Category Archives: Blog

Writing Space (Audio Blog)

This audio blog is about writing through the noise pollution. It’s about turning up the volume in your head to drown everything else out. It’s about keeping track of your ideas through an earthquake.

Once you’re finished listening you can read the second part here:

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When friends on Twitter post photos of mountain-scapes and forest trails, I get scenery envy. I want to unroll a blanket and write beneath their sky. I want to be able to stand up and pace around with my ideas, to take my thoughts for a walk. Continue reading Writing Space (Audio Blog)

Pigs Will Fly (on writing song lyrics)

Pigs will FlyI wanted to be a musician in a past life. The problem was that my lyrics were too personal, and I couldn’t be bothered with casting myself in a positive light. I subscribed to John Lennon’s philosophy of songwriting, “Gimme some truth.” My favorite song writers always gave me a jolt, like they pulled the words right out of my head. Their lyrics were honest and self-deprecating. They turned the thing that made me feel isolated into a universal experience. Their humiliation numbed my own. Continue reading Pigs Will Fly (on writing song lyrics)

Fleeing the Beam (Audio Short)

Writers are always on call, in case inspiration strikes. It doesn’t matter if it’s an inopportune time. We toss on our thinking caps and we get the job done. It might strike while we’re in the shower, while we’re behind the wheel, or while we’re operating heavy machinery.

Writers have to spring into action, to jot their ideas down before they can go wild. It’s for the public good that we do this. It’s for your protection.

It doesn’t matter if we’re in bed. It doesn’t matter if we’re at a dinner party. It doesn’t matter if we’re on the clock. When inspiration makes its presence known, we writers have to do something about it.

This is a story about when inspiration struck while I was at work, and how I struck back.

The music was inspired by Ennio Morricone’s theme for The Thing. A bass synth pulses through the piece like a heartbeat. The melody creeps by just underneath the rhythm. The story has a mock-horror tone. What better way to convey that than with an homage to the scores of John Carpenter movies?

I’m very happy with how this one turned out.

If You Can’t Make Them Read it, Read it to Them

IMG_3250As a writer on the internet, I want people to read my work, but I don’t want to lose their attention. That’s why I do audio recordings. My philosophy is this: if I can’t get people to read my stories, then I’ll read my stories to them.

If this is the age of multitasking, then why fight it? People should experience my words the way they want to. On a long road trip, as they chase the horizon. On a woodland trail full of leering shadows. On an elliptical machine, skiing in place.

If you can’t give me your undivided attention, then I’ll take what I can get. Continue reading If You Can’t Make Them Read it, Read it to Them

How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)

This piece should do two things:

Help you summarize your story by identifying the elements that audiences look for.
Help you remember each of those elements with a simple memory trick.

The audio component isn’t a podcast, where I discover my statement halfway through making it. It isn’t spoken word poetry either. It’s a guided visualization, set to a beat. It’s fun to listen to, but I invite you to participate. To shape images from your work in progress and place them somewhere in your childhood home.

The memory palace technique takes something your brain has no problem remembering, like spacial relationships, and combines it with something that’s tough to remember, like plot points. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)

Carnival of Goals

IMG_2545When I was a kid I threw a Halloween carnival in my parent’s basement. I knew I had the market cornered, because it was the middle of July.

I decided to keep mom and dad in the dark about the project. Investors have a way of meddling with an artist’s vision. I wanted to retain creative control. I was an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs don’t ask for their parents’ permission. Once they saw what a hit it could be, no one would make me apologize for success.

Continue reading Carnival of Goals

The Writer’s Alibi (Audio Short)

This is an idea that originated on Twitter. The Tweet went:

Turns out a lot of writers have had this thought. We’re a solitary lot. If some flatfoot thought we looked good for a crime they’d be grilling us for awhile. We’re the red herrings that are mistaken for piranhas. They’d see our calm demeanor as a mask to hide our neurosis. They’d see our quiet manner as a smoke screen for an underlying rage. They’d peg us as self-involved sociopathic narcissists.

They wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

Under the harsh interigation room lights, they’d make us tell our stories. They’d ask where our ideas came from. They’d ask, “What do you mean you let your characters tell the story? Do you hear voices? What else do they tell you to do?”

Tread very carefully when answering their questions. They’re not fans and you are not at a reading.

Tell them to check the date and time stamps in the meta data from your document files. Tell them to interview all those poor souls you’ve pushed your story on. Get your beta readers on the line, tell them you’re going to need a whole lot of feedback to get you off the hook for this one.

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This is my fourth audio short to feature a soundtrack. These pieces are heavily influenced by the Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe a radio dramas from the 80s (worth your time).

I’m digging the contrast between the jazzy upright bass and the haunting ambient synth. It’s like beatneck poetry scored by Aphex Twin.

Now it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take you for a stroll through the graveyard. Disembodied fingers walk the scale of a harpsichord, unearthed from the basment of an old manor, clogged with cobwebs, detuned by time.

Top that off with some knee slapping, finger snapping percusion.

I’m really proud of this piece. I’ve listened to it way too many times already. Continue reading The Writer’s Alibi (Audio Short)

How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch

door-of-light1When you send your screenplay to a film producer, they send it to someone like me. I was a script reader, an intern chasing a carrot for an independent film studio.

My job was to summarize your magnum opus into a blurb. To condense your gut wrenching work into a column no larger than an obituary. To turn your hero’s journey into a stroll. To turn your feast for the imagination into an hors d’oeuvres. To take your epic and make it a limerick.

Have you ever tried to write a haiku? Ever try to right one with a three-act structure?

They gave me a pre-formatted template to write all of my coverages in. Much like a Tweet, I only had so many characters to summarize a stack of pages. I had to turn your screenplay into an elevator pitch, a talking trailer, a cinematic stanza. You know when someone says, “Just give me the cliff notes.” That was my job, to turn your rambling prose into a cliff note. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch

Breaking Up With Your Story (Audio Short)

Writing a novel is like being in a relationship with a high maintenance person. Novels want all of your free time. They want the leading role in you day planner. They want you to take them everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re out with friends that you never get to see, your novel has something to say and you’re going to listen. Sneak your phone out and type a few paragraphs.

Your Novel looks at your short stories and says, “Who’s that then? They seem pretty cute? Is there something going on between the two of you that I should know about?”

Looking back on your relationship, your novel is never what you thought it was. The ruby colored glasses come off and you see all the edits you’re going to have to make, all the couple’s retreats and all the counseling. You will constantly doubt if it’s all worth it.

Then publishing your novel is like planing a wedding. First you have to find a place. Then they have to set a date. Then you have to send out the invites. It is work.

Like any relationship, writing a novel takes commitment.

This audio short is about what happens when you think you don’t have what it takes to see that commitment through. It’s my third piece to feature music. The first two were poems this is a fully realized short story. Enjoy!

The Baseless Hate (Audio Short)

Quitting smoking introduced me to a new side of my personality. There was a thunder cloud where my aura ought to be. It drove my nails into my palms at the first sign of conflict. There’s Dr. Jekyll, there’s Mr. Hyde and then there’s Sir Nicotine Withdrawal. Guess which one would win in a fight?

I found myself grinding my teeth at the announcement of each new homework assignment, gripping the desk, like the Hulk preparing to launch a car into a building. I saved my short supply of nicotine gum for just such an occasion. These anger attacks weren’t justified by any slight against me, they just were.

This got me thinking about the nature of anger, how I’m predisposed to feel it, with or without cigarettes.

Sometimes my Subconscious Mind just observes something, a song or a fashion trend, and says, “I hate that.”

My Conscious Mind says, “Care to explain why you hate that? Could you show me the data that brought you to said conclusion?”

My Subconscious frowns, shakes it’s head, a child who didn’t get the toy he wanted. He says, “I hate it therefore you hate it. We both hate it.”

My Conscious Mind sighs. His exhale whistles through his teeth like a tea kettle. He says, “You don’t know a thing about the thing you hate, but you want to make up both our minds for us.”

My Subconscious nods, “And I’ll keep bring it up until I get my way.”

This 2 minute audio short is about that internal arguement our conscious minds have with our subconscious, our super-egos with our ids, our brains versus our guts. It’s the 2nd audio short to feature haunting music and won’t be the last. Enjoy! Continue reading The Baseless Hate (Audio Short)