Weekly Update – November 15, 2016

Another quiet week, but I’m back to a regular writing schedule this weekend. Woo!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: The only movement here is that I think I have a decent subtitle. Unless something better strikes me, book eight will be known henceforth as Crawling from the Wreckage.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

After chatting with a friend last week about murder mysteries, I remembered a spec script I wrote several years ago for a WWII-era murder mystery show (A Star-Spangled Murder) and took it out to see if it was still any good. It was, which was a pleasant surprise. If anyone happens to be in the market for a short, three-act show with interactive elements for a small cast, contact me.

Final thought for the week, inspired by posts I’ve seen on other writers’ various social media outlets: it doesn’t matter how many Facebook followers you have, it doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers you have, it doesn’t matter how many newsletters you send out each week, it doesn’t matter how many books you crank out, it doesn’t matter how many likes or shares or retweets you get. Success isn’t all about raw numbers. Stop worrying about quantity and focus on quality.

Playwright Interview – Scott Kegler

Something a little different today! Instead of a fellow independent author, I present to you an interview with an independent playwright, my friend Scott Kegler, who recently realized a career dream and had his play WHACKED! published by JAC Publishing & Promotions. WHACKED! is also available on Amazon.com.

A bit of background: Scott and I met in 2007, when I was on the writing staff for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire and Scott was portraying the Green Knight in that year’s production (you can check out a key scene featuring the Green Knight here). We didn’t really connect as friends until a few years later, when we were both performing in the New England Pirate Faire, and we bonded over our respective statuses as happily married men (which I say without any irony or sarcasm. We both have awesome wives).

Okay, Scott, introduce yourself to the readers, and tell them what else have you done outside of writing this particular play.

I began writing when I was in high school and found that my stories were best told through dialogue. I wrote screenplays and by the time I was through college had almost a hundred different shorts, with only a couple of full length scripts.

I have had the advantage of being able to have performed on the stage and directing for the stage. These opportunities have really helped me have a larger understanding of theater, and how to pace a script.

What are your professional influences? 

My writing style is definitely fast paced and almost always plays within the absurd. I think a lot of this comes from my childhood, and what I watched. While my friends were usually watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was filling my mind with rerun episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway?, MST3K, and Blackadder.

I do enjoy however the styles of comedies from the 30’s and 40’s, where you see these very straight laced protagonists thrown into settings filled with insane, broad characters.

Now, onto WHACKED! What inspired you – or perhaps I should say, what possessed you to write a sex farce?

Poster by Amanda Marie.
Poster by Amanda Marie.

Ha. Well, I was actually in rehearsals for the Scottish Play. Yes, Macbeth. I was backstage with one of my cast members sitting on a couch, and we were talking about comedies. We were talking about the classic sex farce and how they are usually all over the place, and the sex is just a general theme. I commented how it would be interesting to focus on one sex act, and more importantly a socially taboo one. When I made the claim that an entire play about masturbation could be interesting. My friend stated it couldn’t be done. So, I opened my laptop and started while waiting for my cue. The first draft was done in 6 days.

You’ve mentioned that there are some elements in the show that were inspired by real-life people or events. What were those real-life inspirations (feel free to change any names to protect the not-so-innocent)? 

In general, I always have some actor’s voice in mind when I write anything. But with WHACKED, I had one character in particular that was if at the very least a parody of my father. The character David in the play is a combination of both my father, and how I see my own voice in a few decades. The biggest influence for the show being my father’s ability to speak primarily in factoids. I can’t argue with the results.

Most of the show is pretty grounded in reality, but there are bits in the show that are completely over-the-top (Jesus Bill comes to mind). In retrospect, do you wish you’d pulled those wilder moments back a little? Or made the rest of the show crazier? Or are you happy with the balance?

A lot of my comedies depend on the absurd and often the fantastic. So, it was fun to tease the idea of the show going for a “fantastic” ending, only to end up being just another ludicrous turn. Jesus Bill was never an intended part of the show when I set out. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I remember just snapping at one point and saying, “The hell with it. Jesus appears in the door way.” Since I am a recovering Catholic, I couldn’t resist bringing Him into this show.

What made you decide to submit this particular play for publication? Did you ever worry it was too risqué or weird to be accepted for publication? 

I think it was the response. I have written a lot of the years, but this show just seemed rocket propelled. At the first table read I had at a local pub, the actors were practically demanding I get this produced. The rest happened pretty quickly.

Chances are some people reading this are familiar with the process of submitting a novel for publication, but what is the process for submitting a play?

The process is similar once the show is a proven commodity. The biggest difference is that almost any publisher/agent would like to see that the show/script has been performed in front of a paying audience.

If you have a script with which you are looking to move forward. I would recommend getting some actors together for a table read, and then getting a location for a stage reading. See what sort of response you get and then pursue a production. Once you have been able to that, you should be able to write your query letters and proceed.

What’s up next for you, writing-wise?

I am putting the queries together for two shows that were produced earlier this year. A full length show and a one act, which are about ready for that next step. I am working with a group on a web series currently as well, which I have gotten through about 3 episodes. I would like to find the time to finish two new works that are written, but needing some edits and reading, but there is this thing I have been involved with since the beginning of July. New baby or something? The wife says he is mine, and she is usually on the up and up. I figure I should raise him either way. You know…for appearances.

An Aside…

Work proceeds on getting Action Figures prepped for self-publication. The manuscript has been formatted properly, my sister-in-law (an editor by trade) is kindly giving the manuscript a once-over to hunt out any typos, and this weekend I hope to do a final once-over myself.

But that’s not why I’m posting today. No, I’m drawing a little attention to a freelance job I did some time ago for the Krebashia Kingdom renaissance faire, which went up this past weekend. I’ve been waiting for the show to come and go before I added a script segment to my writing samples, and now that it’s wrapped, the script bit is up here. I’m happy with the way it came out, and a little sad the job came with turning over the rights because I’d like to actually see this show performed elsewhere, like where I can actually see it, but oh well.

Cha-ching!

That’s the sound of me earning money as a freelance writer.

As mentioned previously, I was contacted out of the blue by someone looking for a renaissance faire variety act script. After a few weeks of writing, getting feedback, re-writing, getting more feedback, and re-re-writing, I finished the script yesterday and sent it off along with an invoice.

It felt good from both a “finishing a project” perspective and a “Hey, look, people will pay me to write stuff for them!” perspective, but I find the latter feeling more gratifying — not just for the boost to my bank account, which is always appreciated, but because it feels like some measurable forward momentum. I’ve finished a lot of projects over the past year or so, but this one earned me money and, later this year, real live people* will see it when it’s performed as part of the Krebashia Kingdom faire in June.

It kind of made up for the rejection e-mail I got the next morning. Sigh.

I’ll post a portion of the script here once the show has had its debut.

* No offense to the real live people who test-read my stuff.

They See Me Freelancin’…

While things on the novel front got off to a cruddy start for 2013, the freelance gods smiled upon me the other week when someone stumbled across me via Facebook and asked about writing a script for a renaissance faire variety act.

The last time I wrote a full script of this nature was at least six or seven years ago, when I wrote Sex & Violence, a two-person show for my wife Veronica (of Storied Threads fame) and her friend/assistant Kate (of Time Traveler’s Wardrobe), so it was nice to flex the ol’ writing muscles in an unfamiliar direction.

It’s also gratifying to work with a complete stranger rather than a friend, because it means I have to do a lot of things I normally don’t have to do, like write up a contract for services rendered and try to create a concept when the client only has general ideas as to what she wants. Today we pinned down a promising concept, and once I write up a first draft we’ll move into the nitpicking phase when the client goes through the script, tells me what she likes and what she doesn’t so I can tinker and tune the draft into a final form.

Bonus: it is a paying gig. I’ve done a lot of work on spec in the past, either as a favor to a friend or because I was desperate for experience and exposure, but the days of free labor are over. As the saying goes, artwork is still work.

Killing Jokes

Casino Confidential has gone up, and from what I’m hearing, it was very well-received by an audience of about 300 people at the Worcester Jewish Community Center.

I’m somewhat sorry I couldn’t be there myself, because it’s always thrilling to see something I wrote on its feet before an audience, but it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t around, because I’m also the type who will sit there the whole time thinking, “That’s not how I wrote that line!”

I know, you just can’t make me happy.

Except I am happy with this script. There were definitely challenges, to put it kindly, because the clients (the WJCC) were what you would call “hands on” (again, to put it mildly) and so a lot of elements were thrown in as concessions to them — elements I would have deleted in a heartbeat, but had to be there, so it was my job to make the best of them.

Click on the link above to read scene two of the script, and if anyone out there is interested in having this very same show performed for them, perhaps as a fundraiser, then give Stephen and Alena at Autumn Tree Productions a shout, because they now own the rights to the script. Yes, that’s how full-service I am; not only will I write for you, if you pay me to buy the rights to the finished product, I’ll sign ’em over.