Writers: Sing, Don’t Tap

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Do you ever sit at your desk at work and click your tongue to a song that’s stuck in your head? Or tap your pen or finger to a little ditty that won’t dance away?

Like this:

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap-tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. Tap tap-tap tap tap tap tap-tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP, TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP. Tap tap tap tap-tap-tap-tap tap-tap-tap. 

You know what that song is, right?

Just look at it. Follow the same notes I’m singing in my head.

Well, guess what. You can’t. Because there are no words. There are no notes. But just because I know the song doesn’t mean your stupid. It just means I’m stupid for not providing the words and the notes.

As writers, we are charged with the responsibility to paint a much broader picture for our readers than just dialogue or just narrative. In order for our readers to grasp our full meaning of what we’re trying to convey, we must present the time, the setting, the people, and the mood.

To leave one of these out is like expecting someone to guess what song your’re clicking your tongue to.

So think about that as you write. Is what you’ve written only discernible to you, or could an outsider  see and get exactly what your conveying?

In other words, sing, don’t tap.

(By the way, the song tapped out above is “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers. I blame How I Met Your Mother for getting it stuck in my head.)

Poll: How Can We Please You?

As you know my publishing company Endever has just released two books in ebook form. One, a teen romance novel about a girl who falls in love with a guy after he dies. (You can check it out here.) The other, a mainstream novel about the Angel of Death, named Dee, who’s got an attitude and a playlist to match, always on the lookout for the next victim of an accident or crime to take into the great beyond. (You can check that one out here.)

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They’re both up on Amazon. I want to thank each of you who has bought our books and hope that you will write an review of them and pass them along to your friends and family. But to those who have not purchased your own copies, I’d like to politely ask why. I’m not mad. I’m just curious.

As the owner of Endever, I sincerely want to know what will catch your attention. What will it take to get your support, for you to purchase our books? I’ve created a poll for you to participate in if you would like to provide feedback.

I provide feedback to my employers all the time and they kind of get annoyed by me. I’m not that employer. I genuinely want to know how to grab your attention. So if you have not purchased our books from Amazon yet, please tell me below, either utilizing the poll tool or via a comment in the comments section.

Twenty-Seven Ways You Can Die

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love hearing a good sob story. Like stories about when you found out Santa isn’t real, or pathetic reasons you got fired from your job. Or how you found out that everyone will die. Here’s my story.

I was maybe six or so. I remember my family and I took a trip to some historical park. I don’t remember where. Over the years I’ve accepted that we drove up from Southern California to Washington State. I don’t remember that trip if it ever happened, but I remember being behind the backseat of whatever station wagon we were driving through whatever historical park we were visiting.

The following moment was so surreal that all else faded from memory.

I just remember my mom, dad, and sister were in the car. And maybe my grandparents.

The historical park (or wherever we were)  had several bronze statues of historical figures. You know, those eleven-foot statues set up on brick cylinders? I remember looking up at one of them (probably of Thomas Jefferson, or some colonial figure because he had the ruffles and the tricorne hat) and wondering how a statue is made.

I was curious enough to ask about it in the back of the car. “How do they make those statues?” I asked. “Who are they?”

“They’re of famous people who’ve died,” came the response from the front.

Now, before I go any further, I need to explain the difference between what parents say and what children hear. Observe:

Parent says: “Don’t touch that glass doll.” Child hears: “Touch any other glass doll.”

Parent says: “If you pull on the Christmas tree it will fall over and kill you.” Child hears: “If you pull on the Christmas tree it’s going to make a mess and there might be blood!”

So when my parents said that those statues were of famous people who died, I heard, “When you die, you get turned into a statue.”

Immediately I imagined being encased in an iron cast for all eternity. Then I asked the next fatal question: “How did they die?”

The answer: “Some got sick, some got old, some died in wars.”

(At this point, I need to remind you that I didn’t know yet that death was inevitable. I thought those were just really unlucky bastards who struck out big time. Like, don’t go to war, duh. Go to the doctor, duh.)

Then I said, “That’s sad.” I didn’t mean it was sad that they died. I meant that it was sad that they were encased in an iron shell, tormented by eternal stillness and stiff muscles for all eternity like Han Solo.

Then someone said: “It’ll happen to everyone sooner or later.”

At this point, the violins I was hearing were interrupted with a scratchy record and my eyes popped open. “What?” I asked.

“Well, everyone dies.” I wished adults really did sound like the Peanuts grown-ups so I didn’t have to hear that.

“Everyone?”

“Everyone.”

“You mean, you’re doing to die, Dad?”

“Yup.”

“And you, Mom?”

“Yup.”

I asked everyone by name if they were going to die. And then I asked the inevitable: “Am going to die?”

“Someday. But not for a long, long time.”

I didn’t care that it wasn’t going to be for a long time. All I cared about was that one day I was going to be turned into one of those statues, helpless as I watched people walk past in droves pointing at me, birds pooping on me, being left out in the cold every night.

So the violins started back up in my head and I burst out in tears. That’s pretty much all I remember from that whole trip.

You know what I did next?

After my family told me everything would be okay and that people don’t turn into statues when they die (unless you’re in Narnia), I then started counting all the possible ways people could die.

Sickness. Old age. Getting hit by a car. Flying into a window (because my knowledge of death was limited to dogs, squirrels, and birds apparently). I also included drowning and holding your breath too long for the fun of it and stubbing your toe so bad that you die.

I came up with about twenty-seven ways a person could die. And these were twenty-seven things I tried to avoid doing from then on out.

You know what I should have done instead? I should have thought about all the different ways to live.

Twenty-seven years later I guess I still have time to change my thinking. You know, before I turn into a statue. So here’s my new list:

Ways to Live:

How I Met Your … Friends?

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So I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time ever. I’m halfway through season 4, and I love the show. Where has it been all my life? Oh, just right there on my TV but I never bothered to give it a try until Netflix decided to be awesome.

I grew up on Friends, and other than The Fresh Prince, that was my go-to show. (I actually secretly call it The Ross and Chandler Show since I seriously cannot get enough of those two. I mean, Ross getting a spray-on tan – classic.)

maxresdefaultIn many ways the shows are identical. You’ve got the group of friends nearly divided equally between guys and girls. Two side characters get hitched. One of the guys is a playboy who can land any girl he wants (and does). And then you’ve got the main guy on each show (face it, everything revolves around Ross as much as it does Ted), who wants nothing more than to settle down, but just can’t seem to find the time or woman to do it with (which is ironic, because there’s really not many guys like that, so you’d think the girls would flock all over them). There’s Central Perk vs. MacLaren’s; New York/New York (see what I did there?); the guys can’t fight; it’s all about sex; always guaranteed a good time (see what I did there, too?).

The biggest difference I see in the two shows is that the storytelling strengths are there in How I Met Your Mother as the endless laugh-out-loud moments overflow from Friends.

So unless Mother tanks next season (which most shows do around season 5, except for Friends, which held a fairly level streak through all ten seasons), I’m going to be forced to decide which show is better.

That’s like having to choose vanilla or chocolate. Or an eggnog frappuccino or a gingerbread frappuccino (I don’t like hot drinks).

It’ll be like having to choose a favorite child.

So! I want to hear from you all. Am I in for a good time for the duration of Mother, or should I brace for a crash-landing like so many beloved sitcoms tend to succumb to?

It seems to me the writers must have had the ending in mind when they wrote the pilot. Something to do with a yellow umbrella? So do me a favor and let me know what I’m in for, whether that be in the form of hyping or warning.

Breaking the Adult Shell

I marvel at how open kids can be. My two-year-old son, for instance, will just go up to anyone at the park and hug them. The awkwardness never simmers. And my almost three-year-old daughter will become best friends with anyone that has hair the same length as her and smiles.

When you’re a parent, you often reflect on your own childhood and marvel at how different you once were. I know I do.

I remember the first day of third grade, I sat across from this kid named Arty. We just kept staring at each other the whole class and kept seeing who would break and laugh first. We were inseparable that whole year and I blame him for not learning my long division.

Now, as an adult, I avoid eye-contact as much as possible with the guy that sits across from me at work.

It used to be that a new kid moved in next door and you’d go over and introduce yourself with a ball and glove. I just ran into our new neighbor for the first time last weekend and simply smiled and nodded. He’d been there for about a month.

Getting old means losing your edge. If you’re like me, it means getting bitter and growing more and more insecure. My shy and acne-infested high school self was Bruno Mars compared to who I’ve grown up to be.

My best friend of sixteen years has the same issue. So he came up with the idea of challenging each other to do out-of-the-box things every day. Ask a stranger for money, buy our wives flowers, fart in an elevator and own up to it, whatever.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s an attempt to make us a feel a little more alive than our adulthood wants us to be. It’s an attempt to not be crushed by conformity. To not lose the luster of trying new things or be found ball-less when a challenge presents itself.

Last week I was challenged to give the Thanksgiving prayer. Not being one to pray, it was awkward and never-ending. The end result was that I sincerely hoped that “our bellies will be filled with this food.” It worked, but the prayer was a complete mess.

I used to love talking in public and sharing stories, but the fact that I almost lost my lunch when I was given that challenge just shows how much I’ve lost myself.

So that’s our challenge: To push each other to do things we would have done in high school but are too wimpy to do now. What do you do to keep yourself spry and spontaneous? What kinds of challenges would you issue your friends?

Click here for a coupla great books for your Christmas shopping budget. 

Books for Just $3!

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving and is loving the hustle and bustle of Black Friday. I wanted to drop a little tip. If you happen to be on Amazon, stop by and pick up my book These Great Affects, and another incredible indie book, A Deathly Compromise by Coral Rivera. Both are just $3 instead of $10 this weekend. Here are the links:

These Great Affects by Andrew Toy – The story of a fifteen-year-old girl who meets a guy and fall in love with him just a little too late. Like, after-he’s-dead-too-late. Click here to check out more!

A Deathly Compromise by Coral Rivera – Dee is the queen of the underworld incarnated into the form of a young woman who has taken up residence in a Portland hospital. With a killer attitude and a playlist to match, she spirits away the souls of the dying for their journey to the great beyond. Click here to read more about it and purchase it!

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A Politically Incorrect Thanksgiving Poem

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This Thanksgiving falls sixteen days after the presidential nomination.

Some rejoice the results while others bemoan the abomination.

 

Verbal shots will be taken and friends will fall prey

to the slander and abuse that will take place on this day.

 

No longer will just the blood of turkeys be spilled

but those of our family and friends as our bellies are filled.

 

Instead of giving thanks around the table this year

Americans one and all will incite loathing and fear.

 

“You tree-hugging liberal skank,” some will abhor.

And on the table’s opposite: “You racist republican whore.”

 

They’ll start off as groans and hard-to-hear mumbles

as the potatoes boil they’ll become audible grumbles.

 

Eye-rolls will turn into daggers shot hard

as all await the first to play the dreaded Trump card.

 

The stuffing will be dished with fingers stiff and pointing

mocking the cabinet Trump is appointing.

 

But let’s not forget those who voted for a party third

They’ll be blending in while cutting and also flipping the bird.

 

Whispers will give way to talk then raise to loud shouting

and the expletives will become part of the verbal spouting.

 

“You voted for that blood-spilling, lying bitch?”

“Do you not value me as a woman, or do you have a brain-glitch?”

 

On it will go no one having the time of their lives

“Pass me the garlic, the onions, and chives!”

 

Phones will be passed in lieu of toasty gravy,

sharing videos of Hillary bashing the NAVY.

 

More videos: Hillary bowing toward Mecca!

More videos: Trump groping my friend Miss Rebecca!

 

Trump has too much hair! Hillary’s eyebrows too bushy!

Hillary’s just reaching for power! Trumps grabbing…well, he’s pushy.

 

Some will say, “Throw Hillary in jail!”

Others say it’s to Trump we should heil.

 

Hillary loves terrorists! Trump loves Putin!

(My face is bloating, do these yams have gluten?)

 

All the while there’s a corpse on our table who had a shot at more life

But today’s president did not pardon this bird from the knife.

 

I ask you, how is that fair and how do we fare?

We still bicker and fight though we still get to breathe air.

 

So when you look at that turkey and slice its gullet

think back to a time of Game Boys and mullets.

 

When you were a kid at the Thanksgiving table,

the peace was so nice it was almost a fable.

 

Don’t judge your gay neighbors or steal your uncle’s guns.

Just laugh with your friends and have fun

(and don’t forget to grab some buns).

 

Happy Thanksgiving Americans one and all.