Ever Thought About Quitting This Way?

Pardon my absence lately.

I’ve been super sick for almost a week and until today, just the thought of opening my laptop made me even more nauseous. So I’ve been doing lots of Olympic-watching, sleeping, The Walking Dead, sleeping, a Lethal Weapon marathon, sleeping, and I just started Breaking Bad (I’m one episode in and it’s kind of weird, but I’m intrigued). 

My wife deserves the gold medal for taking care of me and the also-sick kids. Or whatever is better than gold (green and wrinkly maybe?).

Anyway, I’ve been thinking.

Writers often feel like they’re alone in the struggle to conceive and develop a good story. But being at home for practically the last 144 consecutive hours, I’ve stared a lot at our personal library. And I was thinking that behind each book is an author who probably felt they were alone in the struggle.

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Each one probably wanted to give up, to call it quits, to throw their hands in the air and yell, “What’s the point?”

Hell, just a quick glance through your Netflix library, and you can come to the same conclusion. Behind each movie or TV show there’s a writer or staff of writers facing the same struggle.

That’s a lot of movies. A lot of books. A lot of plays. A lot of writers.

So maybe quitting isn’t as common and “normal” as we think. Maybe quitting is actually the weird thing to do. Perhaps quitting actually makes us losers in a world of winners.

A Little About “The Underneath”

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Endever Studios just released the third installment of the serial novel, “The Underneath.”

Take a moment to meet the characters who suddenly find themselves in an increasingly changing world.

All over the globe there is a disturbing siren that blasts through the air. It lasts for half an hour and ends with an earth-jolting shake, felt by everyone, everywhere. Suddenly the sun does not shine in places where the skies are clear, rain doesn’t fall from impregnated rain clouds. The wind ceases to blow, the temperature drops drastically.

Kyle Logan is newly divorced and trying to adjust to the single life. He loses his suit and tie, moves out of town, and buys a ranch house. A new start. But it’s difficult to start over when his ex-wife Stacey drops by for a visit. Some ghosts are hard to run from.

Dr. Edwin Remy: A young, accomplished professor who recently lost his tenure due to his escalating schizophrenic condition. In his hallucinations, he sees Ollie, his former research partner, who taunts him about his knowledge, his (possible) past history with this otherworldly encounter, and makes Edwin question everything he knows, including himself.

Cameron Agee acts as a surrogate father to his sixteen-year-old sister leaving him no time to party or live the normal life of a high school senior. When all hell breaks lose, he is unable to find her in the school mob as the students make a rush for their homes.

Desi Moreno: A teenage, Hispanic boy – neighbor to Edwin Remy – who helps takes care of his mother and sister. He is a talented painter, often skipping school to sell his pieces to support his family. Once the encounter occurs, he starts receiving visions (often harmful to himself) while he paints that foresee upcoming events. These visions, in turn, threaten to expose the person he has been hiding within himself for years.
“The Underneath” is a serial novel of suspense and mystery of epic proportions. Enjoy the third installment here!

Addressing My Own Stubbornness

Great conversation and comments on yesterday’s post! Thank you for all who contributed. I’ve read through most of your reasons for being stubborn by not walking away from the written word and indulging fully in the technology age, and I’ve got to say, many of you are much deeper and intellectually-minded than I am.

I thought through my own reasons for not being willing to put down my books, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. I am a control freak. My poor family has to deal with this on a regular basis. I know I’m not trying hard enough to break the habit, but I’m trying to try hard enough. Anyway, when I’m reading a book I get to control the pace of the story. Rent a movie and you’re slapped with the 142 min. run time. No more, no less, unless of course you skip the credits (GASP!). If I want a scene to unfold slowly, then I can choose to take my time processing the information before me. If a scene is boring, I can read fast. If a scene is suspenseful . . . (A huge shout-out to Sarah Angleton from The Practical Historian for nailing this one)
  2. THE SUSPENSE! I am absolutely obsessed with being in suspense. It’s like a weird non-sexual dominatrix thing I’ve got going on. Everyone loves a good cliffhanger, and that’s the exact reason I love books more than movies and TV shows:

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In movies, the suspense is revealed according to the director’s timing. You can’t hold out a little longer if he/she decides to reveal the outcome of a suspenseful situation.

TV shows are just too painful. They leave you with a cliffhanger and then you’re stuck scratching an irritating itch for a whole week or even several months. (This is why I love discovering shows really late because then I can Netflix them. Then the problem becomes not knowing when to stop. I’ve got to reach the next cliffhanger, I’ve got to know what happens, I’ve got to reach the next cliffhanger, what happens, cliffhanger, answers! It’s an endless cycle.)

So those are my two reasons why I refuse to let go of my books. I’m a suspense junkie. Speaking of suspense, you should check out the serial novel, “The Underneath” that my publishing company’s authors are writing.

Thanks for contributing to the conversation and may your weekend be filled with words, intimacy with your characters, and suspense!

Not What It Seems

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Since I was young I’ve had bad hearing. Thirty-percent hearing loss in one ear and forty-percent in the other. Something like that.

As a result I used to get words words wrong all the time.

For instance…

I thought there was an N in early: “Earnly.”

I used to say “supposebly” instead of “supposedly.” (Except I don’t know what sentences would require me to say that word, but if I said it, that’s how I would have pronounced it.)

I pronounced helicopter: helicockter. 

And if something was corny, I’d say it was horny.

A lot of times things aren’t what they seem. Your life could be heading in a direction completely different from what you expect.

I heard of a guy at work who got passed up for a promotion. Turns out the boss was holding out for a better promotion which he didn’t get because he let his performance slide.

I thought those spots on Michael Phelps were because he sucks at Nerf. Turns out it’s a form of therapy involving suction cups.

I once thought my highest aspiration was to be an author. Now I own my own company.

So take my advice with a great assault and remember that things are hardly ever what they seem.

And check out Endever’s serial novel, “The Underneath” if you’ve caught up with your Olympics viewing.

The Underneath Part 2

The second part of “The Underneath” is posted. Enjoy! Please be advised the the below portion is just a portion. To read the full segment, go to Endever’s blog.

“Attention, attention,” the principal starts. Not surprisingly it takes everyone at least six minutes to actually give their full attention. Teachers from all over the room scramble to demand their students’ due respect for Principal Newhouser. Finally the principal speaks over the commotion. “I know it is tempting, especially now, to engage with your mobile devices, but I ask for at least ten minutes of your attention.” Only a few students using their devises take this threat seriously and put their phones away, which Cameron finds amusing.

“As you may have heard, there is a countrywide threat that has presented itself through several known attacks on several major cities,” Newhouser states, as officially as he can. Hungry for the latest, the students now direct their attention to him. “For any of you who have loved ones in any of the affected cities, my sincere prayers for their safety is extended to you. Rest assured that-”

Suddenly the ground and the chair underneath Cameron gives and the entire student body screams in terror as the lights flicker then burn out. The auditorium stills as quickly as it moved. Screams echo from all around and the auditorium is dimly lit by the blue and white glow coming from everyone’s phones.

Principal Newhouser’s voice can barely be heard through the speakers ordering everyone to stay calm and to not panic. But now even the teachers are ignoring him and poring over their devices. Cameron hears determined protests from people all around him saying they’re going home, and before he knows it, everyone is on their feet making a rush toward the Exit signs. A blow horn sounds, probably from one of the faculty members trying to get the students to settle down, but it goes unheard.

Trying to stay on his feet amidst the mob, Cameron pulls out his phone to text his sister, but it says there’s no signal. He pockets it and begins yelling her name, but his efforts are futile. He can’t even hear his own voice above the commotion. He’s determined to get to her before her boyfriend and his gang talk her into running off with them. She resents it, but ever since their parents achieved their fame and success, he’s had to become a surrogate father to her. If anything happens to Lisa, it’s on him, and he’ll be damned if he lets that happen.

The parking lot is a total disaster as students rush to get out of the school. It’s worse than Black Friday at the mall. Cameron notices the sirens have stopped, but it’s eerily dark out even though the nearest clouds are a long way off. He also notices that there are no shadows on the ground. He glances up at the sun and it looks no different.

Read the rest here.

 

 

New Serial Novel: “The Underneath”

Be advised that this is a condensed version. To read the segment in full, click here.

Endever Publishing Studios presents

The Underneath: Part 1

Written by Coral Rivera and Andrew Toy

It’s heavily overcast, the clouds an inky black…he’s never heard sirens sound like this before. It’s a high-pitched whistle as well as a deep reverberating humming that he can almost feel under his feet. The sound comes from all around him.

The air is oddly still, but he figures the wind will kick up soon enough. He walks toward the horse pen and pets Kiss on the snout. She’s snorting and huffing more than usual, but that’s understandable with the sirens being as loud as they are. God, they’re getting louder. He almost has to cover his ears.

He watches as a hawk circles above several yards away and eventually swoops down to snatch its prey. It darts back up over the road that leads to his home and Kyle can see a mouse’s tail swooshing wildly in the bird’s beak.

Kiss just keeps shaking her head, snorting loudly and viciously. “What’s the matter, girl?” Kyle asks, trying to pet the long nose.

But Kiss does not calm down. She stomps her front hooves, kicking dust up all around them. Then without warning, she takes off running around the pen like a dog set free.

Suddenly the ground shifts under Kyle’s Converse and he has to catch himself. There’s a deep rumble in the earth as the entire countryside tremors as though the earth just got itself into a fender bender, or else the ground underneath just had an upset stomach. Either way, it’s enough to make Kyle have to regain his balance. Kiss stumbles, but continues her stride.

Silence fills the air.

It is utter and complete silence. No birds sing. There’s no breeze. And the sirens have stopped. A ghostly eeriness threatens to take hold as the clouds darken up above. There is still no wind, and even though it’s midmorning, it’s dark enough to be getting on midnight.

A sinking feeling pokes Kyle’s stomach, but he dismisses it as just immature paranoia. Tomorrow, after the storm blows over, the sun will shine and the neighbors will swap their storm stories with one another about how they had to live on their generators all day and how cleaning up the debris will set them back a day.

He turns his attention back to the hawk, gliding higher and higher with its prey clenched in its beak. Then suddenly, as though hitting a ceiling, it descends toward the earth. It doesn’t swoop down in one majestic motion like it had before. Instead, it’s falling clumsily to the earth like a rock. There was no gunshot, nothing. It’s as if the bird just stopped working altogether and now it’s falling as though some kid dropped a stuffed bird out of a plane.

Kyle furrows his brow and directs his attention out across the sea of grass. A few of the metal bars that holds up the fencing have been slightly bent, now leaning instead of standing erect.

He decides to go into the nearby town to pick up a shovel from the hardware store to fix the pen…He locks Kiss up in the barn, grabs the keys to his truck, hops in, and hopes to hell he makes it back before it starts coming down.

He slows his truck when he passes the fallen hawk and sees no abnormal abrasions. It lies stiff on the side of the road, its wings still spread as though posing for a picture for a museum brochure. In its beak the mouse still squirms and fights to get loose from its clenched beak, scratching the ground as though running in place.

 

READ THE FULL SEGMENT HERE

The Pixar Challenge

EdCatmull_lores“Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” is a motto Steve Jobs lived by.

As a business owner, I see myself as an artist because I’m creating something from nearly nothing.

But artists still need inspiration. Filmmakers need a camera. Animators need a pencil or a computer. Sculptors need clay. And painters need landscapes or models.

But all artists need inspiration. Without it, nothing could be created.

My inspiration as the founder of a publishing studio is an animation studio located 2,307 miles away. My inspiration comes from Pixar Animation Studios, namely the founder and owner Ed Catmull.

Millions of people watch Pixar movies every year and even study the studio from a business standpoint and ask, “How do they do it?”

It’s no secret. Mr. Catmull was gracious enough to provide many answers to both artists and businesspeople through his ingenious book, Creativity, Inc.

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In the book, Catmul is open and honest about his and Pixar’s mistakes along the way to success and even after. His thesis is that creativity is found in people, not just ideas—a revelation I’m still trying to wrap my mind around.

So how, as a fledgling company, can Endever Publishing Studios mimic a multi-million-Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 10.58.49 AMdollar animation studio?

By their principles, for one. Pixar Animation gives their employees the freedom to express themselves and their ideas. They’re not hammered down by corporate policies and suits and ties. There are channels set in place for them to go through, but the channels are designed within the studio to be an asset to success, not a barrier, as most companies have it.

Their work ethic for another. I don’t mean just following the rules, but I mean going abovePresto_poster and beyond to win the trust and approval of their audiences (or customers). One example of this is by their short films they release along with every feature film they produce. Prior to (and excluding) the DVR releases of Pixar’s short films, they make virtually no money on their short films. They’re also in production to help aspiring artists and directors spread their wings in preparation for full-length features.

And lastly, but not conclusively, Endever Publishing Studios attempts to mimic Pixar’s storytelling techniques. This is critical seeing that Endever is in the business of storytelling. We are a studio that refuses to release ordinary material. I’m sure we’ll make mistakes in this regard, but we have a system that we are building from within to make the storytelling process as airtight and flawless as possible.

Catmull, in his book, even takes the liberty to give the readers a sneak-peak inside one of Pixar’s “Braintrust” sessions where the storytellers argue and analyze and hash out idea after idea after idea to extract exactly the feelings and thoughts they’re trying to convey to the audience. The process is rigorous, and even draining. But it’s a worthy expedition as Pixar makes films that not only entertain but that enlighten, affect, and even change lives.

It’s a wonder to me that no other businesses that I know of is following Pixar’s model. The leader of one of the greatest companies in the world has literally given us the answer sheet on how to run a successful business, how to begin the process of creating paramount and original stories, yet Dreamworks isn’t pulling the brakes on their mediocre creative factory to regroup, managers aren’t saying, “How can I make my employees feel enabled and motivated?”

If that’s happening, I don’t know about it.

I take Ed Catmull’s book as a challenge to the rest of us. A challenge to step up our game in both the creative and the business worlds. I want to be like Ed. I want my company to be like Pixar. I vow to keep my employees happy and make them feel enabled and that they have much to contribute to the company. I vow to not release a book or any published material produced by Endever until it is something that we believe will not only satisfy immediate readers but will withstand the test of time.

Consider me the first to accept the Pixar Challenge. Will you, as an artist or a business owner or manager, join me?

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