Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2021

Funny doesn't hurt

Some of the greatest comedies involve horrific violence in cartoon form where the coyote is completely smashed two bits and then bounces back and begins his next routine. That's comedy. The new mcgruber series on peacock breaks that particular notion into a million pieces. Profane and also very gory. Is it still a comedy? I laughed. But I'm curious as to whether anyone else finds it funny.


A new movie by the great director Joe carnahan is always a reason to celebrate. Great leads and also a terrific script in this very limited location movie. Check it out even though it's rather gory and also lots of profanity. And it's funny.

A New Year

Given the way last year went maybe we should cross our fingers and hope for the best this next year. With vaccines and a booming economy there's a good chance that 2022 will do really well for us.

The Card Counter

I get it. Schrader writes men pushed to the outside and who are willing to do what is necessary.  I wish this one would have been structured differently. Good but not great. First Reformed , better.


This biopic of Aretha Franklin is wonderful in exposing the creative process of making music and records. And a heartfelt story of struggle and the ability of people to overcome their demons.

Gettysburg by Morning

Gettysburg by Morning

 Going to the printers this week. Author copies likely sometime this week. It's been a dream come true for a retired radio journalist  and wannabe novelist. I know some will like it and others won't. I'm okay with that. It pleased me first and I think most artists will tell you that's the most important thing.

Help for Dialogue

 I happened upon this communications professor and I believe he could be helpful for fiction writers. He identifies traits that a reader will pick up on a subconscious level. Check him out. Communication Coach Alex Lyon Communication Coach Alex Lyon

Catching up

 It's been a while since my last post. Working on the final draft of the novel and feel pretty good about the version now in the pipeline. The good news is Addison and Highsmith accepted a second literary-historical with plans for publication in 2023.

Spec Scripts

A good article on writing a spec script. I would add read scripts and don't stop after your first one. A professional needs to prove they can catch⚡ in a bottle more than once.

Airport Life

I'm always glad when we make a trip to the airport. Such a rich atmosphere for people watching. Yes, I eavesdrop and push myself to be more outgoing. So much material for future projects.


I like the idea of sometimes starting on page one with just an idea or a character, but these  questions might help with the  rewrite.  Who is it about? Is there a visual metaphor for a philosophical question to begin the story?  What do they want? Why can't they get it? What do they do about that? Why doesn't that work? How does it end?


A great series based on Michael Connely's novels. I just read where another series based on Bosch after serving in the LAPD is coming to IMDB tv soon. Good for them...and fans.

Screenplay Software A great article on FD vs Celtx...and I agree. If you're serious about screenwriting, FD is the way to go. If you're a beginner, or broke, or just curious, Celtx. If you progress in screenwriting, upgrade to FD.

If You Have a Book

I always felt comfortable in a library or a bookstore. I was the kid that always checked out the maximum number of books at every visit. I was the one who read Moby Dick in sixth grade, though I didn't understand it until much later. I've always been a reader and love writing...when I'm finished. 


Trigeminal neuralgia...I'm  not a complainer, but there are times when have a flare-up  that it's hard not to feel sorry for myself.


We watched Land last night starring Robin Wright directed by Robin Wright and it was terrific. A great rumination on denial of loss and also guilt. Highly recommend.

80 who speak for the 20

I was rewatching one of the episodes one of my favorite TV shows the West Wing recently. This was about the re-election campaign of President Bartlett. A senator who was thinking of running as a third party candidate reminded the president how important it is for the 80 of the population's need to speak for the 20 percent who are not being heard.  A great demographic shift is coming  to this country in 2040 and the fear of that reality is driving a major party to the right-wing fringes of the political spectrum.  This happened in California  and the Republican party is now an ineffective fringe influencer but has little power. The recent petition recall of Newsom is one of the ways the Republicans  are trying to continue to be relevant without representing the majority of the voters.. Nationwide,  a similar trend is playing out.  The 20 percent must be heard, but should not overturn the will of the majority. 

Pet Peeve Part Deux

 Maybe it's just me, but what is the goal of pharmaceutical companies advertising prescription-only drugs? If you can't buy Lazipro (a made-up drug) without a prescription, why tell consumers about it. To me, the assumption is that your doctor is such an idiot that if you don't mention Lazipro as a solution to your malady, they would never think of it. Imagine this..."Doctor, it hurts when I do this," as I lift my arm. "I think I need Lazipro." "My goodness, Dr. Feelgood says, I would never have thought of that on my own. Yes, Lazipro for you," they say, grabbing their prescription pad. How many millions of dollars are wasted or could be used to lower the cost of insulin if only the hundreds of commercials for prescription-only drugs stopped?


Five months to go

Mare of Easttown

Personal and family connections complicate enforcement for small-town law officers, epitomized by lone Easttown detective Mare Sheehan. The murder mystery is secondary to the "sub-plots" involving Mare's winning shot in a basketball tournament and family conflicts. She's called Lady Hawk by the locals, harking back to her history and fame. She begrudgingly answers to the name, but soldiers on, hoping to make Easttown, the place she loves, a better place.  Mare's star is falling as the failing search for two missing girls dogs her. She feels every slight of her abilities but trods on, day-by-day, in hopes of finding the girls. And then, another young girl is found dead. No spoilers from me, but IMO, the murder is more an excuse and less an actual mystery to be solved so that Mare might find solace for the sad and horrible events of her life. The great thing about a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. The horrible thing about a small town is that

The Kominsky Method

The third and final season of this show has an earned happy ending. Sandy achieves his goal of starring in a major motion picture in his 75th year. His best friend and comic genius Alan Atkin got most of the laughs in the first two years and is missed in the final episodes. As a senior who seems to be achieving a life goal, I relate to these characters and highly recommend this show to old and young alike. 


What goes around comes around, a saying epitomized by cycles in fashion. Expect to see bell bottom, low rise jeans this summer as kids discover clothes their parents and grandparents wore. I'd pull stuff from my closet from that era if they still fit.

Writing for Free

 Before I was a radio news journalist, I was a DJ. In the 1970s, that's what people were called when they spun records, vinyl and talked live on the radio. I was pretty good and almost made a living at it, but every time the new rating book came out, there was always talk and sometimes action involving the DJs. Moved, fired, demoted; your position was dependent upon the number of people who were listening. I noticed this never happened with the news people. Their jobs weren't dependent on the ratings. The FCC also required local news on the radio, and that meant if you were good, you could make a living doing the news. I had an English degree and an attitude and was lucky to meet the right people. I did the news on various stations, mostly WMOT-FM, for almost 40 years. I was paid to write and deliver the news. Now, I'm writing for free with the hope that someday in the future, I might be paid for something I wrote a couple of years ago. An observation, not a complaint, but


When a customer walks into a hardware store they're expecting to see pipes, lumber, tools and paint. When someone buys a book or turns on a television show or turns on a movie they have expectations there also. But what are those expectation? There are two forms of entertainment comedy or drama. There are mixtures of those two but the basic elements of those two particular genres are what makes up storytelling. If you write a joke the expectation is that someone in the audience might find it funny and that they will laugh. If someone turns on a horror movie their expectations are that there is something in the story that will scare them and they will react with fright. Both are emotional responses.  If you fail as a storyteller to meet those expectations the effort is deemed a failure.  Today's audiences expectations are that the story they have turned on will meet the expectations that has been promised to them.  Future posts will explore how best, IMO, to met the customer'

Authors Wanted

 You don't see this very often unless you're on a vanity press email list, so take note if you're still looking for a publisher and don't have an agent. I found my publisher through them and maybe you will, too.


It's happened for me a number of times in the past. I've sat with students and encouraged them to pursue a particular line of interest involving their talents. It doesn't cost anything and it can make a big difference especially in a young person's life when they realize that someone else sees in them something that's maybe worth pursuing in the future. And a smile is good too.


The new CBS drama based on the aftermath of the Silence of the Lambs works. Mysterious, gory...though nowhere near NBC's Hannibal...and an interesting take on familiar characters. Fans of the books should check it out.

Six months to go

The journey is long, but I can see the payoff in the distance.   


When I was teaching creative writing I would give the students a process that could help them begin and shape their stories. It's just one way and it's not the only way, but it can help with writing and more importantly, rewriting.  IMO, all stories are about revealing identity. That end goal can be most successfully reached by characters who are diametrically opposed when exploring a philosophical question that had no settled answer. For example, Star Wars. For me, the question of SW is, Is good stronger than evil? The main character is Luke and his nemesis is Darth Vader. Luke doesn't know his true identity at the beginning of the story and by the end a farm boy becomes a war hero. That's his new identity. Darth is the biggest obstacle to him becoming the celebrated pilot who destroyed the Death Star. Along the character's journey he meets others who are allies, Han and Liela, and minor enemies. All of these characters work with or against Luke as he takes on his

Oscars 2021

A weird awards show for a weird year. So glad Jon Batiste just won for Soul. So far, the only surprise for me was Minari for supporting actress. I guess I'll need to see this ASAP.  Best original screenplay... Promising Young deserving. No surprise for Frances, but disappointed that Chadwick didn't win.  Next year will be different and so will the business. 

Pet Peeve

 So tired of movies/tv shows introducing characters waking up. It's lazy and doesn't say anything about the character that makes them different from any other character. I liked the first episode of the new HBO series with Kate Winslet, but the open is terrible. Luckily, the episode got better and will likely be great.

Know the Ending

 It's not imperative that you know the ending of the story before you begin, but I've found that when I start I need to see at least the shadow of the end. I had a chance to interview one of my idols a long time ago over the telephone and John Irving said that he has to know the last line of a novel before he begins. That doesn't mean that he knows how the novel is going to get to that last line but he has to have some sort of a lighthouse at the end of the story where he can point his narrative to and make sure that the effective ending that he's hoping for can be obtained. I like to review the endings of novels and movies because I try to understand the question that is answered by that ending that is ask at the beginning of the story and also the emotional effect it has on me after I watch it multiple times. I watched the end of The dark Knight because it is an interesting story that asked the question involving a person's identity. I watched the ending of gravit

Write something someone wants to read

 I believe that you're most likely to be successful and selling a book if you focus on a particular kind of story that you are familiar with. That means studying the genre that you most enjoy following. Let's say that you like reading James Patterson's thrillers. Well you don't have to write the next James Patterson novel, it's probably an area that you already are interested in and that you can possibly find a story in your own voice that would serve the reader that is used to picking up a copy of the James Patterson novel at the airport. The same goes for anybody who is a fan of John Grisham or Stephen King. These are well known genre writers who have immense audiences and if you're a fan of one of these writers then finding your voice in those genres will help you find a story that readers will want to read.


 This horror/comedy/body sway movie gives Vince Vaughn his best role in years. If you can stand the serious gore... serious...then check it out. 

A Brief Visit

 I've had a glancing blow by the American Healthcare system after a funny feeling in my left arm. No heart attack or stroke but like a TIA. Feeling ok but will wear a monitor for a couple of weeks. Everyone at the hospital were great and caring. Now, if we could make it affordable for everyone.

Adaptation Part Deux

 Nearing the end of the first episode and following the book pretty closely. I haven't read the novel since I signed with my publisher last year and am surprised at how good it is. Maybe this is the one.

Keeper of the Flame

 1942...starting Spenser Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. A former war hero dies in an auto accident before he can begin a Fascist regime in America. Sound familiar? Only difference is ours was a game show host.

Accessing Flow

There was a time that I had to play loud music when I wrote but now accessing the trance-like state is easier. I don't need the music now and instead like my writing room to be quiet.  A favorite book on the subject is  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi . This study explains how artists find a way to inhabit their work, allowing the most effective and affecting art they can produce. 

Bad Things Happen to Good People

 The recent floods in Nashville make me wonder about why bad things happen to good people. A friend I used to work with almost lost his wife, his cats and his life because of the recent floods. I'd like to think that there is some logic to things happening like this but I don't think that is the case. There are times though that it makes me think that maybe disaster happens so that the people that feel like they would like to make a difference can.

Flooding 2021

 It's hard not to remember the floods of 2010 when we have as much rain as we had this past weekend. The destruction of the uprooting of people's lives is just heartbreaking and is so hard for us to accept. Nashville has been through a lot in the last year especially and I know that we will make it through. It's hard though.

Two shots no prob so far



 Thunderstorms moving through the Mid-State tonight. Could be the possibility of some tornadic activity which means we have to be on the lookout and prepare to hide in the downstairs bathroom.

Elmer Gantry

An Oscar winning role for Burt Lancaster in this 1960 film. I was told that my new script had some elements of this particular movie and common and I decided that I would review it since it had been several years since the last time I saw it. Still holds up still compelling still great twist and turns and a great emotional ending.

Stormy Day

Stormy Day in Music City The potential for hazardous weather hangs over the mid-state like a thick, gray, fog. In the past, days like these have produced high winds, flooding, and even tornadoes. There's a family story about one such twister that killed everyone in my grandmother's family, except her, surviving as a toddler. The large family was found by authorities tied to the supporting pole and stove in the center of the small, one-room shack. My grandmother was discovered wandering and in shock near the site of the tragedy.  That story, and other family lore, inspired me to take up pen and paper at a very young age in hopes of helping me understand the vicissitudes of life and on a deeper level, myself. I think most artists take up this quest in hopes that someday, somehow, events of tragedy and sorrow will make sense.

Writing Advice

Writing Advice There are great books of writing advice on the market. Stephen King's comes to mind for overall helpfulness. Congrats Steve. Lajos Egre and his The Art of Dramatic Writing is great. As is Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. But for me, the best is still Aristotle&#


Loglines Gettysburg by Morning (Novel) A patriotic young woman delivers a stirring speech after the attack on Fort Sumter, inspiring her brother to enlist in the Union army but, when he decides not to fight, she takes on his identity and serves on the front line. Accepted for publication by Addison and Highsmith in the Fall of 2021.  A Shadowland Investigation (Novel and Screenplay versions) A Nashville homicide detective solves a double murder with help from the ghost of the daughter he didn’t know he’d fathered.  Creation's Fire (Novel and Screenplay versions) Finalist in the SFK Novel writing contest 2016. Finalist Peter Taylor Novel writing award 2001, semi-finalist 2003. Was accepted for publication with Online Originals of London 2000. (Contract negotiations failed). Clay Sloan begins a spiritual journey by climbing a tree to see “what it’s like to be God” his story ends as a defrocked minister finally making peace with his gay, former action-star dying father.   Judge Fogg

Pub Date

I finally have a pub date for my new literary-historical novel. Gettysburg by Morning will officially be released by Addison and Highsmith on November 2, 2021. Pre-sales available on the usual platforms. Here's the pitch... There are over two hundred documented cases of women dressing as men to fight in the Civil War. Gettysburg by Morning places you on the battlefield and behind the scenes with George Custer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Abraham Lincoln, as a patriotic young woman fights arm-in-arm with her fellow soldiers.