My Writing Resolutions 2015

1962720_10203577001564582_780062720_nThis blog actually began as a writing resolution.

It was 2012 and I thought as a writer I had been living in the shadows for too long. Oh, I played the game with publishers and agents and fellow writers, many knew who I was (granted, that doesn’t mean they published me or represented me), but with readers I was a ghost. No, let me correct that. A person can at least sense a ghost. I was a ghost that no one was aware of. A quiet and very lonely shadow watching and waiting.

So it began with this post.

That started a year of almost five posts a week. I did everything from personal essays to thoughts on media and entertainment to the art of writing (which are almost always my most popular posts) to original fiction. There was a good chance, and I knew this when I started, that I would end the experience feeling more depressed than when I began. For is there anything sadder than a blog not read? Probably the blogger that wrote the blog, of course.

Lucky for me (and I do consider myself lucky), my blog grew. I think getting into writing the blog, I never realized how inspiring having it (and you the reader) would be. You might think a little click on the like button or an occasional comment no big deal, but it can make my day, any day. That support over the last two years had led to me creating a novel on this site (Permanent Spring Showers, which will be released in February 2015 by 5 Prince Books) and a book collecting some of my most popular and fun posts (Me Stuff, which you can find on amazon here).

Thank you.

Here are my writing resolutions for 2015.

1. Keep the blog active. This one is not surprising, especially since this is one of the things that keep me sane. You know, I never really know what I will do in an upcoming week. It usually just happens all organic. It is in many ways pure writing freedom. Someday in the future I might step away from time to time from it, but I don’t think I see that happening any time soon. You are stuck with me, I hope that is okay.

2. Find a publisher for Cassandra on the Island. If you have been following my blog for a while you might have heard hints of this book in posts. This novel was my Master’s thesis when I was working towards my MFA from the University of Southern California. I also had the distinct pleasure of having the head of the writing program call me at 10 PM on a weekday night, emotional because of it. He had spend all day reading it and just had to talk to me after completing it. It was an awesome moment for me. This book also got me my last agent, but sadly it stays hidden of all my works. I would love to change that. So I will probably do a new edit of it sometime in the new year and see what happens from there. Fingers crossed. Hopefully, there will be publishers and agents interested.

Permanent Spring Showers3. Support Permanent Spring Showers. My new novel drops in February 2015. This book feels very much like an epic for me, a story that has been around since the mid-1990s when it first began as a screenplay (which was what got me accepted at USC, by the way). I could not be more proud of this novel. This book began as an experiment on this very  site and grew… and grew. I hope you will check it out when it is released and tell everyone! Book clubs, fellow readers, friends, loved ones, casual acquaintances, people sitting next to you on the bus or in a waiting room, etc.

4. Finish that new book! So I got this novel that has changed numerous times over the last few years. It went from a very serious work to a mad comedy. The full gambit of emotions and possibilities has been spilled into this work. Right now I have it fully outlined with about four of the 25 chapters written. I need to make this a reality. I won’t say too much more about it, but it reminds me a lot of my radio comedy series The Dante Experience (which you can listen to free on this page!).

5. Think about my screenplays. My screenplays are my abandoned children. The funny thing is they are what drove me to Los Angeles and USC. I have three screenplays right now that I believe are very strong. Possibly the best things I will ever do. One is a romantic-comedy Christmas movie (yes, I said a Christmas movie); the second is a black-and-white film noir mystery (think a young Humphrey Bogart); and the third is an adaptation of Hamlet. Eclectic stuff? Yup, that is how I roll. But realistically, I’m not in any of the hubs of filmmaking. Of all of the items on this list, this would take the biggest bit of luck. My fingers are forever crossed though.

Okay, there are my five points, and I’ll be pleased as punch if I can pull off at least three. I hope you will stick around in the new year to watch.

Thanks again for reading! Happy New Year!

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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

Sunlight Breaking: A Writing Update

SunOne of the things I have learned about myself over the last few months is that I am emotionally affected by the weather. We have been dealing with record colds here (and a snowfall that never seems to end) and it had completely warped me of any creative energy I had.

I got up feeling already tired, a little depressed, and the idea of doing anything creative always felt like a struggle.

The funny thing is, since I lived in Los Angeles for four years, you would imagine that those years would have been the best time of my life. Yeah, looking back it was a fine (and it was nice being warm everyday), but I don’t think I did anything more spectacularly then. I was writing more, sure, but I was also in a the MPW program at the University of Southern California. I had to write more!

Whatever the case, we had actual sunlight a few days ago. Wonders upon wonders! I took walks outside, breathed friendly fresh air; suddenly life seemed worth writing about again.

Okay, it’s not like I was completely stagnant during the time of the icy blahs. I was still doing my two or so blogposts a week, promoting my novels; heck, I even got a book deal for my latest novel (I’ll do a catch up below). I guess I just wasn’t feeling it… which mean I wasn’t feeling me, which looks really weird now that I wrote that.

Let’s move on. Continue reading

Poisoning the Genius

poison-symbol1I want to say this at the start and I want it be clear to all who read this that I had no intention of killing my professor.

However, I’m certain if things had turned out worse that fateful night, some of my fellow students would have sold me down the river. I can picture them even today, accusingly pointing their finger across the courtroom at me. “There he is! That is the man who did it! That is the monster!”

The funny thing is there is actually a precedence for poisoning teachers in my family. Back when my grandmother was a principal at monthly meetings one of the heavier set teachers used to eat all of the snacks before the other teachers had a chance. My grandmother, being my grandmother, decided that she was going to send a “subtle” message to that teacher.

At the next full staff meeting, my grandmother brought in “special” brownies. Oh, they were fine. Perfectly fine… except for the biggest piece which was filled to the brim with laxatives.

That teacher called in sick the next day.

“But that is my grandmother!” I would say to the judge. “She is not me! And I had no idea that I was technically poisoning the guy. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.” Continue reading

The Mad Man I Stole From (Part 2)

White Piano

This is part 2 of a rememberance I began in Part 1 here.

So for two months, I worked for the mad man, and strangely I saw him very rarely while doing it. I was supposedly restarting his car company, chasing his dreams, but I was doing it mainly solo. The working arrangement went something like this:

  • When I could get away from my own writing, I would leave him a voicemail saying I was going to the office with the white Elvis piano. (I would never receive a response to the message.)
  • If it was the right guard at the front desk (which was only occasionally, sometimes if another guard was on duty when I left later they would have some questions on where I was coming from), I would sneak into the building and up to my own little office.
  • After playing a few chords on the piano (Who wouldn’t?), I would then go to my spot in the back, turn on the computer, write for a few hours, and print up whatever I wrote for his review.

The strange thing is he never reviewed what I wrote! Not even a word. The most I would hear from him was the weekly small check by the computer waiting for me and an occasional assignment.

Usually, those assignments involved me having to drop off a check someplace or making a phone call for him. On one occasion, I had to drop off a check at a government office, I was informed exactly which worker to meet with and a script of what to say. That experience took over four hours with nothing but old magazines in a waiting room for entertainment.

After the specific worker took the check from me (after listening to my excuse from Mr. W that the rest of the money would be in soon), he looked me up and down and asked, “What are you doing working for him?”

It was a great question. “I have no idea,” I responded. And I didn’t. Continue reading

The Mad Man I Stole From (Part 1)

CarI needed money.

I had just moved out to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. I was going to get my Master’s in writing and I had dreams of screenplays and television pilots, actresses calling me and pleading for a role in my latest projects. I also imagined myself wearing sunglasses a lot. The LA dream!

Now, I did have some savings before making the move. I had even set it up so my student loans would cover my student housing, but as the weeks turned into months I saw that savings stockpile dripping away thanks to food and a car loan, and maybe one too many trips to Disneyland.

My initial hope was to find work at a studio, but anything I would have gotten would have been so entry-level I’d be surprised if they even paid me a dime. I would be working for the experience and the contacts, probably a good decision for my career, just not for my livelihood. Plus, I had no idea how to make coffee. I assumed such a job would involve coffee.

When I first arrived in LA I did my best to get to know each of the professors (thinking that each was a possible contact to someone in the industry who might want a young, ambitious writer like me). One professor was quite fond of me since I recognized her from an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I even owned a copy of that episode and she was thrilled to see she was listed on the back of it as a guest star. After that she gave me a series of odd little jobs, including once transporting some of her sculptures (she was an artist as well) in the back seat of my car. One of the statues was of an angel fallen to the earth surrounded by little rocks. I still occasionally find some of those little rocks in my car.

After eating dinner at her house with some of my fellow students (she was always having us over), she told me about this man she knew. Eccentric, she called him, a real character (“You would like him.”) and he owned a car company.

“A car company?” That idea floored me. How does someone just own a car company? Was he Henry freaking Ford?

“Well, the brand,” she explained noticing the expression on my face. “He is an entrepreneur and he is trying to start it up. He needs a writer. Are you interested?” 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

Wookies, Princesses, and the Return of the Force: My Life With Star Wars

Milleniun FalconEpisode I

THE NEW DISCOVERY

Star Wars was my childhood and my childhood was Star Wars.

To know me as a child was to know my love of the galaxy far, far away.

One of my first memories (if not the very first) was of seeing the first Star Wars (Oh hell, the fourth one) in a theater. I was three and R2-D2 was on the screen. This image and moment is burned onto my retinas to the point I can almost touch it. R2 is in the Death Star and the heads of all of the other filmgoers line the bottom of the screen (and being little, they take up more then one might imagine).

My parents claim as I left the theater I could not stop talking about it, even going so far as to debate the film with some college students standing nearby us; listing in my opinion what was the best parts of the film (considering who I am as an adult, this is not at all surprising). Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Passing the 20% Mark

Updates, updates, who wants an update?

Calling From the Future…

So somehow, without my realizing it, I got a chapter ahead.

I know, I know this sounds impossible but it really did happen and I didn’t plan it in the least. It was all a nice little surprise or present or whatever you want to call it.

See, one of my goals in creating the book was to force my creativity to keep up to the demands I had put upon it. Put myself to the test, as it were. So the table of contents I created before I did the first chapter were done on a whim after a quick glance at the screenplay plot which is interestingly disappearing as the book charges forward, more on that in a bit.

Anyway, I wrote this really long chapter with two major points of action happening, it was only when I was about to share the chapter online that I realized I had made a mistake. Chapter 4 is the first part of that initial draft of the chapter, The second half was supposed to be a bulk of Chapter 5! So because of that little glitch in the Scott brain, Chapter 5 and 6 are almost done and Chapter 5 is scheduled for this Friday. Continue reading

That Damn Blank Piece of Paper: A May Writing Update

That Dante Thang

I’ve really loved re-discovering the world of The Dante Experience (You can hear the original production of the first part and the first scripts for the unproduced sequel, Time Out Of Mind, here). Maybe I am the only one reading the scripts for its sequel Time Out Of Mind, or listening to the original radio episodes; but, hey, it makes me happy, so there (Try to be nice Scott, the post has just started).

And because of this, I’ve started really thinking about how this comedy series can come back to life again; because, I truly think with the right cast and production it can have a following like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That is a thought that is always at the back of mind.

Well, I have an idea to bring it back to life finally, but the idea of how to move forward with it is the sticky point. See, I know who I want as my entire cast. Continue reading