And Now the Back Flip! A Writing Update

The GymnastAh, my blog… How nice to be back. I’ve missed you. I feel like I am reopening the door of a room that has been shut for a while, wondering if I need to dust or vacuum. What’s funny about that is that while everything felt like a pause for me, my site continued to grow. Reaching now the awesome tally of 1406 followers. Thank you everyone!

I’ve been so focused on my fiction and writing outside the blog that I’ve only done simple entries over the last few weeks. Maybe others don’t see it that way, but I do when I look at the site. This site was built to challenge myself and my writing and when I don’t… well… I don’t.

While it may have seemed a little dry creatively on this site, I have been very busy. Actually, I feel on a writing high right now, Like I could do anything, accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. I am a gymnast in my mind, certain that I would land on my feet without even that little hop. It’s a good feeling and a good place to be creatively as a writer.

I have a lot of hope, there seems to be a lot of possibility, a wonderful feeling.

Hope is the thing with feathers… and a smile and wink of the eye.

Time for some updates. Continue reading

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The Writing Dream of Scooby-Doo: So I have this idea…

Mystery MachineSo as a writer I am struggling with something. Has this happened to you, my fellow writers? You get this great idea for a story and you can’t escape it. It is like a drug. The idea keeps you up at night; it fills up your notepad with ideas. You breathe this idea. And when you close your eyes it plays out in your imagination like a movie on the greatest big screen ever.

You live for the idea, and the idea lives in you.

Okay… now consider this all-engrossing idea with a big talking dog, a bunch of teenagers and villains in silly and elaborate costumes.

Yes, I am Scooby-Doo obsessed because of a great script idea I have. This is more than just a passing fancy. For example, last week, when I snuck away to work on my novel, I instead spent the entire time perfecting my outline for this script. Happily giggling as I did it the entire time.

I can’t escape Mystery, Inc.! It’s like I am stuck in one of Fred’s elaborate traps. And I dream of writing “Jinkies” in a script and hearing Velma saying it, knowing that I was the one who put that word there.

I need to write my Scooby-Doo screenplay—my creativity is craving it!—but there is a very, very good chance after I do it that is where it will end. Zoinks! Which makes all of the creative and inspired stress over this so much more painful.

Let me start this over and explain this better… starting with me, the author stuck in the back of the mystery machine. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2014

Scooby GangThis might as well be called my month of nerd. With the continuously releasing news about Star Wars Episode 7, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and everyone else fantastical, I’m in many ways in nerd heaven. Heck, I even thought the last season of Game of Thrones was the best one so far (which I wrote about here)! And there have even been rumblings about Indiana Jones!

Now, here is the thing that has been obsessing me more than any other (possibly making me a king of the nerds)- I’ve got an idea for a Scooby-Doo movie.

You know how they seem to release one to two direct-to-video Scooby-Doo cartoon each year? Some are great (and I have seen them all, so I can judge), some are okay and some are frankly bad (for example, when Shaggy sings a love song to his alien girlfriend). Well, I have an idea/plot/synopsis for a Scooby-Doo cartoon movie and it is doozy.

I’m not joking! I have an idea for a Scooby-Doo animated movie and it would be freaking great!

The trick (and it is a big trick) is figuring out how (and who) to throw my synopsis at. You see I would love to write this script (and it wouldn’t take me long), I just need to know if it would be read before I go to the trouble of doing it. So here I sit, twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out exactly how someone gets a message into the world of WB Animation. Seriously, I have no clue.

Now before anyone worries, I won’t be changing anything we know about Scooby-Doo if this script is picked up and the beats we all expect in his stories. I don’t want to break the mold; I just want to create a fun adventure in that world. Also, as a parent of two little kids who are obsessed with Scooby-Doo, it would be really great to do something like that for them.

“Hey kids, guess what? Your dad wrote a Scooby-Doo movie. Want to watch it?”

Oh, these are all just dreams, I get that. Without contacts or an agent (who works specifically with writers around this) to go to WB Animation and pitch the idea, it will only be a fun daydream. I just can’t help but dream… dream of Scooby Snacks and pizzas covered in ice cream, anchovies, pickles, hamburgers, and salami, that is.

Now on to my very nerdy list for this month! Continue reading

Where My Head Is At

HeadRandomness from the last few days…

Do both Paul and Ringo dye their hair? They are both in their 70s so the answer is probably yes. My wife also believes Ringo dyes his beard. How does one do that?

Because of the Disney film Tarzan, my kids like to run around in their underwear. I’m still working on my counter-argument to this practice because it is kind of hilarious.

I’ve locked down the Table of Contents for my new nonfiction book Me Stuff. Started with two hundred posts (I’ve done over 520 on this site total), then cut it down to 70. Now I’m ending at 30 or so.

I think Georgia font is pretty friendly. I want a friendly font for Me Stuff, one that says, “Sit down, I have a story to tell.” Continue reading

Twitter-Free: My 24 Hours Without Twitter

The Fail WhaleI have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.

I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?

For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.

The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.

Well, not this day.  For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw… Continue reading

Dealing With Children Television…

Daniel Tiger's NeighborhoodThere are times I wish I could really turn my critiquing mind off. Put it aside until later or when I am reading a book or watching something more sophisticated.

I can’t.

It’s a curse, and I feel it as a curse each time I sit down to watch TV or a movie with my kids. And while I may have no problem sitting with my kids on the couch, pretending to laugh at the obvious joke, a part of me is screaming to nitpick… nitpick everything!

And many times they deserve it! Come on, The Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot is just asking for it! It’s like those blasted bears are just teasing me!

Which makes this blog a godsend in many way. For here, without my kids knowing, I can take on the things that they love with abandonment. Here I am free.

I’ve written a few times on this site about different kid shows. Many times my focus is on PBS Kids or shows that attempt to educate. While I’m all for education on TV, sometimes odd choices are made under the guise of education, sneaking in what I consider lazy writing under the idea of a lesson. (Yes, I am talking to you the makers of Sid The Science Kid).

Here are six links (and new thoughts) to some of my old (and fun) kid entertainment television articles that you may have missed. Continue reading

Discover the strange new book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, Cover“If you like your supernatural books where reality mixes with the impossible, the inexplicable, then this is the book for you…. It is beautifully written.” A five-star review from GoodReads.com

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare  is a book pretending to be a gothic Victorian-period mystery. From it’s dashing hero to foggy London streets and abandoned castle, all the markings are there… but hidden underneath is a book questioning the very nature of storytelling.

For a limited time more the book is on sale on amazon (here). You can find the eBook for only $1.99 and the print version (my original vision for the work) for only $9.89. Here is the description of the mad tale:

The cursed and foreboding McGregor Castle is the most terrifying and haunted location in all of the British Empire. Only a brave (or foolish) soul would consider visiting it, let alone staying within its walls for five days. In other words, a perfect dare for a man like Maximilian Standforth!

Maximilian Standforth, famed playboy aristocrat and private detective, is a genius with dangerous tastes. With Bob (his trusty carriage driver, biographer, and body guard) and Maggie Collins (actress, spy, and maid) by his side, Maximilian will experience horrors and madness unlike any seen before. For it is at McGregor Castle that the team will discover more than they ever could imagine in this very experimental and genre-breaking thriller.

Here are some more options to learn about the work on this site:

I hope you will take this opportunity to check out this novel. If I can promise anything it is that you will be surprised. For nothing in the castle is at seems…

“If you have read any Jasper Fforde, imagine him writing whilst tripping on acid.” A reader from amazon.co.uk

The Joy and Inspiration of Scooby-Doo

Our heroMy new book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE has been released via amazon.com in eBook and print.

 I thought it would be fun to write on some of the influences for the novel.  This week I will discuss my obsession with the kids who drive The Mystery Machine.

It has always amazed me how few people get Scooby-Doo, Where are You. I’m not talking the kids or the parents or simply those who find it while flipping through the stations. No, I mean the producers, the directors, and the actual writers of the characters. Yes, Hollywood never got the friends of Mystery, Inc.

One of the first articles I ever wrote for the internet, back in 2001, was related to the genius of Scooby-Doo (I was venting in the article about my dismay around the casting and scripting around the first Scooby-Doo live action movie; that was even before I saw the disaster of a movie), and how surprised I was then (and still am), how wrong they were being. Honestly, who could blame those producers? When the actual cartoonists, after the original series’ run, rarely gave the property any respect; turning it into a device to showcase B-level stars or worse having Scooby chase 13 real ghosts.

Real ghosts? Seriously?

That idea right there is almost more damaging to the fictional reality created for Scooby-Doo and his friends than the introduction of Scrappy and Scooby’s other relatives. Even as a young kid that questionable variation to our hero’s adventures, in I am certain an attempt to steal some thunder from Ghostbusters, made me groan (and don’t get me started on the character of Flim-Flam).

When I was studying film writing, I once said in a class that I would love to adapt Scooby-Doo someday for the big screen. Some thought I was joking and laughed, others looked at me as if I was crazy, but one got where I was coming from and we both shared a nod. See, in the right hands, Scooby-Doo is awesome in its simplistic horror madcap comedy spree.

Jinkies! Pass the Scooby Snacks. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, May 2013

Books! Everywhere! Books!My life revolves right now around books.

Well… let me correct that. My life revolves right now around MY books. And that is not a bad thing. A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM was just published by Madison Street Publishing (you can find it for an incredibly reasonable price on amazon.com right here), I just ordered the proof copy of MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE to review, and I am debating what to do with PERMANENT SPRING SHOWERS.

Remember PERMANENT SPRING SHOWERS? It was my novel experiment last year. I wrote a book in real time, one chapter a week. It was originally based on a screenplay, but that went out the window after chapter 2. It was a fun challenge and looking back I am really proud of myself for getting through it with my creativity in one piece. My hope is to find a publisher for the book later this year; of course, it really comes down to how good JANE and MAXIMILIAN do on the market (sales, reviews, etc.).

Until then, I need to be strategic around the book. Which means, as soon as I get a spare evening, I’ll probably be taking it down from my website. The page will stay up with my updates, insights and lessons learned on the process, you just won’t be able to read it. (For those that are still working their way through the book you have been warned.)

Anyway, with summer fast approaching, and the idea of a lot less on my plate, most of the things I am enjoying right now emphasize the word “fun” with only one little book reference in the list. Continue reading

Writer’s Corner: Four Projects I Would Love to Adapt for the Silver Screen…

A few days ago I went through some of my old writing files on my computer seeing what jumps out at me and what inspires me today; and, for some unexplained reason, my mind began to think about film adaptations.

There is a great public misnomer about film adaptations. When you hear people talk about films adapted from books or plays, the audience seems to think that the screenplay writer had a choice in making changes for the big screen. “Why couldn’t he have just filmed the book?” You would hear that complaint a lot around the Harry Potter films in podcasts and forums, for example.

The fact is film is a different medium than books, and with it comes its own limitations and strengths. While the borders on a book are only limited by the imagination of the reader (and writer), a film has to be focused on one point at a time, understanding that there is only so much space on the screen at any given moment. Length, pacing, and audience need to be considered (You can’t have things happen “off screen” in a movie, for example; the audience will think it didn’t happen if they didn’t see it).

The greatest difference between film and books, is that a film has got to “earn” your attention for every minute. It is harder for a film to “suspend disbelief.” Which means a story, while in a book can be stretched out, in a film there has to be action. In other words, there must always be movement; it’s how they keep our eyes on the screen and our hands out of the popcorn bowl. Continue reading