The Forgotten Child Trilogy Box Set Finally Here!

I’m happy to announce the imminent release of the Kindle version of THE FORGOTTEN CHILD: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY. It will be available from Amazon on December 5 and can be pre-ordered starting now!

PRE-ORDER HERE!

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The definitive box set of The Forgotten Child Trilogy includes all three novels – A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR – THE AFRICAN CONNECTION – THE PARTING IN THE SKY. Follow the exploits of Bee and Ash, two mysterious creatures from the realm beyond, who chose to use the old Manhattan curmudgeon Francis Frick to do their bidding. What ensues is an around-the-world, time-travelling adventure to find the forgotten child and right the many wrongs of Francis Frick. From Manhattan, to Scotland, to Germany, to Cambodia, to Rwanda, and Romania, The Forgotten Child Trilogy is an adventure unlike you’ve ever come across before.

Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY:

“5 Stars. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure!” – Author Colleen Chesebro

“5 Stars. Beyond the imaginable … I loved this series and can’t wait to see what he publishes next!” – Inspirational author Dolores Ayotte

“”A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.” – Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

 

PRE-ORDER HERE!

My Play This Weekend in Penang: Grade Semantics

My play “Grade Semantics” hits the stage this weekend as part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia.

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This is a play that I’ve produced twice myself, and it’s a hit — especially with students and teachers. I’ve even had a HS counselor tell me after watching it that the farcical aspects of the play very much played out as true in those fun one-on-one chats with students.

Here an excerpt from the play. Enjoy!
STUDENT: That’s it. I’m going to tell the principal.
MR. S.: What are you going to tell the principal?
STUDENT: I’m going to inform the principal about your discriminatory grading practices.
MR. S.: I do not have discriminatory grading practices!
STUDENT: So, you are saying that everyone in your classes get the same grade?
MR. S.: No, of course not.
STUDENT: Just as I suspected. You look over the tests, and you discriminate. You say ‘that test goes into the good pile’ and ‘that test goes into the bad grade pile’ where all of mine always end up.
MR. S. Because—
STUDENT: You always have reasons, don’t you? Because. Because. Because. Because you don’t like words that start with the letter B.
MR. S.: That’s ridiculous.
STUDENT: This is anything but ridiculous. Let me ask you a question, Mr. S. Do you think bad grades will affect my future?
MR. S.: Yes, I absolutely think that’s true.
STUDENT: Ah, ha! Caught you! You are purposefully affecting my future.
MR. S.: That’s not what I said.
STUDENT: My bad grades might misrepresent who I am to the Ivy League schools. I might not get into Harvard because of your discrimination. Employers are going to look down upon me because of my bad grades. My future earnings are in jeopardy because of your grade discrimination. We are living in an age when grades just separate people into the achievers and the non-achievers. The passing and the failing. I thought we as a society were beyond this type of blatant discrimination, holding people back because of word that starts with B. But apparently, in some corners of education, there are still the vestiges of entrenched systemic discrimination. I thought you were better than that, Mr. S. I thought you were woke to the realities of the modern world. I’m ashamed to be your student and I do not under any circumstance acknowledge the authority of your grades over my life. I am, from this moment on, grade-free.

 

FREE ON KINDLE: The African Connection

For the first time ever, Book 2 of The Forgotten Child Trilogy: THE AFRICAN CONNECTION is free on Kindle this weekend only!

Get your copy HERE!

The synopsis:

A child has been saved, but with international master criminal Heinrich Ulrich still on the lam, no one is content—not Bee, not Ash, and most certainly not Francis Frick. As the FBI closes in on Frick’s dealings, Bee decides to recruit young Hatty Parker to help Frick exact revenge on Ulrich and search for another child to save. But when Bee’s actions begin to worry the realm beyond, her old nemesis returns to earth to thwart her plans and pit her against her beloved companion Ash, leaving Frick and his new side-kick to play dangerous time-travel games with a genocidal maniac.

Don’t have book 1?  It’s on sale too! Pick up A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far for only 99 cents! This also a limited time!

Book 1 Here for 99 cents!

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Beta Readers: Choose Tough Ones

I just heard back from my first beta reader concerning my newest novel MOSES THE SINGER. She’s ready to answer my questions.

Am I terrified? Of course. She is the first person in the world to read this manuscript after myself. I have five other people working their way through it right now.

Is it killing me that she gave no indication if she like or hated it?  Yes.

Am I glad she didn’t? YES. As much as I hate it, I want beta readers to be tough, critical, fair, and blunt.

Here’s why:

  1. Beta readers are not seeing the final product yet. Why I have done a lot of revision and editing on the manuscript, it hasn’t gone through the final editing process yet. Beta readers are meant to help you get it ready for the final push for the book.
  2. I need unbiased eyes. I wouldn’t send a manuscript to anyone unless I was happy with it, but I have no idea what a reader might think of the story. If it sucks, or if it has a major flaw, I need to know. The writer is sometimes too close to his or her own story to see the warts.
  3. I want to get better. Fawning praise will not help me improve my writing. Serious reflection and tough questions will.

When I choose a beta reader, I choose people who are voracious readers. I choose people who love literature and are well versed on all types of quality writing. When possible, I choose English teachers or people who are writers or aspiring writers themselves. I choose people whom I respect and have shown a passion for literary criticism to one degree or another.

My beta readers are tough, and I want them to be blunt, no matter how much it might hurt my fragile writer’s ego. So here goes, wish me luck, and let’s hope the following criticism will make the end product that much better. The end product means the book in question AND my writing in general.

PS: Just so we’re clear, I am okay for beta readers to tell me how much they liked it, too. Praise has its place. So, feel free.

 

The Awesomeness of Show Week

Again. I’m privileged. I write, and I’m in a situation where I can produce it for the stage. And it’s awesome!

Show week is coming up. It was obvious last evening as I put in six hours on set and light design. It’s not a finished product yet, but here’s what I have so far.

No. “ORIE” doesn’t have any meaning. It will actually eventually say “Stories Vol. 2” – just not there yet.  I’ve had so much over the past couple of years learning lighting design and I still have SOOO much more to learn, but it’s a pretty cool thing to work through your own script and plot out the lighting cues and imagine what the final product will look like.

This is a black-box theater type of show. I don’t have a black box theater at my disposal, so I’m making one. I’m putting the audience on-stage on platforms overlooking the small rectangular stage I created by using four ellipsoidal lights. You can see it in the picture on the left. That area is the stage for this show. It’s tiny. But that’s the way I like it. The audience will be crammed all around that area. Even the lighting console has been moved to stage right. Intimate in the extreme. In my mind, there’s nothing like intimate theater.

When I told people that the audience is going to be sitting on the stage, they look at me and shake their heads. “What is wrong with this guy?” They look out over the 650 seat auditorium and ask, “What about those seats?” They will be empty, is my reply. But they’ll understand when they see it. When they experience it. When the actors are so close you can see the veins popping out of their necks. When they see the intensity, and feel the emotion up close. Then they’ll know why I did what I did. Or at least I hope.

It’s show week. I only get about three of these a year, so I’m going to enjoy the stress, the last minute to-do list, the horrible dress rehearsal, the myriad details, the dropped lines, the dead crowds, the scared look on the faces of the young actors backstage … I’m going to enjoy it all, because it’s awesome.

 

Want to Experience Bad Writing? Watch Madame Secretary, Season 5, episodes 17-19

I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do, I want to enjoy myself – not be preached at. Earlier this year, I started watching Madame Secretary. Honestly, the first season had some issues, especially early on, but I thought the writing got stronger and more creative as the show progressed into the later seasons. Not long ago, I said to myself that I am really enjoying this show, season 5, for some fun story lines and intriguing drama. And then the writers dared to get on their high horse and started moralizing. It became nauseating. I almost stopped watching.

Moralizing kills creativity. And creativity, once slain, is a beast to resurrect.

Now, I’m not opposed to writing having a message or at least an opinion. I think writing is generally better when there is purpose behind it.

But, and this is a huge but, when writing becomes didactic, and doesn’t allow for open-ended inquiry and thought, it’s a HUGE bore. And that’s what happened with Madame Secretary.

The writing got bogged down in an endless and nauseating cycle of global warming, climate migration, and brow-beating moralizing that became predictable and a flat-out snooze-fest. This is not what I want for entertainment. If I want people spouting their opinions at me, I’ll watch cable news.

But if you’re writing for a network drama, GET CREATIVE!

When writing doesn’t allow people to think for themselves, it’s lazy.

When writing doesn’t facilitate dialogue from different points of views, it’s boring.

When creative writing is no different than watching cable news, please find a new job as a copy editor or web blogger. Get out of the entertainment business.

It took four episodes for Madame Secretary to begin to find its footing again. How did it do that? By getting back to issues that centered around the characters and not on a series of real-world crisis.

Hey writers, if you wanted to convince people to think certain ways about important topics, you did the exact opposite. You almost lost some viewers.

Please do better.

Sincerely,

Someone who thinks he can.

Play Submissions Much Easier after a Few Years of Writing

I am consistently sending my plays out to festivals and theaters with the hope of getting produced. Sometimes I’m successful. Many times not. The competition is fierce, to say the least.

But now that I’ve been writing consistently for the past 7 or 8 years, I have a volume of plays (especially short plays) at my disposal to send to festivals. One minute play festival? No problem. Got it. A play based on the lives of senior citizens? You bet. Just sent one of my favorites, REVENGE OF THE GRANDPARENTS, to just such a festival. Short play with a strong female lead? You betcha. A unique take on Shakespeare? Got it covered.  Typically, in no time, I can have my submission off into the pool of potential. Then I cross my fingers.

Full-length plays are much more difficult. I’ve been pitching my play The Last Bastion the last two years. I’ve received some good feedback, even a recommendation from another festival, but still no bites. Must keep at it. Recently, I’ve started pitching my new full-length play For the Glory of Nat Turner as well. Only time will tell.

I’m fortunate enough that I’m a theatre professional in a school setting so I get to produce a lot of my own plays which is really cool. I love seeing my work come to life. But it’s even cooler when a festival or theatre decides to produce my shows out of their own free will. I hope that will continue in the future. I currently have two of my plays set to be produced around the world.

GRADE SEMANTICS will be part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia in November.

SAFE SPACES will be part of the Conservative Theater Festival in Columbus, Oh in January.

Besides that, I’m producing two of my own shows in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the next few months.  STORIES VOL. 2 will be on October 30 and the world premier of CRAZY LOVE will be in April.

So now you’re up to date. Hope there will be much more on the horizon.