Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years

2013. It actually feels strange writing that down. What is it about a brand spanking new year that's so, well, special? Do things generally change that much in the single second it takes for the world to leap from one calender to the next? Of course not. Why then, do we recognize January 1st as a kind of elevated day?

Because it pretty much is. 

Let's face it, when we look back on the years that have passed, each one has it's own unique flavor and feel. Countless individual events have turned these twelve month chunks of time into single units of memory and experience. While these events may not have been grouped organically into these units (the geniuses behind the modern calender, whoever they were, deserve credit for the ordering method) they nonetheless represent very real chapters of life.

January 1st, then, is the starting gun, the bell that begins another round in the Vegas boxing match of life. While the exact spot on the calender inhabited by the first day of the first month may be merely symbolic, it's important nonetheless. We abide by the calender, after all. It's a measurement tool of our society, just as surely as a yard stick is. 

In short, January 1st is indeed all it's cracked up to be. 

Which takes us to New Year's resolutions.

New Year's resolutions are not senseless. Why wouldn't we resolve to do something positive at the beginning of a new chapter in time? Start dates give order to the mind and January 1st is the universal start date on the calender. The ability to stick with our New Year's resolutions, however, is another matter entirely.

Do we ever really see them through to conclusion? I never have (I gave up nicotine on January 1st of 2002, but the date was inconsequential to me at the time). That doesn't mean no one has, though. Or that no one will. The key, I think, is to focus as much attention on our resolutions as we do on the new year. If we can maintain our passion, even while January 1st dissolves into memory, we stand that much more of a chance of seeing our goals through to completion.

Let's get to it. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Stuff

Here's my latest piece for the Patch. I really like this one because it uses classic American lit to filter the issues of today's society through. Check this baby out. It's interesting.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas

And so here we THAT time of year. Christmas. Peace on earth. Good will to all. 

I like it.

As a Christian of the Roman Catholic variety I find this time of year particularly moving. Christ is my Savior, after all. His birthday is something truly worth celebrating to me and my ilk. The fact that Christmas is a federal holiday here in the U.S. means that those among us who are non-believers have reason to celebrate, as well. In other words, all except the most easily offended have cause to rejoice. 

Christmas, at its theological and historical essence, is a birthday party. And what is a birthday party? An act of thanksgiving, as far as I can tell. We're grateful that someone was born. A birthday celebration is, to my mind, the most simple, sincere, and basic form of gratitude. We're celebrating life, after all. And life is a good thing. Even in times such as these, when it often seems we exist in a state of perpetual night. 

In other words, we've got more to be happy about than just presents tomorrow. You know it. I know it, too. Yet it's the presents which steal the show for most all of us. That's actually understandable. Presents are FUN. They also come in cool wrapping, which gives them a sense of mystery. Sometimes we have to keep in mind, though, that Christmas presents aren't the greatest gifts in our lives. That's been said, oh, a TRILLION times before, but I myself am the sort of person who needs to hear it a trillion more times. Maybe you're like me in that regard. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


A week ago I said I was done with screenwriting and meant it. Still, I've got a script out in the industry right now that I'm quite passionate about. Hastings deals with one of the most decisive moments in all of history through the perspective of Harold Godwinson, the Saxon king of England. It's intense and violent, but damn, I think it's good.

Currently, the script is in the hands of the good folks at Mad Hatter Entertainment, a force behind such films as Max Payne and the popular, highly acclaimed How To Train Your Dragon. Time will tell if they want to pursue the project - as well as its author - or if they'll choose to pass. For the moment, however, the script is still mine and I can do with it what I want.

And for that reason I want to offer anyone who's interested a bit of it to read. It's only the first few pages, but I'd be willing to bet (if I were a betting man) that it would hold your interest. Give it a look - and be sure to tell me what you think. Don't be afraid to be honest, either. If you don't have a tough skin, you shouldn't be in the writing business.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Publication Update

After what can only be considered one of the darkest few days in Connecticut's history, I find myself emerging from the black hole that was last Friday's massacre, perhaps not ready, but at least willing, to face the realities of life once more. In this I'm sure I'm not alone. Believe it or not, there are still aspects of each of our own lives that are worth embracing. For me these are my wife, my family, Cody; the world's greatest cat, good friends, and my writing. Indeed, a lot has been happening in the life of this writer lately.

For starters, the good folks over at The Copperfield Review published my story Bloody Knife back in early November. Based on the true story of George Armstrong Custer's Native American friend and scout, I'd like to think the piece views history with a fresh set of eyes. 

Linguistic Erosion was also kind enough to publish four of my stories this past autumn. Paris deals with an American tourist who learns the woman he's been travelling with has cancer, while Night Ride and Amherst '95 focus on the fact that life becomes less and less like we imagine it to be the older and wiser we get. Silence, which took me years to get published, is a tale of a man afraid to admit he has reached middle age.

Lastly, my pal Benjamin over at Fiction 365 purchased and published two stories I'm quite fond of. Hitting Dan deals with the consequences a man has after belting a condescending party goer. Bayeaux Cathedral, on the other hand, is the story of a degenerate businessman who is strangely affected by the sight of some dead knight's tombs.  

And, of course, there's been my regular posts at The Cheshire Patch

When all is said and done, I've got a lot to be grateful for. We all do. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


I wondered whether I should actually put anything down today since an unspeakable tragedy has occurred in my home state. I don't think there's anything more unseemly than capitalizing on a tragedy, so I hesitated. Still, I find jotting this down to be somehow necessary and therapeutic, so here goes.

As I'm sure everyone is well aware, a gunman ended many lives in a grammar school in the community of Newtown this morning. I'm quite familiar with Newtown. I used to work there. I go there two nights a week. I was there last night. It's a pretty terrific place.

To the point: there always has been and there always will be evil in the world. It's alive. It's active. And it's very, very real. Fortunately, few of us resort to the extremes the killer did this morning, but we've all found ourselves in its grasp at one time or other.

People will say the assassin was sick. He was sick. If not psychologically, then most certainly spiritually. The experts are already out there arguing for ways to prevent such a nightmare from occurring again. They might be right. They might not be. For once I'm not interested in arguing politics or social issues.

What I am interested in is arguing that, although there is evil out there and although it's very powerful, there's also goodness to be found out there, too. And that goodness is stronger than anything evil can dish out.

Even on days like today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Moving On

Being an American, I don't like to quit anything that doesn't cause me bodily harm. We're not a nation of quitters, after all. Ever since our troops persevered over a brutal winter at Valley Forge, we've collectively believed that if we only hang in there, if we only work a bit harder, we can succeed at anything we try our hands at. Unfortunately, I've learned that isn't always the case.

Truth is, I've tried to break in as a screenwriter for a long time now - a long time. And I'm tired of trying. Seriously. My Hollywood dream has become an albatross around my neck. It's keeping me from getting on with my life and, frankly, it's taking it's toll on me. Therefore, I'm moving on.

So what am I going to do now? Why, write of course! I'm still a writer and always will be. I'll just no longer pen scripts. In all honesty I think literary fiction is where it's at for me. My literary and cinematic sides have been battling for some time now...and the literary side has finally emerged victorious. 

Time to get to work. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Here We Go Again

So, with a script on its way to Canada I've recently found myself left with the question of what to do next. Truth be told, it's a question that's on my mind a lot when I finish something major. I frequently find myself suffering from depression after I complete a large piece of writing and tend to flail about in the dark muck until a life vest in the form of a new idea or project is tossed my way.

To further complicate things, writing's a tough craft. I'm not talking about the selling of one's work, either. I'm talking the business of actually sitting down and writing something. Completing a script takes a lot out of you. It doesn't get easier with age, either. Years ago I was exhilarated when I finished penning a screenplay. Nowadays I feel like the guy in the picture above. Still, writers are supposed to write, damn it! I simply wasn't put on this earth to collect dust. 

So, with the desire to start a new project and the fatigue to prevent me from doing so, I decided to pray it over (some people mock prayer - I ain't one of those people). After a few days of teeth gnashing and thought it occurred to me that I should try to focus on something that really fascinates me, something I'm actually passionate about. Needless to say, I think I may have found an energizing subject matter. For years, lots of years, I've wanted to write a script that takes place during World War One. Now I think I've settled on the exact story to tell. It's quite a tale, a true tale actually, and one I won't be revealing at the moment, since filmdom is forever bereft of good ideas. 

Wish me well. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012


And so I've completed another script, a thriller called Framed. It's on its way to a production company in Canada and possibly elsewhere, depending on who responds positively to my queries. The truth, though, is that I'm just happy I completed it. Writing a script is a whole ton of work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. Of course, my outlook wasn't always this positive.

Up until very recently, I'd viewed myself as if I were the Boston Red Sox, believing I could be so much more successful  in life if only I could get my shit together. Naturally, a healthy application of such logic can often prove useful. When it's taken to the extreme, however, it can prove deadly - no joke.

Crazy as it sounds, I once thought that if I wasn't better than Shakespeare I wasn't as good as I could or should be. While I know some people are proud to subscribe to that type of thinking, I'm here to admit I'm no longer in their ranks.

And I'm pretty happy about that. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's With Guys Like Jesse James?

My brother in law, Michael, just posted a song on Facebook by Billy Bragg and Wilco called The Unwelcome Guest. The song's about Jesse James, but the lyrics tend to be a bit obscure. Why, Michael wondered, does Jesse James refer to himself as the unwelcome guest?

I'm no expert on Jesse James, but my guess is the song pretty accurately describes the way the outlaw saw himself. For all his brutality, Jesse James, like many criminals, presented himself as the poverty stricken victim of an unfair society. Therefore, robbing places where the rich kept money, like banks or trains, made him the unwelcome guest the song refers to. 

All of this, of course, gives rise to a larger question. What is it about complete sociopaths that we find so fascinating? After all, Brad Pitt himself starred as Jesse James in a movie just a few years back. There must be something innate about us - our own darker natures, perhaps - which gives people like Jesse James their allure. Maybe it's only natural to find such people fascinating, then. When they start becoming influential, however...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Starting Off On The Right Foot

So I've started working on a new script. It's tough when you first get going because you want to make sure your stuff is heading in the right direction. In other words, if you're looking to write an action-comedy, it's probably best not to have New Wave Italian cinema as your main influence.

That being said, my work is always at its best when it's processed organically from my cranium. In other words, I may want this latest script - a thriller - to be like so many thrillers I love, such as Three Days of the Condor and The Day of the Jackal. In the end, though, it's going to most likely be something that I and I alone would write. For better or for worse.

At any rate, I'm just going with the assumption it's all for the best. Film, after all, is a collaborative process. If I'm blessed enough to have something based on my work, I'm going to want as much of myself to be in that work as possible. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Way Things Work

Years ago I felt I was close to becoming a paid screenwriter. I had good reason to feel that way, for a working and successful director was interested in one of my scripts. Things fell apart, but I continued to write screenplays. As time went on, however, I grew depressed and desperate. No one in the film industry was interested in what I was selling anymore. Where, I wondered, was I going wrong? The answer to that question may have come to me last weekend.

My nephew, whose Dad is serving his second tour of the Afghan War, went to the movies with my sister in law to see Tim Burton's Frankenweenie. My nephew, who's all of six, loved it. That night I actually sent a tweet to the film's writer, John August, thanking him for entertaining a boy whose dad was away with such a fun, heartfelt film. He actually wrote back, tweeting his appreciation. Needless to say, this brief online encounter led me to Mr. August's webpage - and that's when things may have taken a new turn.

Mr. August is nothing if not a successful screenwriter. He's written several very popular films and also writes television programs. In other words, he knows what he's talking about. You can imagine how surprised I was then when, while visiting his site, I learned that he doesn't put much stock in all the books, seminars and contests that most of us struggling screenwriters rely on. In other words, my methods for screenwriting have been, according to Mr. August, inadequate. Taking Mr. August at his word, I'm going to therefore start following his advice. Will the marketability of my screenplays now rise from the dead like Sparky, Tim Burton's friendly, fortunate dog? Or will they, well, you know...

Monday, October 8, 2012

I've Got Hollywood On My Mind

Okay, maybe I don't have Hollywood on my mind, per se, but I've been thinking about the movie business a lot lately. To be more exact, I've been thinking about the business of screenwriting. I've never sold a screenplay, but I get my scripts read by reputable, interested parties in the film industry fairly regularly. That means I always feel like I'm just one script away from hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately it also means I frequently feel like an addictive gambler, forever hoping one last crank at the slot machine will do the trick.

The truth, however, is that I love movies. Always have. Always will. Which, of course, means I will probably always write scripts (which are basically outlines for movies) for as long as I'm able to do so. Of course this also means I may well never accomplish my dream of selling my cinematic writing. Yet as long as the scripts I write are good, then at least I'll know I've done something worthwhile. Still - it would be nice to finally break in.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Leslie Hutchinson over at the Cheshire Patch for publishing my piece on John Steinbeck today. It's an honor to be published, especially on such a cool site.

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Update

Just fired off a new blog to the Cheshire Patch about John Steinbeck. Hopefully, it will appear in the next day or so. I don't think the man was the world's greatest writer, but he displayed real power through empathy, which, as any writer will tell you, is a real feat.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Thrill Of A Writer

My story, Bayeaux Cathedral, has been bought by Fiction 365. It should be featured on the site in December. I love it when my stuff is published. It just never gets old to me. It's the thrill of a writer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Being Responsible

Now that my Norman Conquest script, Hastings, is being considered by the good folks at Mad Hatter Entertainment, I've been thinking of new ideas to turn into screenplays. One of those ideas has been in my head for a long time. George "Bugs" Moran is remembered today as a man who was so dangerous he was Al Capone's arch rival. Yet "Bugs" has never been the subject of a major Hollywood film. Therefore I've been spending a lot of time over the past month researching the life and times of this notorious mobster. Yet when I explained my excitement for the project last week to my father, he asked me something. "What is there redeeming," he inquired "about Bugs Moran?" It was an interesting question from a man who spent his career working with criminals as a law enforcement official. Bugs Moran is said to have repented for his misdeeds at the end of his life, yet showcasing the brutality of that life may not be the most responsible thing a screenwriter can do. Writers make an impact, after all - even screenwriters. That's not to say violence should never be conveyed in creative works. Most, if not all, of my own scripts contain violence. Yet I think it's important to keep that violence in a clear, concrete context. Works which celebrate cruelty or the darker nature of man simply aren't good for society. Those which show violence for what it is: a powerful tool to either enact or fight evil, can actually be of real value. Those of us who write should take note.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Story Alert

Hey all, here's my story, Paris,. This one is close to my heart and I'm really grateful to the folks over at Linguistic Erosion for publishing it. om/2012/