Author: Michael Mustizer

I'm a writer.

Update – Old Money/The Second Moon/Galaxie

Wow. it’s been six months since I updated here. A lot has changed in the last few months. As always, I have been constantly working on my creative endeavors. Back in October, I started a new novel, tentatively called Old Money, AKA Old Bills, AKA 20th Century Man. At this point, I am 92% complete on that story. I only have a few chapters yet to write. Sometime last month the muse hit me full force and I dug in deep on a novel that is tentatively called “The Second Moon”. The Second Moon is something magical. She is a project unlike any other project. I am not writing this project, the characters are. I am merely the pen and paper to tell their story, and man. It’s a doozy. I know for a fact, and feel it its my entire being that I am writing my first bestseller. I know. That’s a bold statement, but, yeah. I put it out there. I am writing something important. I am writing something deep and spiritual. I am writing something epic and something sublime. I am writing feverishly on this project, unlike anything I have written before. Just tonight I wrote nearly 6500 words in one sitting. That’s unheard of for me! I have tapped into something beautiful, and I am just along for the ride. I am just as excited as the reader is as these characters unveil their story to me.

In terms of Galaxie… we are in that “development hell” phase. We need to come up with $5 Million dollars to get those engines turned on. It’s not as easy as you would think. We have feelers out there. We have things in motion. We just need someone to come along, take the keys and start this engine. Galaxie will happen. It’s just going to be a matter of time. Once Galaxie is complete, the next project will be The Seven Isaacs and a full on pitch as a Netflix series. And, not gonna lie. Second Moon will be the series that follows that. Will there be another film after Galaxie? Sure. But there’s other stories to tell first that are much longer and need the television landscape to tell their tales.

that’s all for now. I will update as I can.

Oh yeah, BTW. I’m moving to Atlanta. Hollywood South, here we come!

January 2021 – Update

It’s been quite some time since I updated anything on this old blog o’ mine. Let me assure you, I have been extremely busy on a project that has been mentioned here multiple times in the past.

Galaxie is a wild ride. We have assembled quite an amazing team to build this project and make the most wonderful of feature films.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of info I can share just yet. It’s all hush hush and top secret.

Aside from that… I am more than 250 pages into writing a new novel. There will be some updates on that as I get closer to the end. It’s a crime novel, which is a new stretch for me, but it’s a wonderful muscle to work. I am having a blast with the characters. It’s an ensemble (again). That appears to be my sweet spot. There’s such a wonderful mix and they all work so well together. I look forward to sharing these beautiful people with the world. All in due time.

So much to do. So much already accomplished.

Sit tight. There will be pages and pages of news soon. I have been keeping a Galaxie Journal that I will begin to share when the time is right.

Unorthodox.

That word keeps coming up as we develop Galaxie. I tell you what, I’ve learned so much in these last six months. Things I never would have learned without taking a leap of faith and just diving in head first.

Joe and I started this journey back in February and spent a few months working on the script. Slowly, we brought in more and more people.

Already, we are at a crew of about 20 people. 17 of which I haven’t met yet. We’re plugging along and moving at a tremendous pace. We’re cutting through this development period with relative ease. Sure, we’ve made some mistakes across the way, and I’m sure we will make plenty more.

Hopefully, by the end of the month, I will have some news that we will be able to share about this project. If not, then definitely by the end of the year.

So far, it has been a wild ride and it will only get more and more exciting as we continue to develop and grow.

Galaxie

I’m writing this tonight with a smile. Galaxie has been plugging along for quite some time now. I have been working side by side with Joseph to bring this to a reality, and tonight we took a major step forward. It’s great to be at this point and be able to have meetings like the one we just had, despite the disaster that is COVID. It fills me with hope and happiness that this film is truly underway and we are achieving what we set out to do. Every day, we inch a little bit closer to what’s going to be the biggest film to hit the cinemas since Endgame.

Now, sure, because of Covid and pandemic related shutdowns and “the new normal” we’ll never see a box office like we did with Endgame. But, damn. Galaxie has some momentum. We’re going to be right up there with the all time greats.

It’s a great feeling.

Resistance in the Time of COVID

It’s no joke.  We’re in a time of crisis.  We’re in a strange time that none of us have ever experienced anything like in our lifetime.  It’s the first, but honestly, it probably won’t be the last.  The precedent has been set.  The viruses are only going to mutate as it evolves with us.  Now, I’m not looking for the doom and gloom scenario, but it’s hard not to be real about it anymore.  It IS real.

About three weeks ago, for most of us, our lives were upended.  They closed the schools.  Our kids were sent home.  Many of our jobs were flipped upside down.  Some were laid off, some were furloughed.  Others were just plain let go.  And yet even more, discovered that their day job industry was considered “essential” and they are working long hours while others stay home.  Economically, we’re in distress, and not just in terms of monetary.  This is frightening.  How long can we sustain ourselves on the changes to our income?  How will we function going forward if this lasts three more months, six more months, and so on.  It’s a question that is literally keeping almost everyone out there awake at night.

We’re focused on so much right now, that it is difficult to keep those creative juices flowing.  the Resistance is as real as the threat of COVID.  For those not familiar, Resistance is a concept of the Universe working against us, to keep our creative selves down and hamper our creative output.  The concept comes from Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. Let me tell you.  Resistance is our enemy.  Resistance is damn real.

I have had difficult times creatively in the past, but focusing on The Resistance has (ever since I learned the concept) helped me overcome those situations. This time around, it has been a much more difficult journey.  For most of March, I was stuck.  My brain was completely shut down creatively.  There were concepts there, that were floating, but I couldn’t under any circumstance, bring them to reality.  The threat of the unknown only bolstered the enemy’s presence.

In late February and early March, I was having honest to goodness budgeting meetings on a screenplay I had written.  There are/were executive producers interested who can find the money for a relatively high budget script.  There’s a producer attached.  I personally created 1,500 plus storyboards to visually demonstrate my vision.

Then, the corona virus state of being happened.  EVERYTHING was locked down.  EVERY production halted.  EVERYTHING was done.  Just *poof*.  Gone.

Creativity halted.  Mine included.  I was home from work.  I now had ALL the time in the world.  I could start the next book in the series.  I could write one of the three screenplays I have floating around.  I have a novella I could dive back into that slipped away while my focus was on the movie.  Yet, I was motivated to do NONE of it.  Resistance took over… as it did for most people out there.

The only way to fight The Resistance, is to actually fight it, both mentally and physically.  As March went on, I found myself WANTING to get back to the creativity, but not actually doing it.  I couldn’t lift myself off from the couch.  April was approaching and I had gone weeks without doing anything creative.

As I wandered aimlessly for about ten days, I decided I needed to combat this enemy.  Here’s what I did to battle the Resistance that was consuming me.

How to fight RESISTANCE in the time of COVID:

  • Make a creative to-do list.  Living in the time we’re in right now, it’s really hard to actually DO anything.  We can’t go out to dinner.  We can’t go to the movies.  We can’t do anything.  It’s difficult to even find the motivation sweep the kitchen floor.  We make a to-do list for our chores.  Add writing/singing/art, whatever it is you do creatively to your to-do list.  Adding it to a list, and STICKING TO THE LIST, makes it real.  The list makes a priority of your creative output.  Prioritize what you want to accomplish and do your list in order.  I did it today.  This article is my creative output today.   It was the second thing on my list to get done today, right after the tedious work of updating the amazon advertising for my books.
  • Start small and build from there.  We’ve all heard the variation on it, but Stephen King perhaps said it best, “Writing equals ass in chair.”  Getting to that chair is the hard part.  The Resistance was pushing so hard for those first two weeks of lockdown.  I couldn’t move from the couch.  My wife couldn’t.  No one could.  I wasn’t ready to dive headlong back into the great american novel number four.  I wasn’t ready to dive into that screenplay idea that had been floating around for a while.    But… If I could start small… maybe I can get somewhere with it later.  Starting small really helped me dig myself out.  I started with some screenplay tweaking and editing.  The next day, I wrote a 1,700 word treatment for a screenplay idea that I’ve had floating for a while.  Another day, I wrote story notes and mapped out a few chapters of my next novel.  Then, it turns into a day like today… and this article.
    By starting small it gets those juices pumping and each day, I have realized that my creative output is growing more and more.  The resistance is fading.
  • Find yourself a challenge.  Right now, hundreds of sites are putting out creative challenges in order to help fight Resistance.   Some of them have some really great prizes as well!  This really helped dig me out of my rut.  I stumbled across Film Riot’s Stay at Home Challenge of creating a 60 second feel good short to shed some happy moments on these dreary days.  (sidebar: is it going to stop raining soon???)  I dedicated almost two full days to coming up with and shooting my entry into the contest.  The first day, I wrote a single page screenplay involving my dogs.  The next day I threw away the screenplay as it was far too ambitious and the dogs were far less cooperative, shot what I could get and edited what turned into a nice touching piece.  You can view it here, if you like.
  • Avoid social media like the plague.  It is LITERALLY all about the plague right now, so just avoid it.  It’s endless scrolling feeds the Resistance and makes you search for what’s next.  It’s so hard wired into our systems that there might be something good to read/funny/feel good/triggering at the bottom of that scroll.  Just force yourself to NOT do it.  Stay off from social media.  (Hypocrite… that’s how you found this article)
  • Use Twitter as a creative output.  Yes, it seems contradictory, but it’s not.  Avoid READING Twitter.  Use Twitter as a creative output.  As you go about your day and your brain gets that spark of something funny, or poignant, post it and then close the app.  This all ties in to what I said about starting small.  These little ideas, once they’re written down and posted, they leave your mind, but you hacked away a tiny piece of Resistance.  The more you chip away, the easier it is to get back to your creative routine.  (Sidebar:  Always have a routine.)
  •  Avoid television and video games.  These things all tie in together.  What do you do while you’re watching TV?  You scroll on your phone.  It’s a mindless time suck that gets us nowhere.  Plus, I’m tired of seeing all the negativity in the news.  And video games… man, that’s just the Resistance toying with you and draining your precious creative time away from you.  Hey, if you want to do it as a release, sure, that’s fine… but only after you’ve done The WORK.  The creative work you set upon that day.
  • Read a book.  I can’t stress this enough.  As much as television and video games drain your creativity and push the Resistance to the forefront, books do the opposite.  Books simply open our mind up.  We flex those creative muscles and imagine the worlds we’re reading.  Our brain kicks into overdrive and we magically paint the words we see on the page.   Once we work the kinks out of those muscles, it makes it so much easier for us to push our own creations into the world.

I am sure I will come up with more, as I often do and I will be sure to post them.  This has been a difficult time for all of us, but we shouldn’t let it take away our inherent right to be creative.  It’s so EASY to sit back and do nothing… but that’s SO BORING.  After sitting at home for three weeks, I’m DONE being idle.  I can’t do it anymore.

Our creativity makes us feel like we have accomplished something.  Go out there… correction, stay indoors, and DO IT.  Stay home.  Be creative.  paint.  Write.  Sing.  Play an instrument.  Blog.  Tweet.  Shoot a short film.  Learn computer programming and let your digits soar.  Do anyting but be idle.  Don’t let Resistance consume you.  Perhaps… just maybe, if we accomplish something creatively during the day, it will be easier to sleep at night.

Stay Home.  Be Safe.  And, for the love of all that’s holy, stop going to Walmart in PACKS.  That’s how the virus wins.

February 22nd, 2008. February 22nd, 2020.

I look back through my archive of files on my back up hard drive. There’s a folder entitled “completed”. Inside that folder are some really old files from the early 2000s. Most of them are pretty much garbage. There’s some good ideas in there, for sure.

The ORIGINAL draft, the last time I touched it. Feb 22nd 2008.

October 2018. Joe Channell sends me his logo design for his production company Jack Morgan Films. It’s shiny. It’s chrome and it has the ROAR of an engine running beneath it. It’s on instagram. You can find it. We briefly talk logo, and the history behind why the car sounds… when I say, “You know, I have a street racing script.” “You do?”

Next thing you know, I’m digging through that archive file. There’s a file in there titled “Under My Wheels”. It’s the story of a trailer park kid who needs to get away from his abusive family and drive across country to get to college at the end of the summer. It’s a street racing movie. The concept is there. Racing for tanks of gas. The third act is a mess. It was pretty rough.

Under My Wheels …becomes Galaxie.

In February of 2019, I started revising Under My Wheels, and updating it with the vast knowledge of writing I’ve soaked in over the last ten years. Under My Wheels became Galaxie. I finished up sometime in mid 2019, summer-ish. Maybe fall. I was happy with it. It really came around and grew into a great story. Joe and I put it on the back-burner. We were just moving along and knew that someday we would come back to it. We weren’t forcing it. Joe went on to work on a few short films.

Fast forward to January 2020. Galaxie had been lingering on me throughout the holiday season. Something wasn’t quite right with it. I went back in. It took me a couple of weeks, but I figured it out. Galaxie REALLY took shape this time around. I gave the protagonist a physical impairment. I changed the name of the female lead to match her personality. I did a complete 180 on the mother character’s arc. The entire tone of the film shifted and I reached my goal. When I began the re-write, I set out to write something with the emotional impact and action pacing of a Marvel movie.

February. Twelve years later. The story is COMPLETE.

The moment I finished, I KNEW it was done and wouldn’t get any better. Galaxie turned into a bang up story. Emotional beats, just like those I was aiming for. The ending, as stated by one reader, dodged all of the expected tropes, and is a perfect ending. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a satisfying ending that ties up everything in a neat little package.

Galaxie is a high-octane film with an engine that is powered by the heart and friendship of two unlikely protagonists. I can’t wait to put this beast on screen. It’s a story that needs to be told, and needs to be shown on screen. We need muscle cars back on the big screen. Roaring engines. Squealing tires. Vintage rock and roll soundtrack. Adrenaline and vibrating seats in the theater. Let’s do this!

We’re off to the races, friends.

STAY TUNED!

Yo… what’s the deal with “The Ersatz Saga”?

Well well. It’s finally official. I have released Alice the Fifth and RE-RELEASED The Seven Isaacs.

Let’s be honest. Back in 2011, I was a bit naive and a little bit vain to rush The Seven Isaacs to self-publish. I was immediately review bombed for all the typos and editing errors in it, so I pulled it. It was a necessary ego blow. It did take me some time to get over it. By the time I did get over it, I was full on writing a different novel. And then another one.

So there I was. Left with the Herculean task of editing three novels, pretty much all at once. That ended up being WAY more scary than editing one novel.

This past summer, I finally set myself to task and began at the beginning. I started with The Seven Isaacs, developed a rhythm and immediately went right into Alice. They were ready to release.

Back when I wrote The Seven Isaacs, I swore up and down that it was it’s own unique and singular story, that it would not be a series. Those kids went through enough and they didn’t need any more trauma in their lives.

Fast Forward six years. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Syracuse NY, stranded during a March Nor-Easter snowstorm and the stupid bug bit me. That creative one, where you get this magical thought and it spins out into 125,000 words.

That magical thought was a ten year gap. Why pick up the story where it ended. That story was over. BUT, the story was just beginning as those kids from that first book became adults. Where are they now? What are they up to? Who are they fucking? What are their fears? What makes them happy?

Turns out those kids still had their own issues as young adults and it opened up a whole new world… and Off-Worlds… and other dimensions… and time loops… and so on.

This week I published the two novels simultaneously. My wife, who has read both books and has been my intermediary for both books says she wants to read the final versions of the novels. She told me that she would start with Isaacs, and was perplexed when I said, that she should start with Alice. Fast forward a few days to when the books go live on Amazon, and she sees the new title attached to Alice ,”The Ersatz Saga – Book One”

“Why is Alice book one?”

And, I am sure she’s not the only one with that reaction.

The Seven Isaacs IS it’s own SINGULAR story. It is NOT A SERIES. Isaacs as it turns out is the backstory. It is the story of “The Incident” that is so integral to the story of Alice.

Alice the Fifth on the other hand IS the beginning of a series. Alice. Abigail. Mason. Alex. Isabella. Arthur. They all have stories to tell and Alice barely touched upon it. Time will tell where this goes. Do I jump ahead another ten years? Do I jump five? A month? Immediately pick it back up? …I’m not sure yet. I do have an inkling of certain story arcs that will make up the future books.

And Ersatz… that took me some time to find. The Thesaurus and I spent some time together doing some deep digging to find the right name for my series. I won’t spoil it for you. You can look it up.

The Seven Isaacs and Alice the Fifth are now available on Amazon.com

As always, purchase. Enjoy. Please leave your reviews. Those numbers are important!

Updates

So, there’s quite a bit of news and updates to share shortly. Details to come soon. It’s been a pretty busy late summer. Early summer was spent working on Galaxie. After that, it was time to get back to work on the books and get them fully re-edited and ready for release.

The artwork is ready. Just a few more weeks of fine tuning left and we will release all of these to the wild.

Galaxie – First and Second Draft

So, as I wrote last time I checked in, I was digging out an old screenplay and starting from scratch, building the story from the ground up. I have since finished that screenplay. It is a FAR better story than it’s original incarnation from roughly ten years ago.

It took some time, and I realized I was back in the groove again. I would lose myself for hours writing and working this script to the tightest form of it’s story. I would love to go deeper into detail, but as it turns out… Galaxie actually has some weight behind it and there’s a strong possibility there could be some production lingering in the future.

The skeleton is finished… but the story on this has just begun.

Update – Holy shit. It’s 2019.

When did that happen?!

Greetings from the nearly Great White North! It has been quite some time since I have updated this site. I surprisingly, have STILL been working on Alice the Fifth. After numerous edits, I still felt the book was too long and the pacing was all off. I made it my mission to get the book under 100,000 words as most feedback I received from agent and publisher queries was that it was too long. The first draft was 127,000 words. Yeah, it was a bit bulky. The second draft came in around 108,000 words-ish and was still a little draggy and strangely, over sexualized.

When I put my mind to it, I was able to chop hundreds and hundreds of words from each chapter and cut her down to her core. It worked wonders for the story and constantly revisiting the characters after long periods of time helped me develop their arcs in ways I didn’t know were missing. This third draft was a cathartic process. It opened my eyes to truly editing a story. It has changed the way I look at my own writing, and that’s a good thing.

And here we are now. A few months later. Alice is under 100,000 words. Now the real work begins. I’m on the hunt for a publisher and an agent once again.

This past summer, I had the pleasure of collaborating on a solid rewrite and overhaul of a good friend’s short film production. My Inspired World is nearly at the end of it’s process. Post production is almost complete, and I should have more news on that to come in the near future. It has been a blast working with writer and director, Joe Channell. He is wide open to my sage old school indie film wisdom and is so eager to make the best picture he can.

It makes me feel like such a better person to help guide him on his vision. It is strange to me that my legacy will always be what I’ve inspired in other people. Years ago, when I was a substitute teacher, I somehow managed to inspire more than one student to become educators on their own, even after I gave up that hellish profession. Joe, was an actor, an extra on the Coldest Winter and look at him now. Directing out in Los Angeles and busting his ass like a true producer in L.A. I am grateful to be able to work with someone I inspired and be a true mentor.

In response… with any luck, we’re going to team up on a feature. Something that we both found as a shared passion. Muscle cars. I recently dug up an old screenplay from the archives and now, in the process of rewriting from the ground up. Maybe it’s time for me to get back behind the camera again. I do miss it. That’s for sure.