New WKAR Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

Current StateToday, I am back on WKAR’s Current State with a review of the new novel by Dave Eggers!

You can listen to my review of The Circle on WKAR’s website here:

http://wkar.org/post/book-review-dave-eggers-circle

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below after the jump.

The Circle by Dave Eggers is available on Amazon (in both hardcover and eBook) via this link or at any local bookstore.  And you can check out any of my past radio appearances and book reviews on this page on my site.

I hope you enjoy my new review! Continue reading

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Working The Audience: A Very Useful Writing Trick

On the StageI am a little bit of a helpless romantic.

For those who read my novel A Jane Austen Daydream that is not at all surprising. And before I met my wife I thought of my writing as a gateway to the heart.

I was one of those fools that bought into the lie of the romantic novels and the romantic comedy films. You see this plot twist all the time! That grand gesture that makes a person reconsider another in a different light. Oh, it is a great idea in a story, but we all know, honestly, it goes against how people are wired in the real world.

Short stories with hidden messages (and not so hidden ones), books, and I still squirm to remember the poetry. I have admitted a lot of embarrassing stuff on this site, but this is one of those few memories I still want to crawl into a cave and live out my remaining days because of. Yup, just the hint of it makes me want to become a hermit.

I, Scott Southard, was the creator of bad love poems. And I have sent them, strategically left them around, and even mailed them once anonymously in the hope that it would make another stop and see me as hotter (as some kind of light rock classic kicks on in the background like in a bad movie). In the end it never worked… and, by the way, the recipient of the anonymous love poems didn’t even figure out they were from me until I said something! Ouch!

All those bad memories aside, there is something to be said for the importance of an audience. I’m not just talking about the readers all writers dream to have, I mean that more enigmatic dream of a reader. The one we hope will find our work, the one in the back of our mind that drives the creation forward. They demand the story. What many don’t realize is that dream reader can be a tool, and can help over many different steps in the creative process if used right. Just be sure to leave the poetry at home… Continue reading

The Issue With My Clock or the Post With Breaks

The Broken ClockMy clock has switched.

I’m not sure how this happened, but everything is upside down and it is the new norm I have to accept. I’m Alice in a world where the ceiling is now the floor, and that is just how reality will have to be. We are all mad here.

Let me explain this better: When you are young you are always counting up to experiences.

  • When I am 16, I will learn to drive a car.
  • When I am 18, I graduate and go to college.
  • When I am 21, I can drink (well, I don’t like alcohol very much, so I watch my friends drink…. I just have never liked the taste or smell of beer or wine. Okay, I do admit I drink a little but the stuff I do enjoy, the mixes, usually involve chocolate or fruity flavors and they can come in glasses that some would find embarrassing. Well, just the color would be embarrassing for many to be near. So I keep to the soda when I am out in public, because I like to believe I have a certain swagger in my step and a coolness that I aim to keep, and the fruity drinks don’t help).

More counting! Then there is a wedding… and a house…the first baby… and a second… And suddenly, right there, when you have reached your limit on kids, and they begin to age out of diapers and clothes… everything turns.

It’s like in one of those cartoons from the 1940’s where the clocks have a face and the hands are attached to the nose and they spin in a strange fashion. Well, that is my internal clock, and now with 40 fast approaching, I feel the face’s confusion.

I have begun counting down to things… The outcome at the end, I don’t want to even imagine.

(I need a break, just a second. I have a soda around here someplace.) Continue reading

The Empty Theater: Writers on Twitter, Facebook and Good Reads

The Empty TheaterNever again. I promised myself never again.

A few years ago, my novel My Problem With Doors was published by iPublish Press, a publisher out of Canada. Being a new press and from a different country, it was quickly proven difficult to get the book on shelves in bookstores or to get the work any attention on Amazon and elsewhere.

I was (and still am) very proud of the novel, and began to make as many calls as I could to make my book a success, in the very least in the area I live. First, I met with the local arts council and garnered their support. Working with a popular bookstore in the area, a reading and event was planned around the book. The local newspaper reviewed this novel ahead of the event (gave it a great review!) and even my local NPR station promoted the reading as an event coming up.

Yet..

When the event took place only friends, co-workers, and family were there.

Not even members of the local arts council showed up!

While everyone there were very positive, bought all the books available (and I was grateful they showed up), I felt a little ashamed, like somehow I had failed my book and my dreams. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but, hey!, I am a writer and I get dramatic about a lot of things. It’s in my blood.

It was that evening that I promised myself I would never put myself in that position again. The next time I give a reading or an event I would be at a place in my writing career where I wouldn’t feel like I was standing in front of an empty theater.

Never again. Continue reading

Redefining Writing Success: Learning to Fly in Today’s Congested Writing World

IcarusI was an innocent dreamer when I arrived in Los Angeles.

I had big plans and it all felt like the beginning of a movie to me. I was about to start studying in one of the best writing program in the country (University of Southern California. Go Trojans!) and I could feel the destiny thick around me like cigarette smoke. I could smell it on my clothes and in my hair; I could taste it on my tongue. In my mind I was certain that this moment, this arrival, was the true start of any future and inevitable biography that someone would write about me.

The stuff of legends.

That first night I had to stay in a hotel. And I practically skipped (already wearing my USC sweatshirt) as I approached the front desk. Behind it was an older, somewhat heavy, bored-looking woman and, noticing my sweatshirt, casually asked if I was a student. Oh, the can of worms she just unleashed!

I quickly talked about the writing program and the professors I was going to study under, about my books, about my scripts, and about my plans, etc. The words (and dreams) flooded out of me. I could have gone on all day.

And when I finally stopped to take a breath, she casually interrupted and said, “Yeah, I’m a writer too. Here is your key.” Continue reading

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM Giveaway!

A Jane Austen DaydreamThis is a part of getting my book published I was not expecting and it’s kind of fun. My publisher is giving away items related to my new book!

This month two lucky readers can win A Jane Austen Daydream poster. I think it is a great cover and would be a neat addition in any classroom or nearby bookshelves (or, dare I dream, in a Jane Austen museum???)

To enter, please visit the Facebook page for the book here (https://www.facebook.com/AJaneAustenDaydream?ref=ts&fref=ts) and click on the giveaway button after clicking on the like button. It is as easy as that.

If you haven’t picked up the eBook yet for A Jane Austen Daydream, you can find it here:

The paperback is coming in a few weeks. I hope everyone is enjoying the daydream… Cheers! And, as always, thanks for reading!

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM has a Facebook page!

A Jane Austen Daydream's Facebook page!A Facebook page for A Jane Austen Daydream has been created on Facebook by my great publisher. I hope you will consider liking it. There are samples from the book, comments, and giveaways! Yes, prizes related to my book. How cool is that?

Right now they are giving away a poster. (I kind of want one.) You can find the Facebook page here.

And as always, you can find the book for purchase here:

I can not wait to hear what people think of the work…

Drowning in Tweets: A struggling author tries to understand Twitter

I dream the same dream of thousands of other people.

Yes, I am one of thousands (probably a lot more) and we are all part of the same collective consciousness, wired into the same hopes of finding writing success. And while we all know in our hearts that there are not enough readers on this planet for all of us to succeed, we all keep dreaming together, sharing the same hopes, avoiding expressing the same fears.

It is all a beautifully sad thought, like a fleeting, quiet, and hopeful melody lost in a romantic symphony.

-At the time of this writing I have 2370 followers on Twitter-

I need to begin by blaming my brother (@AESPiano).

I had just reached over a 100 followers on my blog and he thought it was ridiculous that I had more blog followers than Twitter followers. He first reached out to his followers to find me and follow me, and then he tried to convince me to do some outreach myself on the great social media site, claiming that it would help my writing career.

Frankly, I didn’t see it, but I decided to do some investigating into it just out of curiosity. I found a fellow writer who was following me and started to scroll through her followers, looking for other writers, and clicking follow on the ones that I felt might be interesting. Continue reading

Starting School

“Can you believe our firstborn is starting school?” My wife asked me this question a few days ago, her eyes going wide as she said it, and it ridiculously enough took me completely by surprise.

My son is about to start Begindergarten, which is a cute way of saying an “Early Fives” class. He is going to attend it in an elementary and he will be there all day just like all of the bigger kids, using their same cafeteria and their playground (not at the same time, of course). My wife and I were so focused on getting him into the right school in our area for the last eight months that I didn’t realize until recently how much this change meant for all of us in our little family and for him.

This was about to be something new…

In preparation of this first day over the weekend we drove him to his new school and allowed him to play in the playground for about an hour. While he loved playing in the playground (trying everything he could), I kept noticing things, my parental eye kicking in.

  • Who was it that left these empty beer cans here on the playset? Will these people who would drink at a kids’ playground be around the school? Heaven forbid, or will they actually be attending?
  • Why are there so many weeds?
  • And are those soccer nets going to be fixed?
  • Is that rust?

Yes, while this playground is better than anything I had growing up (and this is a great school district), I still was catching everything I possibly could. This could be a super power of mine. A lame super power, but still a power. You can call me “Protective Dad.” And I am here to shake my head and wag my finger at others! Irresponsible people of the world be warned! Protective Dad is among you now! Continue reading

Does Art Need Truth? My Concerns With The Social Network

A new editorial on film is up at www.greenspotblue.com.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

In 2006, when Oprah attacked James Frey about his book, A Million Little Pieces, many of us in the arts stood behind her in the attack.  It was deserved. He was changing his life, not only to increase the drama, but to make something more of himself than was actually true. Oprah said she felt “really duped” and went on to talk about how he betrayed millions of readers.

That episode in literary history haunts me and begs the question when the subject of a story is still living, who owns that story? Who owns that life? And who is to say what changes can be made for the sake of a book or a movie?

In 2002, the Academy awarded A Beautiful Mind with an Oscar for Best Picture. A film based on the life of John Nash; and, like A Million Little Pieces, changes were made in the life of Nash for the sake of drama. At the time, I remember reading the book that the film was based on and being floored by the differences in the main character and his life. Yet, instead of questioning his writing integrity in an Oprah-attack fashion, the Academy decided to award Akiva Goldsman for these changes with a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

Now it is 2011, and we are still unclear about what is acceptable to do around a living person’s biography. This year, one of the frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar is The Social Network, and again moments in living people’s lives were changed for the sake of drama.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.