Saturday, August 31, 2013

eBook Novel Writing Update

Novel Writer at Work

Chocked full of metrics, this update celebrated the completion of draft one. At that time I was still aiming for a publication date of August 31.

Then on August 14, I guest posed over at Rachael Rippon's Caravan Girl. There I stated:

"As I prepared to start the second draft, I realized that I wouldn’t meet my initial deadline of August 31. I need time to finish the second draft and let the beta readers do their job while I focus on publishing and marketing. However, I’m certain I’ll upload by September 15. And the organization and metrics I’ve gathered will help me shape the time and focus on what’s important."

September 15 will come and go without seeing my eBook uploaded. Please close your wallets and stow the credit cards. Right now, I'm thinking October 15. But mostly I'm thinking of why I've never completed a novel up to this point: it's a lot of hard work. From a forty page long short story, I've expanded this particular tale to around a 200 page short novel. Characters cry out for more attention, back story, dialogue. Scenes rushed through to reach other scenes must be given their moments. It's easier to nap, read history books, or watch The First 48 than it is for me to craft a novel.

Not that I don't have fun writing. I've been doing it professionally for many years. But there are moments of doubt and hating my own work that lead me to tossing the whole thing into the Tartarus of slain books and starting again on something new. (Oh, the crafty witch called "something new.")

Today I'm on Chapter Five of the second draft and in motion. A third draft may be necessary to make the piece presentable to my beta buddies.

But I'm determined to complete this horror story and see it up on Amazon in time for Halloween.  

Image: Independent Voters of America

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lovecraft, Madness, and Lost Notes

My cousin James spotted a fascinating Slate article on recently discovered handwritten notes from H.P. Apparently Howard Phillips Lovecraft was living on the edge and used the back of an envelope to catalog thoughts for his 1936 novella, "At The Mountains of Madness."

See the scribbled musings of the master over at Slate's The Vault.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Writing Techniques of Famous Writers

How Hunter S. Thompson crafted his colorful prose is absent.
Interesting to discover how successful writers rolled out the words. Some literally banged them out on a typewriter, while others wrote long-hand. Still others stood or sat or wrote in chaos or skipped lunches with other famous people while they worked.

Here's a quote from Hemingway I liked:

"You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again."

I've also found it helpful to leave a little in the tank. My problem is leaving too much in the tank and veering off to other projects. Then I can't find my juice, though it's usually in a large sippie cup.

Read the rest of Maria Popova's article over at brain pickings


Monday, August 26, 2013

Rare Peter Hastings, Norm Abram, Freakazoid Photo

From right to left: Peter Hastings, Norm AbramPaul Rugg.
Above: John P. McCann (JP Mac) and Jean MacCurdy.

Peter Hastings, Norm Abram and Freakazoid walked into a restaurant . . . and that was it. They had no reservations and were asked to leave, later attending a play on the history of whistling.   

Back in 1996, when a free 90 hours of AOL came with everything you bought, the five of us had dinner at the Huntington Hartford in Pasadena. 

Norm, Paul and Peter were into carpentry. Norm is a master craftsman. But you should know that Paul Rugg and Peter Hastings are immensely practical men, capable of handling the lion's share of household tasks. Should the world again face extinction by water, Paul and Peter could construct very serviceable arks. I would try and avoid drowning by complaining to God about all the people who are worse than me. And Jean would be flying Virgin Atlantic, First Class.

From that dinner, as  Freakazoid! fans might know, came the wonder of Normadeus.

Originally posted as Wood You Look at That?

 (Props to Peter Hastings for locating this snapshot in his voluminous photo archives.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rita and Runt Remembered

In collaboration with Max Demski (aka King Yakko), Keeper1st has crafted a player-piano arrangement of "Let's Try for Two" from an Animaniacs' Season One episode entitled,  Phranken-Runt.

Directed by Mike Gerard, the story follows Rita (voiced by Bernadette Peters) and Runt (Frank Welker) as they seek shelter from a storm in the castle of a mad lady scientist (Adrienne Alexander) who is in desperate need of a dog brain.


Animaniacs "Phranken-Runt" Recollections

 In addition to the lyrics, this is one of the few episodes where I wrote music. "Rocky Horror" was clearly a musical influence, but that was the extent of it. We weren't trying to slip anything past the censors. Compared to later censors, ours were generally so indulgent that duping them would've reflected badly on us.

I used a cheap little keyboard I had in my office at Warners. Richard Stone accepted my barbaric scratch track and worked his noteworthy magic.

I crafted a couple of Rita and Runt episodes but never met Bernadette Peters. Andrea Romano would always record her over the phone or via balloon or some such old school thing. But I surely enjoyed her singing.

Tom Ruegger came up with the idea of having the rat, Mr. Squeak, constantly slipping on an over waxed floor.

UPDATE: Another influence was Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

UPDATE: On Facebook Ron O'Dell wrote: "Max made the arrangement. I just arranged to get it to play on a real instrument, recorded it and made the video."

Here is the episode, courtesy of BloodyWellDone.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seven Pitch Meeting Taboos

Executives at Nickelodeon after Higgins Benzine and I pitched Sea Dentist.
If you're in the aTV animation field, or aspire to be, than pitching original series ideas is a bread-and-butter task. Abundant resources are available to tell you how to nail it. But few take the time to guide you around the rocks and shoals of artless questions often asked in haste and regretted in leisure. Here are a few no-nos culled from novices and veterans alike.

(Originally posted Dec, 2011, I again present my thoughts on seven key sentences that can lead to an EBT card.)

1. Why doesn't this studio ever buy anything I bring in here?
In the animation world, ask and you shall not receive.

2. How many dim bulbs get to make notes on the scripts?
This query ensures you won't remain around long enough to count them.

3. My agent says you have fecal incontinence.
Possibly so, but a seasoned animation veteran leaves medical issues for a more relaxed time.

4. Pilots are for timid losers. People with nuts go directly to 65 half hours.
Brashness can lead to ample free time.

5. I worked hard on this pitch and all you do is smile and nod like a dog hanging out a car window.
Pithy observations are best shared with peers and not animation executives.

6. Hey, this office has a killer view. I can see the car I'm living in!
Sadly, economic prejudice is alive and well in Hollywood.

7. When I worked here before, I would lock my office door and inflate a plastic woman.
This sort of provocative anecdote demands a strong response such as 'be silent and go away now.'

5. I worked hard on this pitch and all you do is smile and nod like a dog hanging out a car window.
Pithy observations are best shared with peers and not animation executives. - See more at:
5. I worked hard on this pitch and all you do is smile and nod like a dog hanging out a car window.
Pithy observations are best shared with peers and not animation executives. - See more at:
5. I worked hard on this pitch and all you do is smile and nod like a dog hanging out a car window.
Pithy observations are best shared with peers and not animation executives. - See more at:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

io9 and James Rollins Teach Scifi Exposition Tips

"Here's where you'll live, kids. You did bring a lifetime supply of water? Yes?
Gabby, gabby, talk-talk all trip and now you've nothing to say."
 A problem I'm facing now is how to tease out information without using the dreaded exposition avalanche. Sci-Fi author James Rollins lists a few tips, plus many techniques and tools to smarten up your science fiction—or, in my case, horror—tale so that it shines like the accretion of hydrogen on the surface of a white dwarf star igniting into nova.

On the topic of clunky exposition, Rollins writes:

"The bane to all fiction, no matter the genre, is called “info-dumping.” Whether it’s trying to fill in a character’s backstory or explaining the science behind quantum physics, never stop your story to lecture or teach. So how do you get that necessary information into the book without bringing your story to a grinding halt?

 By remembering the adage: story = conflict. Information should be revealed to the readers through a variety of techniques: shared through an argument between characters, or perhaps teased out within the scope of an action scene, or left unresolved as a tool of suspense. Use that spoonful of sugar to help that medicine go down. And it works. After I wrote my novel Black Order, I received a flurry of emails stating “I never understood quantum mechanics until I read those three pages in your book.'"

Read more over at io9.

Image: mst3

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So long, Elmore Leonard

Not long ago, I posted his ten rules for writers. And now he's gone like the cash from a mark's wallet. There's a lengthy article on Elmore Leonard from 2008 that says, in part:

"He has helped shape an entire body of literature and cinema. He has become, in these later years, an iconic cultural reference point: Any quirky violent crime story with punchy dialogue is Dutchesque. When the new version of the video game Grand Theft Auto came out recently, the New York Times said its street patois could "rival Elmore Leonard's." "Pulp Fiction" is the best Elmore Leonard film not written by Elmore Leonard; director Quentin Tarantino acknowledged a "big debt" to him when the film came out. The New Yorker reviewed the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men," and said, "If I want wry lawmen and smart, calculating fugitives, I'll get them from Elmore Leonard." (His own books have been turned into films since God was a baby: "Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown," "Out of Sight," "3:10 to Yuma," "Hombre," "Mr. Majestyk.")"

Read the rest at the Washington Post.

Comic Carolla Cracks Crowd-Source Million
Raising money for another movie, former Acme Comedy comrade Adam Carolla has hauled in a sweet 1.36 million to be exact. According to entertainment media:

"Adam Carolla, who launched his entertainment career as a stand-up comic, has raised $1.36 million via a crowdfunding campaign for a feature film set in the world of comedy clubs.

Carolla, who is using Donald Trump’s Fund Anything site, will write, direct and star in “Road Hard” with plans to begin shooting in December. Story will center on a former standup-turned-sitcom-star who is forced to return to the road after a divorce and the cancellation of his show.

Carolla told Variety that Illeana Douglas, Larry Miller and Phil Rosenthal have been cast and that a host of stand-ups will appear in the film. Kevin Hench, who co-wrote Carolla’s “The Hammer,” will be co-directing and co-writing.

Carolla’s movie campaign reached its $1 million dollar goal in less than 30 days and had hit $1.36 million as of 6 p.m. PDT Monday, the final day of the campaign."

Read the rest at Variety

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Read Rachael Rippon's Horror Tale 'The Bagman'

Who the deuce is the Bagman? Is giving a teenage girl seven wishes to be used in seven days really a smart idea? Learn why you should watch what you wish for and pay less than a dollar for the info over at Amazon.
 NOTE: Rachael Rippon was kind enough to ask me to guest post on her blog Caravan Girl. In turn, I have promoted her book of my own free will. In addition, I have used the occasion to again plug my post on organizing for writers. Thus, in small ways, does one scribe freely help another in this vast Web of ours. Or we're backscratching. Either way, it works.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caravan Girl: Organizing for eBook Writers

 My prose organizational musings on Rachael Rippon's blog.

Caravan Girl: Guest Post: Organizing for Writers: Perhaps, like me, organization does not come naturally. And perhaps, like me, you need a kick in the pants on occasion. Even better, perhap...

Tom Ruegger Explains 7D Writing Process

The Big Board at 7D.
Step behind the scenes of an animated TV series over at Cartoonatics.  Learn the subtle interactions that go into crafting a new series for Disney. Complete with illustrations including jazz hands! For example, did you know that attracting good animation writers proceeds thusly:

"Step One To create stories for "The 7D," assemble a team of top-notch animation writers.  Since your budget is limited, offer these writers relatively low salaries but throw in attractive perqs like free bowls of breakfast cereal and unlimited elevator rides to and from the workplace lobby."

More at Cartoonatics.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Splatterpunk Microfiction 'Death Honk' Descends on Wattpad

A neo-noir microfiction morsel. Enjoy a gritty splatterpunk tale of desperation, moral confusion and clown-bear clashes out in the California desert—and all under a 1,000 words.

Death Honk - Page 1 - Wattpad

Angeles Crest 100 Race Report

Ultra marathoner and fellow TNT coach Kiley Akers set out once again to run 100 miles in the San Gabriel Mountains while raising money to fight blood cancers. Check out his heroic exploits.

Friday, August 09, 2013

eBook First Draft Finished
On Monday. That wasn't so bad. In 100 hours over the course of 15 days I wrote 41,862 words. Not all of them stellar, but genuine English words nevertheless. My labors resulted in 170 pages averaging 2,790 words a day with an hourly average of 418. Vital metrics in planning future works.

This week  has passed assembling more research and interviewing people with nautical experience as the shank of my novella takes place aboard a small boat. Researching as much as I can in advance maximizes my interview time and allows me to ask more salient questions.

Next week will see the second draft commenced, followed by Beta reads. While I'm waiting for feedback, it'll be time to finalize cover art, read all 19 pages of the Kindle Direct Publishing contract, and line up reviewers as well as hone my marketing plan.

I am stoked to self-publish. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Tom Ruegger and 7D Roll Along

New looks for old dwarves. (Animation Magazine)

Over at Cartoonatics, Tom Ruegger displays voice cast and crew photos from the upcoming Disney Junior animated TV series 7D. A fresh take on the old Seven Dwarves of Snow White fame, the show's crew could easily be mistaken for an Animaniacs reunion. Dare I say, they have baloney in their mine.

Friday, August 02, 2013

i09 Presents Scifi Fiction Worldbuilding Don'ts
Before you write a great scene with a flying car, Charlie Jane Ander has a few suggestions on how not to craft a futuristic and/or fantasy realm. Hat tip to author Roger Eschbacher who has cobbled together a few worlds of his own.

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John P. McCann Sizzle Page

'Twas suggested I post a few episodes of my work in a pleasant spot. I've chosen here. Sadly, not everything I've written has y...