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Russ Colchamiro has written 704 articles so far, you can find them below.


In the Writer’s Chair: Do I Talk Too Much?

I’m really deep now into [i]Crossline[/i]–my second novel–and I’m coming to the end of a really section. There’s been lots of action, and lots of humor, but now it’s time for some "big" moments.

One of the storytelling issues I’m often faced with is the classic show versus tell. At the point I’m at now, two characters are having a standoff. The struggle I’m facing is that this scene isn’t necessarily critical to the plot, but it is to the philosophy of the novel. I’ve got these I’m really deep now into [i]Crossline[/i]–my second novel–and I’m coming to the end of a really section. There’s been lots of action, and lots of humor, but now it’s time for some "big" moments.

One of the storytelling issues I’m often faced with is the classic show versus tell. At the point I’m at now, two characters are having a standoff. The struggle I’m facing is that this scene isn’t necessarily critical to the plot, but it is to the philosophy of the novel. I’ve got these characters arguing about why they believe what they believe, and why they’re point of view is better than the other’s.

There very well may be a better way to demonstrate this than through a lot of dialogue, but I’m not sure how to do it. So as I do, I have my characters talk. A lot. Eventually, I trim down the dialogue, but it’s sometimes tough to know if I’ve cut down too much, or not enough. Is the impact of the scene there? Does is pack a wallop? Or have I just gone on and on and on and on …?

I’ll get this sorted out, I’m not too worried about it. But the struggle is in trying to determine what’s best, because if I go one way, the story takes on a certain feel, and if I go another way, the story takes on a different feel. Which is better? Which helps tell the most satisfying story? Is one way better than the other, or are they just different?

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really such a terrible problem to negotiate, although it’s one I’m sure I’ll revisit again and again. It’s also one area of my own storytelling abilities I’m hoping to improve upon as the years go on, learning how to get the maximum power out of scene with the fewest amount of words.

Until then, I guess I’ll just have to have my characters duke it out verbally in these long speeches, leaving a big, bloody mess for us to enjoy. Like in my own life, figuring out when I’ve talked too much–or not enough–is always the trick.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/11/12 06:38

Jury No More: One and Done!

Early this morning the court clerk was addressing us potential jurors, giving us the lowdown on how the day would go. As part of his shtick–he was pretty funny, too–was that, if anybody expected to be done with jury duty in one day, we had about the same chance as winning the megamillions. Could happen, but don’t hold your breath.

Welll … jackpot!

After I got booted out of the first juror group, I got sent back to the main juror pool, and waited for round two. When 4 o’clock tickedEarly this morning the court clerk was addressing us potential jurors, giving us the lowdown on how the day would go. As part of his shtick–he was pretty funny, too–was that, if anybody expected to be done with jury duty in one day, we had about the same chance as winning the megamillions. Could happen, but don’t hold your breath.

Welll … jackpot!

After I got booted out of the first juror group, I got sent back to the main juror pool, and waited for round two. When 4 o’clock ticked along I figured, great, guess I’m coming back on Wed. (Tuesday is Veteran’s Day, so the court is closed), and try again.

But then then clerk read of this marvelous list. It was a list of all the potential jurors who were officially excused, officially fulfilled their obligations, and were therefore off the hook for another six years. Naturally I figured my name couldn’t possibly come up.

And yet it did.

Don’t know how or why, but they kicked my butt out after just one day. Done and dusted, as they say across the pond.

Jury Duty 2008. I hardly knew ya …

From the Courthouse: Rejected and Tossed Back

It’s about 3:30 pm on Monday and I’m in the main juror room at the Civil Courhouse in Jamaica, Queens (pretty cool that they have free Internet accesss, but it logs you out after 10 minutes, so that’s a drag …).

Around 11 am this morning my name got called for a car-accident case in civil court. Along with 20 other potential jurors, I went up into the small jury room, and the lawyers on each side of the case started asking their questions.

Out of the first 6 potential jurors, the lawIt’s about 3:30 pm on Monday and I’m in the main juror room at the Civil Courhouse in Jamaica, Queens (pretty cool that they have free Internet accesss, but it logs you out after 10 minutes, so that’s a drag …).

Around 11 am this morning my name got called for a car-accident case in civil court. Along with 20 other potential jurors, I went up into the small jury room, and the lawyers on each side of the case started asking their questions.

Out of the first 6 potential jurors, the lawyers selected three, and dismissed the other three. Right before lunch they picked another six potential jurors. I was one of the six. After a lunch break they questioned this group, including me, and the consensus in the room was that I would be selected as a juror.

Nope!

I was rejected and tossed back into the main jury room, so here I am, waiting again to see if I’ll get called for yet another jury.

Don’t know why I was dismissed–although I have a few ideas–but it just goes to show that just because you stand up in a jury room and start screaming that all lawyers are scum, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be selected as a juror …

Just kidding. I didn’t say [i]all[/i] lawyers are scum. (only some … okay, just kidding again). Anyway, now I see what new jury fate awaits me …

Nailed Again – Jury Duty (A Civil Affair)

Earlier this year I finally got nailed for Jury Duty. I was just starting a new job at the time, so jury duty was a particular inconvenience, and I was able to talk myself into a postponement.

Well, postponement’s over.

Starting Monday I report to the Queens Civil Court, so who knows what kind of trial I’ll wind up on, if I even get selected at all. I’ve served before, although no murder trials this time. With Civil Court, it’s usually a less dynamic affair. Here’s what the New York CEarlier this year I finally got nailed for Jury Duty. I was just starting a new job at the time, so jury duty was a particular inconvenience, and I was able to talk myself into a postponement.

Well, postponement’s over.

Starting Monday I report to the Queens Civil Court, so who knows what kind of trial I’ll wind up on, if I even get selected at all. I’ve served before, although no murder trials this time. With Civil Court, it’s usually a less dynamic affair. Here’s what the New York City Civil Court System has to say about it:

The Civil Court of the City of New York has jurisdiction over civil cases involving amounts up to $25,000 and other civil matters referred to it by the Supreme Court. It includes a small claims part for informal dispositions of matters not exceeding $5,000 and a housing part for landlord-tenant matters of unlimited amounts and housing code violations.

So, somebody will be suing somebody for something.

I think serving on Jury Duty is important, because we’re all part of the system, part of the community, and if a time ever comes when I need a jury paying attention for a trial I’m a part of, it’s only reasonable that I take the jury process seriously, too, when it’s my time as a juror.

Will I get an interesting case? Hope so. But either way, it’s just my time to do my small part, and hope that at least a little justice is served … Russman style!

The Crunch of Fallen Leaves

Because I’ve been walking the dog a lot lately, I’ve spent more time than usual wandering the neighborhood, and I’ve really been getting a kick out of the leaves.

Before moving to Queens, I spent 10 years combined in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the neighborhoods I lived in weren’t nearly as tree-lined as the one I live in now. And maybe I’m just noticing it more or maybe it’s just this Fall in particular, but there has been an abundance of those brown, crunch leaves on the grass and street,Because I’ve been walking the dog a lot lately, I’ve spent more time than usual wandering the neighborhood, and I’ve really been getting a kick out of the leaves.

Before moving to Queens, I spent 10 years combined in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the neighborhoods I lived in weren’t nearly as tree-lined as the one I live in now. And maybe I’m just noticing it more or maybe it’s just this Fall in particular, but there has been an abundance of those brown, crunch leaves on the grass and street, those scattering of leaves that reminds me of being a kid, stomping through leaf piles.

I’m usually not all that nostalgic–I tend to look foward, rather than back–but there’s been some kind of magic in the air this year for me in regard to the leaves. Just this reminder that something as simple as fallen leaves, as the sound of the crunch beneath my feet, can bring such joy, no matter what else is going on. Maybe it’s just one of those "stop and smell the roses" moments for me, but it’s been a smile nonetheless.

There’s a lot more I could say about this, and maybe one day I will, but for now, it’s enough for me just to remember that the joys in life can come from anywhere, and that a pile of brown crunchy leaves is worth more to me than I can put a price on. It’s the moments I can’t buy that are worth more than the ones I can.

Barack Obama’s Bull Durham Moment

I slept a little later this morning because I was up past 11 last night (pretty late for me), to watch the election results. I made it long enough to see Barack Obama be declared President, and off to bed I went. So when my alarm went off this morning I hit snooze four or five times, because, well, I was tired. But then I hear my cell phone chime away, with the text message song, and I just knew who it was.

My sister texted me at 5 am with an [i]Obama! Woo Hoo![/i] message, and indeed it’s I slept a little later this morning because I was up past 11 last night (pretty late for me), to watch the election results. I made it long enough to see Barack Obama be declared President, and off to bed I went. So when my alarm went off this morning I hit snooze four or five times, because, well, I was tired. But then I hear my cell phone chime away, with the text message song, and I just knew who it was.

My sister texted me at 5 am with an [i]Obama! Woo Hoo![/i] message, and indeed it’s been quite a ride. In my lifetime there’s never been an election with so much passion, so much participation. As time goes by and we have the chance to look back I think we’ll better see what this election meant to us as a country, because it’s always so tough to have perspective when you’re in the middle of it.

And so Obama is President.

There’s so much that could be said about it, but I’m suddenly struck by a scene from [i]Bull Durham,[/i] one of my favorite movies. In the scene, young pitcher Nuke Laloosh (Tim Robbins) just struck out the side (or else had an easy inning, I can’t remember), and he’s in the dugout with veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner). Nuke comes to the dugout, all smiles, so proud of himself. Just a peacock strutting himself. And Crash Davis slaps him down immediately.

"Your fastball’s up. Your curveball’s hanging. In the Show (the major leagues), they would’ve ripped you."

Dejected and sulking, Nuke says, "Can’t you just let me enjoy the moment?"

And Crash says: "Moment’s over."

Barack Obama will be our next president. I’m happy about that. I voted for him. But now he’s going to have do a job that will be unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It will be difficult. We are in rough waters.

Obama’s moment might not be over yet, but it’s coming soon. Up to this point, all we know is that Obama can run a very good campaign. But the bigger, more important question is: will he turn out to be a good president? Can he peform at the highest level in the highest office? For the good of us all, I hope so.

Now we’ll have to find out.

My Long, Deep Sleep

This weekend I slept. A lot. On a typical night I get about 6 hours, a little bit more on the weekends. But this weekend I had some catching up to do.

Friday night Liz and I went to a Halloween party, and as a result got home around 12:30, and asleep by 1 am. Not such a big deal, except that’s about two hours later than I normally hit the hay (been up since 4:30 am), and I had to get up at 6 am to walk the dog. Plus I was really hung over. I don’t drink much these days, but by the time theThis weekend I slept. A lot. On a typical night I get about 6 hours, a little bit more on the weekends. But this weekend I had some catching up to do.

Friday night Liz and I went to a Halloween party, and as a result got home around 12:30, and asleep by 1 am. Not such a big deal, except that’s about two hours later than I normally hit the hay (been up since 4:30 am), and I had to get up at 6 am to walk the dog. Plus I was really hung over. I don’t drink much these days, but by the time the party wrapped up on my end I probably put down a good eight beers, which is a lot for me.

So I dragged myself out of bed, walked the dog, and then tried going back to sleep. No go. I wound up watching TV for an hour, and then I went back to sleep. I knocked out about another two hours, so I wasn’t feeling awful, but not great. And so much for the gym. That was out. Liz and I watched a little TV, took the dog for a long walk, and then I hit the couch. I soon realized I wasn’t long for the waking world, so I dragged myself back into bed. About three hours later, I was up, and feeling much better.

In all, Saturday was a blur.

Sunday was a little better. I slept late for me, getting up around 8 am. I had a bit more energy, so I did a few things around the house, and then after lunch me, Liz and the dog all hit the couch to watch some TV, and not long after we were all fast asleep for a mid-day nap. After that I was fully up and recharged. I even went to the gym that afternoon.

I used to sleep a lot more than I do now. On a typical night I would get almost 9 hours. Now, maybe 6. And every once in a while I need to catch up. Well, this weekend was my catching up. I can’t remember the last time I slept this much in one weekend, and truth be told, I’m not so sure another weekend like this will be forthcoming any time soon.

Get Out the Vote!

Not a long one today, but an important one:

No matter which lever you pull at the booths, make sure you vote tomorrow!Not a long one today, but an important one:

No matter which lever you pull at the booths, make sure you vote tomorrow!

Russ’s Newsletter: Vol. 2, Issue 4 – Movie Trailer

Okay gang, at the end of the last newsletter I gave hints about a special Halloween debut that would knock your socks off. Well, as you’ll see in a minute, while I’m feverishly writing away on [i]Crossline,[/i] I’ve been busy, busy, busy with some [i]Finders Keepers[/i] promotional materials I think you are just going to get a kick out of:

* One of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years marketing-wise–mostly from partner-in-crime Rich Henn–is that to help sell a novel or comic-booOkay gang, at the end of the last newsletter I gave hints about a special Halloween debut that would knock your socks off. Well, as you’ll see in a minute, while I’m feverishly writing away on [i]Crossline,[/i] I’ve been busy, busy, busy with some [i]Finders Keepers[/i] promotional materials I think you are just going to get a kick out of:

* One of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years marketing-wise–mostly from partner-in-crime Rich Henn–is that to help sell a novel or comic-book project to the Hollywood crowd, you need to have a movie trailer of sorts. Yep. You heard right. Movie. Trailer. And now, after a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, you are officially invited to the World Premiere of the [i]Finders Keepers[/i] [u][b]animated movie trailer! [/b][/u]

Thanks to comic book creator and digital master Jason Yungbluth (www.whatisdeepfried.com), the [i]Finders Keepers[/i] animated movie trailer just kicks butt. We discussed the core plot points and I supplied him with Michael Lunsford’s illustrations, and then after some intense pow-wow sessions between us, Jason just made it explode.

Just to clarify, my goal with this trailer is to promote Finders Keepers to [b][u]Hollywood[/u][/b] producers, hoping to snag a movie deal. So when you watch this animated trailer, keep in mind that we took some creative license with the book’s plot and focus to show Hollywood what the [i]Finders Keepers[/i] [b][u]live action movie [/u][/b]could look like. The trailer plays up the fantasy angle of the story more than actually takes place in the novel, and we rejiggered the plot sequence and focus a bit to consolidate the video narrative. There’s a lot of goofy stuff going on in the novel, and we had to boil it down to 90 seconds for the trailer.

OK. Now that you’ve been sufficiently primed, go check out the [i]Finders Keepers[/i] animated movie trailer! Just go to my Web site (www.findersk.com), and scroll down a little on the home page (it’s beneath the art). You’ll see black box with a Big Red Button in the middle. Click that baby, turn up the volume, and enjoy!

* The convention season has pretty much wrapped up for 2008, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it! Last month I attended the Baltimore Comic-Con with partners-in-crime Rich Henn, Rich Koslowski and Jim Chambers, and a good time was had by all. Not only did I talk up a storm about Finders Keepers at the convention, but a bunch of us comic book types gathered at the Henn house afterwards for beer, food, comics, martinis … and a big pig (read my blogs from Sept. 29 and 30 to find out more).

For Baltimore Comic-Con pics … and some pig roast photos … check out the PHOTOS section on my web site, and you’ll see what nonsense we got up to.

* And for this issue’s spotlight, if you’re into detective thrillers, check out the creepy stylings of Thomas O’Callaghan, a very good guy and quality writer I met at ThrillerFest a while back. He is the critically-acclaimed author of [i]The Screaming Room[/i] and [i]Bone Thief[/i], which have been translated into various languages across the globe (with a movie version on the way). So if a good, creepy murder is up your alley, Thomas O’Callaghan is your man. http://www.thomasocallaghan.com/

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for this edition. If you haven’t already, check out the [i]Finders Keepers [/i]animated movie trailer, and next time I’ll have more news I’ve been holding back for a fun little surprise …

Till next time!

Subway Stories: Did I Sit in a Gob of Spit?

Last weekend I was in Manhattan, and took the subway home back into Queens. It was Saturday afternoon, about 5 o’clock, and had about an hour’s trip ahead.

I boarded the Queens-bound F train at the West 4th Street stop, and while the subway car wasn’t completely mobbed, it was reasonably crowded, and not tons of empty seats. Still, sitting is almost always better than standing, especially on a long tip. So there I was, scanning for seats, and the only one near me was a corner seat, in betwLast weekend I was in Manhattan, and took the subway home back into Queens. It was Saturday afternoon, about 5 o’clock, and had about an hour’s trip ahead.

I boarded the Queens-bound F train at the West 4th Street stop, and while the subway car wasn’t completely mobbed, it was reasonably crowded, and not tons of empty seats. Still, sitting is almost always better than standing, especially on a long tip. So there I was, scanning for seats, and the only one near me was a corner seat, in between two teenagers who just had that look. You know the one I mean. The look of, we’re teenagers, we don’t care if we annoy you, because you’re so out of touch you couldn’t possibly even get what we’re up to anyway.

Goody.

Still, I decided to take the seat anyway, and indeed, got my dose of it. The two of them, in their hyper, annoying, giggling, dare-me to challenge them way, said that somebody spit on the seat, and that I was going to be sitting in spit. So I pretty much had four choices.

I could: a) ignore them, as they were probably just messing with me, and just sit there; b) believe they were probably just messing with me, but decide that the whole trip will be more of the same with those two numbskulls, and not worth it, and sit somewhere else; c) believe there could be spit there (maybe theirs), and find a seat somewhere else; or d) believe there could be spit there (maybe theirs), and sit there anyway, because I was tired and couldn’t find another seat.

I went with choice D.

Did I sit in spit? Don’t know. But I didn’t care enough to get worked up over it, and if there was spit on the seat, my jeans were going in the wash anyway. That seat was worth more to me than at that time than walking away from a bunch of annoying teenagers, which I normally would have done had there been better options. I did have to endure another five minutes of their giggling, but they ran out of steam thereafter, and focused on new nonsense.

Sometimes getting home on the subway is a spit-free experience. Sometimes not. I’ll just leave it up to the gods to sort out which one it was.

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