Signed Books for X-mas! (2017)

Happy Holidays! If you’re interested, I’d love to scribble on some dead trees for you. Now, that may seem strange, but I only do this event once per year. Otherwise you have to (or, I suppose, “get to”?) see me in person if you want a signed book.

CYP_Xmas

Classically MAROONED is still underway, full sail ahead, as it were. I’ve hit nearly 50,000 words and I’ve all but completed the intro and one of the three main storylines. Sadly, that book will not be available for Christmas, but all four of my other Click Your Poison titles are ready for signing and shipping!

Whatever you are or are not celebrating (Festivus? A coincidental birthday? The fact that the sky didn’t fall in 2017?), this is the perfect gift for your favorite reader (who, technically, can just be you). Let’s call it 20 schmeckles to sign and ship a book.

Hit me up on my contact page for more info and Happy Merry!

 

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Roll Credits: Star Wars Reboot Complete!

As of this very minute, all three scripts in my “Reboot the Prequels” Trilogy are completed and ready to read. All free of charge, as a labor of love.

Check out my “What the Prequels Should Have Been” page now.

If you love (or perhaps “loved”) Star Wars, but never felt right about the prequels, you’re in the right place. [Obviously, if you enjoyed Lucas’s prequels, you’re not. You have your movies, go enjoy them!] What I’ve done here, is provided Star Wars fans with a prequel trilogy that “feels” more like the originals.

I began this project as a writing exercise, a sort of “Oh, yeah? Can you do better?” to prove that the prequels were not beyond repair.

And I’ve done it.

I really have. I’m incredibly proud of these three scripts and in my mind, now they are the Star Wars prequels.

Give it a go. Reading a screenplay is like having a movie unfold in your mind. Put on a John Williams station on Pandora or YouTube and let these scripts come to life in your imagination.

Then let me know what you think.

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Setting Sail (on a new book!)

Today I “started” the next title in the Click Your Poison series, a High Seas adventure called Classically MAROONED. I say “started” because I’ve been researching and plotting this book for some time now, but only now has ink been virtually spilled on a word processor.

Excerpt from today's writing.

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I know I said this book would be released in 2017, yet sadly, I must finally admit that it won’t. But, please bear with me, this is a good news post. My goal is 1000 words per day, which would put me at 100 days of writing. If you’d be so kind, let’s round that up to four months. Two more months of notes, rewrites, and editing; we could possibly have this book published in six months. That means we’re looking at Spring 2018 as a possible release.

Unfortunately, that makes this the first year since I started CYP that I won’t release a new title. Sure, I have excuses (moving halfway across the world, plenty of travel, working on a zombie screenplay with another screenwriter, as well as Rebooting the Star Wars prequels), but truth be told, I’m still very disappointed by this fact, as I imagine many of you are.

Yet the point of this post is to share excitement! Excitement that the writing (my favorite part!) has begun. I can already tell this will be a wonderful Click Your Poison volume. Classically MAROONED will share the research & realism of MURDERED, the humor & wit of INFECTED, the character development of PATHOGENS, the action & adventure of SUPERPOWERED, and of course, a special quality all its own.

To help you share in my excitement, let’s do the cover reveal first. Right now, in fact. Here it is!

MAROONED3

Living in England provides a fantastic opportunity to set a book during the Golden Age of Sail within the British Empire, but why pirates?

I’d originally thought to do an adaptation of several literary classics (hence the “Classic” in Classically MAROONED), to re-tell Moby Dick and Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe in CYP form. But as I went through these stories, my usual idea fountain kicked off and I thought, “Why are you doing this? Because you want to tell someone else’s stories? For publicity? For ease of marketing? Write your own damn story, that’s why you do this. That’s why people read your work, because it’s told in your voice! Make your own world, do what you love because you love it, and the rest will come.”

So, I’m being true to myself, and loving the process. Day one: complete. 1223 words.


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? 

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Star Wars: New Script, New Titles

For those following my Reboot the Prequels project, Episode II is available to read now!

Hit that hyperlink, go to the landing page, and check out Attack of the Empire.

Attack of the Empire

And if you’ve been following along, you might have noticed I changed the title of my Episode II. Originally, it was going to be called The Dark Lord of the Sith. I’ve also changed Episode III from Fall of the Jedi to Return of the Sith. Why?

The titles changed between drafts. As A New Menace was born of a portmanteau of The Phantom Menace and A New Hope, so too is Attack of the Empire a linguistic blend of
Attack of the Clones and The Empire Strikes Back (while Return of the Sith sits between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi).

I felt these new titles more clearly stated my goal: Return the Prequel Trilogy to the tone, feel, and world of the Original Trilogy.

Interested? Head over to my Reboot the Prequels page and check it out for yourself.


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? 

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That Time in Lincoln

No, not Nebraska. The first one. The one in its own ‘Shire (sadly, no one calls them that here). The one from Ye Olde Worlde! Lincoln, Lincolnshire. The next in my Travels While Living in the UK series! As I get further along in this process, you’ll see more hyperlinks in the travel log below:

November/Dec – Arrival in the UK, hotel living for a month, road trip around Southern England for Christmas and New Year’s.
January – Finally moved into our house! Visited Lincolnshire, England.
February – Oxford and York.
March – London for St Patty’s, then Oberammergau, Germany for a week.
April – Scotland and Madrid trips.
May – More local and Londonian fun, and a trip stateside for a friend’s wedding.

Lincoln was our first getaway after moving into our house, so is as good as any place to jump in and blog about. We had no idea what to expect, but as the home of one of four original copies of the Magna Carta, you know there’s some history.

King Westley the First
T’was a pet-friendly vacation! Here we have Lord Westley surveying our hotel room from his gilded perch.

Let’s jump right in and visit:

Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle is steeped in history. Constructed in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, this castle was built on top of a pre-existing Roman fortress. It was later used as a prison into modern times, but now serves as a museum where it houses ruins of its previous lives, as well as an original copy of the Magna Carta!

Each of the photos above has a brief caption, though you’ll note a distinct lack of Magna Carta pictures. They aren’t allowed. It must truly be seen to be believed! The interior display boasts how this important document introduced the idea that all men are created equal, and credits itself as the forebear to the American constitution and the concept of Civil Rights. While perhaps this is overstating the document’s staying power a bit, it was indisputibly fun to see the document with its original parchment, ink, and seal

Lincoln Cathedral

The castle’s nearby sibling, the Lincoln Cathedral is technically the owner of the Magna Carta, and is an impressive structure in its own right. Built around the same time, this cathedral was the tallest structure in the world for over 200 years due to its central spire (which, sadly, collapsed around 500 years ago).

In addition to its use for Anglican ceremonies (we a caught chorale performance of “evensong”) it’s also a big draw to tourists. And, oddly enough, despite quickly approaching its 1000-year birthday, we were invited to bring our dog inside. This only added to the unique experience of exploring one of the largest cathedrals in the UK.

Food, Drink, Fun

Get thee to a yummery! In Lincoln there are some delectable bites to be had, and I enjoyed my first taste of UK whiskey with samples at the aptly-named “The Lincoln Whisky Shop.” I decided to buy a bottle of “Writer’s Tears” which I’m saving for tears of joy, I’ll have you know.

That’s an actual, honest to goodness, Roman archway. Which leads me to…

My Takeaways

I couldn’t get over the beautiful history of Lincoln (and England as a whole). The “old town” is built up on a hill as part of the original castle defense, while the more modern area is along the river, down a hill so steep it would put San Francisco to shame. Funny, I must have been too busy breathing heavily to take a picture.

Our B&B was in this upper, historic part of town, but the entire area was a pleasure to walk daily. As a bit of respite from said overwhelmingly beautiful history, I managed to sneak an afternoon down to the riverfront cinema to catch the latest Star Wars flick:

A second viewing with some lovely souvenirs! #movies #swag #rogueone #starwars #souvenir #movieday

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Though part of my “awe” could be attributed to this being my first UK town to really spend some time in and explore, overall, I’d put Lincoln as a must-see for anyone travelling through the middle of England. And I wish I’d taken more pictures!


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Enjoy “following” me on my travels? Want to read more blog posts like this one?

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That Time in Oberammergau

I’m coming up on living in the UK for 6-months! And while I’ve told you what parts I love, and what parts have no love lost, I haven’t stopped to tell you what I’ve been up to.
Other than, you know, that whole Star Wars reboot thing.

So, time to update my travel journals.

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Follow us on our ah-maze-ing adventures!

Here’s what’s happened so far:

November/Dec – Arrival in the UK, hotel living for a month, road trip around Southern England for Christmas and New Year’s.
January – Finally moved into our house! Visited Lincolnshire, England.
February – Oxford and York.
March – London for St Patty’s, then Oberammergau, Germany for a week.
April – Scotland and Madrid trips.
May – More local and Londonian fun, and a trip stateside for a friend’s wedding.

T20170327_102931he next six months look to be much more ambitious. The goal is to hit a different spot in the UK every month, and somewhere else in Europe every other month.

I should probably blog about all these things, and maybe I will, but for now I’m jumping into the middle. That’s a classic storytelling technique known as in medias res, which is Latin/Pretentious for “into the middle [of] things.”

So, let’s start with Oberammergau, Germany. This was our first European trip, so it’s a beginning of sorts.

Come with me, fly into Munich, which is actually Munchen, but is called Munich because…globalism? Then we’ll take the Autobahn and max out the rental car’s four-cylinder engine until the display screams, “SLOW DOWN – SNOW TIRES!!!”


Food and Drink

I’m not going to pretend to speak for the entire country, or even the region (Bavarian Alps), but I am going to make a few generalizations. The first, is that this is a “meat and potatoes” kind of place. If you ask for a salad, you’ll get one, but it’ll be made out of potatoes.

Let’s talk about the pictures above. Clockwise, from bottom right.

  1. Prost! Welcome to Germany, land of the beer. On this trip I discovered Weissbier, which in its unfiltered form, makes for a unique, tasty, frothy treat. Sort of like the Hefeweizen I’m used to, only more floral and playful. I’m still hooked months later.
  2. Though we went at the start of springtime, this is still mountain country and there was a chill in the air at night. Some warm mulled wine helped immensely.
  3. Bavarians are known for their sweets, and my week here did not disappoint.
  4. Ox steak. A new culinary adventure for me, if not for the region. Cooking ox with smoked hay seemed all the rage, and why not, it worked. Definitely a pricey meal, though not outrageous and certainly worth it.
  5. This fried chunk of meat  (bigger than the size of my fist!) was called a “pork knuckle.” Add a dumpling, cover it all in gravy, and you get a deliciously rich and heartburn-inducing meal.

Sights and Sites; Scenes and Seeings

In addition to having a really fun name, Oberammergau has many desirable qualities. Not the least of which, is that it’s a sleepy town without a lot of foreign tourism. Many German tourists do indeed travel here, and there are always foreigners present, because it’s the location of a NATO training school. But there’s a delightfully pastoral “untouched by the world” feel to the town.

I won’t go on and on breaking these pictures down one-by-one (though they do have captions). Instead, here’s generally what you see above:

We stayed in a mountain town with amazing views. The first picture is taken from our hotel. Others are right around–it’s a small hamlet. There is an awesome restaurant that one can hike to, which is a steep walk, but worth it. And boy does all that rich food taste amazing afterwards. There are walking trails everywhere, nice wide open ones. And there are monks who brew and distill. Like a lot of the Old World, the churches are the some of the most impressive sights in the town. They are a wood carving people, who also love their meat so much it’s stored in vending machines.

The Passion of Oberammergau

Once a decade, the whole town comes together to put on a play about the life and times of Jesus Christ. You read that correctly. Once a decade, for like three months straight. Hundreds of thousands of people journey to this remote hamlet for the play which is literally performed by the entire town.

Unfortunately, the play won’t be going on next until 2020, but I was able to learn quite a bit from the museum (pictures above). The story goes, that the town vowed to perform this play to honor God if He would spare them from the plague. Well, seems to have worked, because the townspeople have been dutifully holding up their end of the bargain for nearly 400 years!

Ludwig II’s Two Castles

Beyond the Passion Play, the area is most well-known for the architecture of King Ludwig II. The first castle we visited was his home in the last years of his life, while the second was the famed Neuschwanstein castle, still incomplete, yet world-renowned for giving its iconography to Walt Disney’s logo.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside. These were works of art, modern for their time and gilded to the gills. Beautiful spots, worth visiting.

My Takeaways

It was nice getting some springtime sunshine after the damp cold of British winter. I joked after I first arrived that the most notable difference between the two countries is that they sell sunglasses in Germany.

With a name like Schannep, I must have some German heritage somewhere (though no evidence of it in Oberammergau…).

Don’t mind me, just blending in.

I lived in Germany from kindergarten to second grade while my dad was stationed here by the Army. My memories are mostly of Kinder eggs, sledding, playmobile toys, and mainly just being a kid. I have memories of seeing a salt mine, some mountaintops, and sites outside of Germany like the leaning tower of Pisa.

And then there’s spaghetti eis.

“Eis” is the German word for ice cream, and this was without a doubt my favorite childhood dessert. A layer of whipped cream serves as a base, which is then topped by vanilla ice cream/gelato put through a press so it comes out to look like spaghetti noodles. A strawberry “meat” sauce topped with white chocolate “parmesan” shavings completes the illusion.

Spaghetti was my favorite meal, ice cream the best treat, which made this confection the perfect go-between.

I had spaghetti eis here in Oberammergau for the first time in at least twenty-five years. Mostly as a novelty, I ordered it up, expecting something deeply sugary-sweet, but I got more than I bargained for.

With the first bite, my entire body swirled with warmth, like a hug from a loved one after a prolonged absence. I couldn’t have described the taste or texture by memory, but this was comfort on an instinctual level. It’s moments like these that make travel so rewarding.


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Enjoy “following” me on my travels? Want to read more blog posts like this one?

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A Star Wars Manifesto

As today is Star Wars day (May the Fourth Be With You!), I’m releasing part one of a passion project that’s been consuming me these past few months.

Many of you may have heard me mention my Reboot the Prequels project, but I wanted to take a minute to declare my intent. For those unfamiliar, I decided to rewrite The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith into a story-focused narrative that unfolds Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side in a compelling way.

Why would I do such a thing?

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Allow me to explain. Photo credit: Jo Sabin.

Undoubtedly, some of you reading this think I’m wasting my time. But I’m not. And not just in the John Lennon, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted,” sense.

Here’s why:

  1. I’m certain this writing exercise has made me a better writer. It’s kind of incredible, when you step back and think about it, that we have one trilogy that is universally loved and another that is all but universally reviled set within the same franchise. But what is it that makes them so different? The wooden performances in front of a greenscreen, for sure, but it’s much more than that. It’s the story. I broke down what worked for one and what failed in the other and I’m a stronger author for doing so.
  2. Writing is cathartic. The best way to discover how you feel about a subject (and why) is to write about it. It was truly healing to be able to put my gripes to bed, even in something as seemingly inconsequential as a movie franchise. But now I’ve said my piece. I have an answer, one which I can give emphatically, to the proverbial, “Yeah, well, could you do any better?”
  3. I got to write a Star Wars movie! Sure, I didn’t get paid six figures and get to walk the red carpet (though, if you’re reading this Disney, let’s do lunch), but I undoubtedly wrote the movie. And I loved every minute of it. This is the most I’ve ever felt like an “artist.” Having created a thing for no other reason than for the pure joy of doing so. It’s the same aspect of self-publishing that I find so freeing. We are living in an era where the only thing stopping you from creating and distributing a story is the will to do so.
  4. I get to share my love and my lessons.

That’s where you come in, #4. And May the Fourth Be With You.

The screenplay for A New Menace (That’s what I’ve called my Episode I. Get it?) clocks in at 103 pages, with another dozen of story lessons and explanations at the end. If you’ve never read a screenplay, that should take you 103 minutes or less to read. You can read this first script right now on my Reboot the Prequels page. Then you can tell me if I nailed it or failed it. Share it with your friends. Let these screenplays be the movies we all deserved to see.

Your author,

May 4th, 2017


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Waste of time or time well spent?

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