So, we’re two days into 2017 and I’ve had some time to reflect on 16 highlights from the past year. But don’t worry, I’m not counting anything politics related.
- I co-wrote a short script, “Blind Sighted,” with fellow Tennessee screenwriter Dustin Alexander III, which he later produced and directed as a short film. I hung around the set a couple of days and even got to be the clapper one day. Looking forward to viewing a premiere for cast and crew later this month. This was the first time I’d collaborated with anyone on a script and it was an eye-opening experience. We didn’t agree on every aspect of the script, but we learned to compromise and work together. That experience alone was worth the time spent as the art of the screenplay and making movies or TV episodes is all about give and take. We also learned a lot about the legal aspects of scriptwriting, such as writing agreements and copyright protection.
- I read and rated 250 scripts combined for the Nashville Film Festival and Austin Film Festival screenwriting competitions. If you want to learn how to write a great screenplay, there’s nothing like reading and learning from other screenplays. Story structure, characterization, description and dialogue and so much more can be learned from reading and studying scripts. I plan to read a lot more Hollywood scripts in 2017, beginning with The Dark Knight Trilogy: The Complete Screenplays (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), which I received for Christmas.
- My concert-going days are all but over, but I did manage to see The B-52’s, Jeff Beck with Buddy Guy, and the Hendrix Experience (featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Noah Hunt, Dweezil Zappa, Rich Robinson, and more). What’s this got to do with writing, you ask? Hey, writers need to let loose once in a while and concerts are an excellent way to let out some of that pent up energy. I used to go to concerts all the time, but not many of my bands come around much anymore and I’m not into a lot of the newer music these days (guess I’m getting old!). Ticket costs have also gotten a bit out of hand.
- I attended the Imaginarium Convention, which is devoted to writers and fans of science fiction, horror and fantasy literature, in Louisville, Ky. I was thrilled to meet authors Brian Keene, Tim Waggoner, Jason Sizemore, Jim C. Hines, Scott Sandridge, Michael Knoxt, Tony Acree, and many others.
- I served on my first-ever panel as a book reviewer at the Killer Nashville Writers Conference. I’ve been reviewing books for several outlets over the last few years and helped Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford read and rate novels entered in the conference’s annual Silver Falchion Awards competition. I guess that makes me something of an expert and I’m honored that Clay saw fit to include me on one of his conference panels. In addition to the excellent panels and educational workshops, Killer Nashville is an excellent venue for networking with other authors, like Baron R. Birtcher, R.G. Belsky, Jaden Terrell, and Daniel Hooberry, to name a few.
- I saw Stephen King at the Ryman Auditorium and was one of a select few to receive an autographed copy of End of Watch. If you’ve never seen King on a book tour, do so. He is as entertaining in person as he is on the written page.
- I saw numerous other authors on their book tours in Nashville or as part of their appearances at the Southern Festival of Books. Authors like: Steve Berry, Brad Thor, David Bell, Colson Whitehead, Ann Patchett, John Lewis, Michael Chabon, David Hart, Robert Olen Butler, Neal Patrick Flannery and others. I blogged about some of their visits for BookPage and for this blog, took notes about their story tips, and even scored some autographs.
- I began co-writing a crime feature script with friend Jay Wright. Jay asked for my help when he got stuck on a story idea and that led to a partnership. We’re more than halfway through our first draft and racing to the finish. Then the rewrites begin.
- I saw KISS Rocks Vegas at Opry Mills with my brother Bruce. Again, not a writing event, but it’s KISS, so there.
- I enjoyed a brief but awesome visit from my California brother, Wayne! I make an effort every week to listen to Wayne’s Hollywood Close-Up podcast, where he and co-host Natalie Lipka interview up and coming actors, screenwriters, and film industry professionals each week about breaking into the business, persisting, and more. It’s valuable, educational information for anyone interested in writing, acting, directing, or any other aspect of the film and TV industry. Give it a listen.
- Saw Rogue One, twice! I hope I can get a copy of the screenplay to study.
- Installed new kitchen counter, backsplash and floor. It’s not writing-related, but since my writing desk occupies a corner of the kitchen it’s significant.
- Wrote 26 book reviews for various sites, including BookPage, Blogging for Books, Killer Nashville and US Review of Books. I even posted a couple over on GoodReads.
- Attended the Writers Homicide School in Knoxville, where I learned about blood spatter, police procedure, and other forensics.
- Organized my stories, notes, and file cabinets. Hey, writers are notoriously messy, so this was a big thing for me.
- Wrote a handful of short stories and submitted them, but had no luck placing them with a market. Outlined a pair of family-oriented scripts, continued edits/revisions to another feature script, and brainstormed several other projects to write in the coming year.
Wow. How did you guys do?