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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Writing Prod - Tough Luck

Tough Luck
            Another week and another prod. I hope all of you enjoy reading this part of my blog half as much as I enjoy writing them. Just to let all of you know, this is my favorite part of my writing week.
            This week I am presenting a prompt that I call . . . Tough Luck. For this writing prompt you will have to draw from your own life experiences. Take the most difficult decision you ever had to make and then write a fictional story based on that choice. Obviously, this lends itself primarily to serious pieces of fiction, but it could be turned into a comedy with a poignant message.
            Even though it would be more of a challenge to come up with an example that turned the serious event in my life into a comedy, I think I will stick with a serious story since those are personally harder for me to write.

            Here it is: 


            John and his son have been a team since the day that Johnny was born. Life blind-sides him when his ex-wife appears one day with a court order giving her temporary custody of Johnny. The one constant in John’s life has been his son’s love and without it he wonders how he can survive the daily grind. Knowing that if he creates a scene it will only cause more trouble for Johnny, he says goodbye. In the days to come he will not only have to find a way to return Johnny home, but also adapt to life without him.


Friday, August 24, 2012


Sorry for being MIA earlier this week. I have a couple of writing deadlines that are keeping me busy.  Today’s post will be rather short so that I can get right back to work on my writing.
September promises to be pretty exciting if you are an unpublished author. Deana Barnhart is hosting the GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) bloghop. Obviously, with a name like that the primary focus of the bloghop is connecting unpublished author’s with agents, or publishers.
You can see a schedule of the events on Deana’s blog, but they include:  

  • A meet and greet so that all the participants can get to know one another.
  • A BETA/Critique group connect for those who happen to be looking for a little help in getting their manuscript into shape.
  • A pitch polish event to help you get your pitches ready for the agents.
  • An agent pitch contest where the participants can have their query looked at by contest judges before going on to the final round.
  • Random prize giveaways.
  • The 50 top rated pitches will be placed on Deana’s blog for the agents to look at and make comments. If the agents are interested in any of the pitches they are free to request partial or full manuscripts from the author.
  • There will be 2 small press pitch contests and the top 25 pitches will have the chance for 7, that’s right 7, small presses to look them over and possibly request a manuscript.  

Like I said, if you are an unpublished author, this is an exciting event that you don’t want to miss. Head on over to Deana’s blog and check it out.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Writing Prod - Almost Perfect

            My brother told me last week that I should write a screen-play based on the writing prompt I did on Ball. Many of you have commented on how interesting the prompts have been. Now, I don’t mention any of this to toot my own horn, but I do want to take a moment to tell all of you how much it means to me to get input like this. It really gives me motivation to continue the writing process and work towards publication because there is hope.
            Thank you everyone.
            With that being said, does anyone else think that I should turn one of my prompts into a screenplay or novel? If so, please tell me which one.

             Since this week I’m working on a short story using this very theme I thought I would present the writing prod that I call . . . Almost Perfect. The idea behind it is that if you could design a perfect society what would it be like? Once you have that firmly in mind throw a monkey-wrench in the works. After all, if it’s too good to be true – there has to be a problem lurking in a dark corner.
            And here is my example:


            While everyone awaits the prophetic end of the world, Karen works on a miracle cure that will allow doctors to make repairs on a genetic level for any ailment from cancer to the common cold. She is mere days away from the breakthrough that will make this dream a reality when 12-12-12 hits.
            Surprise . . . the world is still here. But something has changed. The people have changed. A new era of peace and harmony begins and within a week nothing is the same. There is no crime. There is no greed. There is no avarice. Paradise has finally been achieved.
That’s when Karen notices a problem. Mankind has stop moving ahead. The drive to succeed and to learn from their mistakes has gone. She calculates that within a generation mankind and all that we have achieved will be lost. In order to prevent man’s extinction, she has to figure out why she hasn’t been affected. Then she has to decide if she has the right to once again release the serpent into Paradise.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man  $$$

136 Minutes
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dennis Leary, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, and Rhys Ifans.
Director: Marc Webb.

             Ah, here we have it, one of Hollywood’s newest fads; the Reboot. Personally, I’m not a fan of remaking a story ad nauseum. It’s bad enough that the Tinsel-Town movie factory has come to rely on sequels and old television shows for their box office offerings. I know a handful of writers that have plenty of screenplays that would be fresh and entertaining. Certainly there has to be plenty of innovative films waiting to be made from the hundreds of worthy scripts waiting to be picked up.
            That being said, I really enjoyed this movie. A review should be about the merits of the particular film being discussed, but sometimes you can’t get away from comparing the rebooted version against the original. In this case, and this is all I’m going to say about the comparison, the reboot wins.  

            The Amazing Spider-Man starts with a young Peter Parker (Max Charles) at home with his parents. When they find that the house has been broken into, they quickly pack and take Peter to stay with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). All of this is very mysterious and the only thing we know is that his father has been working on some secret science stuff.
            Jump forward about ten years and we find that Peter (Andrew Garfield) is still living with his aunt and uncle and wondering what happened to his parents. A portion of that answer surfaces when he finds his father’s old brief-case and a sheaf of papers carefully hidden in the lining. They discuss his father’s work and include a mathematical formula. He also finds out that his father worked with fellow scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).
            Hoping to find answers to what happened to his parents he visits Dr. Connors and discovers that he is working on a project that, if successful, will cure many of the world’s maladies and allow humans to regenerate lost body parts. All that is missing is the mathematical formula that Peter found in his father’s briefcase.  

            Spider-Man is a film that deserves to be seen on a big screen in order to get the most wow out of the battles between Spider-Man and The Lizard as well as the web-slinging scenes as he travels along the streets of New York. Or should that be above the streets? In either case they look fabulous on the big, bright screen.
            The acting is great. We have veteran actors Martin Sheen and Sally Field who handle their roles with subtle finesse. Andrew Garfield infuses his Peter Parker with emotion. I could really feel the character’s joy, pain, and confusion through Andrew’s performance. As good as Emma Stone was good as Gwen Stacy I think Dennis Leary, as police Captain Stacy, upstages her in the scenes the share. And the writing was good.
            My only problem with the film was the CGI sequences. The Lizard looked comical to me. His mouth, and perfect teeth, seemed horribly out of place on the face of a lizard man. And the fight scenes moved too quickly. It reminded me of the old black and white movies where they just speeded up the film when they wanted to show people going faster. It’s alright for the audience to owww and ahhh at the spectacular sights on the screen, but special affects fail when they bring attention to themselves for any other reason.
            This film earned a solid three movie bucks. See it at a discounted showing.

            Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Barely A Tale

This week is the Fairy Tale Madness blogfest. What a cool idea. All we need to do is come up with some twist to a fairy tale. Is that right up my alley, or what? Here is my entry for the Best Tragedy category. Hope you like it. Or maybe I better hope you don't. Tragedy has to be bad - doesn't it?


            “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed and she’s still there!” Junior shouted from his room.
            “Hold on, Son,” Papa Bear called out. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
            Papa raced through their home and caught a glimpse of a yellow streak as it headed down the stairs. When he arrived in Junior’s room the cub was crying. The room was a shambles. Worst of all, the wooden bear doll he had made for his son had been crushed. What sort of monster would invade a family’s home, eat their food, and destroy their treasures?
            “Are you hurt?”
            “No, Papa.” Junior’s lip trembled.
            “Stay here and protect your mother.” Papa Bear charged out of the house. On the road ahead, he could see the fleeing form of a human. He should’ve known. The humans were always forcing their way into places where they had no business being.
            The blonde cub had a lead, but that soon vanished. Within minutes, Papa Bear had closed the gap to a few yards. He planned to give the human cub a good scolding as soon as he caught her.
            A loud popping sound exploded from the woods. When he stopped to see what made the commotion he spotted a hunter cradling one a long-fang.
            Good! Let the humans handle the matter. Once Papa explained what the whelp had done he could return home and repair the damage.
            Papa stood up and held out his arms in the universal sign of peace.
            Papa felt something burn into his chest. He opened his mouth to tell the hunter what had happened. Surely, he would help.
            BANG! BANG!!
            The pain was unbearable. He tried to take a step towards home, but fell to the ground. His eyes closed and darkness took him.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Writing Prod - Sporting Chance

            The Olympics are over. I hope everyone enjoyed them as much as I did. Since it was so much fun to watch these finely honed physical machines demonstrate what the human body is capable of doing I have based my weekly writing prompt to excellence in sports.
            This actually led me to create a new prompt that I hadn’t considered before. I call it . . . Sporting Chance. The concept is to combine two sports to create a new one and use that as a centerpiece for your story. If you’re exceptionally creative, you can just dream up a whole new sport on your own (as they did in Blood of Heroes).
            Probably the thing to consider here is that a sports movie is more than just a movie about that particular sport. It is the setting for a story about the people involved with the sport, watching the sport, or sponsoring the sport. Rollerball uses its made-up sport to explore government controlling the masses and the savage nature of the fans.  So while you are busy slapping together a new favorite past time think of what it should represent.

            Here’s what I came up with:


            Touted as the ultimate team sport they just call it Ball. Some think of it as a mangled version of volleyball, soccer, and dodge ball. Allen just considers it awesome. He is on the fast track to becoming the first Ball player drafted out of high-school. The big teams are wooing him to sign when he is contacted by a government rep to play for the National team. But when he signs with the Nationals he finds out that it isn’t a game at all. The government is using the sport to influence the minds of the country’s citizens. Now Allen has to choose between playing along and becoming the greatest Ball player of all time or destroying the very game he loves.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Childhood Monster Bloghop

            Christine Rains is hosting the Childhood Monster bloghop. How cool is that? Well, hop on over to her blog and you’ll find out just how cool it is.

            This struck an interesting chord with me. Keep in mind that I was the geeky kid who stayed up until the wee hours of the morning so that I could watch the Friday night creature features. For probably as long as I’ve been able to control the television dial, I filled my entertainment hours with vampires, werewolves, giant dinosaurs, and anything else that creeped or crawled its way across the silver screen.
            Most of the time, this did nothing more than elicit wondrous exclamations of joy over the fangoric feast I beheld. I absolutely loved monsters and an over-saturation of them in my waking hours did not leave me shivering under the covers at night.
            Except for one! (Okay, really it was three, but two of them are nearly the same monster so it should only count as two and I’m only going to discuss one of them here.)  That was the 1958 classic: The Blob. Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut star opposite an ever-growing scoop of plum jam. Oddly enough, it even had a great theme song written by none other than Burt Bacharach and Mack David that became a nation-wide hit.
            The thing (no, not the original movie) is, that it took more than scary music and screaming women to frighten me. In my mind, I had it all worked out; most monsters had weaknesses that could be exploited and were rather easily stopped by a solid barrier, like a door, or a wall. While thunderous, city-eating lizards gave plenty of warning that they were approaching and you just had to hide until they walked past. I even had a safe location all picked out in case decided to level Phoenix.
            You could throw all of that out the window with the blob. It could ooze its way wherever it wanted to go. It could creep up the bedpost and slide right between the sheets with me and then I was a goner. Even if I did notice it time and threw my brother at it as a distraction what would I do next? I lived in a hot, hot desert. The only thing cold in our house was the freezer and I just didn’t think chunking ice cubes at a mobile, man-eating toast topping was going to save my bacon.
            That remained the scariest movie to me – until I got married and watched Play Misty For Me. That one still gives me the shivers.      

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bean Stalk

            I’m doing another fun writing prompt over at The World of My Imagination. It has to be under 500 words, use the picture below, and include the following words: Bet, Skyscraper, Reform, Balcony, and Surface.  Here’s mine.

BEAN STALK           

            “What the tarnation is it?” asked Jeb.  He gazed up at the large, yellow . . . thing.
            “It might be one of them U, F, Os,” said Hank. “Mebbe we should see if our livestock is alright. They could be experimenting on them.”
            Jeb sighed. “Don’t be ridiculous. That ain’t no flying saucer. It’s some sort of enormous plant.”
            Hank nudged his friend with an elbow and chuckled. “Good one. You expect me to believe that a tree grew that big over night?”
            Jeb shrugged. “That’s just the way in happened when old Jack planted them magic beans in his back yard. He grew a bean stalk bigger than the tallest skyscraper.”
            “You idjet. Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the phoney tales they teach the kids in school.”
            “I was in reform school six years and they never taught me no non-sense about giant bean stalks growing in your yard over night.”
            “Not reform school,” said Hank. “Regular school. You know, where they send you to read and write and do ciphers and all.”
            Jeb nodded as he pulled out a pipe and filled it with tobacco.    
            “I bet it’s a guverment experiment gone wild,” said Hank, with a gleam in his eyes. “Those federal boys are always poking their noses into things that aught not to be known. And this is what you get.”
            “What do you get?” asked Jeb. “A giant yellow feather duster?”
            Both men laughed.
            “I just don’t know,” said Jeb.
            “Mebbe we could find someone and ask.”
            “Like who?”
            “What about that funny looking fella what’s staying at the motel.”
            “The Professor?” Jeb asked. “Could be. He looks the type.”
             “Don’t he though. Him and his fancy talk about balcony seats at the opera and how he’s checking the surface temperature of the landscape to prove there’s some warm globs around here.”
            “He said, ‘global warming’ – not ‘warm globs’ you redneck.”
            “Oh,” said Jeb. “I suppose that makes a difference. Still. What in the tarnation is that thing?”

Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing Prod - Product Placement

            Another week is under way. I can hardly believe that my children are headed back to school this week. Where does the time go?
            While the back to school shopping is fresh on my mind I decided to pick from the handful of prompts that have not already been discussed that best related to this process. What I decided on was an interesting prod that I call . . .Product Placement. 
            A warning is probably in order. I expect this to be a difficult prompt. However, it does incorporate a writing concept that I have successfully used in a couple of my stories and one that my good friend, Paul Brown, uses in all of his screenplays.
            For the prompt, pick a product you can buy in a store, or online, and then turn it into an object that symbolizes an important theme/message. Make it the centerpiece of your story. I don’t necessarily mean that you should have a story where the people are questing for a magic amulet. Take a close look at Lord of the Flies. The conch shell that Ralph finds at the beginning of the story holds metaphorical significance. It represents the society the boys create on the island where they have crashed. I believe that Piggy’s glasses are an object of importance to the story. Think about what they represent and what it means when the savage boys take the glasses from Piggy.
            I find that I am able to add an extra layer of depth to my stories when I choose to include objects that have a metaphorical significance. Even if the readers don’t catch on to exactly what they represent my writing has been improved because I have spent more time pondering the themes associated with it. Often times, this process allows me to think of plot twists, scenes, and character traits that I wouldn’t have if I had chosen not to use this method as part of my writing toolbox.
            Here is my example for today:

            World A-Whirl

            When Jack’s parents start fighting over what to do with him, he decides it’s time to take off and see the world. He fills his trusty back-pack, convinces a friend of a friend to forge a fake ID for him, and then hops on a passenger ship for points unknown.
            The unfettered life agrees with Jack’s disposition – until he finds that a strange laptop has been stashed in his pack. Before he can boot it up and find out who it belongs to a trio of gun-wielding, sunglass wearing goons come after him. And just getting the laptop isn’t enough, they want him dead.
            Jack jumps ship when it docks in South America and heads for the American Embassy there, but is intercepted by hot looking chick that invites him to have a drink with her. After a flirtatious good-bye, Jack discovers that his backpack is gone, along with his fake ID. If he wants to get back home alive, he’ll have to get both of them back and deliver the computer to someone who can get him out of this jam.

(Just as a note: my initial concept was to use the backpack as the centerpiece for the story. Once I decide what it represents, I can develop several scenes around that theme. However, the fake ID and the laptop also can be used to enrich the depth of the story.)


Friday, August 3, 2012

Tracks of Love

            In case I haven’t mentioned it enough times already, I am participating in a weekly writing prompt over at The World of My Imagination. It has been hugely fun for me to come up with a piece of micro-fiction each week and good practice as well. Normally, my writing is rather long-winded and this gives me a chance to tighten it up.
            The story needs to include the following five words: Wallet, Circus, Kid, Cruise Ship, and Slide. (Isn’t that really six words?)

Tracks of Love 

            These two parallel rails of iron are the only link I have to my love. Each day I rise with the sun and follow them, hoping that she will be waiting for me at the next station. My steps are lightened with the memory of how we met at the circus. Hour upon hour of treading along the rails is quickened with day-dreams of our union.
            Up ahead, the morning light breaks through the trees and reminds me that I haven’t eaten in days. Pulling out my wallet, I check my available funds and find that I have none. The last of them must have gone to buy that sandwich in Galveston.
            That’s alright. My heart tells me that today will be the lucky day when my journey ends and a life of marital bliss begins. Just thinking about it sends me into a panic as I quickly check my pockets for everything I’ll need when we meet again.
            Breath mints? Check!
            Engagement ring? Check!
            Tickets for the cruise ship that will whisk us away on romantic waters? Check!  
            As I clear the grove of trees that cluster around the track I see the train station up ahead. My legs urge me to run, but the station is still miles away. Eventually, I give in to their incessant stomps and burst into a sprint.
            The power of love is so strong that I run without stop all the way to the station. I leap up on the platform and slide to a stop in front of a man reading a news-paper. He lowers the paper and looks at me. “What’s the hurry, kid?”
            The . . . circus.” My words are forced out between breaths. “Is it here?”
             His words go unheeded. On the wall behind him is a poster. Not only is the circus in town, but my love is displayed prominently on the advertisement. For several minutes I drink in her beauty.
            When at last I return to my senses the man with the paper is gone. Not that it matters; I’ve found what I came here for. I have found the Bearded Lady.


      There you have it. This is what happens when I write a love story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Sometimes the unexpected walks up and slaps you in the face – and you like it.


            When I got up this morning I had two ideas in my head for what I would blog about today. However, after a quick tour through the blogs I normally follow I found something that knocked both of those right out of the ring.
            WRiTE CLUB caught my immediate attention and I knew I had to participate. Simply put, this is a blog event that pits the micro-fiction of the contestants in competition with one another. Two stories go into the writing arena and only one emerges alive. Okay, not really. No stories will be hurt in the process, I just made that up.
            They have already posted the first write-fight and if you sign up you can vote on which one you like the best. Hopefully, I’m not too late with my submission and they will let me take a couple of swings at another author. You know, figurative swings.
            So pop on over and check out sporting event of the year for up and coming authors. It is sooooooo cool.