Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Second Drafting

I'm reading the first draft and boy, is it rough.  There's the occasional passage or paragraph that makes me smile with pride, but most of these sentences are making my shudder.  I still like the story and I try to remind myself of that:  This story is good.  It just needs to be told better.  The reader deserves that.  And I need to be able to sleep at night, knowing I've crafted the best book I could and that it's not out there, embarrassing me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fever Dream

I was in my house.  It was one of those situations where you've never been in the building before, but you intrinsically know that it's your home.  I was all alone, wandering the empty halls and rooms looking for something.  In the nursery, I found a chest.  In the chest were old yearbooks, photographs, and the thing I had been looking for:  A beat-up notebook.

I began flipping through the notebook.  It was filled with old and abandoned ideas.  There were story outlines, character descriptions, and questions that had once meant something to me but now I couldn't remember what they were connected to.  Exploring the notebook filled me with an intense melancholy.  There was so much unfulfilled potential.

Then, as if alive, the pages began pulling away from me.  They ripped themselves out of the book.  They began flying around the room.  As they flew, they filled the room.  It was an avalanche of ink-filled paper.  I tried to crawl to the door, but the ideas couldn't sustain my weight.  I began to sink.  I tried to swim,  but to no avail.

I woke up, sweaty and clammy.  My fever was broken and a deep, disturbing chill was clinging to my chest.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Artist Needed!

As I begin the second draft of Phileas Reid Knows We're Not Alone, I want to get the ball rolling on the next step, which is publication.  The dream, of course, is to be able to walk into any given book store and find copies of this adventure in the young adult section -- which means I'm preparing myself for a lot of rejection letters from a lot of major publishing companies.

But I want them to understand what they'll be saying "no" to, should they -- when they -- opt to say "no."  I want to put together a mock book for them.  I'll send the manuscript in several formats for their own ease of reading, but I also want to send them the most complete idea of what the book could and can be.  I also want to edit together a teaser trailer/pitch for them to watch, using all this same art.  I want it to be hard for them to say "no, thanks."

Which brings me to the subject line of this post:  I need an artist.  You don't need to have any kind of professional experience.  This is going to be my first book, it could be your first book too.  I'm looking for strong character and graphic design.

Because, ultimately, everyone might say "no" to this book.  But I believe in it.  I believe in the characters and I believe in the story.  While still a bit rough, I think it's great.  So if the publishers don't want it, we're going to Kickstart or Indiegogo or fundraise it ourselves and publish and sell it ourselves.  And if that's what happens, we'll already have the cover art.

So if you're interested, or know someone you think might be interested, please pass this blog post on.  You, or they, can contact me at  We'll discuss terms, rates, and swap ideas to find out if this is the right project for us.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

End of Draft 1

Stop looking at me like that.  I haven't been ignoring -- well, okay, actually, that's a lie.  I have been avoiding you, but it's been for a good cause.  I've just completed the first draft of what will hopefully be the first of many adventures of Phileas Reid.  It started like this:

And ended like this:

I've had a great many distractions, but I've finally completed the first draft.  It only took me seven months.  I feel like I should have been able to write it faster, I may have even gone an entire month without writing anything at all, so distracted and exhausted was I from the link above.  But it's done.  Not completely  not at all, but it's done.

I'm going to give myself a week or so before I sit down and read the entire thing start to finish.  I need to find all of its weaknesses and bludgeon them into perfection.  To accomplish this, I need to be more subjective.  I already know there's far too many "he said" and "she said."  But I want to be able to see what plot points don't work or what story elements need to be strengthened or what characters I completely forgot to give a satisfactory ending to.  Not only am I giving myself a week before reviewing it, I've sent it to a few near, dear, and trusted friends who will not think twice in crushing my spirit with their merciless reviews.

Then . . . then it's off to the publishers and my dreams will be in the hands of English majors.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

First Draft Hollywood

I'm not sure if I like pretending these are from someone who can't remember how the script really went, or if these are from some abandoned first draft of these now-famous scripts.  The first one (from Apocalypse Now) came from Stop Podcasting Yourself.  The rest (and future ones) are mine.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writing Soundtrack

Everything I write has a soundtrack.  I find music that matches the tone of what I'm writing and create a playlist that I'll listen to as I write.  It's not something I stick to fanatically, if I'm in the mood to listen to Henry Jackman's score for X-Men: First Class, then I listen to Henry Jackman's score for X-Men: First Class.

But sometimes I need something to remind me why I'm writing what I'm writing.  Or I need something to remind me of what tone I'm trying to strike with this story.  When I'm writing about the kids on Oasis, I listen to the music of Michael Giacchino and Ramin Djawadi.  When I'm writing the adventures of Doctor Phileas Reid, the playlist is almost exclusively Alan Silvestri and Murray Gold.

It helps me.  Maybe it'll help you, too.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Sony has just announced that they are releasing Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy on Blu-Ray. Never mind they've already released it on Blu-Ray. This set comes with new special features never before seen on Blu-Ray! And "hey, I just bought PhotoShop, I wonder what I can do with it" cover art.

First, the original DVD art for the trilogy:

Say what you will about these movies (I enjoy them all but love the first two), this is some great cover art. Simple, stylized, iconic, and compelling. They make you want to pick them up, turn them over, and find out more about this red and blue tight-wearing superhero. What does Sony choose over these for their "new and improved" Blu-Ray release?

What the what?

Who signed off on these? It's as if Sony is trying to retroactively make everyone hate Sam Raimi's trilogy.

You can get even more info over at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Scent of a Facebook Banner

Created this for The Scent of Lavender's Facebook page. Feels good to be PhotoShopping again.

On Freedom

I've become increasingly perplexed by America's curious relationship with the concept of freedom. We believe we are absolutely entitled to it and that no-one can take it away and to even suggest we forfeit certain privileges is a violation of our constitutional rights. We've become so far removed from the events that created and sculpted the Constitution (not to mention the Bill of Rights) that we've forgotten the colossal sacrifices previous generations have had to make.

"Sacrifice" is another word that seems to have been co-opted by a specific group of people. "Sacrifice," especially when it relates to "freedom" now only applies to the men and women in our military. I in no way want to downplay the significant role the military has played in securing not only our freedom but the freedom of others around in the world. What men and women in the military (along with their families) have sacrificed these 300 years is incalculable. I recognize that and am humbled by it. But what of the civilian sacrifices? What about the men and women who have lived in this country who have had to sacrifice certain freedoms for the greater good of society? What about the minority groups who have had to live in the shadow of the majority, hoping to one day have the equal rights the majority of Americans enjoy? What about the sacrifices activists have had to make to ascertain equal liberty for all American citizens?

A sense of entitlement is infecting America. The sense of entitlement isn't specific to one party or one group of people. Everyone feels entitled to something. What's disturbing about the "entitlement" phase of our relationship to freedom is that it negates any sacrifice I might have to make but demands the sacrifice of others. Why do we feel so entitled? What have we done to earn or deserve this freedom? And if the majority are entitled to these freedoms, why isn't the minority entitled to such freedom?

You religion. Your guns. Your right to an abortion. Your right to marry whoever you choose. Your health. Your privacy. Your education. Your right to speak your mind. Your job. The money you earn. Your home. Your comfort. A trial with a jury made up of your peers in which you are innocent until proven guilty. The safety net of welfare.

What would you be willing to sacrifice for the freedom of others?

Monday, March 26, 2012

In Tense

I've been struggling to find my narrative voice. I never had a creative writing teacher that challenged me (except the exceptional Dr Byrd) and so I've had to find my own voice and my own style when it comes to my writing. It seems like such a natural, why-should-anyone-have-to-worry-about-that sort of thing.

For the last ten years, I've cultivated my "screenwriter" voice, a voice that speaks to directors, producers, and actors. It tells everyone involved in the filmmaking process exactly what they need to know, painting a vivid picture of the scene, explaining why and how it's happening, but ultimately leaves the specifics up for interpretation. For a screenplay, that's fine. For a screenplay, that's great. But I like prose that's vivid. I like words that come alive and transport you somewhere as they paint intricate scenes, characters, and locations. While books are a medium for the imagination, I crave specificity.

Which is why I've been struggling with the opening chapters of Oasis (its working title). The words aren't connecting. Everything feels clunky and everything sounds like I'm trying so hard -- which is, quite frankly, something new for me. Writing is easy. It's exciting. It's relaxing. It's freeing. It's not hard work.

Kelly kept telling me to relax and stop thinking about it. "That's when you write your best stuff," she said, "when you just have fun with it." But I couldn't. I couldn't have fun with it. I wrestled with every sentence, despite the fact that the story I'm telling is a fairly light one, filled with drama and childhood trauma, sure, but I want to veer more into adventure than horror.

Then I figured it out. I needed to let my characters tell the story. Specifically, I needed to let Benjamin Blakeney, the eyes and ears of the story, tell the story. He needed to use his own words. Switching from third person to first person was a game-changing decision that has made all the difference in the world. Now the scenes and the dialogue just flow from my finger tips, as usually do.

I just needed to stop trying and just do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a bit.

I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had much to report. I've been spinning my wheels with very little traction to be found. I've had a couple of projects fail to get off the ground and I've found myself in the kind of gloom only John Cusack in High Fidelity can rescue me from.

But I've started writing again. I've often flirted with this idea that I call "Oasis" and I've just decided to sit down and make a young adult novel out of it. If you follow me on Twitter (@ScottishFogg), I've been posting word count updates at the conclusion of every night. It's my way of boring my followers and keeping myself honest. If I have to report progress (or the lack of) on a nightly basis, I find myself compelled to write. I hate not updating the word count but I hate updating the word count with a nearly insignificant increase even more. And while I have ideas every day, sometimes I don't. But I still need to be writing and there days when writing is just putting one word in front of another until you stumble on another great idea. Drafting will, hopefully, fix those boring bits.

I've also been approached about acting in the upcoming web series The Scent of Lavender. It's a bit of a murder mystery -- which is outside the realm of entertainment I usually find myself in so I'm excited. I'm also excited to be acting again, without worrying about the script or directing or editing or . . . anything else really. I've been working on some promotional art for the series and I'm an administrator for the series' Facebook page, but that is such a light load when compared to all the other hats I usually wear when I'm involved in a project.

Anyway. I'm off. I'll try to not let so much time go by between now and my next post.

Monday, February 13, 2012

McKay Books: You Never Know . . .

My latest commercial for McKay. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Friday, February 3, 2012


A day doesn’t go by where I don’t write something. Usually it’s part of some bigger plan (a web series, a graphic novel, a feature film) and usually it ends up being discarded or forgotten about. Most of the things I’ve written are now collected cyber dust on my hard drive.

But every once in a while, I get to be part of something special. Enter Tanya Musgrave. She came to me a little over a year ago with a short story that she wanted to adapt into a short film. We went back and forth and I wrote three or four drafts of the script before she put the final touches on it and put it into production. I feel a little strange saying that it’s a gorgeous, wonderful film in every way possible — but it is. I'm not saying that because I helped write it, I'm not saying that because I know the original story it came from and I'm not saying that because I dearly love every one on the crew. I'm saying that somehow that crew and those actors were able to take my rough words and inappropriate jokes and turn it into this:

Check it out and make note of all those cast and crew members at the end. They’re names everyone’s going to be talking about in a few years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writing Novels Graphically

I remember the first time I told my mom I had bought a graphic novel. She didn't hear the term "graphic novel" as a singular noun. She instead heard the adjective graphic being applied to the noun novel. She got real pale and asked what the content of the book was and, "do you . . . you know . . . have any questions?"

After assuring her that the novel was not actually graphic, it was just filled with graphics, she calmed down a bit and then muttered, "they need to call it something else."

I love the graphic novel. I love comic books in general, but the graphic novel specifically speaks to me. As I get older, I find myself slowly growing away from the tights and the fights of superheroes and find myself gravitating towards the quiet introspection of graphic novels. I didn't understand the appeal of cozying up to a book until I discovered books like Craig Thompson's Blankets (or his Habibi, for that matter).

I can read a graphic novel as quickly or as slowly as I want. I can speed through the sparsely-worded pages and claim (too proudly) that "I read an entire book in an afternoon," or I can take my time and let the words and art work in tandem to take me places I've never been before and give me ideas I've never pondered before.

I have received so much from the time I've spent with my comic books and graphic novels that I have decided that it's time I give something back. It's time for me to write my comic book -- or my graphic novel.

There is, however, a problem. Two problems, actually.
  1. I cannot draw.
  2. I do not know how to write a comic book script.
Problem 1 is more insurmountable than 2. Problem 2 can be fixed by applying what I know about writing a film script with what I will learn from reading a few books. Problem 1, though, requires finding someone that (A) I like (B) I get along with (C) I trust (D) trusts me (E) is willing to take this leap of faith with me.

So I'm going to get to reading and writing and . . . seeing to Problem 1.