Monthly Archives: August 2012
About the Book:
Hollywood died on me as soon as I got here. Welles said that, not me, but damn if he didn’t nail it, you know?
Sam Bateman came to Hollywood to settle a score, but amidst the sunny and 75, his plans went astray. Everything changed the day he drank in the intoxicating legend of Meyer Holden, the greatest screenwriter Hollywood has ever known, the one who pulled a Salinger and walked away. Holden now tacks pseudonyms onto his works and buries them in the bottomless sea of spec that is Hollywood’s development process. They’re out there for anyone to find—but at what cost? In his quest, Bateman severs all ties and sinks into a maddening world of bad writing and flawed screenplays. Paranoid and obsessive, the belligerent savant encounters an eccentric cast of characters—each with an agenda—in his search for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found.
From the very first page, Sam Bateman, the protagonist of The Holden Age of Hollywood, reminded me of a hard-boiled detective, a post-modern Philip Marlowe. In fact, Phil Brody’s style of writing has been called “neo-noir”, a term, I assumed coined to describe this modern-day film-noir type. I loved the snappy dialogue and the footnotes explaining screenwriting jargon and Hollywood “in-jokes” for those of us not in the know.
Only a phenomenal writer could write so many bad script synopses so hilariously well. And Phil Brody is that evil genius. Here’s just one example:
My Date with Minka by Bobby Wickford is an inane comedy about Billy Wackforth’s attempt to score a date with TV/film star Minka Kelly with the help of his good friend Sally Crenshaw. In the end, he goes on the date and mind-bogglingly wins the starlet over, then breaks her heart when he realizes he’s in “serious like” with good friend Sally. Ugh. Surprised it’s not written in crayon.
The Holden Age of Hollywood is a page-turning, tongue-in-cheek look into the often corrupt but sometimes brilliant and frequently overlooked world of cinematic pre-production.
I give The Holden Age of Hollywood five golden statuettes!! A must read!!
About the Author:
Phil Brody lives in Los Angeles and writes every day. He began his career in Chicago in advertising. After moving to LA, Brody toiled in development, penned a few spec scripts, and has worked as a writer, producer, and director in documentary TV. His short film, A Blue Christmas, was the grand prize winner in The Short Film Group’s First Annual Script Competition and was acknowledged in the WorldFest-Houston and Cleveland International Film
Festivals. Brody is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and an alumnus of Writers Boot Camp in Santa Monica, California. The Holden Age of Hollywood is his first novel.
Interview with the Author:
TM: What sparked the idea for The Holden Age of Hollywood?
PB: I wanted to write about Hollywood. I think any writer that spends enough time here — or does time in Hollywood, as I like to say — yearns to write about it. However, I did not want to write a “typical” Hollywood book about down-and-out talent struggling to be discovered. That is a story I have seen all too often and think it’s played out. However, when I stumbled upon a way to turn that world upside down and analyze it — via “searching for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found” — I ran with it.
TM: Is any of the book based on your life’s experiences?
PB: No. It’s a work of fiction. The book is an allegory or extended metaphor for that creative battle those chasing the dream out here endure. There are, of course, some experiences, people, and places injected into the prose. However, the characters and plot are all derived from my imagination. Having said that, after reading, people often ask, ‘is this character based on you or so-and-so?’ But that just tells me I’ve written something that’s resonating with people. And that makes me happy.
TM: What is your writing routine?
PB: I’m an early riser. My days typically begins at 6 A.M. I do my best writing in the morning and usually write until around 10. That’s when I take a break and hike in nearby Runyon Canyon, which helps clear my head and recharge the creative batteries. Usually, if things are going well with a project, my characters talk to me throughout my hike and I cannot wait to get my fingers back to my computer keyboard to write some more. That second stretch of writing can last from two to five hours or more, depends on that day. I know a lot writer’s like to write at night, but in that situation, you’re ultimately going to hit a wall with your energy level, which I find frustrating. I enjoy starting in the A.M. with the entire day in front of me.
TM: What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?
PB: 1. Just write. Write whatever is scratching at your brain to get out. Don’t talk yourself out of it or edit yourself along the way. Get that first draft onto the page. Period.
2. Upon ‘finishing’ your first draft, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You have to polish and edit, and my advice is to find someone you trust to help with that process.
3. When the manuscript is ready, a compelling query letter is key, along with perseverance.
4. If you don’t believe in your book, you won’t succeed in selling your book.
TM: Tell me about any upcoming projects.
PB: The marketing/promotion of The Holden Age of Hollywood has been keeping me busy, but am finding time to write my second novel. It’s not connected to The Holden Age of Hollywood in any way, other than both stories are set in LA. Like Holden, the new book combines genres. It’s called The Dog Wonder, and this time it’s part thriller, part detective novel, an unexpected love story, and a quest to prove a theory as to why man’s best friend would ever attack their friend. Did I succeed in hooking your interest? Hope so.
I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of the interview thanks to Innovative Online Book Tours. Regardless, all opinions are mine.
School’s back in session – are you prepared for your family adventures? Are your fridge, pantry and car all stocked for those little hunger emergencies?
Try out the Milk Unleashed app and see if you’re Free-Wheelin’, Ready-Freddy or somewhere in between:
Tool around the app and check out some of the recipes and activities. Who knew you could do so much with shelf stable milk?
Milk Unleashed is giving one of my lucky readers a variety pack of four shelf stable milks (white and chocolate), a cow stress ball and info on shelf stable milk. You can enter on the Rafflecopter below.
I was given a four pack of shelf stable milk by Milk Unleashed in exchange for this post.
Craigslist can be an easy way to buy items you really need and/or want. It can also be an easy (and free) way to sell some of that junk that’s cluttering up your house. But as with any transaction where money exchanges hands, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). Here are some scams to look out for when shopping on Craigslist:
Rental Housing Scam
Rental agencies frequently list their available properties on Craigslist. But beware of those listings that look good to be true. Is the rent significantly less than comparable properties? While we were looking for our current rental, we found two different properties listed on Craigslist which were priced lower than similar houses and the only contact was by email. When we drove by the properties we saw “For Sale” signs on the front lawns. Contacting the “seller” returned a form email which stated that they were out of the country on business, please ignore the for sale sign which they had forgotten to have removed before they left, and that if we mailed them the attached application with a cashier’s check for the first month’s rent and security deposit then they would gladly mail us the keys. Needless to say, we did not follow through with either of these listings, except to report them to Craigslist as fraudulent.
Again, many legitimate car lots list their inventory on Craigslist, and so do many honest, hard-working individuals who just want to get the best price for their 1992 Volvo so they can finally invest in a new car. But there are also scammers out there. Unfortunately, our family found this out the hard way. But that’s a story for another day. The most important thing to remember when buying a car from an individual is that they should have a smog certificate for the car dated within the past 90 days. You should also run the Vehicle Identification Number through Carfax or similar to make sure it has a clean title and has it been in any serious accidents. Lastly, I would take a mechanically-minded person along to check for any obvious problems.
In this scam, the buyer promises event tickets, or airline tickets, but what the buyer actually gets are either forgeries or previously used tickets. Remember that airline tickets can only be used by the person whose name is printed on the face of the ticket. For event tickets, ask to see a copy of the seller’s receipt from his or her original purchase verifying that the tickets are for the date and place you were told.
The seller asks you to wire the money (via Western Union or similar) or send a personal check before they will send you the merchandise. Or the buyer wants to pay with a money order or personal check. Transactions should only be paid via cash (make sure you know how to check for counterfeit bills – see Know Your Money from the US. Secret Service for more info), cashier’s check or Paypal.
Robbery (or worse) Scam
Only meet a seller in a public place. Never enter an unknown seller’s house or allow an unknown buyer to enter your house. ‘Nuff said.
Have you ever been scammed on Craigslist or do you have any more suggestions on how to avoid being scammed? Please let me know in a comment.
This post is about memes – not just your plain, old everyday, run-of-the-mill memes, but really BAD memes.
But, for the uninitiated, what is a meme? According to Webster’s Dictionary, a meme is:
a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
Top Five Really Bad Memes
4. Water Wigs
3. Avril Lavigne – Chad Kroeger Mashup
And the #1 Really Bad Meme is:
If you have seen some really bad memes (even worse than mine?) around the Internet, please share them in the comment section.
I’ve been guest posting around the ‘net lately and I thought you might be interested in visiting me at my friends’ pages (at the end of the list I’ll tell you how you can guest post for me):
I wrote a post on Alternative Uses for Cloth Shopping Bags for Emily.
I shared my favorite recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole at the Parent Palace.
And I returned to Nap Time is My Time with my recipe for Turkey Spaghetti.
Guest Posting Guidelines:
If you would like to guest post here at Window on the World, here’s all you need to do:
Now that I have been blogging for 10 months, I want to help out new bloggers the way my friends helped me out. Guest posting on another blog is a great way to build your readership!!
Today I have the privilege of interviewing the author, Will Dresser.
About the Author:
Will has had an eclectic career, which included work as a Counselor in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a long career in Silicon Valley with Philips Semiconductors from the late ’80s to 2003, and most recently a five-year stint as a paralegal in a patent law office in Palo Alto, California. He is now enjoying semi-retirement in Las Vegas, while pursuing his passion for writing. As he puts it, “I had to retire just to keep up with my workload!”
Will’s creative expression in writing over the years was primarily applied to writing music and lyrics, a passion which he has enjoyed since about 1965. The instrumental “Persian Dreams – Aryana’s Theme”, used on the home page of this site, was written in the early ’90s. Will and Ron (see below) actually began their artistic collaborations way back in 1963, when they helped each other learn to play guitars, subsequently forming various singing groups during that time. Will had always intended to be a novelist, though, and in 2003 turned his attention to that genre with the work “Sacrament of Fear,” his first ‘Wes Franklin’ novel. Since then he has written “The Methuselah Man”, and, together with Ron, turned both those stories into screenplays. Will is currently working on the third ‘Wes Franklin’ installment, “Terminal Rock”, which brings both of his creative loves together – Rock’n'Roll and literature!
In his spare time, Will still enjoys a round of golf every-so-often, though not as frequently as he did in the past. He says, “I used to have a very low handicap…Now, I just have very low expectations!” But, like all golfers, the occasional good shot suckers him into coming back for more!
TM: What gave you the idea for the character of Wes Franklin?
WD: I wanted to write intelligent action thrillers on a variety of topics and global settings but I
also wanted a common thread to hold all the stories together. In my mind the lead character
needed to be of superior intelligence because I intended to weave a lot of factual material
through the stories to make them more believable and contemporary. Much of that information
would come through the lead character, so the reader would need to believe that that character
could reasonably be expected to know the material. Thus I made him a child prodigy with an
extensive educational background. For mobility purposes I made him independently wealthy,
though eventually the reader learns that this wealth came with a cost. And I wanted this character to be an “action figure” but not in a parochial machismo mold. The character’s name came following some intense meditation and reflection on the nature of the character I had in mind. And so Wes Franklin was created.
Wes Franklin could be likened to a synthesis of Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones and James Bond in
that he is an action hero with a superior intellect and a lust for adventure. But where many
protagonists are the most interesting characters in a book, Wes has a slightly different role: Wes Franklin is more like the glue that holds a story together and the light that shines on other
characters in his adventures. Wes Franklin is an important character but he is not the only hero;
he is more of a catalyst than the center of attention, a pivotal character who shares the stage with others, thus giving the reader a familiar anchor while meeting a wealth of new characters in each story.
And Wes Franklin is not “complete” in and of himself. To compliment any of his
shortcomings, I created the recurring characters of Ashley Jordan and Rouzbeh Aryana, who
hold special relationships to Wes, at the same time standing out as strong persons in their own
right. This too brings variety to each story. Ashley Jordan—or A.J. — is the singular love
interest of Wes Franklin, and as such, can be seen as someone like Nora to Nick Charles in the
Thin Man movies, or Marian to Indy. She is strong, intelligent, resourceful, and fully capable of
handling herself in a tight situation, which makes her an even stronger love interest to Wes: she
is with him because she chooses to be!
Rouzbeh Aryana, Wes’s “Persian strongman” generally referred to simply as Aryana, has
been with Wes for nearly fifteen years as a dedicated side-kick. He is a private investigator for
Wes with a multi-cultural fluidity; fluent in several languages, able to blend in to the crowds in
many of the most violent regions in the world, and has proven time and time again to be willing
to place his own body in between Wes and danger.
Together, these three characters take the reader into varied regions of the world, bringing
their own perspectives to bear on each situation. Their complementary strengths make them a
great team when their individual strengths aren’t enough. They are the microcosm of cooperation in a world that needs to learn greater cooperation as a whole. And each story can take the reader into a new world and still retain a sense of familiarity: in Sacrament of Fear the reader sees the violent world of terrorist revenge; in The Methuselah Man it is the world of ultimate redemption juxtaposed with political assassination; Terminal Rock is the clash of rock’n’roll and the Russian Mafia. But always at the heart of the story is Wes Franklin—with his dedicated friends A.J. and Aryana.
TM: Where do you look for inspiration?
WD: Waxing philosophical for a moment, I would say inspiration is not something you need to
look for as much as stay open to. Inspiration is all around us if we tune into it. Everyone has a
story to tell, it’s just a matter of telling it in an interesting way. That said, it also helps to have a
skewed perspective on life!
I try to look for the unusual angles in a story, avoiding the expected, mundane, or trite paths a
story can take, and instead catch the reader by surprise in little ways. [Hopefully, by the time you
finish reading The Methuselah Man you’ll know what I mean.] It helps that I come from a long
line of movie lovers so that I tuned into that medium early in my life. Interesting characters can
be thrown into any kind of situation, and, on the flip side, interesting or unusual situations can
bring out the most compelling aspects of an otherwise common character.
As to subject matter, I love politics, religion, and psychology, and try to incorporate at least
some aspect of each in my stories. The intersection of the three can certainly make for some
TM: You’ve had an eclectic career. Of all the jobs you’ve had, other than writing, which was your favorite?
WD: “Eclectic” is definitely the operational term here. I’ve done electronic intelligence work in
Peshawar, Pakistan; had an audio/video production company for five years; had a role in the
conversion of TV stations to stereo broadcasting in the ‘80s [I was instrumental in facilitating the
first-ever stereo broadcast for CBS in Chicago, Dallas, and LA of the 1985 Grammy Awards];
worked as a patent paralegal dealing with new developments in the fields of chemistry and
biotechnology; spent several summers as a lifeguard and a salesman in men’s clothing stores;
and was a counselor and consultant in the areas of drug and alcohol treatment programs, as well as a Field Office Director for employment and training programs. But the job I spent the most years in was with Philips Semiconductors in California’s Silicon Valley.
The things that made my time at Philips most enjoyable and rewarding were the people, the
travel, and the international exposure to a variety of cultures, as well as having been closely
involved in some very important high tech advancements in telecommunications. Our products
were designed in San Jose, wafer fab’d in Albuquerque, packaged and tested in Taiwan, The
Philippines, and Bangkok, and headquartered in Eindhoven in The Netherlands. I got to meet a
lot of fascinating people from all around the world, people I would never have known if not for
Philips. In my first book, Sacrament of Fear, I’ve used the names of many of my international
friends for my characters as a way of saying hello to them through my writing. Of course, I
always make my friends the good guys in the stories. I give them the assurance that I will never
make them look bad. I might kill them off…but I’ll never make them look bad!
I knew that I would some day be a writer so I paid particular attention to the places I traveled
to for business. In fact, the photo on the back cover of Sacrament of Fear is one of my own that I took outside Centraal Station in Amsterdam. But of all the business travel adventures, the one
that stands out most in my mind was the around-the-world trip I took with my friend and
colleague, Jack Meylink in 1999. We visited our test and assembly plants in conjunction with a
corporate meeting in Zurich and made Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg look like a slacker! We flew
from San Francisco to LA to Osaka, Japan then on to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for a day of meetings.
From there we spent the weekend in Hong Kong before flying on to Manila for more meetings.
This was followed by a visit to our plant in Bangkok, after which we took a midnight flight to
Zurich via Amsterdam for several days of meetings. I left early, returning first to Amsterdam for
the night before catching the plane home. A mere ten days after departing San Francisco heading east, I landed once more in the Bay Area, where a limo picked me up and dropped me off at my apartment for some well needed rest! Much of this trip will find its way into the fourth ‘Wes Franklin’ thriller, The Billionaires Club.
TM:Why did you decide to collaborate on your own screenplays rather than optioning the rights to the stories?
WD: I haven’t ruled out optioning the rights but there were some special reasons for choosing to
handle the screenplay task in the way I did. My partner in this effort is a man who has been like a brother since 1962. I first met Ron Turouske when my family moved from Detroit to Bartlett,
Illinois that summer. Ron and I and a third friend, Mark Sheldon, became instant friends and
have maintained that bond for the past fifty years (fifty years this summer, in fact!). We learned
to play guitars together and formed various singing groups over time. Mark is a fantastic visual
artist whose career in Wisconsin was as a teacher and administrator. Ron’s background included photography and film studies in Santa Barbara, as well as marketing jobs around the world. The three of us were always very much into movies and it was a mutual thought that it would be nice if someday we could collaborate on some artistic endeavor. Though initially invited to work with Ron and me on the screenplays, Mark had other time commitments that worked against this. Ron and I pressed on with the projects and have so far converted the first two books to screenplays. We would both like to be as intimately involved with any movie project as possible when the time comes, whether that is in the requirement for rewrites or other technical support in the process.
TM: Tell me about your upcoming projects.
WD: I am presently writing Terminal Rock, the third installment of the ‘Wes Franklin’ thrillers.
The story is about a Russian rock’n’roll band that has become a worldwide phenomenon ala The Beatles. But from the opening chapter the reader will see that there is much more at play here than simple rock’n’roll. Political corruption, the Russian Mafia, and music all converge in a story of deception, intrigue, secret identities and revenge.
Also in the works (currently occupying various space in my head) are: 1) The Billionaires
Club, the fourth ‘Wes Franklin’ thriller that will deal with wealth, power, and greed set in
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Bangkok; 2) Jared Kennan Cain, an extension of The Methuselah Man
character through that character’s eyes and experiences; and 3) R and R Forever: A WWII Love
Story, which is the true story of Robert and Ruth Shoenthal, my longtime girlfriend’s parents,
who met and fell in love in Pearl Harbor during World War II. I will also begin recording the
audio versions of the ‘Wes Franklin’ books this fall when I return from my month-long road trip,
which starts next Wednesday, August 8th. I’ll be visiting friends and relatives and talking about
my books across a dozen states (UT, CO, NE, IA, WI, IL, OK, KS, TX, NM, AZ.
You can read more about Will Dresser and his books at WillDresser,com
About the Book:
(From Amazon) “GOD, I NEVER KNEW A MAN WHO WANTED SO MUCH TO BE DEAD…OR DESERVED IT MORE.”
These are the opening lines of The Methuselah Man, an international thrill ride that takes you from the halls of power in Washington, to the Las Vegas Strip – with a lethal train ride from Kiev to Istanbul.
The Methuselah Man is the story of…
…President Treem, who is determined to change the nuclear face of the world by unilateral example;
…Vice President Austin, an old-school war hero who will go to any lengths to stop the new policy – including assassination of the President;
…Jared Kennan Cain, a man with a perfect genetic structure whose seeming immortality has left him feeling forever abandoned by God and abducted by a government gone mad; and
…Wes Franklin, a member of the international intelligence network The Cloister of Akhenaten, who races to prevent a nuclear cataclysm of unimaginable magnitude as he gradually discovers the true identity of Jared Kennan Cain — The Methuselah Man
Truth never happens in real time is one of the underlying themes of this gripping thrill ride. The Methuselah Man combines game theory, the Black Plague, human growth hormone, weapons grade plutonium, near death experiences and conspiracy theory for a book with more twists and turns then the Pacific Coast Highway (which also plays a part in the story). If James Patterson and David Baldacci had a baby (with Ian Fleming the proud grandpa), Will Dresser might have been that offspring. This book kept me guessing up until the very end.
The Methuselah Man is the second Wes Franklin book, with a third currently in the works. I can’t wait to go back and read what I missed in book one, Sacrament of Fear. No matter what your opinion on nuclear build-down (or immortality, for that matter), Dresser’s cast of eclectic characters (including strong women) will draw you in and make you care.
My rating: I give The Methuselah Man: 4 1/2 antidotes (to whatever you need an antidote for).
You can find out more about Will Dresser and Wes Franklin at http://www.willdresser.com
Interview with Will Dresser.
The other day when I was walking through the grocery store, I saw the cutest thing in the deli case – meatloaf cupcakes!! I just had to try to make them myself – so here it is – my recipe for meatloaf cupcakes!!
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup bread crumbs
5-6 medium size russet potatoes
1/4-1/2 cup corn niblets
Heat oven to 350F.
Mix all ingredients except potatoes and niblets.
While meatloaf is cooking, peel and boil 5 potatoes, then mash and mix with butter, salt and milk to taste. After you take the meatloaf out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes, cook the niblets in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.
Pop the meatloaf cupcakes out of the pan and top with a scoop of mashed potatoes and a sprinkling of niblets.
I first discovered Astrobrights when my mom taught me how to create handmade greeting cards, about ten years ago. I fell in love with the bright colors. The cardstock style was perfect for my little projects. Then when Art and I opened our golf shop we used the regular thickness Astrobright paper to print sales flyers for our store.
In the years since I have found many uses for Astrobrights, including flyers and posters for church and school, scrapbooking and invitations. My favorite color is Solar Yellow, but I also think it’s fun to match the color with the season or topic, i.e. Re-entry Red or Plasma Pink for Valentine’s Day, Planetary Purple for a wine and chocolate party, etc. With 23 bright colors to choose from, there are so many possibilities!!
Astrobrights on Facebook has semiweekly challenges you can participate in to win up to $400 in gift cards. Just submit a photo of your design that fits the current challenge to be entered to win. This week’s theme is “Get Colorful” and the challenge is to make paper flowers. I have to admit paper flower-making is not in my skill set, but I would love to see your work if you decide to try it. The challenges continue until September 9th.
Follow Astrobrights on Facebook and you can enter to win $30,000 in supplies for your favorite school (K-8) plus a $500 gift card for yourself with the “Give a Brighter Year” sweepstakes!! It’s easy to enter and you can doi it once a week until September 18th.
What is your favorite thing you have made with Astrobrights? Tell me about it or post a link to your pin in the comment section below. I promise to comment back!!
I’m now at 10 months blogging. I would by no means call myself an expert, but I do have a few pet peeves (or bugbears) that I write about from time to time. The bugbear this week is family privacy.
I know, I know, who am I throw to throw stones? A good deal of my blog is about my family. And even with all the pseudonyms, I know that if people dug hard enough they could figure out who my kids are. But Boo and Bud are 20 and 17, plenty old enough to have their own Facebook page (or maybe even blog?) and to decide what they are willing or not for me to reveal about them.
Over my few months blogging I have noticed many mom blogs start out as personal blogs – a way to share Jon-Jon’s first steps with close friends and family. But then these moms get bitten by the same writing bug I did and decide to expand their blog to include reviews, recipes, giveaways, etc.
The problem is that as these blogs grow their audience, they are still sharing intimate details of their children’s lives, including their birthdays, ages, occasionally real names, personal quirks, etc. This information is now available for the whole world to read about. Setting stalking concerns aside (although to me that is a big concern), what happens to these kids when they’re adults? Here’s a question posed by a reader of the NY Times Parenting Blog way back in 2009:
What’s going to happen in 5 or 10 years (depending on the age of the kids) when they learn how to use Google and find what their parents have been posting about them for the entire world to read?
…, once you post something online, you can’t take it back. My friends and I joke how back when we were in school, the teachers always threatened to put things on our “permanent record”, and the web has now become everyone’s permanent record. How are kids going to react when they see what their parents have written about them and posted it for public consumption? Should parents use more judgment in what they write? Should they use pseudonyms? - New York Times, August 31, 2009
So, I’m curious what my readers have to say on this topic. Even with my children’s permission, have I revealed too much about them? How do we protect our children from the “permanent record” of the Internet? Please leave your comments!!