the weight of the impossible

A bit of a personal post today. A chance to vent, perhaps. Or just a chance to clarify what I’m feeling right now. And what is that?

The weight of the impossible.

Yeah. Sounds big, doesn’t it? The weight of the impossible? But that’s what it is because, silly me, that’s what I feel driven to achieve.

My choice, my doing, no one to blame but me. I know how high and difficult the climb is and yet I choose to continue. Choose to sacrifice and struggle for the smallest of steps forward. And we’re talking painfully small steps here. Like, laughably small.

And, no, this isn’t one of those “woe is me”-type of deals. Not at all. It is, like I said, a chance to vent and/or clarify what’s making my mood so heavy these days.

The weight of the impossible. I like that phrase. I don’t like how that phrase feels as I live it, but I like the heft of it as I write it. The solidity of the sentence. The cadence and rhythm. It’s a memorable phrase that perfectly captures my present journey.

And, honestly, it’s not like I’m the first doing what I’m trying to do. Thank god! This road is teeming with those who’ve walked before me. Who’ve struggled, fought, failed, fallen, stood up and eventually succeeded. Everywhere I look I see shining examples of the impossible having been done.

Right now, though, I’m surrounded by silence with no clue as to whether or not my efforts are known or seen or appreciated. I think “Yes” but I don’t know. Obviously, and I’m calling a spade a spade here, today is one of those days where the candle flickers and the dark grows darker and the doubt grows deeper.

But I still march on. Like a man in a long tunnel surrounded by deepest, darkest black who keeps putting one foot in front of the other because he knows without a doubt, with a faith that goes beyond reason or present reality, that there is an end, a fantastic end, and if he keeps walking he’ll find it.

That’s me.

So I keep writing, breaking down my long-term goals into shorter term bite-size achievable chunks — I’m somewhat famous for my email bullet lists, by the way — and doing what I can to move forward. Or even just stay where I am because the worst is to slide back. And today, for whatever reason, feels like a day where I slid back. At least in my head.

So, I dig in my heels, narrow my focus and just keep going. Keep pushing. Even if the push is imperceptible and the reward is negligible. Even if what I do now won’t show a result weeks, months, even years down the road, if at all, I just do what I can from where I am. Because that’s all I can do.

But you know what would help?

A sign.

A Yes. An “I hear you.” Or “you’re on my radar.” A “I like your work.” A nod — not even an answer, but a simple nod — that lets me know I’m on the right path. That I’m moving in the right direction. An acknowledgement that would help me find the spark to click Send on yet another email or to dial the phone for yet another unanswered call or make another bullet point list that might never be seen or discussed.

That, any of those really, would be the light shining far, far at the end of the tunnel telling me to keep walking.

See, this, right here, this is what the weight of the impossible does. It tests your faith. Dips you low so you can climb back out. Strengthens your resolve. Allows you to flirt with the possibility of failure knowing that your desire for a different result is stronger. That, even unheard or unseen or unacknowledged, you will fight on, keep pressing, keep asking, introducing, discussing. You’ll keep making those lists and getting the words on the page and brainstorming ways to carve out a space to help make the impossible possible.

But here’s something else I’ve learned: we’re not designed to carry the weight of the impossible by ourselves. This burden is designed to be shared.

And, now that I think about it, that’s what I’m feeling. The need to share what I’m creating with others. Build my dreams with people. I feel like it’s time to stop traveling this road by myself. To stop walking this alone.

Yeah, now that I think about it, that’s exactly what I need.

See? Clarity. I knew there was a reason to write this post. 🙂

 

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First of Five

And so it begins.

In a rare confluence of events — think a massive meteor shower pummeling the earth while a rare comet circles the heavens around a total Solar Eclipse as we discover a Kardashian with actual talent — I’m going to have five book releases over the next three months.

I know, right?

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First up, Horror 201: The Silver Scream

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

Horror 201: The Silver Scream, the follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award nominated Horror 101: The Way Forward, delves into the minds of filmmakers to see what it takes to produce great horror films, from the writing and funding process, to directing, producing, and writing tie-ins.

It’s a tome of interviews and essays by some of our favorite artists.

That’s right, film legends and authors such as Wes Craven, George A. Romero, Ray Bradbury, Ed Naha, Patrick Lussier, Stephen Volk, Nancy Holder, Tom Holland, John Shirley, William Stout, and John Russo want to share their expertise with you through informative, practical, career-building advice.

These are the folks behind movies and novelizations such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Dark Shadows, Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Buffy, Resident Evil, The Stand, Sleepwalkers, Masters of Horror, The Fly, Critters, Tales from the Crypt, Child’s Play, Fright Night, Thinner, The Langoliers, Ted Bundy, Re-animator Unbound, Halloween, Apollo 18, The Eye, Night of the Living Dead, The Crow, The Mist, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Horror 201 also entertains. You’ll see a side of your favorite authors, producers, and directors never seen before – combining fun and entertainment with informative career-building advice.

Horror 201 is aimed at arming generations of authors, screenwriters, producers, directors, and anyone else interested in the film industry, from big budget movies to the independent film circuit, as well as the stage.

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

Whether you’re an accomplished author or screenwriter, writing as a hobby, or have dreams of writing screenplays or making movies, Horror 201 will take you on a behind the scenes tour of the Horror movie industry from Hollywood to the UK and Australia.

Horror 201 covers:

  • Horror as culture
  • Scare tactics
  • The evolution of the horror film
  • Viewer desensitization
  • Watching your story come to life
  • Screenwriting advice
  • Dissecting screenplays
  • A production company case study
  • Tricks of the trade
  • Writing tips
  • Advice on Producing
  • Advice on Directing
  • Information about funding and distributing a film
  • Entertaining tidbits and anecdotes

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But wait, there’s more!!!!!!!

Horror 201: The Silver Scream is perfect for people who:

  • are looking to delve into screenplay writing
  • want to write their first screenplay
  • are fans of the horror movie industry
  • like to follow the careers of their favorite directors
  • are planning on infiltrating a different field in horror writing
  • are looking to pay more bills with their art
  • are trying to establish a name brand
  • are looking to get published
  • are looking for motivation and/or inspiration
  • are seeking contacts in the film industry

Amazing, right?

How about a cover?

Horror 201

Honestly, I love how the red of the car echoes the red in the title and the red in that other car. And the silver of the screen? With the woman screaming? To me, it’s ever so slightly reminiscent of —

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So, one release down, four to go. And what are those other four books?

An essay in the second volume of Horror 201: The Silver Scream; Forever Dark, an award-winning short story in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2; an essay in Writers on Writing, Vol. 2; and Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast.

All between now and January.

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It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Okay, but, still, how cool is this!

Will update with links as the rest of these roll out.

 

“Shocking, bloodthirsty … remarkable”

Buried deep within the mountain of scripts, plays, books and sequels I’m writing — not to mention the film I have in development and the continuing adaptation of The Martuk Series into graphic novels –, I sometimes forget the work that’s come before.  The odds and ends and quiet flashes of creativity I’ve slammed out and self-published over the past year or so.

Like The Elder, the most recent in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy.

So I paid a little visit to The Elder over on Amazon, rediscovered and read with a small smile the two glowing reviews — that’s where the “shocking, bloodthirsty … remarkable” quote comes from –, and reminded myself of what I could do with two weeks, a constant supply of coffee, and an intriguing cast of characters trapped in a very strong story.

And the point of this Post?

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just a gentle reminder to schedule the writing of the third installment in the Series, Red and Gold, somewhere into my life.  A gentle reminder that sometimes my best work comes without torturous planning or a complicated re-orchestration of my schedule.  A gentle reminder, as well, that I love writing these prequels, if you will, to the monumental Martuk …, creating the lives of the Priests and the Wounded King and the Elder in the days before Martuk’s arrival.  Giving the reader a glimpse of what was going on around the titular character, events he was unaware of but, nonetheless, deeply impacted his life … and eventual immortality.

It’s also a reminder that new covers for The Wounded King — “a darkly disturbing character study of evil” says one review — and The Elder will be uploaded in the next couple of months.  Very exciting, that. 🙂

Okay, enough reminiscing.  Time to climb back into the mountain and get to work.

How about now?

One thing I’m learning is that the world moves a bit slower than I do.

Let me explain.

I write quickly, the words tumbling onto the page with the patience of a sledge hammer.  Almost as if I, too, am eager to see what happens next.  

And I decide quickly.  I do my due diligence, of course.  Ask pertinent questions, judge the answers via my BS detector, weigh it in relation to my current and longtime goals, and then say Yes or No.  I don’t take weeks and weeks to get there.  I do it in a matter of minutes if not seconds.  My brain just works quick, you know?  

In short, those pieces of my life that I have some modicum of control over move quickly.  And if something I write or say or decide turns out to be too many kinds of wrong to count, I quickly admit the mistake and move to fix it any way I can.

When it comes to those pieces of life that I don’t control — that part of my own personal pie graph taking up more and more slices by the day –, well, things … move … very … very … slow.

Those I work with — or hope to work with — have other scripts to read, other decisions to make, complicated schedules to coordinate.  Family, friends, associates, colleagues all wanting their time and attention.  Big decisions about big projects, you know?  My wants and “needs” taking a necessary back seat to their lives and (true) needs.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I get it.  I do.  And when I need to be patient, working with a long-term goal in mind, I’m as tenacious as they come, my efforts in some cases stretching over years.  

But, OMG, when it comes to the projects I’m working on now, the waiting that goes into the smallest, tiniest step forward is torture.

And this is good for me.

You see, in the past I would have worried, pacing endlessly, checking to make sure my phone had a dial tone or that the internet was working, certain THAT was why I hadn’t heard anything.  Now, I put the headphones on and get back to work, well aware that the necessary pieces are in place and moving and I have no control over how quickly they move.  I’ve learned that, in cases like this, patience is a virtue.  Honestly.

Besides, when one thing hits — and it inevitably will –, everyone will be curious about the next thing.  And it’s best to have that next thing ready and waiting instead of saying “well, I’ve got a great idea about … “

No one wants the idea.  Well, they do because ideas are the lifeblood of what we do.  But they prefer the script.  Or book.  Or play.  Or Pilot.  And, from a legal standpoint, as a writer, it’s best to have the idea executed in order to protect it, i.e., ideas aren’t copyrightable;  the execution of those ideas are.  

So the point of this Post?  

Heck if I know.  

Maybe I just wanted to publicly pat myself on the back for feeling like such a clever boy.  Probably.  And, let’s face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a pat on the back.

So, how about now?

 

Cirque de No Way

Balance.  It’s really all about balance, isn’t it?

Although the focus of this blog is obviously my work as an author, a fiction writer, the majority of my life these days has been, by necessity, devoted to screenwriting.  They whys of that I can’t explain right now — firm believer in jinxing potentially good news by premature blabbing, so I’m keeping my trap shut –, but suffice it to say there are people whose work depends on my getting them rewrites, supplemental material (log lines, tag lines, synopsis, etc), and all the other rigamarole that comes with it.

But in there is the work that needs to be done on Proseuche.  

And Red and Gold, the third installment of The Martuk Series which, coincidentally, is now being adapted into graphic novels.

In there is a TV pilot (finished) in need of an episode-by-episode Season Map.  

And in all of that, too, are at least three more scripts with strong titles I’ve scene mapped (I guess those are called Treatments, right?) and just need to sit down and write.  

And have I mentioned the plays?

You see, there’s a lot to do. 

But what I’m learning is there are some plates worth spinning and some I should just let fall.  I’m one person and spending eight, nine, ten hours a day writing may not be the best thing.  Yes, it gets work done, but is it REALLY necessary to get EVERYTHING done all at the same TIME?

No, it’s not, I’ve decided.  It just isn’t.

So I’m learning to prioritize.  Deciding what can wait and what absolutely is worthy of my considerable focus right now this minute.

And it’s a smart thing to do … I think.

So, to strangle an already battered and bloodied metaphor (via my headline for this post), I’m peeling off my tights, giving ’em a quick wash, and hanging ’em out to dry, momentarily happy to let the plates fall and join the ranks of those in the less popular — though certainly more crowded — circus known as Cirque de No Way.

(yeah, it probably sounded better in my head … Apologies)  🙂 

Welcome to Suckyville, population You

If you’re familiar with this blog, you already know my thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

If you’re not, it’s boils down to my suspicion that for most writers walking the self-pub route hooking up with a traditional publisher doesn’t really make sense.

But what if I’m wrong?

I’m gonna do the Devil’s Advocate thing here and try to figure out why oh why I, a writer who still does a happy dance when he sells a book, would want to cuddle up NOW on that Publishing love seat with a Major. By the way, notice the singular “a” and the lack of an “s” on “book”? Yeah, Majors are knocking down my door, I tell ya.

Any-hoo, there are several reasons to consider a Major, some of which I might cover in future Posts.

The selling of film rights is my focus today.

I’m a screenwriter. I’m also lucky enough to have longtime friends who are neck deep in that world, be they actors, producers, directors, etc. I know the desperation Hollywood has for new source material and the lengths they’ll go to find it. And I also know what it’s like for writers who find their books being optioned into films.

In most cases, it really sucks.

Yeah. It sucks.

Once you’re past the initial excitement of a movie producer actually LOVING your work and being wined and dined by Big Names in LA and then signing a contract (!!!!!!!!) with Celebrity Superstars (OMG!) being bandied about as possible Leads and, of course, having to seriously consider those Oscar nods coming everyone’s way (deep breath), the process kinda goes downhill.

What?

Yep. Immediate hard left into Suckyville, population You.

Because the reality is it takes a … long … time … to … get … anything … done … in … Holly … wood.

Years.

Anne Rice’s book “Interview with a Vampire” was optioned by Paramount before it was published in 1976. They sat on it for ten years and did absolutely nothing. For ten years. Once the option expired, the Rights reverted back to her — smart move, Rice’s Attorney — and she took it to Lorimar Productions/Warner Bros. who scooped them up before flipping them to David Geffen a couple years later. Co-writing the script with the uncredited assistance of Neil Jordan, Rice finally got her film made in 1993/1994.

And it only took eighteen years. From the first selling of the Rights to Red Carpet Premiere, eighteen years.

You see? Forever.

But she’s a big fish. And, remember, she infamously had NO say on casting even if she is Anne f’ing Rice.

So, what’s it like for us?

Let me put it this way: make sure your contract gives you tickets to the Film Premiere.

Truth of the matter is, once you sign away the Rights, whoever’s brought in to adapt your work into a screenplay has license to change whatever they like at the Studio or Production Company’s behest. No longer OWNING the story or the characters as it pertains to the Film, all you, the Author, can do is sit back and watch. That’s if you’re lucky enough to be kept in the loop.

And it can get worse from there. I could write a thousand or more words about how Hollywood conveniently forgets you exist once you sign away your Rights with an excited flourish. Months and months going by without a word from anyone about anything as your new BFFs suddenly go all MIA.

Which brings me back to why oh why would we sign with a Major.

Their Legal Department could — COULD — walk you through this. Their lawyers might — MIGHT — have a good relationship with Studio A and perhaps you won’t get screwed too badly. And the Major has stood in this room a million times before (perhaps) whereas you, Newbie Author #54, are stuck doing the I-can’t-see-a-fucking-thing tango with a chair while searching for the light switch.

And let’s not forget the Major knows EVERYONE in Hollywood. You know where Julia Roberts lives, if this Map of Celebrity Homes is correct. (it’s not)

In other words, it’s still up to you to know what you can and can’t get and what you can and can’t ask for.

Reversion of Rights? Sole Separated Rights? Derivative Works and Passive Payments? How about Freezing your Reserve Rights? What Credit are you getting? Is there a Production Bonus? What’s the formula for Residuals? Will there be Box-Office Bonuses? Will you be attending screenings, festivals, premieres?

Granted, the above questions might be more from a screenwriter perspective. But that’s another question that should be on your mind: what access will you have to the screenwriting process? Will they even consider letting you anywhere near the script AT ALL to offer notes or thoughts or WTFs or you-gotta-be-kiddings?

You know, if you’re a screenwriter as well, try and negotiate the writing of a First Draft with two or three rewrites. I mean, hell, you’ll be one of many, many, many writers brought onboard to make this “perfect”, so you might as well stamp your stank on that puppy and hopefully line yourself up for a Written By credit.

Why the hell not?

What I’m trying to say is one of the pluses of signing with a Major is the hand-holding you might get should Hollywood come a’callin’.

But first you gotta write a book — preferably a series — Hollywood will want to buy and build a readership the Studios know without a doubt will put their butts in the seats in a movie theater.

And that’s a whole different kettle of fish.