Sunday, July 31, 2016

Following SCBWI (Summer - Day 74)

Like I said last post, I am not attending the SCBWI conference this weekend. However, I am following the official blog and a lot of Twitter feeds. That way, I can live vicariously through my writer friends (or writer strangers whom I stalk).

I'm going to use this blog post to record any bits of wisdom I find online. Here are some highlights:

"As writers, how do we change the world? One reader at a time." & "Your work is never good enough, no matter how much you've been published." & "Most of the time, writing is banging your head against the wall. That isn't writer's block. That's the process." - Neal Shusterman

"What makes something successful is a very personal thing." - Laurent Linn

"Live your life like you're writing your own book."  - John Parra

"You have to be careful who you share your work with and at what stage" -- Barney Saltzberg

"A successful PB is about invention and knowing what you love and turning it on its head." & "We need to ask a picture book: what if? then what? so what" -- Susan Rich

"A premise is a promise that your manuscript will deliver on." - Carole Boston Weatherford

"The better the character, the worse the trouble, the better the story." - Bruce Coville

"Gorgeous writing doesn't have to be lyrical but must serve the story. Satire and humor can be gorgeous."  -- Tina Wexler

"The envy monster is incredibly destructive to the creative process—and it's difficult to tame. But a high tide lifts all boats." -- Marie Lu

"I consider writing time sacred. I've had to learn to say no to things." -- Marie Lu

""Secrets will draw a reader through a book like nothing else." - Bruce again...
"Don't be afraid to write crap." -- Marie Lu (but this is also what I tell my students when  they are working on their first draft!)
"Get out of your own way. This thing that walked out of your limitations. It's all yours but entirely not yours" - Jon Klassen
"Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done..." -Anni Albers

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Missing SCBWI (Summer - Day 73)

For the past five years I have been attending the Los Angeles conference of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Before that, I attended as often as I could, but had to miss a couple. I first went in 2007, and I thought I was just going to learn about the business. I did. But I also found my tribe.

The conference is three days of living and breathing children's literature. It's a time to connect with writers, both seasoned veterans and wide-eyed newcomers. And it's a place where you can learn more about your craft -- and in certain cases discover new pathways. Last year, I took myself way out of my comfort zone and decided to pose as an illustrator with my Duck Town pages. That personal challenge really forced me to put a lot of time and effort. It gave me a deadline -- more than that, it gave me a forum for others to see my work, and that terrified me (in a good way).

So, it's kind sad that I'm not in Los Angeles right now, mingling in my own awkward way with fellow writers, as well as artists, agents, and editors. But I keep imagining how excited I am going to be next year when I attend -- and I am DEFINITELY not missing 2017. My new book will be out, and I'll be showing off my new wares with the rest of the tribe.

Let's see... what else did we do today? We've started packing things up around Mom's house. We'll be leaving soon, and we don't want the house to be filthy! I will be sad to leave this weather and the green surroundings out Washington state. Due to the fires back in California, I am expecting that we will arrive to hillsides which look like piles of ash.

The coolest thing we did: We went bowling with my sister and my niece. Emily kicked our butts. Bowling has officially become a Bradford summer tradition. I think this was the third summer in a row in which we have bowled. Yep, that makes it official.

Now that I've received positive feedback from my agent about Duck Town, I've been focusing my thoughts on what I need to revise, and I've also been turning my creative attention to "Around the World in 80 Days." That's the show in which auditions happen on August 7th -- so I guess I better get my act together!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Duck Town News! (Summer - Day 72)

It's been a while since I hit send. If you're a writer, you know what that's like, to send off your creation (to an editor, agent, publisher, producer) and then you must play the waiting game It's slow and it's hard -- at least it is for those of us who have the patience of a three year old. Which I do.

My agent has been on hiatus (for an excellent reason -- she had her second baby boy!), so I've done my best to wait for about a month...

And the wait was worth it. She really likes what I've been doing with Duck Town. I'm going to add a bit more pathos to a couple scenes, and then it should be good to waddle out into the world.

I was a bit overwhelmed when I read her email. A flood of relief and happiness washed over me. That's what happens when you work on something for 13 months. You get invested -- and it's scary to think that your hard work might wind up in the drawer. (Of course, that's what happens to most of our stuff anyway! You'd think I'd be used to it.) But Duck Town is very special to me. And I am hoping to will be special to young readers somewhere out there right now. Hopefully Rainbow and her family will get the chance to share their story with the rest of the world.

That was the big, momentous thing that happened today. But I also had a wonderful little date around town with Cheri. We went to the Camano Market Place for the first time. It's this wonderfully homey community store that features lots of local gifts, locally made art, a bakery, a meat market, a sandwich shop and a candy store.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Take Me out to the Ball Game (Summer - Day 71)

After doing some writing and walking the dogs, I drove down to Everett, taking Mom along with me. We met Emily, Cheri and her family at the Aqua-Sox game. They are a minor league baseball team, and it was a much more pleasant experience than being at the Angel or Dodger stadium. With a minor league team, there's less people, better seats, close-up action, and popcorn is only a dollar.

The worst moment: a foul ball hit somebody... But later on I met a kid who said, " I Got hit in the head with a ball and they signed it for me," So I guess it turned out okay.

The best moment: In the final inning, the Aqua Sox were down by two. A lot of people left early, thinking that the Everett team had been vanquished by the Canadians. But then the stadium payed this montage of inspirational movie speeches (with the Henry V music in the background). It was awesome, and the Aquasox loaded up the bases and won!

Back on Camano, Cheri and Emily settled back into things. We have started packing for home. We still have a few days to enjoy Washington, but Cheri always wants to have an early start.

I have been revising the picture book version of Bug Scouts. I've been trying to come up with something better than the current ending. I think I might actually incorporate elements from my recent One-Act comedy. We'll see what works.

At night we watched a strange little movie called "The Lady in the Van." I was sleepy so I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Picture Book Mode (Summer - Day 70)

Well, adapting the bug chapter book into a picture book has been a smooth process, so far. However, I'm not sure about the ending -- the final page turn -- the last line -- the pay off.

I've got to create an ending that satisfies, that makes the journey worth it.

Got a phone call from Mackenzie. She is loving Space Camp. Her simulation mission next week will be a Flight to Mars! Oh, and she's in a team of seventeen members, all of whom are female. So she's pretty stoked to be working with so many women scientists. She probably feels like she's in the new Ghostbusters.

My nephew Joe and his wife Trina paid us a visit on the island. We had a nice time catching up, whilst snacking on chips and drinking soda.

I met up with Cheri and her family at Ivar's... Definitely the best fish and chips you'll find, at least at a fast food establishment. Emily has returned to vlogging. She recently made a video about saying at Grandma Judy's, and how her bedroom features a rather creepy baby doll. I'll post a link soon.

Back on Camano, mom and I watched the latest James Bond movie.

Reconstruction Time ( Summer - Day 69)

July 24th... Since Cheri and Emily are visiting relatives (and Mack is at camp), I had all day to focus on writing. I made more ground with the chapter book, and I mapped out a path to 144 pages. But here's the thing... By the time I finished writing the scene I had been stuck on, I realized that a chapter book might not be the best vehicle. This might make a better picture book, after all. So, the evening ending with me trying to develop some of the existing material into PB form. We'll see how it goes... Either way, I've got a solid twenty pages of chapter hook material I can return to if I want to venture down that path again.

Aside from writing, I walked the dogs (of course). Mom and I talked quite a bit. We usually discuss family memories and current affairs, so it's a nice combination of the past and present. Somehow we got into a discussion of "Song of the South" -- and we eventually dug up as much as we could on YouTube.

Oh, and it was half price Monday at Sahara Pizza. Always a reason to eat and rejoice.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Making the Rounds (Summer - Day 68)

Sometimes Washington vacation are all about visiting others. I can't just hide out on Camano Island forever. We've got to people to see. So today Cheri -- the scheduling sorceress -- managed our time very wisely

Here's what we did:

  • Visited Aunt Diane at her home on Vashon Island
  • Took her to lunch at Sporty's (a great cheeseburger and fries)
  • Met a Border Collie puppy (owned by Cheri's cousins) named Wesley
  • Got peed on by Wesley because he was so excited to meet new people
  • Took the very to Point Defiance
  • Met up with my friend John and his family
  • Talked about Star Wars with John's kids (ashamed that they are so much more proficient in the current Star Wars universe than I could ever hope to be)
  • Went to a Sounders (minor league) soccer game
  • Watched my nephew serve as a referee
  • Dropped Cheri and Emily at Grandma Judy's condo
  • Went back home to Camano by way of Taco Bell
  • Read an old book about insects while watching the second half of this Tony Robbins documentary/puff-piece on Netflix.
A note about Tony Robbins. I remember cringing any time I would see him on those infomercial in the nineties. Watching the "Date with Destiny" segments, I didn't cringe. He's very good at captivating the audience. He reminds me of a tele-evangelist, except he's not claiming to have any religious authority to heal the crippled. He also seems to genuinely love his job -- and that's always inspiring.

He says at the beginning of it isn't for everyone. He says if you're not hungry, this isn't the program for you. But it seems like it's more than that... If you are "hungry" and lack direction or motivation, then it might be a good kick start for some people.

But for me.... not so much. Why? Well, to use a phrase I once heard from my daughter:

"I get shit done."

Getting Beyond the Sticky Patch (Summer - Day 67)

July 23 -- Most of the morning was spent waiting for Mackenzie to send us a text message. Eventually, we got the text -- she arrived safe in the Charlotte Airport... Then we had to wait to hear if she got in okay in Huntsville. She did. She's fine. Of course she's fine She's a second degree black belt. She can take care of herself! (It's her Dad who we need to look out for!)

According to one of her text messages, she found some kids flying on the second plane who were going to camp, so they all took the transport bus together to the Space and Rocket Center

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. One of my mom's friends (Robin) came over to visit with us. Her dog Simon (who didn't visit) is still alive and doing pretty well at age 14. (Simon used to be Jill's little dog.)

By the way, if it seems like these blog posts have turned into a personal journal, I guess that's because it has -- at least in a way. I was looking at my blog posts from last year, and it seems I skipped writing 90% of what happened over the summer. And now that summer of 2015 is just a bright blur Journaling helps to keep my memories crystal clear. So, yes, I'm using this blog to write down the basics of what happens each day. (And anything that's too personal or emotional goes in my actual physical journal which I keep handy -- but that's usually just me whining about stuff.)

Anyway, back to the other reason for this blog: my writing projects. I've been a little stuck with my chapter book. I started developing the idea while staying at Lake Chelan. Took some time to develop the characters. Started writing. Stopped writing. When I started again, I found that I was stuck in a sticky patch of plot and theme. What's going to happen next? What is this story really about?

Today, I had a breakthrough (a little but important one -- not a lightning bolt in the sky, more like a lightning bug in the dark).  I got past the scene I had been tinkering too much with -- I finished it and moved onto the next. Tomorrow is a busy day, so I don't expect to write much, but by Tuesday I'll have a better idea if this lightning bug will lead the way to the end of the story.

There was a lot of free time this evening. Cheri went to visit some old high school friends. Emily and I have been having some great one-on-one time. We miss Kenzie, but we're making the most of things. We watched the 5th Wave, a movie my mom ordered on Netflix.

Not a great movie -- but those are the kind I enjoy talking through, MST3K style.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Off to Space Camp! (Summer - Day 66)

My eldest daughter went on her first unaccompanied solo plane ride. She is traveling to Huntsville, Alabama and will be an astronaut-in-training for the next two weeks. We are going to miss her!!!

I didn't write anything worth while today. I'm kinda stuck on the chapter book, which is lame since it should just be short, fun, and silly.

Because Mackenzie didn't leave until late this evening, I was distracted all day -- couldn't really concentrate on creative writif, at least that's my excuse.

One of Cheri's friends from high school came out to take Senior Year photos of Kenzie. We went to a Camano Island beach which we had never been to before. The day was cloudy, much more dismal than yesterday, but after the photoshoot was done, a beautiful rainbow appeared. It figures.

The ride to the airport was bittersweet because it made me think of what it will be like when she goes away to college.

And now it's time to sing:

"And the cat's in the cradle with the silver spoon! Little boy blue and the man in the moon!"

Friday, July 22, 2016

Back to Writing (Summer - Day 65)

July 21st -- Well, somehow I've started vacationing too much during this vacation, because I haven't been writing very much during the last couple weeks.

So today I got back to work on the Chapter Book I've been developing. Cheri and the girls went to Everett to go school shopping with some of the relatives. I stayed here on Camano with mom. I probably wrote only three pages worth of material, but at least I'm getting back into it. My plan is to write/illustrate the first couple chapters, and then just write the rest of the text -- hopefully that will be enough to give potential editors the idea.

Today was my sister Jill's birthday, so we went out to Cedro-Woolley. Jill, her kids, Mom and I went to Applebees. I had a plate of something I will call: Misfortunate Macaroni.  But I had a really nice time visiting with them. Both my niece and nephew are out of school now! Time keeps on chugging away. 

Mackenzie has one more day here in Washington and then she is flyinng off to Space Camp for two weeks. Gulp. You try to be a helipcopter parent and they one-up you by becoming a Rocket Kid. 

Back to Washington (Summer - Day 64)

July 20th -- Our third and last day in Victoria.

Heather took us Down Town. We went to a cool place called David's Tea. Then Heather led us to a street that had not one but three comic book stores! We only went to Curious Comics, though -- that was big enough. I bought two Groo Comics. I guess there's a new series!

We visited Corey at Oregano Pizza and bought a few slices. Heather also took us to a delicious spot in the city called Cakes and Things. (These gourmet adventures reminded me of something we did two days ago... We had lunch at a Chinese Restaurant called Lucky Village -- the owner / server cracked us up!)

Back at Heather's home, she and Cheri looked through scrap books. Alan worked on a shed for his motorcycle. The girls and I played with the cats, Jake and Elwood. We did a card trick while following the television show: Penn and Teller.

Now we are in the ferry ride back to the U.S. of A. (Although the girls have said that if Trump wins they may want to visit Canada for another four to eight years.)

Gorge Park (Summer Day 63)

July 19th -- Heather's family joined us for breakfast at our hotel. We walked around Gorge Park. Alan showed us this reverse water fall that occurs when the tide is going out.

We dined at Dairy Queen. I had a blizzard for the first time in at least the years. Alan also showed us a carving tent with First Nation artists.  Later on in the evening, we went to a large park in the middle of Victoria. Eowyn (Corey's sister) joined us. We talked and laughed while listening to a live band that played French folk rock. The girls, Corey and I played Frisbee. We also practiced being psychic by guessing at random cards. I got two correct: the Queen of Spades and -- my personal favorite -- the Nine of Diamonds. 

Let's Go to Victoria (Summer - Day 62)

July 18th -- Woke up early and traveled to the Anacortes Ferry to British Columbia. My family mercilessly defeated me at Hearts. Our friend Heather picked us up. She gave us a tour of Victoria. We visited with her family. Corey (her son) made us specialty pizzas. (He works at the Number One Pizza Place in town.) One was "The Canadian" and the other one was his own recipe which he dubbed "The American."

Heather and Alan have a pair of cats, both of which are endlessly entertaining. Alan has built them a Catio. (A patio for cats.)

In honor of our new animal friends we watched Zootopia.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sun Country - (Summer Day 61)

July 17th - Woke up, ate a sub-par breakfast, listened to the manager argue with a disgruntled customer, and checked out of our room. I'm not in a great mood today. But it was nice to return to the golf course and visit a bit more with assorted relatives.

Cheri and I walked down to the railroad bridge. Jacob, Mackenzie, Emily, and I hit golf balls at the new little driving range. We also stopped by the Club House. I was sad that they don't sell ice cream bars anymore! Boo! (*Wade hates change of any kind*)

All of the second (third?) generation of cousins remind me of the past. It's a good feeling.

Sun Country has changed in enough ways that it doesn't seem as mystical with nostalgia to me anymore. Maybe that's not quite true. The feel of the place still floods me with childhood memories and sensations. But maybe now I've talked about the past too much. Each terrain has a different narrative I retell to myself, and sometimes others, over and over again. It feels like the ghost of a ghost now. But that's not a bad thing.

Watch, tonight I'll have another golf course dream (this is my most common recurring dream, btw), and it'll recharge all of the wonder and foreboding I have for this location.

We left Sun Country around 2:30pm. We made it back to Camano Island around 5pm. I think Mr. Knightley missed human contact. He befowled his cage in protest of our absence!

Warrior Dash (Summer - Day 60)

Well, only thirty more days until I'm back in front of a classroom. Gotta make the most of these days of summer. Today we did just that.

We awoke at the crack of dawn. We drove out Bonney Lake, met up with the rest of the Siler Clan (Cheri's family) and then we ran the Warrior Dash 5K. I wore a fuzzy Viking Hat the whole time.

I wasn't really looking forward to this event, since I'm not an exercise kind of guy, and I just spent the last week sitting around Lake Chelan stuffing my face. To my surprise, I managed to keep up with Emily and Kayla. (Mackenzie and the other teams were far out of my reach, however.)

The last mile felt a lot like Full Metal Jacket. Lots of obstacles. Lots of mud.

After that festival of fitness, we drove to Cle Elum to join the Riach Family gathering. We missed the Float Down the River -- but Jill and her kids got to do that. I had a nice time talking with my cousins and uncles and friends of the family, many of whom I haven't seen in years. I talked with my Great Uncle Wallace about the good ole days, and he told me about my grandmother's childhood years.

It's always dreamlike when I'm at the Sun Country Golf Course. It's the cornerstone of so many childhood memories -- most of them good, certainly not all.

In town, we stayed at an Econo Lodge. Our room was fine, but poor mom got stuck with a smoking room. Pew!

Who You Gonna Call? (Summer - Day 59)

Cheri and I woke up around 8ish. We went to the Barnum Point Inn. The girls were already making their own breakfast. (That's how they roll at this B&B). Mom, the girls, Cheri and I walked up and down the coast. More Bald Eagles at which to gaze. We left the Inn glad to have accomplished a long held day dream. This place will be turned into a nature preserve in the very near future, and there's a good chance the Barnum house will be torn down. So, this might have been our last chance to visit this place.

At Mom's house, I spent the rest of the day reading a new book -- actually it's an old book. I found a collection of Stephen King's Bachman novels for only 55 cents at a second hand store in Stanwood! I also packed for tomorrow's trip to Cle Elum. There's a family reunion (on my mom's side) happening over the next couple of days.

Oh, and since it was July 15th, the girls and I watched the new GHOSTBUSTERS movie. Very fun. An enjoyable reboot -- though I'm not pleased with reboots in general. I was happy all of the haters have been wrong. (At the very least, this is far better than GB2).

We watched it at the Stanwood cinemas -- my third time watching a show here... I wish this little movie house was better loved. It reminds me of the run-down Lynnwood Fourplex from the days of Yore. The Ghostbusters standee had several holes punched into it... showing you the troll mentality of today's movie going public. I can't help but think that it reveals an misogynistic undercurrent. As a father of two strong, intelligent women, I am glad there's a new comedy out there that's showing female characters who love science and adventure.

Goodbye Lake, Hello Sound (Summer - Day 58)

July 14th: It's always sad to go home after camping, or in our case glamping. We grew accustomed to this place. I suppose a week is a long enough time in which to do nothing but lounge around and eat and play in the lake. But I wasn't sick of it yet. I think I could have gone a few more days.

However, this hasn't been an ideal spot for writing. I haven't been able to hunker down and concentrate, so perhaps it's best we move on to the next sequence of Pacific Northwest adventures.

After we packed up and parted ways, the girls, Cheri and I drove back to Camano Island. We didn't stay at my Mom's house long because she reserved a room at a local bed and breakfast, the Inn at Barnum Point. This is the house that we can see from my mother's front porch. We've always marveled at it, because it's a big house surrounded by lots of land, sea, forest. It seems lonely.

My mom decided we needed to finally go there, mainly to walk to beach and touch a big boulder that is accessible only during very low tides. SPOILER ALERT: We never get to touch the boulder.

The room was large and had an unintentional retro 90s feel. Because of the isolation, the place did have a horror movie setting feel to it. The girls and I kept coming up with scary movie scenarios. Fortunately, none played out.

Maddy joined us after work, and since the cousins were going to be talking all night (and it was going to be a little crowded) Cheri and I decided to head back to the yellow house. But before parting ways for the night, we dined together at the Crow's Nest. Decent fish and chips (aka tater tots).

We also walked along the beach at Barnum Point before nightfall. Lots of Bald Eagles, as expected, be we also happened upon a baby seal. We believe he swam off to be with his mother. At least that's the story I want to read.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Lake Chelan (Summer - Days 52 thru 57)

We recently returned from a one week stay at a rental house in Lake Chelan, right on the water. I kept a journal during the vacation. Here's a run-down.

July 8th: We arrived at Lake Chelan for our trip within a trip. We are staying at a cool two story house with members of the Siler clan. The drive was about three and a half hours.

There are so many snacks here. It feels like Craft Service. There's so much delicious junk food. We're all going to leave this place with much fatter selves.

July 9th: Well, I suppose what I should do today is work on staging ideas for Around the World in 80 Days.

For the most part, the day consisted of paddle boarding and inner tube rides. I did the latter and Cheri did the former. I've been brainstorming new ideas for a chapter book.

I read a couple more chapters of Doctor Sleep. It's getting very engaging. The rest of the day we've been sitting around snacking.

We watched Cloverfield Lane 10, which I enjoyed until the film's third act. Then it seemed like an expanded

July 10th: We went to Blueberry Hill for breakfast. She returned home afterwards. At the rental house, I read a chapter and then took a nap. The girls played on the paddle boards with their cousins. We watched the movie JAWS.

July 11th: More of the same relaxation. Worked more on my chapter book idea. I also began making a vision board to go with my Wish List.

The snacking continues. Mike (Cheri's brother) fell in the lake while trying to moor the boat.

We watched WE'RE THE MILLERS... But halfway through I went to bed. I finished reading Doctor Sleep.

Oh, I forgot to mention, we won Goldie Awards! Cheri earned one for Hello Dolly, as did Mackenzie for her lighting design. I won best supporting actor for Bullshot Crummond.

July 12th: Yet another day in paradise. THis one seemed to fly by the fastest. Worked on the chapter book (it's about bugs). I finally broke down and checked my email on Cheri's phone. Eldridge Plays said they would like to send me a contract for "Director's Nightmare!"

 Most of my creative efforts focused on the vision board. More cousins arrived today. NEw blood! We've been playing lots of Hearts, and this evening the kids played a heated game of Risk.

Mike took the grown ups on a boat ride to look at the beautiful homes along the lake.

July 13th: Our last full day at the lake was a good one. The water was so calm, standing upright on the paddle boards was easy! Cheri and I went out on the water twice. Just about everyone except me went out on the inner tube. I believe all of the teens jumped off the diving board at least once.

At night, we watched Best in Show, then organized our stuff before going to bed.

We survived the week! And I believe fun was had by all.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wade in Action (Summer - Day 51)

Sometimes I can't take myself anywhere. Even to the kitchen.

If you haven't figured it out yet from this blog, I'm kind of a boring idiot. I do a lot of stuff backwards or just plain wrong. Usually I'm pretty good at faking competence. But today, a series of stupid little things happened. Here's the run down:

#1) I decide to make chicken in the oven. (Based upon Cheri suggestion that I cook dinner, and that the dinner be chicken, and that the oven be used.)

#2) I open up the oven door to see if it is empty -- because my mother sometimes puts a frying pan in the oven. Not sure why she does that, but keeping in mind we are related to each other, perhaps there's no need to ask.

#3) Since I am taller than the oven, I don't have an ideal view -- I don't look all the way back, but it seems that the oven is empty.

#4) I am wrong. There is a frying pan in the oven AND a spatula with a plastic handle.

#5) I type on the computer until my alarm goes off ten minutes later -- the oven should be pre-heated, so it's time to put in the chicken.

#6) I am about to open the oven door when I notice the distinct smell of melted plastic.

#7) I discover toxic smoke and the roasted utensils within. I grab a kitchen towel and carefully remove the 450 degree pan.

#8) One kitchen towel is not enough to constrain the heat of the handle which begins to tell my hand, "Hi there, I would like to burn you."

#9) To avoid a burnt hand, I set the scalding hot frying pan and melted spatula on the doormat.

#10) The door mat (also made of plastic?) melts to the frying pan.

Fun was had by all.

In other news, we are preparing to go glamping at Lake Chelan. Last year we went camping in a tent. This year, we've learned our lessons, and Cheri's family is renting a house right on the water!

By the way, starting tomorrow, there is a good chance that I will be in a land without wireless! So, this blog might be going dark for about seven days! (Since nobody reads this, that's not a big deal, right?)

I finished "The Twilight Cone." Then, I formatted the play, as well as the other one-act (Director's Nightmare). By the end of the day, I sent them off to publishing companies. Snap!

Oh, I almost forgot the best thing that we did today! We went out to Barnum Point, a place that has a Bed and breakfast right on the sound. We have stared out at this blue house for years wondering what it's like. We're going to be staying there next week (since they will be closing up for good this year) and we finally went out o the point. There was at least a dozen bald eagles flying around. Amazing!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Twilight Cone (Summer - Day 50)

Mack, Mom, and Cheri went to Bellingham to meet my sister for lunch. Emily and I stayed around the house. In addition to walking the dogs and swinging underneath the big tree, we mainly stayed inside. Em caught up on a lot of vloggers. I made an enormous amount of progress on my silly little one act play: The Twilight Cone.

This pun-based title began as one of my weird, random Facebook posts. I asked my online friends what kind of flavors would be served at an Ice Cream Shop called the Twilight Cone. They came up with a lot of great answers, such as... Lime Enough at Last, Cookies and Scream, and my personal favorite: To Serve Mango.

Cheri liked that post quite a bit, and thought I should do something with it. And her encouragement led me to think of a one-act play in which we get to see different characters trying different flavors that have very different Twilight Zonish results.

I stayed up until half past midnight and almost finished the whole thing. However, there was one monologue that I didn't have the energy for, so I let that one simmer whilst I slumbered.

This ain't no Shakespeare. Silly, whimsical stuff. But it's fun to just work on something that's fluff -- and best of all I think there are six great roles for young female performers.

What am I reading / watching?
I'm still slowly working on Doctor Sleep. Creepy things are happening in this book, as one would expect from Stephen King. I finished watching an odd yet amusing film from Albert Brooks: Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. It didn't fulfill all of my expectations -- mainly because I really wanted the film to delve into the cultural differences (if any) between Muslims (of the Middle East and Asia) and Americans. At the same time, I got to watch Albert Brooks, playing himself, wander awkwardly on the other side of the globe, and how can that not be funny?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Great Doggy Escape (Summer - Day 49)

The blog title sounds pretty light hearted, but my daughter Emily had a rather harrowing, not to mention exhausting experience this day (Tuesday, July 5th).

My mom, Cheri, Mack and I went into town to patronize the local grocery store. Emily stayed at home with the dogs, because she's a home body. If given the choice to go shopping or stay at home watching Youtube on her phone, she will take Youtube 95% of the time.

We were gone about 45 minutes. As we made our way back home, we noticed a couple people running along the highway (average speed 50 miles per hour). As we slowed down we noticed one of those people was Emily! She looks scared and winded. The first thing we all thought was that the house had burned down -- or worse. But when she began to speak, she explained that the dogs had escaped

Our two wonderful / stupid mutts are named Chase and Lizzy. I have probably written about them before, but if I haven't let me sum them up in one word: TROUBLE. They love to get into trouble. And as dog owners, we Bradfords are not clever enough to train the stupidness out of these dum-dums. The result is that sometimes havoc reigns supreme.

Mom has an electric fence set up around the house, and for the past two and a half years the dogs have respected/feared the perimeter. However, today Chase decided he could jump off the deck and clear the wire, which is what he did. When Emily opened the fence to try luring him back inside, Lizzie got out, and then all hell broke loose.

The dogs ran around for at least a half hour, running into the neighbors yard, up and down our driveway, hiding in the bushes, and finally and most horrifyingly, they headed towards the two lane road at the bottom of the hill.

Emily, through her tears and pleas, kept trying to wrangle them in. The traffic stopped, and about a dozen nice people helped Emily. A lady managed to contain Lizzie and put her in her car so that Emily could focus on her mission to capture Chase. By then, Chase had bolted away from the road and went back up to our house, where Emily found him sitting on the front porch, panting his lungs out.

We are so thankful that the dogs are safe. And we are even more thankful that Emily is safe.

(Here's a photo of Lizzie aka Dum-Dum #1)

In the evening, we watched a story about another precocious dog -- this one was named Snoopy. That's right, we finally watched Peanuts the Movie. Very cute.

Here's a little factoid I noted, and subsequently posted on Facebook:

Finally watched The Peanuts Movie. Definitely captures the spirit of the Charlie Brown cartoons of my youth. When I watched the credits, wondering who did Snoopy's voice, I was amazed to find out it was Bill Melendez -- the original voice over artist, and the animation director / producer for most of the television projects. Then I discovered that Melendez passed away back in 2008 (at age 91). They had enough archived Snoopy sounds for the new film!

Creative News: I have begun a new one-act play based off of a very silly idea that came to mind a few weeks ago It's called "The Twilight Cone." So far, I'm only about six pages in, but I'm hoping to do a lot of writing over the next two days and finish it by July 7th.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, America! (Summer - Day 48)

We have been feeling rather patriotic around the house today. Everybody has 4th of July themed shirts -- except me. The best I could rummage up was a Hawaiian shirt.

We had an open house party/gathering. Lots of food. Lots of family. Cheri's parents, brothers, some sisters, and some cousins. Fun was had by all, especially when we started blowing up fireworks!

All fingers and toes are accounted for.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Campfires and Firecrackers (Summer - Day 47)

My sister and my niece came out to visit us on Camano Island. When went for a hike along a local nature trail. Mom was very brave. She brought her portable stool in the event she grew tired, but for the most part she kept a steady pace.

Cheri and I went grocery shopping for the festivities tomorrow. Some family and friends will be coming out to the island for the 4th. After dinner, we lit up a fire in Mom's new fire pit. The girls found some old fire crackers (the Navy Seal kind) and threw them into the blaze. Fun was had by all... Except when a spark burned through Kenzie's compression pants! (Note: she is unharmed and the hole is very small.)

The dogs are rather angry about the explosions which have been taking place in the evening. They will be very unhappy tomorrow.

Cheri and I went to the local casino, Angel of the Winds, about a twenty five minute drive from where we are. We lost. But not too much. I blew twenty five bucks, and Cheri only gave up sixteen dollars to the one-eyed bandits.

The girls and their cousin Maddy had a good time staying up late into the night, giggling.

I wrote the opening lines of the new one-act, only about two pages in. But I have a feeling I'll have it finished by July 7th.

Oh, here's a photo of our neighbors. The dogs are desperate to get close to these guys, but I know better!

Past the Halfway Point (Summer - Day 46)

Well, summer is all down hill from here. We're past the halfway point, people!

Much of today -- July 2nd -- was spent at the computer, formatting the new one-act play. I also revised and enhanced "12 Angry Pigs" and sent it to Pioneer drama.

Mom and I went to the local grocery store. The parking lot is packed because all of the island is getting ready for Independence Day.

Cheri and the girls returned to Camano Island around 6:30 pm. They had a splendid time in the Everette area, visiting Grandma Judy, going shopping and whatnot.

I created a character outline for a new (and very silly) one-act play based off of a random idea I posted on Facebook. It's called "The Twilight Cone." It's about a very unusal ice cream shop.

Let's hope the second half of my summer vacation is as creatively productive as the first.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Writerly Day (Summer - Day 45)

July 1st proved to be the most productive writing day of the summer, so far. It will be a difficult one to top, because I completed a new one-act in the course of two days. (80% was written today!)

Suffice to say, there's not much to journal about. I was here on Camano Island, typing away on my iPad. Walked the dogs twice. Visited with Mom between scenes. Allowed myself a bit of Facebook / email distraction every 30 minutes. Mom and I even went back to the cinemas. We watched the sequel to Independence Day. Cheesy good fun, though it did feel very rushed in places -- as if they were in a hurry to get to ID3... (Will it be another 20 years until the next film?)

(Here's the Stanwood Cinemas... a bit run-down, but still a great place to visit in this small Washington town.)

Cheri and the girls are having a treat-yo-self kinda day. I believe pedicures are involved

It felt really good to write a script that flowed so easily. I was detmermined to complete it before going to bed. The coolest writer's moment for me was when I wrote the final line of dialogue, looked at the clock, and saw that it read 11:59pm... Just one minute until July 2nd.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The BFG and Bucket Lists (Summer - Day 44)

I haven't posted it yet, but a couple weeks ago I made a lengthy Bucket List, or perhaps more optimistically, a Wish List of Things to Do in Life.

I will post the extensive list and talk about it more in this blog in the near future. but for now, let me mention that some of the accomplishments are oretty simple: watch certain movies. Star Wars 8 and 9 are on the list, so is Indy 5, and so if The BFG. I'm happy to report that I checked the BFG off the list last night. It was a wonderful, soft spoken film filled with sparkling color and imagery. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I love being alive in the age of Spielberg.

What else did I do yesterday -- the last day of June 2016?

Well, Cheri and the girls left early to visit relatives. I stayed at the house to do some writing and hang out with the dogs. Got to spend a lot of time talking with Mom and catching up on our lives.  (And we watched the movie together -- there was hardly anyone at the 7pm showing in Stanwood!)

I worked on the finale scene of the Radio Play (that doesn't mean it's near comppletion -- we're working on the play out of order). Then, I began a new project, a one-act play about a drama teacher's worst day. Didn't get more than two pages in, but I'm hoping I make more progress tomorrow.