Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day #26: Do the Work, and Do It Early

As an undergrad, I was a big fan of procrastination. I got a thrill by waiting until the last minute to do some (not all) of my assignments. The adrenaline rush was worth the risk of getting a poor grade. And, for the most part, since we're talking about writing assignments, I did pretty well, grade-wise.

However, once I entered Grad School, I soon discovered that my seat-of-your-pants behavior wasn't going to work. If I wanted to pass a class (such as Prof, Athey's devious Bibliography Studies) I needed to work. And I needed to start that work as soon as possible.

It's a lesson that has stuck with me as a teacher. If I create a detailed reading and assignment schedule before the semester begins, I will most certainly have a smooth, well-organized class. on the rare occasions when I've started the semester without that outline -- bad things happen. The semester is not nearly as focused or as productive.

So, here I am, about to direct The Three Musketeers. In some ways, I was ahead of the game. I wrote he script slightly ahead of schedule. However, as far as blocking, prepping, and organizing -- I have entered the Land of Procrastination.

But all is not lost. I still have a few days before rehearsals begin. During the next six days, I will prep and plan, visualize and organize as much as I can, so that he next two months of production goes smoothly.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day #25: Fumble, Crumble

Most of the time I'm a very happy person. Once, a co-worker walked past me and she said, "Do you ever stop smiling?" I'm blessed in the sense that my default setting is: GOOD MOOD.

But I go through the blues, like anyone else. Typically, it's when I disappoint someone like a friend or a family member. Sometimes I have responsibilities... And sometimes I flake. I like to think I don't flake on the big things, but sometimes flaking out on a lot of little things is probably bad enough. I think that's why I like lists so much. It keeps me on task so I don't forget anything, big or small. But I'm far, far, FAR from perfect. And I sometimes let people down.

And once that happens, once I realize that I haven't lived up to expectations, that's when my smile turns upside down and becomes a frown.

My mom loves the saying, "Pick yourself up and dust yourself off." It's a good saying. Not always easy to live by. When I drop the ball, I get frustrated and angry with myself. It's sometimes difficult to think positive. Negative thoughts start to swarm, like insects to a porch light. If I fumble, I start to crumble. I sometimes let myself fall into what I call a "shame spiral."

Lucky for me, my friends and family are very forgiving. They don't let me beat myself up. They are the ones who dust me off and help me back on that horse.

P.S. I apologize for all the mixed metaphors!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day #24: The Importance of Double Checking

Once I check something off my to-do list, I often remove the task from my mind and move onto other errands. However, in this age of emails and ADHD, we must remember that just because we send a message does not mean that someone received the message. Maybe they didn't get it. Or maybe they looked at it, didn't absorb it and forgot about it.

When I send things off to publishers, editors, agents, and colleagues, I don't want to badger them with an echo of "did you get it? Did you get it? Did you get it????" So, I send the email (and sometimes the manuscript) and do my best to remain patient. (Patience might be a virtue for everyone but it's definitely a necessity for writers.)

I had been waiting for a response from one of my favorite play publishers, assuming they just weren't that thrilled with the manuscript. Then, going through my project list, I finally decided it might be good to double-check just to make sure that they received the play.

I'm glad I did! Apparently, they never got the I've been waiting for two months for nothing! Time to resend it and hopefully there will be another one-act play available soon. Wish I had double checked a lot sooner!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day #23: Camp Omigosh!!! -- Coming Soon!!!

Yes, for real this time -- Cam Omigosh -- my action packed adventure comedy middle grade novel -- will be in print this summer. May 2015.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day #22: The Days are Packed

I am beginning the third week of the semester. I just finished a stack of narrative essays (over sixty papers). 
There's another stack that will be hitting my desk on Wednesday.   As if my day job wasn't busy enough, my assistant director (Pat Mannion) and I began conducting auditions for Three Musketeers. By next week, we'll be consumed with rehearsals from 6 to 8, four sometimes five days a week. It's going to be fun, but it will definitely absorb a lot of my free time for the next two months. On top of everything else, I've got to remember to be present for my family. Sometimes I get so focused on my ambitions, I often forget the vital importance of being a good father and husband.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day #21: Hey, It Worked!

Turns out, that Priority List I made actually works. At least it helped me today. I copied and pasted yesterday's blog entry and taped it to my office door, right next to my Done-It List. The interesting thing about the priority list is that it's like an annotated To-Do list. I've got it in order of importance, but I also write about why it's important to me, what I've done so far, and what I need to do next.

Sometimes when I have a lot of projects cooking at once, I get flustered and don't know what to do next. (Then, the anti-productive part of my mind tells me to take a nap or eat ice cream.)

But that didn't happen today.  Today was a very house-task oriented day. My wife is painting and re-organizing the kitchen/dining room area. I've been helping out as much as an incompetent husband can. The place looks great, by the way. My wife a whirlwind of organized multitasks -- it comes to her so naturally, unlike me! Anyway, after all of the housework was completed, my wife went to the martial arts studio with the girls, leaving me with about an hour to myself.

I looked at the Priority List on the Door, and knew right away the the Top Three Items were unworkable at this time.  But Item #4 -- that was definitely doable. So, I revised the latest picture book.  It didn't take too long since I had great notes from my agent, and I had been brainstorming all afternoon while I was doing housework. Whenever I do menial labor I go straight into head-in-the-clouds mode. I often get my best ideas while vacuuming.

It's evening now. I sent my agent the newly revised draft. Cross your fingers that she falls in love with it.  

Challenge Total: $112.64

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day #20: Prioritizing

The following is a list of my latest creative projects. They are at various levels of completion, but most of them are fully drafted and need revision (or need an editor's thumbs up).

I've tried to list them in order of importance to help keep my priorities straight.

#1) There's a Dinosaur on the 14th Floor -- The contract is being drawn up this month and (to the best of my knowledge) should be delivered to my agent before February. Then, the editors at Candlewick will contact me regarding revisions. (I'm in waiting mode with this project, but I am definitely excited about this book! It's my first fiction title!)

ACTION: Wait for revision notes.

#2) Around the World in a Bathtub -- I'm awaiting editor notes on this one too. In the meantime, I'm researching, fact-checking, and fine-tuning what I already have. (And I can't wait to find out who they choose as the illustrator!)

ACTION: Finish fact checking. Wait for revision notes.

#3) The Three Musketeers -- The second draft is complete, and I've already submitted to one publishing company. Auditions on the last weekend of January, and then it's solid months of rehearsal. (Did I mention I'm directing? I'm gonna be a busy guy.)

ACTION: Prepare for audition. Figure out blocking.

#4) New Picture Book #1 -- Keeping the titles secret on newer projects. the first draft of this manuscript was all rhyming couplets. And although the poetry was funny and proficient at the beginning, it soon falls apart -- serving as a good illustration as to why so many modern editors cringe when they hear the phrase "rhyming picture book."

For the second draft, I sketched out the entire story. (No, I am not planning to be the book's illustrator.) That really help me understand the story's focus and helped solidified what I call a "playful structure."

My agent has read this. She likes it, but it can be improved. So, hopefully in a few days I'll be done with the third draft. (And my agent will go from "like" to "love." Basically, if she loves something it is as good as sold!

ACTION: Revise and Re-Submit

#5) New Picture Book #2 -- I've completed a couple drafts of this project. The first one happened about two years ago. It sat in the drawer for a long time because the story was lacking something. Then, about a month ago I had an epiphany about the main character. That led to a reinvention and ultimately a stronger story. I'll be sending it to my agent soon -- but I might wait until Picture Book #1 is settled.

ACTION: Polish current draft. Send when the time is right.

#6) Camp Omigosh -- I've been working on this for a long time. Not just the writing part, but also trying to figure out how to get this book out into the great wide world. Right now, it looks like a new small press publishing house is very interested in helping me bring the book to readers. I'll let you know more about this very soon. But first I'm waiting to hear back from the editor. (Who is a good writer friend of mine, so hopefully that's to my advantage.)

ACTION: Wait for editor feedback. Brainstorm marketing ideas.

#7) "Strangers" -- A One Act Play -- I love this thirty minute play. I think it's right up there with "Conflict," maybe even better. But I sent it to Playscripts back in June and haven't heard from them yet. I sent it to a couple other places too, and haven't heard back. So maybe they aren't interested.

ACTION: Touch base with editors and/or submit to more places.

#8) Pet Store Book -- This is something I wrote about five years ago. I'm still interested in bringing it to life, but not sure what to do with it. It needs to develop in a more specific direction. Right now it's a chapter book for younger readers, but it seems to have a middle school sense of humor.

ACTION: Brainstorm & Choose a Direction

P.S. I realize that some of this listing and organizing might not be exciting for those of you who read this blog. I thank you for your patience. By writing these things -- and posting them so they are out in public -- it helps me become more focused, and it holds me more accountable for the goals I set. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day #19: Stupid But Lucky

No, that title isn't describing myself. (Although it is arguably an apt description.) I'm talking about the people that come up with a cheesy, dumb idea and everyone latches onto it, the idea goes viral, and then that lucky jerk is suddenly rich.

The extreme example is the Kardashian Empire (even though that was probably a carefully orchestrated rise to fame designed by publicists and managers). But a more recent example is a young Australian man who came up with a website idea. Pay him ten bucks and he'll mail an envelop full of glitter to your enemy.

Within 24 hours of the website launching, Reddit ran with it, 2000 people ordered glitterbombs, and a whole bunch of tech-saavy websites wrote about it. The next day the Aussie entrepreneur put his website up for auction. Last time I checked the highest bid was $70000.

Wow. I have to admit, when these things happen I get a weird jealous feeling. And it makes me feel like I should be trying to scramble together some crazy, get rich quick idea.

It is tempting to spend the next eleven months trying to come up with next next viral-idea-that-leads-to-a-big-payout. But as much as I am hoping to generate income, I am really hoping that the funds will come from my creative projects -- projects I care about. With that in mind, my next blog is going to be about prioritizing 8 different artistic endeavors, each one might get me closer to achieving my goals.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day #18: The Importance of Tinkering

I am simultaneously revising two projects right now. One is brand new, and I'm not giving away the title just yet. We'll call it the WILD RIDE PROJECT for now. This is the picture book I sent to my agent. She said she "really likes" it, which means it's close but not perfect yet. (Maybe nothing is ever perfect, but it's not close to perfection yet.)

The other book is AROUND THE WORLD IN A BATHTUB. This one was sold to Charlesbridge Books a couple months ago. I will be getting notes from my editor very soon, but in the meantime I have been revising the non-fiction elements of the book. I've been doing a lot of fact checking, and learning a lot about the context of each culture's language.

I found a Cultural Center based in Bethel, Alaska (located in the middle of the tundra) and I've created a list of questions to ask their librarian. I called today, but the office wasn't open. I'll try again tomorrow.

In addition to getting research details, I've been tinkering with each of the books. This is a bit different than simply revising the text. I've been sketching, creating an entire picture book dummy to determine the page-turnability of the manuscript. So far, the WILD RIDE book has some great parts, but there are a few things in middle that could be improved.

Tinkering with the Bathtub book is trickier, because I don't know what revision notes I'm going to get. But I do know that the Bathtub book is similar to "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed" in that every two pages is a different setting... I'm trying to figure out how to create more surprise and delight with each turn of the page. Wish me luck as I keep on tinkering.

Challenge Total: $112.64

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day #17: Balancing Work and Creativity

Very soon, I will be receiving my first swarm of essays. Then I'll have stacks of papers on my desk. And I might have a stack of the blues as well. I love just about every aspect of my job... But grading papers is my Achilles heel. I used to be so speedy. Now I've slowed down. Most of the time, while I'm grading, I start to come up with great ideas for a new book -- but I can't just stop grading, I gotta get through it!

Anyway, I mention this because the ONCOMING ESSAYS will be my greatest obstacle. It will be tempting to stop working on this blog, and not concern myself with the $20000 challenge. It's not easy to balance my work life and my creative life. But I'm gonna do it. And the best way to do it is to stay on top of those essays. Every time I get a batch of them, I'm going to grade 8 a day. That way turnaround should be about a week, and I won't drive myself crazy trying to grade twenty in one day.

Are you a teacher? Do you grade lots of essays?  How do you keep your life balanced?

Challenge Total: $112.64

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day #16: Minor Set Backs

Darn. My first attempt at selling stuff on eBay was not encouraging.

I had five items up for sale -- all of them cool books that I didn't really want to part with anyway -- and nobody made a single bid. So, I've raised ZERO dollars on eBay. On top of that, I've been looking around the garage, my bookshelves, storage boxes... and I've come to realize that I don't have very much stuff. At least not a lot of cool collectibles or gadgets that will fetch a small fortune online.

I've got a lot of books, but I don't think they are worth much (setting aside the fact that I LOVE them). So, I'm putting the Sell-Me Saturday idea on hold until I stumble upon better items in which to hawk.

To whine a little more... I'm only a week and a half into the school semester, and I've already caught an annoying cold, the kind that plugs up your nose in the evening so you have to sleep with your mouth wide open. (Pleasant, huh?)

The other minor set back isn't really a set back. It's just an example of how one often spends money to make money -- or at least generate good will. I just mailed off copies of the Downton Zombie script to the five lucky winners. The cost of postage was $5.98. So that's coming out of my Challenge Funds...

Which means, the new score is.... (pathetic drum roll, please...)

Challenge Total: $112.64

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day #15: Research is Fun

My second picture book is coming to a book store near you. (But you have to wait until 2016!)

It's called "Around the World in a Bathtub." I am so thankful that the good people at Charlesbridge Books believed in the project because it allows me to continue one of my passions: helping children learn through about the vast world around them.

I love to travel (though I don't get around the globe nearly as much I'd like). I love maps. I wanted to be an explorer when I was a kid. And you know what, even though I don't get out much, I still constantly exploring.

The "Bathtub" book is a bit like my first story, "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?" in that it looks at a wide variety of families from different cultures. But "Make My Bed" focused on history whereas "Bathtub" is more about geography. It's also about culture and language. That last part (language) has been the tricky part. Because in each scene in the book a child and parent say the words "yes" and "no" in their native tongue. And although I've looked up the translations online and in print, I'm not yet positive that the context is correct.

For example, one of my students (who is from Japan) told me that the Japanese word for yes ("Hai") might be said to someone you respect, but if I parent is saying "Yes, you will take a bath," then the word "Hai" would not be used.

So, I have sent a slew of emails to various language professors. So far, I have received two useful bits of feedback from Hindi instructors. I think the India section is taken care of. I still need to hear back from teachers regarding Turkey, Japan, and Inuit Culture. I wish I had the resources to visit all of these places! But for now, it's fun to research and imagine what life is like around the world.

Challenge Total: $118.62

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day #14: Camp Omigosh Kickstarter Perks?

My friend and fellow author Laurisa White Reyes launched her own publishing company in 2014. We had been discussing how some professional novelists (like ourselves) have wonderful projects that might not be marketable enough to find a home, even though they deserve to be read. Laurisa took this idea and full-on ran with it, and the result is a small publishing powerhouse that is headed for greatness.

(It's called Skyrocket Press - check it out!) 

Last month, I approached her with the idea to help me bring Camp Omigosh to life. I am so grateful that she has agreed to read the book -- and I have my fingers crossed that she falls in love with this quirky middle grade adventure. If she does then we'll proceed with a kickstarter campaign to help pay for editing, marketing, and publishing expenses.

She asked me what kinds of goodies should be offered at the various levels. So far we have talked about the typical items:

Coffee Mugs

But I'm trying to think of things that are a bit more unique. Maybe things that you would find at camp? Duct Tape Wallets? Friendship Bracelets? Arts and Craft Stuff? What else does one make at summer camp?

I'm also wondering if people would be interested in sponsoring school visits. Oh, and of course we can give copies of the books as well as copies of Omigosh play from Eldridge publishing. Please let me know if you have any ideas about what you'd like to have on the Kickstarter Goodie list.

Challenge Total: $118.62

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day #13: Downton Zombie Give-Away Winners!

A few days ago we finished up a week-long contest to promote my new one act comedy, Downton Zombie. (Thanks so much to everybody who participated.) I think it was a success, if only because almost 100 people "liked" my author page on Facebook. It was nice to finally pass that little milestone on that oft ignored page. So, I think we've gotten a ball rolling, let's hope it's a little snowball that transforms into an avalanche of awesomeness.

 Today, I am sending autographed copies of the play to five different winners. The cost of postage will be drawn from my current score. So, that means it's going to go down a little bit. But it's money well spent because I'm trying to build a stronger bond with my readers.

Challenge Total: $118.62

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day #12: It's Weird to Write About Money

I've always thought it was interesting how money-driven our society is, yet not very many people discuss their personal finances. many of us do not like to talk about money. We don't want to discuss how much we make or how much we owe. (At least that's my perspective.) My father worked the damn job for over thirty years, and he never once told me how much he made... And I asked him several times! He always said it was "none of my business," and it wasn't. But at the same time, I grew up with very little awareness of income, wages, that sort of thing.

Now that I'm a grown up, I do my best to openly discuss money matter with my kids (though I try not to bore them -- or worry them.) I have a close knit circle of friends, and I feel totally comfortable talking about how much or how little I'm making from my writing and/or teaching.

But now that I'm writing this blog about the $20,000 challenge, it has felt weird to openly discuss monetary goals. It feels strange to admit that I want to generate more income. I'm worried I'll appear greedy, or pathetic, or foolish, or all of the above.

Is this topic taboo in your circle? Why do you suppose that is? what are the reasons people aren't more open about their financial status and their economic goals?

(You know who never had a problem being open about wealth? Richie Rich!)

Challenge Total: $118.62

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day #11: Keeping a Done-It List

I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I've made lists ever since I started college. (If only I had made lists in high school I might have done a whole lot better!) The lists help me stay on track, and as the to-dos get done, the list makes me feel accomplished. There's a cool Notecard App that I've been using on my iPad for years.

But lately I've been making a Done-It list. I've posted it on the door of my office. Anything that I accomplish hat furthers my goals goes on the list. I'm trying to get one list item every day, so at the end of each month I'll be able to look at 30 different Done-Its.

Here's what mine looks like so far...

Challenge Total: $118.62

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day #10: Video Game Novels?

I was at Barnes and Noble the other day, and they had a big display table filled with Minecraft books. Some of them were official guidebooks, but a lot of them were these unauthorized books, all of which seem to have been self-published. 

If you look at these books on Amazon, you'll see that they receive high rankings. And getting your self published book displayed at Barnes and Noble is no easy task. I'm jealous yet impressed as well as curious.

I've already missed the Minecraft train, but I'm going to investigate new and trendy video games that are on the rise. It might be amusing to try writing a chapter or two based on a video game world.

Challenge Total: $116.82

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day #9: Staying on Track

It's easy to get side tracked and wander off in the wrong direction.
The real challenge of this game is going to be staying focused once the routine of the semester takes over. Right now, it's just my first week of spring semester. But soon, I'll be grading stacks of papers, and the goal of generating extra income might get shoved to the back burner.

 So far, this revamped blog has been a lot of fun, and if the enjoyment continues then staying on track will be easy. It's when the going gets tough, right? It would be interesting to flash forward six months and check in on this blog. Am I still doing daily entries? Or was this just a personal fad to occupy a few weeks of my time. 

You may have noticed that the Challenge Score Total hasn't gone up very much. Hopefully that will change as the months roll by. I have several projects that might produce income. Here's what I've got cooking so far: 

Applied for a ongoing Writing Gig 
Submitted an article to Pioneer 
Started a Weekly Ebay Store 
Sent my latest Picture Book to my agent 

Today I'm working on a quirky new idea. I'll tell you a little about it tomorrow.

Challenge Total: $116.82

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day #8: I Need a Resume???

I sent an application to a popular website that hires freelancers. If they hire me, I would be writing about Young Adult novels. It felt strange writing a resume. I haven't done that since 2006. The nice thing about writing a resume at this time in my life, is that I no longer have to list my low-wage work experience at the Grand Cinemas or Disneyland. (Ah, how I miss the 90s.)

Instead, I've really only got one place of employment to put down and lots of writing experience!
If get the gig I might be able to generate an extra $500 a month. More importantly, it would be fun... And anytime I can make money while having fun, I am on board!

Challenge Total: $116.82

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day #7.1: Drama Article Success!

Hey, I just checked the mailbox, and I discovered that Pioneer Drama accepted my most recent drama article!  Woo-hoo! I'm giving myself a good old fashioned teacher's stamp of approval:

If I haven't mentioned it before, this one is about introverts in theater communities -- so let's all do an introverted happy dance... by ourselves... where no one else can see us.

This means I can actually present a new improved score! Here it is:

Challenge Total: $116.82

P. S. I'll let you know as soon as these articles are available online.

Day #7: Back to the Grindstone

I will be teaching at Moorpark College very soon. Classes start on Monday -- hey, that's today! I better get ready!

I have had a fantastic winter break, and I am recharged and ready to go back into the classroom. At the same time, I know that when I'm teaching, my creative pursuits often get pushed aside. (For example, just look at how few blog entries I write during the school year compared to the many I write during the summer.) So, today, I am focusing on some last minute creative projects... One of which I am absolutely EXCITED about!

I've been developing a new picture book text. I've even created some rough sketches to give her an idea of the story's potential. I'm not planning to be the author, by the way, but drawing sometimes helps me tell a better story. Today, I am sending the manuscript to my agent. Keep your fingers crossed; hopefully she falls in love with the book.

Challenge Total: $76.82

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day #6: Hooray for Royalty Checks

Ooh, I wish that Play Royalties were part of this $20,000 challenge. I might have a better shot at this! Today I received a royalty check for the past six months, and it was over $4000. That's not bad, right? I never get tired of getting paid to write. Every check is a little dream come true.

However, as I stated before about 20% of my yearly income is generated by my plays for schools and theaters. That income is already an integral part of our family budget. So that's why the money for this $20,000 challenge needs to come from other sources.

At the same time, I still need to work develop my new plays and advertise my old ones. I want to keep this creative revenue strong.

Today's focus has been on a new full-length comedy, a brand new adaptation of The Three Musketeers. I'm going to direct the world premiere production at the Canyon Theatre Guild -- but I am also hoping that it will be published as well. Tonight, I will be submitting the play to a couple publishing companies. Hopefully, before the end of 2015 it will be in print!

Challenge Total: $76.82

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day #5.1: "Sell Me Saturdays"

I'm going to try a new thing on the blog, as part of my $20,000 challenge. It's called: Sell Me Saturday! Every Saturday, I plan to sell off five of my items. Some of them personal treasures -- some of them are cool things that have taken up space for too many years, and now they deserve a new owner.

The first batch of stuff is all books... And the first item on the list is a special auction item: You can get a signed copy of my picture book, Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? -- and I'll personalize to whoever you want!

The next item up for bid isn't easy to part with... since I never got around to reading the book.  (But that just means it's in awesome condition!) If you are a Simpsons fan, and love behinds the scenes stuff, this this next book is for you! 

Fans of the Beatles and Children's Books will like the next item on the list.

A must-read play for any theater lover. This is Lynn Nottage's masterpiece:

Last but not least is a book from my childhood. I believe this was purchased when King Tut's exhibit traveled through Seattle. 

A special thank you to whoever has been reading about this $20,000 Challenge so far. I know many of you kind souls are already my Facebook friends, so if you have any suggestions of what you'd like to see on this blog... or any cool new ideas you think I should try (or things you want me to stop doing -- like blogging about Ebay) drop me a line and give me some feedback. 

If you don't follow me on Facebook yet, click on my Official FB Author Page. 

Day #5: Writing Drama Articles

Back in 2007 I landed my first professional (ongoing) writing gig. I was the Guide to Plays and Drama. For six years I wrote study guides for students, as well as articles about the history of theater, improv, and acting tips.

It's been about a year and a half since I written for the company (although I still receive royalty checks, so keep visiting their website!). I've enjoyed he extra free time to develop children's books, but every once in a while I miss the non-fiction side of writing.

That's why it was a pleasant surprise when I received an invitation from Pioneer Drama Service. (Two of my plays are with them, including my most recent: Downton Zombie.) They asked if I would write articles for drama teachers / theater folks for their ongoing newsletter/blog. Last month I wrote one about Shakespeare in the classroom. This week I finished an article about "Introverts on Stage." Even more exciting, the send me a check for each article! Woo-hoo. I'll let you know if they like my latest, and when the check arrives I'll adjust my Challenge Score accordingly.

Challenge Total: $76.82

P.S. Want a chance to win an autographed copy of the play?  There's still time to enter the Give-Away Contest. Check out the rules... 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day #4: Amazing Monologues from "Tomorrow's Wish"

I wrote a play that is near and dear to my heart called Tomorrow's Wish. It's the story of a girl named Juniper who lives with her grandmother way out in the middle of nowhere.  She's lived a rather solitary life because there's something special and powerful about her. (You'll have to read the play to find out its secrets!)

I've been honored that many up-and-coming actresses have performed a monologue from the play, a piece that is often called "I Kissed a Boy Once." The most popular one so far is performed by Miranda Lensky.  She has perfectly pacing, comic timing, and her character interpretation is wonderfully theatrical. Check it out:

Recently, a young woman performed the monologue on YouTube. She is different and beautiful, and I loved her delivery. It's very real to me, and how I envisioned Juniper to be in real-life. (If you have the time, give her a thumbs up -- she's only got a few views as of this post.)

Brava to both performers... I love both takes on the character.

Tomorrow's Wish is available at and in both print and e-books.  It's one of my few self-published projects and I'm really proud of how well it has sold over the years (about 25 books a month). Not bad for a play that was turned away by the pros.

Oh, and if you are a drama teacher out there, Tomorrow's Wish can currently be performed royalty free. Just send me an email ( ) to notify your intention to produce the show.

I have been so grateful to the many readers, actors, and drama teachers who have embraced Tomorrow's Wish,

The play is available in print and online at and It's also available in e-book for through iTunes. Buy a copy today, and you'll help me crawl closer to the Great $20,000 Challenge!

Challenge Score: $76.82

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coming Soon: The Three Musketeers

Yesterday was all about my new play, an adaptation of  "The Three Musketeers." I spent the morning revising and editing, and patching together a couple missing scenes.  There was one scene (the climax of Act One) that I thought was completely lost, but fortunately I found a handwritten draft in one of my many notebooks.

Then, after printing the manuscript and making some copies, it was time for the Musketeers' first table read.  Lots of good friends showed up -- thanks! -- including some old companions from "The 39 Steps."

The response was actually better than I expected -- so that's a good beginning.  I'm not aiming for a literary masterpiece, just a really fun time on stage.  And I think because I have written a script that's lighter than my last CTG original (The Little Mermaid is 18,000 words... Musketeers is 11,000), there should be a lot of room for me to play around with the action scenes -- kinda like what we did with "The Hobbit."

If you are reading this blog and want to watch the World Premiere, the show runs from March 28th through April 26th.

Find out more at:  

Oh, and check out this amazing promotional artwork created by the always awesome Michael Keane.

Day #3: $20,000 Challenge - Don't Worry, Things Are Good

Just because I'm blogging about saving money to pay off debt doesn't mean my household's finances are bad. (So don't worry, Mom!)  My wife and I have been paying down our credit cards more and more each year, and our car payments are very manageable. I don't want any reader to think that I am writing this blog because I am drowning in debt on the edge of bankruptcy.

For over ten years I worked as a part time college instructor -- things were a little tough back, but not awful. Then, I got a full-time writing gig at, and that was a wonderful financial supplement. Fortunately, since 2010 I have been blessed with a full-time position at Moorpark College -- and I recently earned tenure. So things are good!

This Blog Challenge is really about building up from our current foundation to make things even better... If my children decide to go away to college I want to be able to support them financially. There are so many things around the house and yard that are getting run down, that could really be improved or repair, but we keep putting it off. My wife often says, "When your ship comes in Wade, we'll do this..." Well, this wonderful woman has been waiting a long time for that proverbial ship. I've often told her, there's not going to be a big ship that comes into port. It's going to be a whole bunch of little row boats.

We are definitely in the middle of the middle class -- and it's a really nice place to be (since I've had first hand experience living below poverty).

The long term goal is to live within our means, save money, and have enough financial freedom so that I can retire from teaching at age 50 and focus on my writing. (If that happens sooner than expected, that would be awesome!)

So, an extra $20,000 would not only place my family in the so-called "upper middle class," it would be an excellent first step toward reaching my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

So, have a generated any extra income yet? Yes. (Well, sort of... I'm counting it as such because I just re-discovered it, and Cheri doesn't have it on her books!) I realized that there's a little bit of cash sitting in an old Sharebuilder account of mine. So, that's going to be the first little chunk of money to add to my dragon horde of gold. Woo-hoo!

Score: Wade has earned $76.82

Let it begin!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day #2: $20,000 Challenge - Brainstorm

So, in today's blog I want to brainstorm a bit about my goals and strategies for my $20,000 Challenge.

I'm attempting to earn "extra income" during the next 364 days, so that by the time January 5th, 2016 rolls around I'll have a whole lotta cash in a savings account, and be on the right track toward a debt-free lifestyle.

Currently, about 80% of my income is generated from my teaching career. 20% of my income is generated from my children's plays.

So, where do I plan to get the new income? I'm not sure yet, and that's part of the challenge (and part of the fun). But one definite source will hopefully be my books.

As you already know if you follow this blog, my first picture book "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?" was published in 2011. Selling my second book was a long, hard, good fight... A fight that I finally won. In 2014, my agent sold "Around the World in a Bathtub." I am hoping to keep this literary success going and sign a third contract in early 2015. Keep your fingers crossed and I'll give you more details about it when I can.

In addition to my picture books, I have several other novel length projects sitting around the office, just waiting for the chance to go out into the world. And aside from selling creative stuff, I'll be looking for other ways to generate revenue. So far, my only non-writer idea is Ebay... Maybe I'll get more inventive as the year proceeds. Oh wait! I know! I'll check under the couch cushions for loose change!

Darn. Nothing there. My first set back.

Each time I do a blog post about the $20,000 challenge, I will end by letting the reader know how much I have earned so far. I'll do so now...

Score: Wade has earned $0.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day #1: The Great $20,000 Challenge

There's an old friend of mine from my Grand Cinemas days named Roger Sullivan. Over the years, he has launched several businesses, including a "wired waffle" that is jam packed with caffeine and deliciousness. About two years ago he was on the reality TV Show "Shark Tank." The fish weren't exactly kind to him that day, but in spite of everything he has kept a positive perspective about his goals. Last year, he launched a blog called: "365 Days to My First Million." It chronicles his entrepreneurial pursuits as he endeavors to distribute his new products, such as Eve's Apple Pie Moonshine.

I have to say, I started reading it just because I was curious what Roger has been up to (I haven't hung out with him since the early 90s). But I kept reading it because I enjoyed following his journey. If you'd like to follow along, visit his blog.
Even though 2014 is over, he still plans to keep writing until he fulfills his quest. Anyway, I bring this up for two reasons. Number One, to express my gratitude to Roger for letting us follow along. Blogging almost 365 days a year is not easy, and blogging about personal reflections as well business strategies is even harder. Thanks, Roger, you've inspired me to do my own version... That leads me to reason Number Two.

My personal challenge is to generate $20,000 of Extra Income in one year. I know, I know. It's not as cool as going for a million dollars. (But since when have I cared about being cool?) I decided on Twenty Thousand Bucks because if I can attain that goal, then my family will be approaching a debt-free lifestyle AND I'll be able to get a good nest egg for my daughters' college education. Of course, if things go really well and I do make a million dollars, I'll take that too.

I don't know if I'll be blogging about the $20,000 Challenge everyday, but I will dedicate at least one blog post a week. Stay tuned! (And if anyone out there is doing a similar challenge, let me know. I'd love to follow your journey to prosperity -- financial or otherwise.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Downton Zombie - Give Away Contest!

It's been a while since our last give-away contest.  My favorite one so far has been the Video Game/Theater Mash-Up from last January. Playwright Ken Preuss and his son kicked virtual butt during that competition. They came up with some hilarious images, all of them viral-worthy memes.

For this contest, I am keeping things simple.  No photoshop skills required. In fact, you don't need any brains at all... because sometimes brains are a disadvantage when dealing with zombies.

This week's give-away promotes my new one-act comedy: "Downton Zombie." As the title suggests, it's a parody of British period dramas like Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs -- with some zombie mayhem thrown into the mix. It is available at Pioneer Drama Service.

I am giving away five autographed copies of the play, and one lucky winner gets not only a signed manuscript of "Downton Zombie," but I am throwing in a free graphic novel: Walking Dead #1.

The comic book isn't signed by the author... or the illustrator... but I could sign my name it if you want, or draw a picture on the back cover... or I could draw mustaches on the zombies so they don't look so scary, 

For your chance to win the give-away, simply do one of the following: 

If you have a Twitter account you can tweet any sort of message you want, with the hashtag: #downtonzombie

-- OR --

If you have a Tumblr page, post something and include #downtonzombie

-- OR --

-- OR --

If we are already Facebook friends, you can Tag me and post something humorous about "Downton Zombie."

On January 13th, I will get a couple of zombie volunteers to draw names out of a hat.  Then, after getting the necessary contact info, we'll send you an autographed copy of the play (and maybe even the comic book!).  I will do my best not to spill any brains on the manuscript. 

P.S. Any post, tweet,or tumble that makes me laugh earns a double entry into the give-away pool. Have fun! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Resolutions - 2015 Edition

Hope everyone is had a prosperous and productive 2014.

It was definitely a break-through year for me.  I signed the contract (with Charlesbridge) for my second picture book, and Abi sold my third picture to Candlewick! She changed my life, yet again. Which brings me to my new word of the year: Gratitude.

My wife Cheri has developed an ongoing tradition of selecting a word -- actually I think the word selects her -- and it becomes her theme for the year.  The words "thankful," "grateful," and "appreciation" keep coming to my mind. So, I plan to spend much of this year reflecting upon the people that have positively affected my life -- and, if possible, I'll be telling them how much their help has meant to me.

My New Year's Resolutions are pretty simple...

  1. Show my gratitude
  2. Preserve more memories
  3. Pay down our credit card debt

The first and the third are pretty self-explanatory, but the middle one might need more context.  Basically, I don't like how my 40s have been flying by so fast.  I don't expect them to slow down.  But I do expect to keep track of the days more diligently.  I want to spend more time photographing, recording, and writing about what is happening with Cheri and the girls -- as well as other family and friends.  Whenever I stumble upon one of my journal entries, it immediately triggers vivid images of the past.  I think the more memories I preserve, the happier I will be in my old age when all I can do is sit around and read (and hopefully play video games and re-watch Star Wars XII  for the 20th time.)  

Whoever and wherever you are, I hope you are happy and healthy, and for you I wish that the coming year will bring you even more joy. 

Happy New Year!