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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Screeplay Frontier

My daughter Eva expressed a surprising interest in writing screenplays of my novels. I’d been researching the different software programs for doing just that on my own for a few months - the problem being working and writing new novels takes up all my time. I didn’t think I’d ever get anything going on the screenplay front other than a half-hearted attempt at doing it, even with state of the art software. Amazon had a sale on my top choice, which is also the industry standard. With the points from the parts I’ve bought on Amazon for my customers it only cost me half of what I’d expected.
This collaboration with my daughter has me fired up. She’s always been a good writer. Her papers in college impressed me, but other than a passing comment, she’s never mentioned an interest either in my writing or doing anything on her own. It caught me off guard when she mentioned the screenplay interest, especially after I’d been researching that very venue for months without telling anyone. I’m not going to mention the software name because any Google search for top rated screenplay writing software has it on the top of the list, but a nice thing about it is you can install it on more than one computer without an additional license. Eva and I can share progress and any questions she has about a manuscript instantly, even from afar.
Maybe if we can get lift off on one of my books in screenplay form, they’ll be able to stop remaking movies over and over again.  :)  I’m going to be nearing the 10,000 word mark for my third part in the DEMON trilogy this weekend. Man, would that series be a movie I’d like to put on the screen. I’ll have to wait and see what Eva wants to start with, because it will be important that she likes what she reads, or converting it will be torture. I’ll be getting the software this next week, and her, my grandson, and my son-in-law will be staying with us a week after that for a few days. I should have some thoughts on screenplay writing collaboration to blog about next month. From all my research I know this converting books into screenplays is not for the faint of heart, but like I told Eva, I’ll be following her progress, not writing it for her. Her conversion scene ideas will be her own with me only helping on the outskirts of the project.
It’s funny, but over the last few months with launching into alternate publishing, and cutting thoughts of publishers and agents out of my thought processes, everything in a literary sense appeals to me more than before. It’s nice not having my work depend on the whim of strangers, but I guess if Eva and I actually finish a screenplay, I’ll be right back at the mercy of an even tougher venue. Maybe the people looking at screenplays to develop see dollar signs and market viability more clearly than mainstream publishing.  :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PO404 & PO405 Dodge EGR Codes

Just a short funny one, because I mentioned my devouring of tech data, especially stuff on every day glitches happening to our modern chariots. Earlier today I had a contractor pull in the shop with his 2005 Dodge Ram 1500. He got out and met me in front of his truck. I’ll tag him as Dan Dodge for the blog. Medium height, flushed of face, and carrying around thirty extra pounds, Dan was wearing one of those worried ‘I know I’m going to get ripped off’ looks. He confirmed it shortly after my usual customer greeting.

“Listen. I know you don’t work for free, but I just need to get your opinion. I can’t afford anymore shit happening with this truck.”

“Well, you’re right about one thing I don’t work for free, but tell me what kind of trouble you’re having with the truck. I don’t charge for listening.”

Dan chuckled a little at that one. “Okay… I went to the Autozone over on McArthur and got the codes read there because my check engine light was on.”

He took a piece of notebook paper out to look at. “They said I had codes PO404 and PO405… something to do with the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve position and voltage.”

Okay so far, but thanks to an active imagination and extensive tech reading, my mind has already jumped to the plot climax. “You replaced the EGR valve, and you still have a PO405 Code.”

Dan’s face looks like, and here’s an obscure comparison, the Replicant at the beginning of Blade Runner, when he’s asked questions by a government agent trying to pick out the escaped Replicants, ‘there’s a turtle on its back in the desert and you’re not helping’. I love this part. Dan goes away for a moment.

“How… how could you know that?”

Because I’m the great and all powerful Oz… naaahhh… I read a case history while doing my every day tech troubleshooting, service bulletins, and recall announcements. “I keep up on this stuff. First, did you put an Autozone EGR on it or an OEM one?”

“They didn’t have one so I had to go to the dealer in Walnut Creek.”

“Outstanding. Here’s what we’ll have to do. We need to disconnect your battery cables and touch them together. Then we wait a half hour. Then we reconnect the terminals and you’ll be all set. You may have a few drivability issues though while the on board computer relearns the driving parameters though, but that should be minor for a couple days. I also have to warn you sometimes you have to have a reflash done on the computer too if this doesn’t work.”

“Why do I need to do this again?” Dan is still stuck on my out of the blue right on guess.

“It’s like this. Your EGR valve was bad, but after you replaced it, the computer still thinks you have an old bad one. It’s just like Windows on your computer when you get the blue screen of death. You need to reboot. Want to try it?”


I disconnect the battery, touch the terminals together for thirty seconds, and then we left it alone. Dan sat in my office and I finished up a brake job on an 06 Saturn I was working on. I then reconnected the battery and sent Dan on his way. Since Dan had already told me the check engine light came back on only minutes into the driving cycle after replacing the EGR, I told him to drive it for the day and give me a call as to how it worked out. Dan just called and said everything was working perfectly. I needed to experiment, and Dan needed to be the guinea pig. Now that the great and all knowing Oz has worked a minor miracle, we’ll see if Dan comes in for servicing or if he tries to get the all powerful Oz to work for free again. That would be… NO.  :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding Magic Review

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m one of those writers that write and edit constantly during the process of a work in progress. I can’t help myself. It’s fun for me to go back and dig into the story before going on, so I edit extensively, keeping timelines and situations straight in my head as I progress. I know my plodding way doesn’t work at all as a method heralded by any writing gurus, but it doesn’t really block or slow me down, so I don’t see myself changing methods.  :)

That stated, when I’m engrossed in writing and editing, my reading goes by the wayside. My ‘To Be Read’ list piles up on the Kindle at an impressive pace. Such is happening now. I am a proficient speed reader, but I don’t speed read novels I’m looking forward to reading. I speed read technical data at a ‘Mr. Spock’ clip, but not novels for my reading pleasure. Since my YA writing trilogy has captivated my attention, my reading for pleasure has been reduced to a short period each night. I just finished my friend Stacia Kane’s novella, FINDING MAGIC, which is a prequel to her great paranormal ‘Downside’ series of which I’m a big fan. 

The intricate details of how her main character in the series came to be a Church Debunker thread through the plot perfectly. Eighteen year old Cesaria Putnam, in training with the Church of Real Truth, gets placed on a tryout basis with the Church Black Squad. They investigate murders. The grisly string of mutilated corpses in an ongoing case fascinates the young trainee, Chess. She rightly correlates the murders to ghosts, much to the surprise of her difficult handler Jillian and the rest of the Black Squad. Tying in Chess’s beginning problems with alcohol and drug abuse, coupled with her background of being abused in foster homes, explains her difficulties in throwing off the addictions. This prequel has its share of murder and ghost mayhem, entwined with human avarice, in an enthralling, fast paced story. Chess connects with her mentor, Elder Griffin, and shows off the impressive detective skills she exhibits throughout the series as a Debunker who investigates real ghost hauntings from fraudulent claims, which the Church would have to pay off. She also catches a glimpse at the end of her future lover, the ‘Downside’ enforcer, Terrible.

If you’re a fan of the series, or wanting an introduction to the ‘Downside’, I highly recommend Finding Magic. This series is not for the faint of heart however. It revolves around people scratching out an existence in a very dark ‘Downside’. Their ways of coping with a depressing arena of life where they are under constant threat by murderous ghosts and other human predators may not sit well with many readers. For those who can suspend the real world, this series will jerk you into its dark hole of human and ghost interaction completely.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Progress and Wisdom

I finished up edits on DEMON INC, which still ended up in the 78,000 word range. Over the weekend I started the third part in the YA Trilogy with 2,000 words, so it’s officially on to complete the series. 

The main reason for blogging today involves a joke:
A sixty-four year old man loved fishing. He sat casting his line in the water from his favorite pier, enjoying the day, when he heard a small voice cry out.
“Pick me up!”
The old guy looked around and didn’t see a single person near him. He thought he was dreaming, but then he heard the voice again.
“Pick me up!”
He glanced down at the water where a frog was floating on the surface. “Pick me up!”
“Are you talking to me,” the old guy asked, quite shaken.
“Yes. Pick me up, kiss me, and I will turn into the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen. I’ll make all your friends jealous because I will become your mistress!”
The old guy looked at the frog for a moment. He then carefully picked the frog up and put it in his pocket.
“Are you nuts?! What are you doing?! Didn’t you hear me? Kiss me and I will turn into a gorgeous woman and become your mistress.”
The old guy opened his pocket, meeting the little frog's questioning stare. “Nah… at my age, I’d rather have a talking frog.”
With age comes wisdom.  :)

Monday, June 11, 2012


I finished the second part in my YA trilogy on Sunday afternoon. It was so much fun writing the thing, I hesitated to end it. There’s a lot to carry on into the third book, so I may launch into it before the editing is done on my second one, DEMON INC. The excitement following the chance to write ‘The End’ on a manuscript always is tempered by a reluctance to let go, knowing the next crucial step in the process is editing. Editing a manuscript a writer loved writing is a heck of a lot easier than editing one written for someone elses expectations though.
DEMON INC ended up going past my parameter of 75,000 words, which is the upper end length for a YA novel. The final scenes needed more than I had anticipated, and I couldn’t get them done without hitting nearly the 79,000 word mark. I’m certain it’ll get cut down somewhat by the time I’m through working it over. Yesterday was a good one. I played basketball for a couple hours in the morning and went home unscathed, washed and vacuumed my wife St. Joyce’s GMC, and then went swimming while listening to the ballgame. Then it was time to finish DEMON INC. After finishing the final battle scene and follow up ending, I read it to St Joyce. The ending cracked her up so I was happy. My paranormal pup Demon gets to do so much more in this because of a device I’d been waiting to add, the humor is tenfold – by my prejudiced opinion of course.
Anyway, that’s how I stretched out the final writing for DEMON INC on a very nice Sunday. I know this wasn’t like the Twitter burps and Facebook updates with descriptions of meals and drinks someone is having for dinner (it’s one of the funniest things about either of those venues). I swear if someone stubs their toe on a rock, they’ll whip out the camera-phone and upload a picture of the rock to FB, then Twitter ‘Ow… I stubbed my toe!’.  :)