy street. Of course, since this is film noir, she runs into a couple of major obstacles. Her past catches up to her, and her love is nothing at all like what he appears. This movie has it all. It's sentimental, lurid, romantic, nostalgic, repulsive, and grotesque. Somehow, Kelly maintains her integrity, and this viewer had to know what became of her. Towers does a first-rate acting job. I saw Fuller's The Big Red One at the cinema back in 1980, but all I can remember was Lee Marvin starred in the war picture. I plan to view Fuller's Shock Corridor (he shamelessly plugs it on the town's movie marquee in The Naked Kiss) one of these weeks. Recommended.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our First Frost Hit This Morning!

How late in the autumn does your first frost usually come in your locality? This year ours hit earlier than we typically get it. As I walked up the driveway from getting the newspaper this morning, I saw the white frost coating the roof shingles. It surprised me a little. I didn't think it was getting to the freezing temperature mark outdoors at night. Just a few days ago, I had on shorts. I always equate the end of summer to when Jack Frost makes his debut appearance. I know there will be a few more warm, sunny days in October, but those pleasant weather days are numbered. Have you spotted the Halloween regalia on display? This October I've spotted a lot more pumpkins sit out on the neighbors's porches. Maybe there was a bumper crop of pumpkins this summer. The vendors at the Farmers's Market have lots of pumpkins out on sale. Speaking of the Farmers's Market, apples and pears are about the only produce that is good right now to buy. I bought a rotten cantaloupe last week by mistake. You'd think after all these years, I could pick out a ripe one as easy as clicking my fingers. What's the secret tip? Anybody know it? Well, it's back to my writing and editing fiction this morning. Thanks for dropping by for a blog read.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How My New Cozy Mystery Series Is Coming Along

I have posted a few sporadic blogs about my new and second cozy mystery series. It is coming right along now. I've already set aside the Book #1 for a couple of months and moved on to other projects before coming back to it. My latest rounds of edits have sharpened and focused Book #1, so I'm a lot more happier with it.

Earlier this week, I printed out Book #1 in hard copy for the first time. I always find it exciting to hold the physical pages to a new manuscript in my hands. I can actually "see" and "feel" what it is like instead of staring at it on the digital screen of my laptop.

Now come the last stages in the book's production. First, I'll copy edit and proofread the manuscript several times. I'll read the manuscript out loud. After I've finished doing all of that, I'll put in my fixes and print out a second clean hard copy for my beta (first) reader to go through. If it passes muster, then I'll be ready to finalize the book.

I've been going back and forth on the title for my Book #1. Right now, I'm going with THE CORPSE WORE GINGHAM. My problem with my title is it's TOO long. I count up 23 characters long, including the blank spaces. Twitter only allows 140 characters, so I'll be using up a chunk of them with putting in this book title on my tweets.

Oh well, I'll come up with something that is satisfactory, I'm sure. But all that is for later on. I'll post another blog next week about my progress. Thanks for your interest.