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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.

The Biking Incident.

I am out of it. I truly thought I already posted it. So much that I have all of the photos below on my ipad already and set to go. Oops. I guess I got busy and forgot to tell this daring tale of adventure and excitement.

Back in April, I won a $200 award at work for one contest or another. Those happen all the time. My lifelong friend Harold had been bugging me to get a bike to ride with him. He had been riding since last summer and was using it to be better in shape and keep his diabetes in line. So, I decided, yeah, I wanted a bike. My neighborhood gang ALL used to ride our bikes all over the north country all summer long. As kids, we would ride ten miles a day, easy, if not more. As we got older, that grew to twenty miles in a day. SO yeah. Fuck it. Let’s get back to that! I need that in my life.

So, I bought a bike.

She’s a beauty and exactly what I wanted. I wanted to take advantage of all of the snowmobile and ATV trails that surround my area. I also added, as I discovered later, cross country ski trails.

Once the bike arrived, I took a week or two to get myself adjusted to the routine… and adjusted to holy hell my thighs hurt. Harold and I took to the Black River Trail, which is a paved walkway through the Black River in Northern New York. It’s a VERY simple ride. It’s only about three miles. That was our warm up.

Harold had been biking for nearly a full year more than I had, so he was more adjusted to the routine.

A few weeks go by, after both of our schedules not meeting up, until May 29th. It’s game on. He heads over to my place. We throw the bikes in the truck and do a quick 1 mile off road loop around the Tug Hill area. It was too easy so, we needed to do more. We were just getting started.

It was a mild day. Nothing outrageous. A little warm. A bit sunny. Nothing unreasonable. It was also 9am.

“I know a trail nearby,” I say, “that I have been dying to try out. I walked it last year. It’s perfect for mountain biking.

This trail, the Oak Rim Trail, near Barnes Corners, NY is a cross country ski trail. It’s pretty rough terrain, but, as I had hoped, absolutely perfect for mountain biking.

We’re seasoned enough at this point, that this is a fairly easy ride. It’s gorgeous countryside and it overlooks one of the biggest ravines and cliffs in the area. You literally ride along the tops of the cliffs and try not to fall off as you stare off into the cliffs across the way.

I’m booking along at a pretty good clip. Up hills. Down gullys. Crags. Tree roots. Hopping and grinding my way along this tight path of a trail. Every once in a while, we would stop to check the markers on the trees to make sure we were headed on the right path.

What Harold neglected to tell me in his year of riding is that he wasn’t really an off road guy. He was a strictly ON road guy with the bike and had been, most recently, riding fifteen miles every couple days.

I tore through the forest… until I realized he wasn’t behind me any longer. I thought that perhaps, I had ridden a little too fast. He’s a big guy and I can be pretty limber and quick when I’m into what I’m doing. I stop and turn back, riding back, nearly as quickly as I had left, to find Harold, walking his bike.

“Dude,” he said, “I pulled something in my back,”

He was in pain, I could see it.

“While I was pedaling up that hill, I just felt a strain in my left leg, and something popped in my back. How far are we from the end?”

I checked my “Map My Ride” app. (I had been running it the entire day). We were only about 1 1/2 miles in.

That white circle is where we entered. That Red X is where he was.

Since I had walked this path before, I knew of that straight line right there. That, was high voltage power lines. That, was a service road.

“We’re not far form the service road,” I said, and showed him on a different app that I had been using for trails.

“Okay, I think I can make it to there,” he said and we took off on the bikes again.

I sped away, thinking he was right behind me. Again, I realized that he wasn’t.

Okay, he’s just walking, I thought. I’ll wait here.

Fifteen minutes pass.

Okay then… I had better go back and look for him.

I ride back, he’s on the ground. Prone. Staring up at the now very sunny sky.

“It’s my back. I can’t do anything,” he said.

I tried to help him to his feet. Nothing. Too much pain. Howling, grunting, painful back pain.

I’m going to need to call 911, I thought.

“I’m not going to make it out of here on my own,” he said.

“Do you need me to call 911?”

After some short deliberation, “Yeah,”

I step away down the trail and call 911. Now, I’ve never called 911, but I have seen it on TV. I was a little nervous and excited.

The operator came on and I explained the situation.

“I can see you on the map,” she said, “but how do we get emergency services to you?”

Again, the service road is nearby. That’s the best route.

“They’re on the way. Please stay on the line,”

She talks to him. We know it’s not a super emergency. It’s not a heart attack. He is a city firefighter, so he is trained in as much EMS as anyone that would be headed our direction.

“Can you ride out to meet them?” The 911 operator asks me.

Here I go. Adventure time!

“Please stay on the line, until they find you,” she says.

I strapped my phone into my shoulder bag. Yeah, it’s a fanny pack I have just for travel and carrying water with me while biking. (Harold, maybe you should invest in one). I begin my trek to the tree line and the service road.

I chug along at a pretty good clip. I could feel the muscles in my thigh starting to burn. I could feel the sweat gathering all over my head, under my helmet. I tear through that forest like she’s my bitch. Until I came to a hill that I definitely had to walk up.

Walked it out. Rode through the downed trees and hollow ground. It had the weirdest feeling. Tree roots had extended far under everything in the forest and you could feel the ground beneath you hollow from years of tree roots.

I make it to the tree line. I’m sweating. The sun is getting hot now.

The power lines tower above me. The sky is spotless and crystal blue. The sun is bright and hot. The path below me. Green. Filled with life and weeds and… a giant gaping swamp where the “Service road” is. It’s not a service road at all. It’s just where the power lines go through and where the forest had been cleared.

Shit.

I explained this to the operator and made my way through the swamp. I hefted my bike to my shoulder and slogged through the muck, which was much deeper than I had anticipated. The mud went straight up to my calves and I almost lost my shoes twice.

FINALLY, I got to the road. Ten seconds later, the operator guides the EMS crews to me.

From here, Aside form the seventy year old men that responded, I led the younger EMS crews back, on foot to where Harold had gone down. I ditched my bike and walked them back through.

We get to Harold and they begin to assess the situation. He’s sweating. He’s pale. He doesn’t look good. Not. At. All.

“First thing, we have to get you to your feet,” they say. It’s a four man operation to get him to his feet. He’s coherent, despite laying in the only spot of sun in a dense forest.

We all grab him and heft him up. He gets to his feet and the pain is overtaking his body. They diagnose him as dehydrated. They give him water. He tells them he’s diabetic. They give him a glucose packet.

The pain is great, so he sits down on a fallen tree, with everyone holding him up.

As soon as the glucose packet hits his lips, the lights go out.

He falls to the ground unconscious.

Well, shit.

The EMS crew leaps into action. They whip out a little pack with a portable IV to get him some fluids. They attempt to call for help from the others who are still arriving, the radios don’t work. We’re too far out in the sticks. The woman tries her cell and has no signal. Another EMS worker uses his and has signal. (Verizon)

Harold SPRINGS back to life, fists swinging. He clips one of the EMS guys right in the thigh. He is OUT OF IT. He has no memory of where he is, who is is or what happened. Thirty seconds later, the pain comes back and he’s on his back, again.

The discussion of how to get him out takes place. The ATVs can’t get through the trails. They are too narrow. …they also can’t get past the swampy service road.

The town guy tried. But that didn’t fare well. When I left, later in the day… he was still back there.

It’s obvious that they need to call in help to have more people come and carry him out. The phone calls begin.

I grabbed Harold’s bike and rode it out to the road. There was all sorts of commotion by this time.

People are arriving left and right. I’m hanging out with all the old people. More people arrive. More people head back into the woods.

An hour goes by. I’m hot. Having a blast. I got to do exciting off routine stuff all day.

We went in at 10 AM. I got back to my house at 2:30 PM.

It was an adventure. There’s more details I’ve left out. The story gets longer each time I tell it. By the end we had three fire departments there. NYS conservation officers. A park Ranger. Two state police officers and a bunch of volunteer helping hands to carry the big guy out.

That, was my biking adventure.

Harold is doing fine. Two bulging discs. He’ll be back on the bike again soon.

I have been quiet

For most of this year, yes, I have been quiet. I, purposely, set myself on a course for advancing my career. I spent a good deal of time focused on doing the work, AT work. In the end it paid off and recently I took a promotion that I had been working so hard for. In doing so, I did set my personal hobbies and quests aside for the time being. Many of which involving Alice the Fifth. Alice is dear to me, and I want to get this one right. I need her to be as tight and perfect as can be, in order to submit to publishers and literary agents.

With the new position at work, I now have hour lunch breaks, where in the past it has been half hours. That, suddenly, has provided me with a dedicated hour a day to work on editing and tweaking and cutting down Alice’s word count. Turns out lit agents kinda frown upon 125,000 word modern feminist sci-fi novels. Need to cut about 30,000 words to get to where we need to be. So, I’m doing that daily on my lunch breaks for the last two weeks. It seems to be going well. I am getting ruthless with the editing and rewrites in ways I never have before. It’s doing wonders for my writing.

I’ve also taken up mountain biking, on a regular basis. It’s fun exercise and it gets me out exploring the world. The bike, I bought with money won from a contest in that said day job, so it all ties in nicely. There is actually a very long, personal story that ties in with the photo above that I will have to sit down and write another entry just dedicated to that.

My television watching has somewhat slowed down. I feel like I’ve watched all the good stuff and have been at a loss for other things to watch. Once in a while I will come back to True Detective Season 1. Fargo Season 2. Breaking Bad. But, mostly, I’ve taken back to reading. I’m going through a couple novels a month. That’s good for the writer inside. And, lately, at night, I decided that after twenty years, I wanted to get back into, and up to date with comic books. I’m enjoying the modern runs of Cable, Daredevil, Avengers, Old Man Logan. I’m enjoying reading a book or two before bed each night instead of the television.

That’s what I’ve been up to. Maybe I’ll write the story of my biking adventure tomorrow.

Back in the saddle… again

Greetings folks. It’s been a while. Life, as usual takes over for a while. I have been slowly, quietly editing Alice down to as few words as possible to make her the strongest work I can. Earlier this year, I made a round of submissions with the word counts attached and the general consensus was that the word count was too damn high. So, that’s been going on in the background.

In other news, today, I stepped back on the public stage and sang again for the first time in about five months or so. Last year I had been realizing that I was not happy singing in public. The summer and the year in general was wearing on my urge and desire to perform. In October, it was solidified by two horrendous weekends in a row. The first, I was heckled by drunken patrons for about three hours until I mouthed off and lost my shit on the dude. A week later, at a different location, I was pretty much at the end of some sexual harassment that I wasn’t enjoying or party to. In most eyes it would have been harmless fun. Two or three years ago, when I was drinking more, it would have been a blast. But, sober, and not looking for that sort of entertainment, it cut me harder than I expected it to. An older, not attractive woman decided that my bald head would be perfect as deodorant for her skanky boob sweat, and proceeded to drunkenly climb on the bar and yank my shirt until it tore as she lifted her shirt, trying to rub my head for luck? I’m not sure. She was drunk and her daughter, who was standing at the side of the room was horrified. Drunken gorillas like that have ridiculous brute strength.

I was not pleased. I was not happy. I decided that I don’t get paid enough for that shit. So, I took a break.

I am happy to say that six months later, I stepped out onto the stage again. I found a nice Sunday brunch to perform to and it was amazing to get back up there and work out those kinks. My voice was on point. As if I had never stopped. My guitar playing was pretty decent, although my lack of practice showed in my muscles and tendons. As of right now, I can barely type with my left hand, because my forearm aches so. But it was worth it. The venue was perfect. Right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The crowd was receptive and the management was very grateful. I had to play quieter than I am used to, but it was a good exercise and it was the perfect way to ease myself back into it all. I missed it.

Music is very therapeutic. Singing is some magical release of endorphins that makes the world right. The surprised and pleasant applause as ears hear your voice for the first time is just enough of an ego push to make it all better. It makes it all better. I’m glad I did it. It was a very good day.

Catching Up and the Query Letter

Yes, I have been quiet on here lately. It’s been a while. It’ not unusual for me to disappear during the holidays for family and work. Things have been slowing down. I did spend the greater part of the last two months fine tuning and editing Alice. I still probably need another good run through on it (word count is a little high), but she’s good enough and ready for the world at the moment. With that, I began the arduous task of submitting to literary agents. If you think editing is a chore, it has nothing on submitting to literary agents.

Every submission from one agent and agency to the next is extremely and abashedly NOT the same. While they all want query letters, after that it’s a huge split on who wants what. Some want only the query letter. Other agents want a synopsis… which is a chore in and of itself. Some want a query letter and the hook. Others want five pages (pasted in the body of the email), others want fifteen pages in an attached pdf, or fifty pages in a word doc.

While I believe every interaction with your prospective agent should be personal and “the right fit,” I believe there should be an industry standard. Is five pages really enough? Should the synopsis be enough? Sure, everyone has their differences and has different needs, but can’t we compromise as an industry? I don’t think there’s a writer out there that wants to do the business end. I know I would gladly get back to the keyboard and work on Rebel. Sure, it’s a short story, but she needs her dedication as well. In a perfect world… I would have an assistant to do this for me!

Just random thoughts. Back to the email and the search for the my perfect fit for Alice.