Help definitely needed here

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Comments

  • Larika said:
    (and one has to ask if any of the females in your group would have made the same comment if the subject had been about writing from a male character's point of view? You might want to ask them!).
    That was part of the discussion. One women said she could do it easily because she knew men inside out. They don't listen, can't cook, have no patience, won't ask for directions, have sex on their mind all the time, hate emotional conversations and wear any old thing.  We all laughed and that was that!
    🤣
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • One thing that helped a lot in developing the character of Velda was creating a detailed  biography for her. I know when and where she was born, where she went to school and even how good a student she was (she was terrible). Although few of these details show up in any of the stories, they helped make her a real personality in my mind which in turn I think goes a long way toward (hopefully) making her seem convincing to the reader.

    If it would be of any interest as a model, I could post the bio here.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Ron I've bought your eBook of Velda. I'll be really interested to read about your female protagonist.
    Thanks I'd like her bio.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    I discovered that there are several versions of Velda's bio---including one told in her own words! Following is the one that introduces Volume 1 of the three-volume collection of Velda comic books published a couple of years ago by Caliber Comics...
    ===================

    No one could have been more surprised than Velda Bellinghausen herself when a little known ex-burlesque queen-cum-private eye became nationwide news and one of the earliest multimedia celebrities . . . ephemeral as that fame was. “I was born on May 8, 1923,” said Velda in an interview conducted in 2003, “in Brooklyn, New York.” Her father, Roald M. Bellinghausen was an officer with the New York Police Department. 

    Of sturdy Scandinavian stock, he was nevertheless well-liked and respected among his Hibernian brethren of the Blue. Her mother, Judith (neé Toth), operated a buttonholing machine at the Superior Never-Chafe Ladies Discreet Undergarment factory in the garment district of Manhattan. “In 1932, Dad made the Homicide Squad, which made things a lot better for us. And I entered kindergarten that year. My formal education began the following year when I entered PS 101. I was never a great student, but I did OK.”

    Sadly, the young girl’s mother passed away in 1934, the hapless victim of a freak donut explosion. The brave little lady took over the household chores in the absence of a father who was worshiped but seldom at home. In spite of the hardship, Velda managed to graduate from high school in 1940, “124th out of a class of 132—which isn’t so bad, I guess. At any rate it was better than Ralph Belarsky, who was number 132.” She spent the summer following graduation working at a soda fountain, then enrolled in the Ajax Business School where she decided to major in stenography. But if she dreamed of a career in the offices of a large insurance company or farm machine wholesaler her hopes were dashed by the tragic death of her father.

    The passing of Homicide Detective 2nd Class Roald Bellinghausen in 1943 was “a real mess” for the twenty-year-old girl. Not the least of which was the scandal that surrounded the shoot-out in which her father had died. “That son-of-a-bitch DA [King Noorvik, who held that office until the events following the Sline murder case in 1953] was deep in some rotten business. He was so eager to cover it up that he ruined my Dad’s name to save his own dirty neck.” With her father’s name and record blackened, Velda was denied virtually all the benefits due to her. “I had no choice but to drop out of school and get a job.”

    She quickly found work as a typist at A. Saperstein’s Music Publishing Co. and Nonpareil Talent Agency on Varick St. Meanwhile, she moved from the modest home in which she had grown up to a one room apartment over a Chinese laundry in Greenwich Village. This saved her both rent and carfare, since Saperstein’s was located only a few blocks away. She had been working for the music publisher and talent agent for a year when she met Maxim Slotnik, the impressario behind Slotnik’s Follies. Maxim had inherited the theater several years earlier from his father, Rudolf Slotnik, and had promptly converted it from a seedy, failing, third-string vaudeville theater to a seedy, profitable, third-string burlesque house. He had come into Saperstein’s looking for a new trombonist when his eye was struck by the statuesque beauty busily tapping away on her Smith-Corona at a contract for comedy dancing horse act. At that time, the twenty-one-year-old Velda Bellinghausen had achieved her full adult height of six feet. During her teenage years she had always been shy about being so tall. “Being a head over just about every guy in high school had never done much for my self-esteem,” she said much later, “let alone getting asked out on dates. Nor did being built along the same lines as two yards of string.” But nature had recently done some interesting things with those two yards and Slotnik immediately offered the astonished typist a place in his chorus line. “I didn’t know from beans about dancing or anything," she admitted. "In fact, I can hardly walk across a room without hurting myself. But it was for more money in a week than I made in whole month at Saperstein’s, so what could I have said but yes? Besides, I was always the tall, gawky, skinny girl who never got any dates in school, so I guess I was plenty flattered, too.” 

     Slotnik

    It must have been a jolt to those old classmates who’d laughed at the idea of asking the class string bean out for a soda and a movie when they saw who had become the headliner at Slotnik’s Follies.

    In the half dozen years she was on Maxim’s stage, Velda worked her way up from anonymous chorine to star with her name blazing across the marquee (as “Velda B”, however, at Maxim’s insistence, to save what would have been a not inconsiderable investment in 75-watt bulbs).


    Velda had also discovered the first real love of her life: Theodore “Chip” Finney, Maxim’s publicist. A “real swell guy and a real gentleman," he began going out with the burlesque queen on a more or less regular basis. True love it might have been but, alas, it was not to last . . . By 1949, Velda had gotten “sick and tired” of burlesque, “which I could really see had no future as a career.” She was weary of “shedding feathers”, as he put it, "twice nightly and four times on weekend matinees." Too, wondering what her father would think about what she had been reduced to doing bothered her to a considerable degree. “Probably rolling over in his grave,” she said, “though I think he might have liked my friend, Olivia Duvall and her Peeping Pigeons.”

    One day, while eating her customary luncheon cheeseburger, she happened to notice an advertisement on the inside of a discarded matchbook cover. It was for the Hawkshaw Detective Correspondence School. Intrigued, she sent in her twenty dollars and in a few weeks the first of the books began arriving. A year later, she received her private investigator’s license. “That was a big day, I can tell you!” Maxim Slotnik, as she tells it, nearly had a stroke when she quit, but she never looked back. 

    Finding a cramped office in a second floor walk-up, she hung up her shingle and waited for her first client.


    Meanwhile, things had not been going nearly so swimmingly so far as she and Chip were concerned. He had always aspired to higher things and when, about a year before Velda got her license, he was offered a job writing for the entertainment section of the New York Graphic, he accepted without hesitation. Velda was terribly hurt by this desertion—and when he called on her less and less often—blaming the pressure of his responsibilities—Velda understood it to mean that he was embarrassed by her work at the Follies. Whether this was right or wrong, Chip did his case no good by disparaging her plans to become a detective. “I got fed up with him,” she said later, “and told him to get lost. He tried for years to get back with me, which I really was not very keen to do, but it meant that he was always good for a free lunch or dinner.”
     Chip

    Not many cases came Velda’s way in the first several months of her practice. “Money wasn’t exactly rolling in like I’d thought it would. Maybe,” she admits, “it was because I kept taking on jobs that didn’t pay.” She was forced to close her office and move her business to her tiny apartment in the Zenobia Arms on Pith Street in the Village.


    Her big break finally came with cracking the notorious Sline Murder Case—a feat that did not bring her much in the way of remuneration, but did have two payoffs: it eventually put the skids under the career of her nemesis, King Noorvik, and it made Velda news coast-to-coast—to say nothing of the satisfaction of having saved teenager Cleo Fort from the electric chair. After all, when was the last time the newspapers, tabloids and newsreels had a beautiful ex-stripper detective to pose for their cameras? All the top true detective magazine covered her story and she even appeared on the cover of Life.


    Eventually, the story of the Sline Case became the subject of a book (Velda, by Velda Bellinghausen, with Ron Miller) and, in turn, a movie, G-Girl (Republic, 1954, with Lizbeth Scott as Velda). The later inspired a short-lived television series—Girl Detective (with Maxine Cooper as Velda). Although it only lasted a single season it was one of the first television crime dramas to feature a female protagonist. Spin-off followed spin-off, with, among other things, Velda paper dolls, cocktail glasses, jigsaw puzzles, dress patterns, a short-lived pulp magazine, calendars and, most importantly to this history, a series of comic books.
     Velda at work.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    What an incredible way to work. To  put down the biography of the girl the way you have done is quite a feat. Remarkable! Do many writers do that? Thank you for sharing. I will start your book after I finish the first of the Lilium books by Kevin. He is extremely imaginative. 
    PS I saw 2 black and white pages of the comic book Velma. They were so well drawn, very professional. 
  • What's the cliche --not a hope in hell.

    That's depressing.  :(

  • What's the cliche --not a hope in hell.

    That's depressing.  :(

    I agree...  :'(
    __________________________________________
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Larika said:
    What an incredible way to work. To  put down the biography of the girl the way you have done is quite a feat. Remarkable! Do many writers do that? Thank you for sharing. I will start your book after I finish the first of the Lillum books by Kevin. He is extremely imaginative. 
    PS I saw 2 black and white pages of the comic book Velma. They were so well drawn, very professional. 
    Some authors I know have done that sort of thing for almost every character in a book! But by the same token, others don't do anything like that at all. It's whatever makes things easiest for you.

    Part of why I did this is due to the history of how all the Velda materials came to be.

    I wrote the novel around 15 years ago. It was published by a traditional publisher (but the book is now out of print---which is why I now make it available via Lulu). When it first appeared, the publisher and I were trying to think of ways to promote it. I already had a very brief version of the bio I posted this morning. It occurred to me that it might be fun to take a clue from the Baker Street Irregulars (who work on the assumption that Sherlock Holmes really lived) and pretend that Velda was non-fiction and that Velda was a real person. If the book really had been published in the 1950s, I wondered what sort of spin-offs it might have generated. A crime comic would have been a natural, I thought, since those were very popular at the time. So I created a web site about the book that included what purported to be four pages from a vintage Velda comic from the 50s. That was fun! So I did an entire comic book. That was even more fun! I would up doing seven or eight of them. (Though they were originally published largely for fun, Caliber Comics recently gathered them all together in a three-volume collection.)

    Meanwhile, the website slowly evolved into the one you see today, keeping up the whole idea that Velda and her adventures are real.

    The character was so much fun and was evolving so many details in her life, that I thought it would be best to create a more detailed bio than the one I had, just in order to keep things consistent. This turned out to be a good idea since there were eventually 13 or 14 short stories, a novelette, four broadcast radio plays, a one-act stage play and a full-length stage play (both of which have been performed), to say nothing of two short films.

    In the meantime, other websites devoted to detective fiction began to join in on the fun, such as the Thrilling Detective site, which published this little holiday gift to its readers a few years ago.

    At one time another author who had created a fictional detective writer had his imaginary author interview my imaginary character! Things were really getting pretty surreal then!

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that Velda really doesn't exist!

    PS
    Velda also has her own Facebook page. The stage play that was produced a few years ago also has one (which I no longer update).
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    What a talented man you are Ron. I visited Velda's website and watched one of her films. I will bookmark the page. You have created a character that people will really believe exists. I look forward to reading your book. I don't normally read detective fiction; I read true crime stories, which we were obliged to study for our course on the psychology of crime. (I took the course after I retired) Thank you for your posting.
    Did you say your daughter was the model for Velma? Was the voice in the movie that of your wife? Velda is very beautiful.
  • I've read two of the Velda paperbacks, and I enjoyed both. It really has the feel of forties/fifties "pulp fiction." Of course, most pulp fiction was pumped out for a quick profit and the writing was secondary to sensationalism, but Ron's is well written while still maintaining the feel of the original style.

    The "Superior Never-Chafe Discreet Ladies' Undergament factory" line made me read it twice for hidden acronyms, btw...

    There were other well-written pulp fiction stories of that era... I recall one called "The So-Blue Marble" or something like that, and another that hinged on the idea that a man could have anything he wanted if he was willing to work hard enough for it -- And quite the "Monkey's Paw" that idea turned out to be -- "The Screaming Mimis," that was it.
  • Just to throw some fuel on the fire of men not understanding women and vice versa, here's a passage from something I'm working on now:

    So you’re wondering, no doubt, what the deal is with me and her. Fact is, I have no idea. Once when we were both in the fourth grade, I tried to hold her hand on the bus and she nearly broke two of my fingers. Told me it was kungfu.

    The next day she brought a peanut butter cookie to school for me. Baked it herself from a secret Ming dynasty recipe – that was before her mom told her that they weren’t really Chinese. Best cookie I have ever eaten. To this day, mind you.

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Once when we were both in the fourth grade, I tried to hold her hand on the bus and she nearly broke two of my fingers. Told me it was kungfu. The next day she brought a peanut butter cookie to school for me.
    It was the other way round when I was teaching. If a young boy liked a girl he would bash her and be mean to her. The next minute he would defend her. But I realise things have changed in today's world.   :)
    Image result for girl power image
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Skoob_ym said:
    I've read two of the Velda paperbacks, and I enjoyed both. It really has the feel of forties/fifties "pulp fiction." Of course, most pulp fiction was pumped out for a quick profit and the writing was secondary to sensationalism, but Ron's is well written while still maintaining the feel of the original style.

    The "Superior Never-Chafe Discreet Ladies' Undergament factory" line made me read it twice for hidden acronyms, btw...

    There were other well-written pulp fiction stories of that era... I recall one called "The So-Blue Marble" or something like that, and another that hinged on the idea that a man could have anything he wanted if he was willing to work hard enough for it -- And quite the "Monkey's Paw" that idea turned out to be -- "The Screaming Mimis," that was it.
    Thanks for the very much appreciated kind words!

    (And if you don’t understand what SNCDLU means, that’s not my fault.)

    The inspiration to write a pulpish private eye story goes back 30+ years when my wife and I were in Mexico City working on Dune. The American embassy had a little bookshop that it ran for charity. Its shelves will filled with thousands of vintage paperback books. These were books that embassy personnel over many, many decades had bought, read and then donated right back to the shop. The result was that most of the books were in virtually mint condition. I was originally attracted to the cover art on the paperbacks of the 40s and 50s, which is often incredible. The covers for Erskine Caldwell’s novels, especially, are museum quality paintings. So I bought cartons full of these books...which were the equivalent of only five cents each (!).
    Image result for james avati 
    A James Avati paperback cover painting. He is my favorite cover artist of his era.

    Once I had them I naturally wanted to read some of them...especially the hard-boiled detective stories. And I fell in love with them. After a while it occurred to me that there was a severe lack of female private eyes. There was Honey West, who had a whole series of books devoted to her, and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer had a secretary/assistant (who inspired the name "Velda") who had her own license and even took over in one of the books...but that was about it. I figured it was about time that someone wrote a novel about a tough, wise-cracking female private eye set in the 50s. So I did.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    Just to throw some fuel on the fire of men not understanding women and vice versa, here's a passage from something I'm working on now:

    So you’re wondering, no doubt, what the deal is with me and her. Fact is, I have no idea. Once when we were both in the fourth grade, I tried to hold her hand on the bus and she nearly broke two of my fingers. Told me it was kungfu.

    The next day she brought a peanut butter cookie to school for me. Baked it herself from a secret Ming dynasty recipe – that was before her mom told her that they weren’t really Chinese. Best cookie I have ever eaten. To this day, mind you.

    Love it!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Larika said:
    What a talented man you are Ron. I visited Velma's website and watched one of her films. I will bookmark the page. You have created a character that people will really believe exists. I look forward to reading your book. I don't normally read detective fiction; I read true crime stories, which we were obliged to study, for our course on the psychology of crime. (I took the course after I retired) Thank you for your posting.
    Did you say your daughter was the model for Velma? Was the voice in the movie that of your wife? Velma is very beautiful.
    Yes, that is my daughter in all of the Velda pictures. She does clean up well, I suppose. You are quite right in thinking that the voice of Velda is my wife.

     Here is my daughter looking her most Veldaish.

    (A friend of mine played Velda in the two little videos since my daughter lives and works in another town and couldn’t be away long enough to help on them.)
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Sorry for the misspelling of the interesting Velda.
  • Larika said:
    Sorry for the misspelling of the interesting Velda.
    No sweat! You are not the first to do that! 
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • JRR Tolkien created a vast number of notes and backgrounds preparing for Lord of the Rings, even creating Elvish, so much that after his death his son has attempted to  turn them in to novels, unfortunately he does not have the writing gift his father had.
  • I think that sort of thing---especially when you are dealing with a book rife with characters and incidents---can be pretty important. It helps you keep things consistent, for one thing, and, for another, the more real it all seems to you the more real you will be able to make it seem to your readers.

    (By the way, I love finding maps in novels. Does anyone else share that? Has anyone included a map in their book(s)?)
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • I think that sort of thing---especially when you are dealing with a book rife with characters and incidents---can be pretty important. It helps you keep things consistent, for one thing, and, for another, the more real it all seems to you the more real you will be able to make it seem to your readers.

    I write 'organically,' I do know what comes next, but I still make it up as I go along (and go over and over it!) but as I get older I find I have to make more and more reminder notes.

    (By the way, I love finding maps in novels. Does anyone else share that? Has anyone included a map in their book(s)?)

    They are very common in Fantasy, but I often just mostly ignore them, but in one story I have in mind I will have to create a map of a fictional city. Just another type of 'note' to help me write the story, I suppose, but it will possibly appear in the book.

    Some writers (or their publishers, or often well-known fans of them) often take it usually interesting extremes. >>

    https://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/types/exploring-discworld/ 

    https://www.discworldemporium.com/


  • By the way, I’m reminded of a book I have here. The Atlas of Fantasy, published in the 1973  (a revised edition came out a few years later but I don’t have that), was a collection of the original maps from fantasy stories going back as far as More’s Utopia and earlier on up to Burroughs, Tolkien, Lovecraft and later. 
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    I sometimes will have a sort of outline if a story is pretty convoluted and there a lot of threads that need to be kept track of. But these look more like sketchy flow charts than any sort of real outline. Velda needed something like that. Here is part of one of these for a book I haven't yet written...
    I am pretty sure I am the only person on the planet who could make any sense of this!

    On the other hand, Bradamant (aka The Iron Tempest) was more of a straight-line plot and didn't really need any kind of outline at all---but it was also based on the story line of a medieval epic poem, so the outline was kind of already there. Return to Skull Island had a one-page synopsis of the first 1/3-1/2 of the book, after which point I more or less knew where it was headed and let the story and characters take their own course. The Company of Heroes series also didn't have any real outline and kind of went where it wanted. Though I had a specific goal in mind it didn't matter too much how the story got there. Dakkar also had a very brief synopsis---just a couple of short paragraphs---rather than an outline. But what I did do for that book was create a kind of calendar or timeline since much of the story had to align with a large number of real-life incidents and I needed to keep my timing correct. 

    A lot of my books contain a map of some kind for no other reason, really, than that I am very fond of maps. Here is one of several from the Company of Heroes series.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    I find your book fascinating, Ron. I can see that you "practice what you preach." (Cliches are so good; no wonder they became cliches. :))  I have always loved different accents and I  like all the different accents in your book. I can "hear" them------ makes the characters real.
  • Aww, now you have me blushing! 
    __________________________________________
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  • Speaking of accents, here is an interesting technique I have mentioned in other forums. I have not used it myself much, but I can vouch for how effective it can be.

    Thorne Smith, the author of the "Topper" series, didn't like the idea of, say, making a person sound like they were talking with a French accent by making them say things like zees or zat. So instead of playing around with trying to make words sound like they were being spoken with an accent by playing around with the spelling, he translated his dialog into French word for word and then back into English, word for word. The results are really effective. He made his characters sound very much like a non-English speaker but without resorting to trying to emulate pronunciation or throwing in an occasional "sacre bleu" or "mon amis."

    For instance, if I translate "My grandmother very much likes the food at this hotel" into French through an online translator and then back again into English, I get this: "My grandmother loves the food very much to this hotel."


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • That's a nice map, Ron.

    My long running series of SF books following the same person/people around will soon have a Part Six and hopefully not much later, a Part Seven. There was a substantial gap between Part Five and getting back to Part Six (and Seven!) So one problem I have found is I had to read the entire series again, taking lots of notes, so I could recall any previous details I needed to carry on writing.

  • Thanks! And good luck with the new books!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Thanks. One day I may be bothered to market them. Although I have recently changed the covers to stop people thinking they are fairy stories for children. They are nothing of the kind. Some are even tagged Adult.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
     Speaking of accents, here is an interesting technique I have mentioned in other forums. I have not used it myself much, but I can vouch for how effective it can be. Thorne Smith, the author of the "Topper" series, didn't like the idea of, say, making a person sound like they were talking with a French accent by making them say things like zees or zat. So instead of playing around with trying to making a person sound like they were talking with a French accent by making them say things like zees or zat. 
    Interesting idea Ron. In one of my novels I created a French character and I tried to make him sound French by using such phrases as mon amour, ma chérie, La vie est belle and c'est la vie."  I also fell into the trap of getting him to say  zees or zat.  :smiley:  
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