Psalms She Sang

She stands with the leaves

gathered about her knees like piling waves

receding back to the rocky side of the driveway,

fingers tinted the same sacred blue as the sky.

 

Trees have bared themselves for her

and she stops her labor to watch

September’s cold flicker on their boughs,

palms open to the sky.

 

Spires tinged amethyst, reaching

for the puckered kiss which taunts

the picture of an impatient smile

black flies harrow.

 

I remember stepping off the porch

slim light trails in the rainbow mess of symbols

which sought to scream her precarious footfalls on fresh earth,

She and I, and the setting sun.

Book Review: Echoes of Old Souls

“I’ve lost you, forever, so many times. And I’d do it all again.”

I have a word for you: lyrical.

It’s a word that I cannot apply to nearly enough literature, but I must apply it here. Like the echoes to which it speaks, this collection of short stories (By Nika Harper) resonates with the beauty of old souls returned. I want to call it a ghost story, but that wouldn’t quite be doing it justice. Tales of rebirth might be more accurate, but they run the gamut from stirring elegies of sorts to the humor many might more generally associate with “the Nikasaur,” to downright “spooky” tales of what connects us to this earth, and however many lives that might entail.

Of course, the short story format may not be immediately apparent to everyone. Echoes of Old Souls is divided into chapters, and the only thing denoting the chapter change are the names of those old souls contained within. So if you’re not careful, you might mistake it for a building of quite a cast of characters (which it is, in many regards, anyhow). When I say short, I mean very, very short. Most stories are only a couple pages long and it feels more like you are hopping from brain to brain rather than getting in-depth engagement with characters—but what Ms. Harper manages to do in those short spans is admirable.

Her writing has a poetic quality that paints some very human, if ethereal portraits—in all their myriad shades. It’s a fine debut, and will engage your curiosity.

One Studio’s Blockbuster; One Author’s Horror Story

I have a horror story for you.

For our protagonist, we have a scrappy physicist turned novelist, who developed what can only be described as one of the most massive blockbusters of recent years. I know, so far out there, right—how could someone possibly relate? Well for starters, let me drop another name on you:

GRAVITY

The Gravity Poster.

Do you remember Gravity? Flailing cameras? Spinning stars? Shrapnel? Sandra Bullock dancing through Earth’s atmosphere? Yes, that Gravity. Well, did you happen to know that Tess Gerritsen is also the person that birthed that particular entity, originally in novel form? I thought not. Yet it plays quite heavily into the why of this horror tale.

Now suppose you take this character and kindly tell them that they don’t need to be paid for their job…and certainly not for the work that came of it. No doubt that’s quirked a few eyebrows. Well, that’s precisely what has happened to Tess Gerritsen. You see, Gerritsen is presently involved in a very nasty little lawsuit over the theft of her property—the aforementioned Gravity—by a little company named Warner.

From “The Gravity of Hollywood: When It’s Okay for a Studio to Steal Your Story” by Matt Wallace:

It seems author Tess Gerritsen sold the rights to her novel GRAVITY to New Line in 1999. In exchange she would receive credit, a production bonus, and net profit points if the movie were made (not only is that never a given, it’s rare).

In 2008 New Line was “acquired” by Warner, who then went on to make the movie GRAVITY from Cuarón’s supposedly original screenplay concerning a medical doctor/astronaut left adrift in space after satellite debris kills the rest of her crew.

The novel GRAVITY is about a female medical doctor/astronaut trapped on the International Space Station after the crew is killed in a series of accidents. Later, as they developed the film, Ms. Gerritsen wrote scenes in which satellite debris broke apart the station and her protagonist was left adrift in her EVA suit.

Sound familiar?

The facts had at this point intrigued me on the level of juicy gossip.

Again, I admit this shamefully. I’ve lived and worked in Los Angeles for almost five years. It jades.

That’s when my lady (who, incidentally, is a brilliant attorney) dropped the ATOM BOMB OF HORROR RADIATING AT THE HEART OF THIS STORY.

Nikki went on to explain to me that author Tess Gerritsen was NOT suing Warner Bros. over copyright infringement or intellectual property theft.

Ms. Gerritsen admits openly and freely that Warner had every right to make the movie GRAVITY, utilizing her story as they saw fit.

She sued them because they brazenly screwed her out of the credit, payment, and profit she was guaranteed from the movie clearly (at least to me) drawn from her work.

The court doesn’t seem to dispute any of that.

This is the horror bomb part.

What both the court and Warner Bros. argue is Warner is under no obligation to honor the contract New Line made with her.

See, the problem was, Warner hadn’t bought the rights to the book. Rather, they bought out the company that had—New Line. Fairly standard fare in the business world, actually; same thing goes for patents. It’s one of the reasons companies do so like to gobble others up, in fact—so they can get access to their hoards. Unfortunately, Warner has argued that while buying up said company has entitled them to its prizes, it has not bound them by the same contracts that enabled those prizes in the first place.

A Publicity shot of Tess Gerritsen.

Thus, they have refused to credit Ms. Gerritsen (who has not in any way debated Warner’s right to publish the movie—merely their refusal to pay her for it), or even pay her. Anything. Which really just seems like the latest par for the course round of writers getting shafted for their hard work. What’s more, as writers and readers continue to rumble and rage about the present state of the publishing industry, about the state of writing, and what creators do or don’t deserve for the trouble, this incident leads to a particularly troubling entry into the debate: that of the legal.

Unfortunately, with studio versus author, we find ourselves at a legal crossroads. Whatever happens here (and the court has currently ruled to dismiss Tess’s case, in Warner’s favor), we’re going to find ourselves with immediate precedent for future cases—and thusly, for the industry at large. Don’t see the big deal? Say the court rules in favor of Warner. To Warner, it’s a solid chunk of change in the immediate, and for Tess Gerritsen, merely no gains on something she’s already not being paid for. That’s the immediate case, though.

In the future, other courts and judges can point to that ruling when they inform authors that studios need not pay on an optioned story—merely because that studio purchases another that had ACTUALLY negotiated the contract under which it was optioned. Essentially, there would be a massive loophole in the rights of authors when it comes to their own creative property—and studios would be able to operate with a lot looser restrictions on how they run their businesses. At least, when it comes to capitalizing off other people’s work.

Right now it’s comics that studios seem to be making huge profits off of, but they have always made a good chunk of their change from the literary scene as a whole. I doubt many moviegoers even realize how many films have that lovely little, “Based on…” disclaimer contained somewhere therein. Adapting books is a huge business, and I think fellow writer Emmie Mears said it best: “The least they can do is ensure those who thought up the stories are compensated accordingly.”

And if you haven’t read the article by Matt Wallace yet, which goes much more in-depth into the issue, and hits things far more eloquently than I, do so. Especially if you’re an author. In the same vein, you can get the story straight from the author’s own mouth, here: “Gravity Lawsuit Affects Every Writer.”

One Author to Another

This is an endorsement.

No, I don’t do these very often.

Yes, that should say something about my confidence in the fellow about to be described.

No, I was not paid for this.

Yes, it is in response to a similarly (snarky) pitch from this writer’s own page

Might I add, that is IN SPITE of the fact that he detests dragons, in any form, and I very much hope that one sits its fat little rump on his head and roasts him like a chestnut for it. THAT ASIDE…

JakeI would like to introduce Mr. Bryce David Salazar.

Bryce is the author of the forthcoming novel She Sees Metaphors (to be released summer/fall of 2015), which is contemporary/literary fiction that will bloody well set you reeling. Appropriately, he can string together a metaphor so elaborate you’ll lose yourself in an image within an image, and we’ll be forced to pull you out from perpetual loop at a later date. The man knows imagery and his dedication to character is inspiring. He may also be the reason the rum is always gone, and be a shoe-in for the cast of The Room 2, if all that is holy has no mercy upon us in such a way.

Keep your eye on this fellow, gentle readers. He will surprise.

A January Writer’s Smörgåsbord

A January Writer’s Smörgåsbord

12455-robot-pictureNew Year.

New Month.

New oh lord it has been too long since I prattled on here.

So much for New Year’s resolutions, eh?

Since I’m not one of those fancy fellows with people to shout updates at you from the heavens, this is where this little author’s giving you the rundown on what you’ve been missing here in my silence. Call it the TOP FIVE rundown to one man’s madness.

  1. Book Delay – In case you missed it, somehow, AS FEATHERS FALL, the third and final book in the Haunted Shadows series was delayed until first quarter this year. It will be out sometime in the coming couple months. The writing is done, fear not. In fact, I will be posting a preview next month. Why then, the delay? This was due to…
  2. Editor Change – Due to very human issues, there was an 11th hour shakeup in those working on the book. My former editor will no longer be involved in the process. As this did not transpire until the last minute, prompting a very sudden shift/hunt, delays were an unfortunate necessity. I believe in quality over quantity, after all, and no writer should be the final editor for their work as well. Foreign eyes must be there to see what we become too familiar to see.
  3. Life is a fickle creature – Due to unforeseen circumstances (a very collective, mean-spirited group of them), my living circumstances are also taking a tumble and a dramatic shift. Naturally, this also contributed to the Book Delay. Therein, however, I will be landing on stable ground again at month’s end.
  4. To school, or not to school? – As if the previous wasn’t enough, I find myself at a crossroads on the career growth front. The looming question: do extensive training programs lie in my future,  an Associate’s Degree for a new path entire, or something else? Lots of questions. Many answers. The mind debates.
  5. Upcoming Publication - You heard it here first. Another short story of mine, CLINGING, is slated to appear in Raven International Publishing‘s A Bleak New World anthology in the coming months. So long Kansas; hello Dystopia. As I know more, so shall you, but keep your eyes peeled. That one will be a grim ride, but I can promise you Robots. Also puppies. What could go wrong?

That pretty well does it. It’s been a rocky start to a new year, coming off a rocky end to the old, but life will what it will, and we can but react and try to keep our heads. I still write, even when I go silent, and the results will always come back to you, gentle readers, one way or another. In the meanwhile, for your entertainment, here’s a shout-out blurb provided by friend and fellow writer Bryce David Salazar, author of She Sees Metaphors. May you enjoy his snark as much as I:

“Chris is the author of the Haunted Shadows Trilogy and a freelance writer in Michigan. His short story, The Child’s Cry has been published in Mystic Signals Magazine. He is also a filthy pig who can stream a sentence together better than most writers, and for that, Bryce wishes every foul act of god upon his head in something so hideous, even the Old Testament would soil its pants in fear.”