Coincidental Circumstances (Part 6)

I redrafted the entire opening. I needed to sprinkle in the ingredients of an explosive beginning. Plus, I needed something to ground Miranda and establish the stakes. My fingertips danced off the keyboard.

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 2.07.32 PM.png

I nodded my head confidently. Now I was getting somewhere. I reached to take a last sip of my macchiato again. I had been nursing it like a cheapskate for over an hour. All writers do it. Some will go an entire day sucking the free Wi-Fi without blinking an eye. I actually thrived on the caffeine. It was time for another cup of inspiration to propel me to finish my James Bond-esque opening.

TO BE CONTINUED 

Coincidental Circumstances (Part 3)

I slowly panned my view all around me as if I was in a Michael Bay film, hoping to spot my gum benefactor. This was no mere coincidence. In my moment of greatest need, she was there for me just like Miranda was there for Zeek.

Except she didn’t need a knife to save me as writer’s block barreled down toward me.

I slapped my macbook shut, unplugged the charger and darted out of Starbucks. Where was Miranda … I mean, the purple haired girl. Sometimes my mind mixes reality and my imagination. I can’t help it. I’m a writer. This is a bane and blessing rolled into one delicious mix.

Disappointingly, there wasn’t any purple hair in sight. I immediately scanned the parking lot for a befitting car but didn’t see a purple Prius hatchback. Damn. I stood on my toes and frantically looked for a hatchback of any color and couldn’t find a single one in the Starbucks lot. The astounding odds of this baffled me.

I walked past the green-umbrella protected islands of conversation and glanced at three tea-patrons sipping on their half empty drinks.

“Did you see a girl with purple hair walk past here?” I asked.

“Purple hair?” answered a guy with a red beard.

“Yes. She had a nose-ring too. Not too big though.”

The guy with a red beard glanced around. “No buddy. Can’t say that I did.”

“I’m serious. It was like thirty seconds ago.”

A skinny girl with straight, black hair chimed in, “Did she forget something?”

“No … well, I mean … maybe. She left me some gum.” This elicited only silence from the potential witnesses. Nobody understands life as a writer.

This would not be my denouement. I paced around the corner for a better view of cars on the other side.

Then I spotted her.

In a red truck. What? This made zero sense to me.

She was backing up and about to shift gears back into drive. I needed to get to her. I picked up speed and started to jog to her car but it was too late. She didn’t even glance in my direction. She exited the parking lot with a right turn.

Fate couldn’t even give me one long left turn at a busy intersection.

CONTINUED

 

 

On Writing: Missed Deadline

time-481444_960_720.jpg

Writing frustrations are about in my life.

The sheer stress and workload of my day job is consuming a portion of my life as expected. After moving, having to find a new place to live in a new state as well as learning a new job and new people and new responsibilities has interrupted my writing.

My tweeting is down.

My blogging is down.

My planned youtube series is pushed back.

And as a result, my stats have collapsed on twitter and wordpress. Additionally, my submissions to agents have stopped and my writing contest submissions have been impacted.

This is a difference than 3 months ago. I had a quasi-agent who had agreed to submit my stories, although on a conditional basis with a weird plan to submit to half the publishers, then get feedback, then to revise and submit to the other half. My blog was taking off. I had up to 800 views a day at a certain point. I was interacting with other writers. I had hired a freelance editor to proofread my completed manuscripts. I had submitted two short stories to writers of the future and a screenplay to The Blacklist. I was editing and curating the Midnight Traveler story collaboration with other writers. There was some minor cost to all of this, but generally, I was only out a couple hundred bucks, mostly through website hosting fees. I balanced all of this with my daily life and a full time job.

Then, I moved, while starting a small company on the side. This side business generated income so fast (up to $4k a month in gross sales) that I spent more time on that after my day job. The money was too good, especially after I moved. The art would have to wait.

My writing essentially stopped. I was making $0 from writing (maybe losing money and time). Some people I know in the new business make fun of writing in a way. They say Amazon publishing is dead. That was in maybe 7 years ago. The first mover advantage is gone. It is yet another industry where 1% get 90% of the income.

I don’t know. I have dreams. I want to do everything and don’t want to waste time.

Then my phone got destroyed by batteries plus and I lost 100 outlines to stories.

I could have given up. Why chase the writing dream?

For most people the answer is simple; because I enjoy it.

No. I fucking love it.

I was a weirdo who daydreamed stories in school instead of paying attention. I get bored watching movies knowing what will happen next. I get annoyed when things are dumbed down and exposition is there to spoon feed audiences. I read novels that are utter garbage. I get annoyed at big name authors who have every damn story ghostwritten for them because they don’t give a shit anymore about anything but the income stream. I get really annoyed at estates and publishers who pump out ghostwritten stories of dead authors.

I began writing again a few weeks ago. I had a few weeks to hit the quarter deadline for writers of the future. Out of the gates, I wrote a solid outline and wrote the first few thousand words like it was nothing. Then the story expanded. New characters were introduced until I reached a point a week ago that I admitted there was no way I could fit the entire story in 17,000 words. I spent a few days trying to deconstruct and simplify but it was all for naught.

The deadline was Friday night and I missed it. I spent Friday night playing XBOX and drinking Guiness because I deserve it.

I might have lost the battle, but I hope to win the war. I’ll keep my full time job. I keep my side business. I’ll be more efficient with my time and make a few hours for writing each week. Stories will get finished.

Deadlines will come and go; keep charging ahead and writing. Write for yourself. Write for your dreams. Write to bear your soul. Write to get famous. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is, just don’t quit. If you see other writers struggling on twitter, maybe spend a second away from spamming your self published kindle story and say hi to someone new. Share some trials and tribulations. They are not the competition. They are fellow writers with dreams like you.

I Lost 100 Story Outlines

iphone-248906_960_720.jpg

The biggest setback in my writing happened 3 weeks ago. I took my iPhone 5S into a Batteries Plus to get the battery replaced and the technician messed up my phone. It began going into a perpetual reboot cycle every 3 minutes. After a few days with my phone, including a trip to another location for another technician to fix it, the phone was determined to be broken by the “trained technicians.” At first, the they blamed it on not being updated to the newest version, however, after updating it, it didn’t work. They then said if I did a hard reboot, it would correct itself.

Oh shit.

I lost all my story pre-draft outlines.

Since the phone was constantly rebooting, I couldn’t download all the data. It would only get ten percent in the process or so each time.

You see, as a writer in 2016, I have a ton of ideas, but very few drafts. This is because I go through a pre-draft stage of outlining details of 3 act stories, and then constantly refining it on my phone until it reaches an insatiable stage of needing to write the first chapter, which results in very quick beginnings to stories. I almost never have writers block. Sometimes I change my mind with characters and have to figure stuff out halfway through a book, but more often than not, I follow “writing to an end.”

I had maybe a 100 outlines on my phone. Some of them were garbage, some of them were so-so, and a few were good. Luckily for me, some of the good ideas will always be in my mind. Unfortunately, all of the 2am plot ideas formed before I fell asleep in bed don’t always manifest itself again. Some of the quick lunch time notes I get while people-watching is gone forever.

And this is ok.

I’ll come up with another 100 fresh ideas soon. I can probably do it in a week. I could probably write 1000 outlines in a few months.

Outlines don’t matter. Spending the time to write full drafts do.

I’ll keep pressing forward, as should you.

We can’t dwell on the fast, only focus on the future and imagine the possibilities.

I now have a new iPhone with a bigger screen.

And my notes page on my iPhone is empty, but not for long.

Movie Reviews: Ocean’s Eleven

Oceans Eleven directed by “SS” 

I used to like films by “SS” that is, before he resorted to Magic Mike. Before that, he was the innovative filmmaker with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out of Sight.” Oceans Eleven is when he hit the big time with an ensemble cast that can’t really fail even if they hired somebody off the street to direct it (Even that douchebag behind the last Fantastic 4 could have made this … Well, maybe)

Simply put, this is a hesit-by-the-numbers film. 

But it works, because it is done with charisma. Charm. I don’t know. Everything is so positive. Danny Ocean just got out jail, but he is a swell guy because he can recruit the hippest crew to rob the biggest make-believe casino vault (ludicrous in that the properties are not even under the same company nor near eachother, as many of you who have walked the strip before would know). 

But who cares, we root for them because they are cool and hip and money is cool. If they were thugs or gangsters this would not be as entertaining. But because Danny Ocean is doing it for a girl, (robbing a casino is the fastest way to a girl’s heart, right?) we root for him. 

I liked this movie when it came out and I still do. 

Although I contend the plot of the movie is simple and is purely built on the charisma of its actors. I recently got rejected pretty bad from the blacklist for my script with a heist as part of the plot, and some poor excuse of a reviewer told me in my review (which you can read on my blog) is that Tony Benedict is an even more evil person than Danny and that’s why we like Danny. 

Bullshit. 

That reviewer is an amateur hack because the movie didn’t even make an attempt to make Tony (Andy Garcia) look bad. He just manages a casino. He got conned for one comment about Julia Roberts at the exact right time and he was bad? 

If there is a con story or heist story we always root for them if they are the main characters and especially if they are funny. Only if the main character is the person stopping it, (first character introduced), do we root for them. Trust me, the trope works from Die Hard to Paul Blart.

I know how to break down stories and the mechanics behind film. Whoever is introduced in the first 10 minutes is who the audience is supposed to root for, unless it is a horror film of some sort, because in that trope they have to show some scary stuff early on so that we know the MC will be in danger. 

With that said, the movie is entertaining and fun. I like everyone from Bernie Mac to Don Cheedle to Casey Affleck in the supporting roles. I like how Brad Pitt aka Rusty is eating in almost every scene before the heist. I like the switcheroo at the end. 

I know, this is another weird movie review but it’s coming from me, right? Maybe I should rename my reviews as commentary.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 S.W.A.T trucks. 

Coincidental Circumstances (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 4.13.04 AM.png

The purple haired girl with the nose-ring furrowed her brow. “Um … what?” I could see in her face that guys like me normally didn’t ask her for gum. Their loss. Time was of the essence because writing can be a fickle thing. One moment the story is with you, and the next moment, the eureka moment disappears.

“Please, I’m a writer, and gum helps me think.”

“You’re a writer?” she asked. “What have you written?”

“Nothing you’ve read.” I was unpublished at the time, so of course she hadn’t read anything yet. Silly girl. This was the whole point of sitting in Starbucks. I had to sit amongst the people and seek inspiration.

“How many books have you sold?” She took a sip from her coffee and awaited my answer as if she was actually interested.

“Technically, I’m unpublished.”

“So … zero?”

I chewed my gum, now out of the delicious flavor I so enjoyed and just slowly nodded embarrassingly. I looked at her purple hair and noticed a bright red streak on her right bang and watched her eyes to see if she was kidding but I could see the disdain in her pupils. “How does the gum help you?” She obviously didn’t know a damn thing about writing.

“It just does.”

“Stellar reason.”

“Listen, it was just a question.”

“Do I look like a gum factory to you?”

“You looked like a girl who enjoys gum.”

“What does that mean?”

“Please … don’t act like that. Who doesn’t like gum?”

“I like a lot of things way more than gum,” she said. “For a writer, you have some really lame pick-up lines.”

I couldn’t believe this. Really? A guy can’t ask a girl for gum anymore? I rubbed my temples and stood up. “Let me check the counter.” My investigation lasted thirty-four seconds. I guess coffee and gum doesn’t mix. Maybe it was like Disneyland in not wanting gum to be placed under the tables and on the floor. I grabbed another coffee and returned to my writer’s corner and saw the purple haired girl with the nose-ring was gone, but on the keyboard of my macbook was a single piece of gum.

It was the last one in the pack.

CONTINUED

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 20)

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.12.30 AM.png“Caleb … Caleb …” Her soft voice reached into my thoughts, and I clawed my way back towards awareness, a cold sweat breaking on my face. It was Not-Exactly-Lila; she was over me and whispering urgently in my ear. (I say my ear – my head now resembled something akin to a dropped dessert, but thankfully she could locate my ear opening. The bio-nanites had certainly been to work on my anatomy whilst I had slept.)

Had I really been asleep? It could only have been seconds, because Genevieve had barely had time to slam the bio-nanite control box shut and heft it from the ground. I was glad that Not-Exactly-Lila was unharmed, save for a growing bump where the pistol butt had struck her on the head.

But I … I wasn’t me anymore. I was something else, and in my loathsome, altered state, it was as though I could see myself from afar, from across the dirt across which raced two men, bringing their Kalashnikovs to bear on us as we scrambled to our feet. (I say my feet … you get the picture.) The two men stopped dead as I rose up to full height, a shapeless fist of knuckled meat, hair in places, eyes in others, limbs and bits of unassigned anatomy hanging off me in a random mess. The bio-nanites had rearranged me into random form.

I shook myself and it all contracted back into me, and I was Caleb again, then I was turning to the girls and I hollered at them: “Run!”

We took off around the side of the nearest building. Bullets strafed the ground where we had stood, and followed us in livid lines across the walls. The final bullet found its way into the centre of my back, and I staggered at the two girls’ heels, then anger pushed the bullet straight back out again. I stopped in shock and they turned to watch as the little bullet simply plopped out to the ground, the small wound in the centre of my back snapping closed in its wake.

Genevieve and Not-Exactly-Lila stared at me in horror.

“Caleb … are you okay?” asked Genevieve in shock.

“Never better,” I said. “Now split.”

“We leave together,” Not-Exactly-Lila told me unerringly. “You’re too important to leave behind.”

“I’m more than that now,” I told her boldly, and focused my attention on the bio-nanites in my brain. I was conscious of sensations I had never felt before; not just physical sensations, but mental too, and it was suddenly as though I could communicate directly with them. They had spent so long in my cerebral cortex, navigating the millions of neural pathways I had strengthened throughout my life, that somehow they knew how to navigate the new ones – the new thoughts I was having – as they were generated in my brain.

The bio-nanites understood me.

All I had to do was tell them what to do … and my body would be adapted in accordance to my will. So I took on the form of Not-Exactly-Lila. “I’m you,” I said and the two girls gasped in shock. “And I have the mother of all plans. So while you ladies get the hell away from here, I’m going to double back and have some fun.”

“Caleb!” they yelled together as I turned and ran back out into the street. I broke out into the open to see the two men with Kalashnikovs had almost reached the alley – had I been any slower they would have had a clear shot at the three of us. They eyed me warily as I stood my ground before them, a pale girl rooted bravely in their path, then the first man calmly raised his gun.

“Where is he, deary?” he demanded in an accent, whilst the other man aimed his rifle at my face.

“Don’t do that,” I told him in Lila’s silky voice.

Gun-Man uttered something guttural in an Eastern European tongue. Chances were these newcomers did not work for the Senator. Together they jammed their gun barrels at my chest and fired. Although I was expecting it, and had already made internal plans to reject the onslaught, the slam of the bullets threw me against the wall. I saw blood spray and felt the coarse brick scrape against my skin, and the pain was incredible, but then it was like the bio-nanites were telling my body what to do, and I tensed as though ready to push out the loudest fart. But it wasn’t gas that escaped me …

It was bullets. They flew out in all directions, zinging! off the walls and blacked out street lamps. One shattered and the two men ducked for cover. Instantly I was on my feet and pelting across the street, drawing them away from the alley and the girls, towards the river that cut through the town close by.

PART 21