Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Letting Go & Moving On

Wow, had a lot of views of my last post. I think writing all of that out helped me immeasurably. Now maybe I can let go of what I can't change and start changing what I can!

I've decided to pick one project and concentrate on it until it's finished. I used to be a multi-tasker but now I have to focus all my efforts on one thing to see any results.

I still have a lot of potential, and plenty of dreams to keep me busy. And I will never give up as long as I'm breathing!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Losing The Writer In Me

Well, after my big script discussion I thought I might be able to start writing scripts again, or at least spruce up the old ones to post on ISA so I could link to them here. And I was planning on reviving some fantasy stories that are hiding away in old notebooks and self-publish them.

But I seem to be stuck indefinitely in a vortex of doubt, sorrow and anger. I can't get over these feelings of betrayal and heartache.

I was hit by a blow to the gut that lasted over a year and a half. My son and the rest of us were denied access to his child by the baby's other grandmother, a person with a disturbing criminal past. The baby's mama apparently approved of what was going on since she made no move to stop it, though now she blames everybody else involved for what happened.

We suffered through horrendous circumstances - false abuse reports, restraining orders, court hearings - for no real reasons other than selfishness and cruelty. And then, once we had the upper hand in court, and the instigators of all our suffering were about to finally be punished for their deeds, my son drops the whole thing and walks straight back into the maelstrom with his eyes wide open. I've forgiven him, what else can I do? And I suppose I'll have to forgive his baby's mama since he has; I'm sure it makes no difference to them whether I do or not, which is fine. Hey, it's their life, as long as the child is with his father, that's acceptable. But I am crushed, mentally, physically, emotionally. Exhaustion has set in, and refuses to leave.

Not only did these circumstances nearly physically destroy me - I lost over 40 pounds - but they seemed to have drowned my creativity. I cannot think up stories anymore. It's frightening, because this is ME. It's always been who I am. From the moment I could stand I began acting out stories with my dolls. I re-purposed the large window in my childhood bedroom as a time machine where Barbie, Francie, GI Joe and Captain Action had wild adventures.

When I was 13 I found a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Stories & Poems and it inspired me to write down all my imaginings. In my late teens I received a cute little blue typewriter and learned to use it.

Life interrupted my progress. I got married, started having kids. But once I bought an electronic typewriter I began again in earnest to improve my writing. And I did the submitting to publishers thing. Got a couple of compliments about my writing style but no sales.

In the early 90s I fell in love with script formatting and bumped up my productivity. And I queried producers by mail, fax and then email. And I received compliments again, almost sold a couple of scripts.

Life interfered a second time. I had a nervous breakdown because of some unresolved issues with my parents. I could barely function but I had to force myself to cope. I had three kids to raise, and a husband with issues of his own.

When things settled down I discovered self-publishing and dove in head first. I didn't plan things very well but I think I was on the way to becoming a fairly good cozy mystery writer until the custody battle from Hell ensued.

Now I am so frozen it's painful. I'm losing who I am. The one thing that defined me and inspired me has faded. I feel like a ghost of my former self.

I make plans to redo covers or republish older stories or re-format a script or two then I get in front of my computer and my mind becomes blank. I wind up staring at pictures all day on Pinterest or reading all the tweets about classic movies on Twitter.

This blog has become my only salvation. At least I can write out my feelings and frustrations here. And it helps me realize that I can still put a few words together and make some sense. Or can I?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scripts For Sale

Okay, I’m not a fresh-faced white male with a film school degree or a young female hottie with a talent for vulgar wit -

But I do write scripts. And it’s been my dream for the longest time to see at least one of my scripts produced as a good film before I die. I’m 58 now, in bad health, and sick of trying. Still, the dream won’t die. It has survived illness, exhaustion, mental and emotional starvation and utter neglect.

I write stories that have hope in them. And fun, and meaning and promise. And action – lots of action. These are fantasies, noir, mysteries, science fiction, westerns and romances. The kinds of stories I watch and enjoy. They aren’t Shakespeare; I’ve never pretended they were. Maybe they’re too simple for today’s audiences but I don’t think so.

I have a special place for kids in my heart and I’d love to see more films made for them so I write quite a few scripts with children in the lead roles.

I’ve written novels and yes, they are self-published – several have nice reviews and I do sell some now and again. But the ebook business is as shifting as the desert sands and as dense and crowded as the ocean floor – and I do not love books the way I love movies.

I think the form of a script, the angles, the spaces, the sparing use of words, is like poetry. I strive to create a script that speaks to the soul of a person, but I also think it’s cool just to make people laugh and forget their troubles.

I'm not interested in feature work, or awards, or festivals or contests. I'd prefer my scripts be produced for cable, 2D animation or straight to DVD. 

My dream must become a reality ASAP. We find ourselves in a circumstance that would make a compelling movie in itself, but when you are living in such a nightmare it doesn’t seem quite as entertaining.

I will list my scripts here now and again with their plot descriptions. If they peak your interest please spread the word. You could help make a dream come true!

Flawless Films

There are a few films I consider flawless, meaning I can't find one thing wrong with them. The Maltese Falcon is such a film. The directing, casting, acting, dialogue, action, set design, even the atmosphere couldn't be better. Sunset Blvd is the same. And High Noon. And The Defiant Ones.

Lots of films come close to flawless but one or two things make them miss the mark. The Day The Earth Stood Still could've been perfect but they completely left out the kid through the last third of the story. He'd been such an important element then boom he disappeared. I know it was late at night but geesh I would let my kid stay up past bedtime to see a spaceman off on his return trip!

Several Hitchcock films are flawless. Notorious, certainly, and Shadow of A Doubt. I do have a problem with the ending of Spellbound, it seems rushed, and that fake hand with the gun - well, I guess a gimmick now and again can be forgiven. Rebecca is wonderful but also has a rushed ending.

Ben Hur is magnificent. I know some people cringe at the leper scenes, knowing the disease isn't quite as devastating as the characters make out, but in old times it was quite frightening. And Gone with The Wind could be flawless, though, looking at it from a modern perspective a person gets annoyed with the racism of its lead characters. But that is how a lot of Southerners behaved back then - and sadly still do.

I don't really watch very many new films. And the ones from say 1970 on are rarely flawless - in my opinion, anyway. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe it's the actors' lack of charisma or the different way films are shot or just the bland color or dull dialogue. But they don't hold much interest for me.

Sure, I'll watch silly modern monster movies or action films or whatever but none of them have that special combination of qualities that make them flawless. You may disagree. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Godzilla & The Giant Stink Bugs?

I love monster movies! They are my favorite kind of film. I grew up watching The War of the Worlds, The Thing from Another World, It Came from Outer Space, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the original Godzilla - they were like my comfort food, helping me cope with a rotten childhood. So I think I have the chops to comment on any new additions to the genre.

I finally saw the latest incarnation of Godzilla. I had high hopes for it based on the trailer. And it started off okay with some strong acting from three veteran performers (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, and Ken Watanabe). But then they (Spoiler alert!) killed off the first two characters and the third just looked sad through the rest of the film. Some other young people tried to act their way to the end, and failed.

I felt like I was watching the whole thing through a dirty windshield at a drive-in. I could barely see what was going on in the background with the monsters. The camera was too often focused on the characters reacting to the action - instead of showing US the action.

And when I did get to see the monsters it was so lame. The Godzilla wannabe was boring, loud, lifeless, even when he was blowing radioactive breath. And the "bad" monsters looked like stink bugs, nothing frightening there. Honestly, the old monsters that were guys in rubber suits had more personality.

I don't think I'll ever watch this version of Godzilla again. If I need a big monster movie fix I'll find the original version, or the Raymond Burr redo - heck, even Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster would be better than the 2014 atrocity.

Hollywood, please, from now on - keep your mitts off Japanese monster movies. And stay away from anime, too - I do not want to see a live action Ghost in the Shell - but that's a rant for another day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Trying to find inspiration around me and inside me to beat this paralyzing writer’s block!

My stories are a unique mix of the events of my childhood, my surroundings, my interests and my dreams. I grew up in the South, which has a rich and troubled history as I’m sure you know.

The South can be a mystical place at times. If you take a long drive through the country, you’ll see eerie woods where any number of strange creatures could live (and do, in my imaginative view of it.) Sometimes you’ll turn a sharp corner and almost run into an abandoned farmhouse perched on the edge of the road. I always wonder what tales those sad, lonely structures could tell; what secrets lay beyond their tattered shutters and water-worn porches.

Then there are the antebellum mansions; those grand old bastions of the past, unashamedly standing their ground while the world passes them by, like wood and plaster Miss Havishams. I lived in one such mansion for about five years – it had been converted into a nursing home. My parents ran the home; we had an apartment upstairs. Oh the ghosts that haunted that house! Not only its former inhabitants but the very real, very alive patients who existed merely because there was nothing else they could do. They struck indelible impressions on my heart and my memory. Several show up in my stories, under assumed names.

I love films, and find a wealth of inspiration in them, especially film noir and monster movies. I prefer black and white but a few of the Technicolor epics and musicals are among my favorites, too.

For twenty years or so I’ve been highly interested in Japanese animation, or anime. The stories in these films and series are so unusual, so unlike anything I’ve come across in America. I have a dream of seeing some of my projects animated someday. Since I’ve been a scriptwriter for a long time, I’d really love to get one of my scripts produced.

There – now what is hiding down deep in all this that can burst out in a new story?

I haven’t a clue – but maybe I will eventually – hope springs eternal and all that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writer's & Artist's Block

If something exhausts you just thinking about it then should you still try or give it up?

That's what I'm wrestling with today. I'd love to spruce up my books, give them all cute new covers, make them, you know - unique. And I used to draw fairly well but I can't bring myself to start.

I've been wanting to finish several fantasy stories but again - I can't force my brain to work on them.

It's frustrating, madding, really. And it doesn't help to know Hemingway suffered through this - I am no Hemingway. The rewards for him to write again were golden - for me it's merely another shot in the dark.

Maybe I should find the least creative work a person can do, something that uses less than 1% of their mind and do that. But I'm afraid my physical limitations rule out most jobs in that category.

I'm thinking of republishing all of my books even without new covers. Tired of looking at all the dead space on my Amazon Author Page. Well, if I focus on that task at least I'll be functioning somewhat, eh?