Showing posts with label crawl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crawl. Show all posts

02 September 2013

Baby to Toddler to Published

Jan Grape
by Jan Grape

Our SleuthSayers blog is coming up on its second birthday on the 17th of this month. Wow, we're not babies anymore. We started out not really knowing where we'd go or who we might meet along the way, but it's been fun so far. We have an outstanding group of award-nominated and award-winning authors. We have a couple of writers who had to go on hiatus because of writing deadlines, yet we were able to add wonderful new folks immediately. Now at the terrible two stage, I expect more mystery, murder and mayhem, daily. If you only come around periodically, I suggest you try to come by on a regular basis. You might be surprised at our new running, walking, toddling stage and the very grown up published state.

The idea of comparing SleuthSayers to a baby just brings to mind how a writer is born, grows and develops. Not every writer, okay, there is the odd one or two published the first time out. Those are rare cases. And in reality most of those honed their craft in newspaper or magazine writing or editing. They could even have a background in public relations, advertising or graphic work. It's possible they have a background/work history which they then used to write, like a policeman, a CIA agent, a lawyer, a crime-beat reporter or they were a real private detective. Being a bit of an expert in their field helped their writing craft.

Most writers have to start somewhere in their life, usually at an early age writing. I know authors who wrote a novel when they were ten or twelve or fourteen years old. At any rate, they almost always thought about or wanted to be a writer. I knew one children's author who told stories to her class when the class work was over each day. She quickly learned in telling her tales to stop at the day at an exciting part so the other kids wanted her to continue the story the next day. She was a baby writer who grew up fast.

Another friend who wrote a novel at age 12, went around neighborhood selling copies. I know writers now who write and have children in school. They have to work their schedule around when the kids are gone and then be ready to be a parent when the kids come home from school. I knew one lady who had toddlers underfoot, who would type a line or two, then change a diaper or fix a bottle. More power to her.

I know a lady who is a best-selling author whose husband died from a heart attack and she had three small children and since she had always wanted to be a writer, decided to see if she could make it. She did.

Another writer I know, also a best-selling author who wrote a couple of medical mysteries because his wife was a doctor and he had someone who could help him with the technical parts. Then he wrote private-eye novels and next wonderful thrillers and he stays home and takes care of the kids, being Mr. Mom while he writes.

I always wanted to write and publish books but I worked as an X-ray Technician and Radiation Therapist and after doing that all day and with three kids at home, I didn't try to have anything published. Well, that's not exactly true. I wrote an essay for English class my senior year and unbeknownst to me, my teacher had it published in the school paper. The paper came out that morning and after first period class a bunch of kids came running up and told me that Miss Moore had published my essay in the school news paper. It was What Christmas Means To Me. I was so excited, kids wanted my autograph and that's when I knew I wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, that publication didn't survive and I don't have a copy of it.

My next publication was a scientific paper on a new machine we got in Austin at Holy Cross Hospital called a telecopier. This was before fax machines. The oncology radiologist I worked with was able to send a preliminary treatment plan using this machine and transmit this plan to an oncology radiologist specialist in Houston (not MD Anderson) where they also had a physicist. The Houston folks worked out all the details and transmitted the final plans back to our department in Austin. The article I wrote was entered in the Local Radiological Society contest and the Texas State Radiological Society contest and I won both prizes. The TSRS sent it to the American Society and they published it in their monthly journal. The local prize was $50 and local publication, but the TX RT Society prize was $500 and the promise of the publication in the national journal. That was the first paid publications and it was about twenty years before I was paid for a short story. And it wasn't a mystery. Another five years passed before I published my first mystery short story. Good thing I kept my day job.

But when I started writing with an eye to actually trying to be published, I was a baby writer. I had to learn to crawl, then to walk, and finally to run as a writer and get published more often.. I learned that as long as I kept writing...not really worrying about getting published but sending query letters out and eventually getting feed-back that I improved. I grew as a writer. And strangely enough I noticed there seemed to be a change, or a growth spurt about every six months. The best way to do that as all you SleuthSayers know and any of you aspiring writers want to know is to write, write, write. and read, read, read.

So keep in mind most of us start out as baby writers and we keep growing with all the trials and pains of a toddler and then a teenager, but finally we learn and become a published author. There're a lot of growing pains along the way but it's worth it. Just ask any SleuthSayer.

12 July 2013

The Crazy Crawl

by Dixon Hill 

I’m busy today, so I’m stealing a page from Leigh’s book on Florida News, but crumpling it up my own way.


I’m sometimes rather disappointed by television news. Many of the stories are interesting – at least on network evening broadcasts – but, with the exception of the NewsHour on PBS, I find most stories seem to get a bit short-changed.

Few bits, however, are less informative than the “crawl” on the morning news broadcast of a local station here in The Valley of the Sun.

The “crawl” I’m talking about, of course, is that strip of text, which slides slowly by along the bottom of the screen, as an anchor or reporter covers the day’s stories. It doesn't often have much to do with the story being reported, but is instead, I believe, supposed to serve as a sort of televised headline, letting folks know what major stories have transpired since the last news broadcast.

Evidently the idea had its origin with the thought that some viewers might tune-in after a major story had already been covered, and the newscasters wanted to be sure all viewers got at least a clue about what happened.

At any rate, that’s how the crawl seemed to make its debut.

And, these days, I’m hard-pressed to find a televised news broadcast that doesn't include a crawl. Even sportscasts tend to have recent game scores sliding inexorably by along the bottom of the screen.

On that local station I mentioned earlier, however, the crawl is something else entirely.

What is it?

Well, I’m not sure. But, I think it might be some form of odd advertisement.

Either that, or maybe somebody at the station has a problem that needs immediate attention.

Items entered in the crawl, on this station, tend to be completely disassociated with any reality that I’m familiar with. Often barely complete sentences, they usually fail to provide important information, almost invariably leaving a reader to fill in the blanks. 

Here are just a few examples, gleaned over a recent period:

The dog was found in a car at a downtown Phoenix Circle K. 

THE dog?

This begs the question: “Which dog?”

Was it this dog, or that one?

And, I’m confused: What was going on that caused its being “found” to be important? Was the dog missing, or did he do something wrong? Were the police searching for this dog, because it had committed a crime? Assaulting a Post Office employee, perhaps?

Maybe s/he (we don’t know the gender) was a circus dog with special training; perhaps s/he was driving the car, but when police tried to pull him/her over s/he sped away, only to stop at a local Circle K, with tongue lolling. Is that what happened?

OR…

Perhaps there was no dog. Maybe a woman with an abrasive personality was found in a car at a local convenience store (that’s what a “Circle K” is, for those who don’t know), and the witness who relayed events to the reporter described the woman in unflattering terms, and the reporter misunderstood what the witness said, thus concluding that a dog had been in the car instead of a woman.

I don’t know. There was no story about ANY dog, that I saw, on that morning’s broadcast. On the other hand, I didn't see any stories about a woman being found in a car, either.

The family was living in a rented home, when it burned down according to Mesa Police. 

No, I can’t tell you anything about this family. There was no story on the broadcast about a home fire, or a family that had been burned out by one. Not even the Mesa Police showed up on the broadcast – even though the way the sentence was written, it would almost appear that the police have been implicated in arson. 

The car fire has been extinguished and the city says the intersection will be open at 10:00 am today. 

Thank god this one was posted on a different day, or I might have been led to believe that the family above was living in their car. I wonder what intersection was closed for awhile?

Tito said Thursday, baseball’s drug agreement could be undermined by leaks to the media about whether players are cooperating with an investigation by the commissioner. 

TITO said???

THE Tito? The one who used to rule Yugoslavia?

Or, is one of Michael Jackson’s brothers perhaps involved in baseball negotiations?

And, just which drugs are they all agreeing to take, here?

The man and a woman approached an apartment near 29th Avenue and Camelback road, drew a gun and demanded to talk to someone they believed was inside. 

At least this one gave me a good visual. I mean, whoever opened that apartment front door must have been wearing a mighty surprised face.

“The man and a woman … drew a gun…” Well, that must have been awkward. Did they both reach into the top of his pants (or inside her jacket) at the same time? And, which one is left-handed? (I would think that’s an important consideration when two people are drawing the same weapon.)

I can’t help wondering: Why is it “THE man”? I read that, and I get the idea I should know who this guy is. 

And, why is he with “A woman”? That makes it sound as if there’s a certain distance between the two. Maybe they had an argument over breakfast that morning. Or, maybe they just happened to approach the apartment at the same time. After all, it doesn't say, “The couple approached…”.

The latter is doubtful, of course, because: How could two people know to draw the same weapon at the same time, if they’d never previously met? Drawing a weapon together, it seems to me, connotes a fairly intimate relationship.

Conversely, perhaps the reporter was simply being chauvinistic. “THE man and A woman… yeah, that’s how it should read! Gotta keep those women in their place(s).” To wildly misquote Rudyard Kipling: “The man is THE MAN, a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a SMOKE!”

The President of Chattanooga State Community College said he didn’t know Federal Wildlife agents would kill the geese they removed from the campus.

As long as the geese were removed from the campus of Chattanooga State Community College at the behest of the school president, I think this one almost gets the green light.

Why almost?

Well, certainly Chattanooga State has a very pretty campus – even including a river walk – but, I can’t help wondering why residents in the greater Phoenix-Mesa-Metro area of Arizona would be interested in the ignorance of a guy who heads-up a small school in Tennessee.

On the other hand, Chattanooga is a fun word to write -- so maybe that’s why it wound up in the crawl this morning.

And, the geese– approximately 100 of them– were actually removed from the college campus, last week, and subsequently put down because no alternate location could be found for them. I know because I googled it.

And, that’s what makes me think this whole thing may be nothing but a form of advertisement.

I strongly suspect my local news station is putting incomplete and puzzling stories on their morning crawl in an attempt to make me google the story – hopefully including their station identifier in the info I type into google – as a way to drive more readership into their website.

If so, the plan is brilliant in its conception, and confusing to the end!
(Note: No dogs, bow-tied men, or books were harmed in the writing of this blog post.  And, I'm not the one who did-in the geese.)

See you in two weeks,
Dixon