Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Falcon and Falconer

Sharon Wildwind

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold …
~William Butler Yeates, The Second Coming

There are a lot more favorable reports than I expected from people who bought a Kindle last Christmas. The talk turned very quickly from “Will I like this?” to “Where can I download books.” The answer, of course, is only from the company that sells the Kindle. But in the ensuing discussion about downloading, I learned that lots of libraries now offer a download service for e-books. The download is good for three weeks, then something—I’m not quite sure what—happens so that the book is no longer readable. I have visions of Peter Graves watching the smoke coming out of the tiny tape recorder at the beginning of Mission Impossible. In any case, this e-book service is apparently spotty, available in certain parts of the country, but not in other parts.

Along the same intersection of technology and geography theme, Blogger, the people who host this very blog, have installed a post-now, publish-later feature. This means I can write my next blog at any time, post-date it, and have it magically appear at the right time on Tuesday morning. The only problem is we are having some trouble with the timing on the automatic poster. One of the Deadly Daughters discovered that the default time setting for this service matches the current time in Belize. No one knows why or how to fix it.

All books are now classified as thrillers, which has come to mean, “We want you to buy this book.” The name cozy mysteries, which went through an identity change a few years ago to become traditional mysteries, now appear on the verge of being morphed again into classic mysteries. Again no one knows why, how to fix it, or if it even needs fixing.

The on-line mystery lists, the mystery conventions, booksellers, and almost anyone else you care to name are on exhausting round #937, or there-about, regarding inclusion versus exclusion. Is an author an author or not? Many of the lists have stopped being helpful in themselves and have become a nexus or clearing house for other information. Click here to read my sample chapters. Click there to read my blog, follow my virtual book tour, link to my pod cast, or read what I’ve posted on my web site. I’ve even gone over to the dark side and now subscribe to two sets of writing-related pod casts and one RSS feed. This morning, I have 22 pod cast episodes to listen to and 55 RSS headlines to read.

The way the mystery world is changing is enough to drive me crazy.

Did I mention that, in spite of taking my cholesterol meds and eating all the right things, my happy cholesterol (what I call the high-density variety, the good stuff) is the pits? My doctor had one word for me: exercise. So every morning now, I’m out pounding the pavement for thirty minutes. And no, I haven’t flipped out. There really is a connection between Kindles, e-book downloads not being available in Montana, blogs running on Belize time, identity questions, pod casts, RSS feeds, and cholesterol.

When I get past my warm-up phase and into my walk all of this noise floats away. Yes, the mystery world is now confusing, but those of us in the mystery community, both individually and collectively, are strong, smart people, and we’ll find our way through the background business noise. The important things remain the same. Who dies? What effect does that death have on people around them? How do I make my villain likable and dastardly at the same time? How can I make my heroic heroine bigger than life? What’s the difference between a clue and a really good red herring? What’s the difference between good and evil and what is justice, anyway? It’s important that we don’t lose sight of what’s at the centre of the genre we write.

Writing quote for the week:

The only thing really worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.
~William Faulkner, southern author


Lonnie Cruse said...

Great post, Sharon. Good luck with the exercise to fix your cholestrol. Are you listening to audio books as you pound the pavement?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lonnie. No, mostly I do visual things while I walk. Yesterday I found a pair of nesting mallard ducks. She was tucked up at the base of a tree and he was standing guard. At first I thought they were really clever carved decoys, until the drake turned his head to follow me as I walked by.