Live Life; Practice Writing

Writing a novel is very different from writing a play. The story telling is the same, but the mechanics of it are different as I am finding out.

I know the play writing process. I know it’s different for each story, but I have a good idea what I need to do to get to my pay-off. Once I get the characters working, I almost don’t need to think about the writing until the final tweaks. It becomes a matter of getting the characters to do the things required to tell the story.

In writing a novel, I feel certain that there will come a point where my characters take over, but it takes so much longer to get there. I need to build the sets and do the lighting using my words. It is hard work. And often boring work. Continue reading

[Photographs: Emily Dryden] If I learned anything about food growing up down south, it’s that a cast iron skillet can work wonders for any recipe—even chocolate chip cookies. Slap a chocolate chip cookie dough in a cast iron skillet, and it’ll bake up crunchy around the edges, but soft and fudgy in the middle, like…

via The Skillet Cookie: Yet Another Reason to Love Cas… — Your Foodie Delights

January 22, 2018

This monologue is about 2 minutes. I wrote this character in his mid-30s, but he could be older or younger. Actors feel free to use this. Let me know how it goes.


You like this place?  You like the work you’re doing?  Fixing the place up and all?  Helping to make it productive again, maybe?  Good.  Good.  Think it’s a good thing?  Think you’re doing the right thing?  Jumping right in and saving the farm?  You know what this land is worth to developers?  My Ma could make a lot of money.  The money’s not important to you, I know. She don’t care either.  No, she was never one to think about the future. (Pause.) Did I ever tell you the story about the dog and the train?  I didn’t?  Well, I was down at the train station in Depot Town not too long ago passing time with friends when we heard these people yelling outside.  A train had just gone through, but you don’t pay attention to those things too much anymore.  These people come in saying we have to come and see this.  I start to hear this wailing.  It didn’t sound like any living thing I ever heard.  So we go.  These people are all incredulous, so I’m thinking this must be something.  We get out there and there’s this dog running around and these people are trying to catch it.  I’m thinking what’s the big deal?  As we get closer, I see it’s not a dog, but half a dog.  I shit you not.  Half a dog.  The train hit it and cut it in two just around the hips.  It cauterized it so it wasn’t bleeding or nothing.  This thing is running around screaming because these people are trying to help it.  All it wants to do is lay down and die and these people won’t leave it alone.  I kept saying, “Someone shoot the thing.”  They told me I was a cold hearted bastard.  And these good hearted people kept trying to help this half a dog.  After about an hour the thing finally dropped.  But it lived an hour of agony and terror it wouldn’t of had to go through if the people would have left it alone.  Let it die right where it should have. They had to agitate it.  Keep it going.  But the end was the same.  Only it could’ve been a whole lot more peaceful.  Do we understand each other?  Good.

I have been enjoying reading this mother and son’s journey walking across New Hampshire. I am inspired by their fighting spirit. They struggle to walk, something I take for granted and look what they did.

Read about the trip and then I encourage to read the blog posts in the order they occurred. Be prepared to be inspired.

Click here to read Walking New Hampshire.


Categories: Life

The Story

It was dark outside. There was a loud noise and sirens. I remember being carried by my Mom down the street to Wendy Court. There was a bright spot,  huge flames and firetrucks. I was not yet 5. The flames appeared to be all over a garage. I heard the adults talking and what my child brain put together was a guy was working on a car and it burst into flames. He was killed.

I’m not sure how much time passed from the garage event to this next one, but I walked to this one. There were only sirens and I walked down the street to Mr. and Mrs. Brooks house with my Mom. My Dad was a volunteer fireman. There was a lot of smoke. I saw them bring the barrel of a dryer out Mrs. Brooks’ side door and douse something black inside. Then I remember seeing them lead Mrs. Brooks out looking very unlike the Mrs. Brooks who made us blueberry pancakes. I did not see Mr. Brooks anywhere.

We moved to the new house not long after this event and I don’t think I ever saw the Brookses again.

This left me with the idea that things can and did burst into flame. A fear of things like ovens, dryers and cars bursting into flame still haunts me today. It made cooking problematic. The broiler was the most troubling. Five hundred degrees! But as I cooked more and more in the oven and on the barbecue my fear lessened. Now I use the broiler all the time. It is a great way to cook steaks when you can’t barbecue.

The Steaks

The key to a good steak starts at the meat counter. You want to get a good cut with little white lines of fat running through it. The flavor is in the fat. Watch out for the clear white gristle. My preference is for rib steaks. They have several names, rib-eye, club steak, Delmonico etc., and are characterized by a swirl pattern and a tail. If I can’t find them, I will go with a strip steak or New York Strip. Porterhouse is to big and I don’t like t-bones, but they could be used if you like. 1/2 to 3/4 an inch is the best cooking thickness. Continue reading

I edit old posts all the time. I came across this one and still think it is a good idea for a screenplay.


I wish I had a clone.

Cloning myself. Sci-fi isn’t my genre, but here it goes.

I would need two clones with independent thought, but who think like me with my memories, sensibilities  and talents.

Clone One or Cloe One would be responsible for the house work, this would include the dishes, snow removal, gardening, lawn care and all the research that goes with making decisions on things like should I cut down the 11 conifers in the yard that will eventually die from needle-cast? Do the gutters on the house need to be replaced and how much will that cost? She would learn things like basic plumbing, basic carpentry and other handyman type stuff so I don’t need to pay some one. If a contractor is needed, she will handle all that.  This clone will keep house better than me; vacuuming every three days, dusting; doing the bathroom once a…

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Me16Jan18210.4 lbs

14 Days without a Soda


Wow! I need a different background.

My thinking on scales has changed over the years. It used to be I never cared if I had one or not. I was a skinny person. In fact, I was picked on in school because I was so skinny.

In my thirties when I started to put on 10 or so pounds over the Holidays, I would say, “I won’t stress out about weight. If my clothes start getting tight I’ll just do more exercise.” Yeah, I’m laughing to.

That 10 pounds or so adds up over the years. And with work and school who had time to workout. When I did step on a scale I was shocked to realize I weighed 160 lbs. How? I joined a gym and did good for a while.

Then my life fell into a comfortable spot. I had a job I liked, I was living in New York, I had my friends and we’d go out to good restaurants and drink good wine and liqueur.

The next time I stepped on a scale I weighed 190 pounds. I still did not own a scale. I joined Weight Watchers and had to weigh-in every week. I dropped 20 pounds in 6 months.

Moving back to Michigan, I went into a nutritional tailspin. Being back in Michigan, having to take my Dad to physical therapy and doctor appointments was a big culture shock and I was depressed for the first couple of years. Then I couldn’t find a job.

My Dad had a mid-thigh amputation and I moved back to my hometown, the house I grew-up in, so he could stay in house. With only one leg his life had changed dramatically and I felt sorry for him. Plus, I felt it was my duty. He is my father and everything should not fall on my sister.

My Dad knows nothing about nutrition. He was a meatcutter for over 30 years you would think he would know something, but you would be wrong. He now had one leg and could no longer walk the dogs 5 plus miles a day and ride his bike, but he kept eating every day as if he still did those things. He insisted on eating at Zorba’s Coney Island twice a day. It was easier to give-in than fight it.

I topped out at 283 pounds. I learned to cook by writing a cooking blog. (I plan to carry that over to this blog.) I put my foot down about going to Zorba’s. If my Dad wanted to eat like that, he could. I stopped.

All this has changed my thinking about scales. I give the credit to Weight Watchers. I owe my current success in losing weight to what I learned from WW. And it starts with the scale.

If I had formed the habit of weighing myself a few times a week before I had a weight problem, I could have done something about the Holiday 10 back when my metabolism was faster.  I would have realized I needed to change my eating habits and exercise more. It would have been right there in big numbers. Proof that my waist line was growing.

I now own a scale and like it or not, I weight myself a few times a week. I can’t deny it when that number 210.4 is staring right back at me. I have to be accountable. No one but me can change that number.

Another thing I learned from Weight Watchers is you can’t let yourself off the hook, but you have to be kind to yourself. It is about changing your relationship with food. I still eat like a thin person who never gains weight. Loosing weight is hard and I am not good at it. If this were easy, there would be no fat people.

I own a simple Taylor digital scale with huge numbers on it. It has become my friend.

img_2506This is what I weigh in the evening with my boots and three layers on. I do my normal weigh-ins in the morning, naked, after a shower. This is why I don’t consider it a real drop unless it is at least 10 lbs. This is a 6.4 lbs. difference.

How do you feel about scales?


via Daily Prompt: Static

It is good to mix things up and not remain static.

Today my goal is to write this, proof it and post in 20 minutes. Go!

Dramatic writers have many conversations about the status quo. A play or screenplay is stasis, chaos, new stasis.

As a new writer, the idea of status quo was very difficult for me. My characters were extraordinary beings, how dare anyone suggest they have normal lives!

Writing for TV and needing to turn out storyline after storyline changed my thinking on this. Even the extraordinary has a static state. A sky diver’s status quo is jumping out of an airplane; for me, jumping out of an airplane would be a bolt of static electricity.

When starting a story it is important to know your characters’ normal, what’s their daily routine? Then ask what breaks that routine? What’s different about today? Why? Now? Today? That’s the beginning or your story. Although in some cases, it could be the end depending on how big a break it is.

Back to the skydiving, if the character were me, jumping out of the airplane would probably be the climax of the story with the rest of the story building to that moment. That freeing scene in the movie that has the crowd cheering and feeling proud of the character. You start to see how the story would be built to achieve this ending. Jumping  would be the thing that concretizes something else in the character’s life; taking back control, accepting mortality, breaking free of controlling relationships, being an authentic self.

I can also see it as a starting gesture to a change, but in this case the story is about the character’s loved ones dealing with a person who has broken out of the box. Which ones will can handle it and which ones can’t?

Anyway that is my bit of writing advice today.

How did I do?

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