Posts Tagged ‘how to’

Wandering through Target with my daughter, she stopped me for the new Lego line “Friends.” It’s a pack of cute, Lego-sized dolls where you built them and their play sets. Brilliantly simple idea and a fine execution.

She asked me to read the descriptions of the four girls on display. What took me by surprise was that they actually had negative sides of their personalities. One of them loves to plan parties, but she can be bossy. One of them loves to perform, but is a bit of a drama queen.

This, I thought, was fantastic. Most of the times, personalities for kids’ toys are very straight and narrow. They never have a bad side to them. “This one loves animals and the color pink!” That’s about as much as you’ll get from some of them.

It’s so bad that the “books” that are put out to support the toys (or do the toys support the books?) just pick a toy as the main character and put words in her mouth. The characters are that interchangeable that it just doesn’t matter who says or does anything.

So I was pleasantly surprised that, in just a few short sentences, the Lego Friends were well described and set up enough things for them to do.
What I Learned: For a story to happen, there has to be conflict. The best conflict comes from between characters. But they have to be different enough for that to happen.

Lego Friends Mia HeartLake Vet




For a parody to be successful, it has to be both good and first.

The official trailer for Men In Black III (shown here: went online two weeks ago. My animator sent me a link and asked what we could spoof about it. I had a script done in two days. Within two weeks of the trailer being online, my video is online (shown here:

If you search “Men In Black 3 parody” in YouTube, my video is the first to come up. And it’s the only one that’s really relevant.

What I’m hoping by all this is that by being first to the party, I’ll get a head start on views. The script is good, and I especially love the ending. And the video is first, or at least among the first if I missed the others.

So, take a look at it, and let me know if it’s successful. Thanks!


I make a video a week. And while most of the movies have the audio taken care of already, there are some that need background music.

Basically, I feel bad using all the time.

This video will detail my basic needs.

Some of my videos have received thousands of views. Wouldn’t it be nice to expand your audience that much? I need free music and you need free promotion, so let’s work together.

I need professional-sounding recordings in these formats: .aif, .aifc, .aiff .asf, .au, .mp2, .mp3, .mpa, .snd, .wav, and .wma.

The recordings can’t be live. And they have to be something that sounds like it would be the background to a scene in a movie. It has to convey an emotion without being distracting.

In submitting work, you agree to have your work used in a video that will only appear on the Internet. You understand that you will not be compensated for the work.

I can’t promise I’ll use it, or even contact you, so please don’t send any follow-up messages. If I don’t respond, I’m too busy with real life stuff. I’ll definitely respond if I’m going to use your work.

Keep in mind, most of the time I’m only going to use a shortened version of the work, so viewers wouldn’t be getting the whole thing for free.

So leave a comment here, or on my video if you want to share your songs. Leave a link to your work. Also, list your website if you have one. Provide whatever contact information you want to be public. Because other people will be viewing this link or watching my video. So, even if I don’t use your work, someone else might.

Doctors and nurses hustle through the surgery tent. The charismatic doctors deliver deadpan one-liners while digging through the young men torn up by battle. A young man walks into this whirlwind of activity.

“Radar, put a mask on,” one of the doctors yells.

“I have a message,” the young man says, faltingly. “Col. Henry Potter’s plane…was shot down over the Sea of Japan, it spun and…there were no survivors…”

The doctors all fall quiet. Just the clank of scalpels dropping on metal trays.


From the Associated Press: Harry Morgan, who died Dec. 7 at age 96 after having pneumonia, was in the top ranks of actors who could take a small role, or a small scene, and bring it deftly alive. He added richness to any comedy or drama smart enough to call on him.


I always loved M*A*S*H and wanted to give Morgan a send-off that Henry Blake had.

Even as a kid, I liked how that show could go from goofy to serious and then back again. The seriousness made the goofiness that much more important and the goofiness made the serious parts all the more real.

What I Learned: If you want to balance comedy and drama, it starts with the characters. They have to be funny because they are reacting to the sad parts. The two feelings go hand in hand.

I always check the publisher of the books my daughter brings home from the library. “When a Dragon Moves In” was published by FlashLight Press. ( I had never heard of them before. I assumed it was an imprint of a larger, impenetrable publishing company.

I was pleasantly surprised that it was its own company. A little bit of research showed they were owned by a company that published adult books, but it was still small. It was still approachable.

Which means it’s approached by EVERYONE.

Their submission guidelines had changed in that they only respond if they really like it. They said it was because they got way too many submissions, and they couldn’t respond to them all.

That’s the way it is with us writers: Once the door opens a crack, we all rush toward it so the door cracks off its hinges.

There are so few publishing companies out there that actually accept unsolicited submissions that those who do get swamped very quickly. I only hope that my submission stands out from the herd.

What I Learned: There’s huge competition even at the little publishers. The same rules apply: Make it your best effort, and make your book stand out. (This is better than the big ones, in which you can’t even enter the competition.)

Don’t abuse the little publisher that could. They’re nice enough to offer you chances to have your work published. The least you can do is buy their books and keep that door open.

I wrote a short story for a client, and it turned out really good. Then, after all was said and done, my client mentioned he stole the idea from the Internet.

If all you need to do is right-click on something, why be original? Creativity isn’t rewarded, it’s just copied. People who want to copy something because they like it, but don’t realize there’s a value there.

There’s an assumption that if it’s online, it should be free. If this was the case, no one would be making any money off their creations and you’d see much less of it online.

Anything can be ripped off. That’s why it’s even more important to be 100 percent original. Don’t fall into the easy trap of generating content mashed up from other people’s ideas. You won’t stand out. You’ll be exactly like everyone else who is doing it.

We don’t revere people like Steve Jobs because he copied other people. He got the respect he did because he created something new.

When anything can be copied off the internet the only thing I have is originality. People want original content, not the same old thing. That’s why, for instance, Charlie Sheen jokes got old very quickly.

My writing might not be much, but at least it’s my own.



Here’s my YouTube channel. You’ll find some very funny and some very wrong short films here:

Megan McCafferty, an of young adult novels, was speaking today to students at Central Regional High School, where she graduated. She said that she came up with what she thought was a great idea for a picture book.

Her agent declined it because there wasn’t enough potential for a stuffed animal to come out of it.

“Wow,” said an English teacher behind me, sadly.

Christopher Nolan was told by the film studio to make his Batman movies more “Toyetic.” Now, I suppose, books need to be.

This should come as no great shock, really. Everything is merchandised.

But two things make this worse. The first is that here’s this New York Times bestselling novelist, and she doesn’t have the muscle to get a non-toy book published. Secondly, marketing toys to children when you’re trying to get them to read is a downward slope. Reading should open doors to more reading, not to buying commercial products.

My wife and I were in Toys R Us and were surprised to see Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious dolls. Reading is a very private thing, most of the time. And despite the popularity of these series, we just never thought of the idea that hundreds of thousands of kids read them. Hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

I saw a Splat the Cat at Barnes and Noble. I almost got it, but I didn’t because:

  1. I’m cheap
  2. My daughter has enough stuffed animals already
  3. I don’t think she’d play with him the way she’d play with her other toys. Maybe I’m wrong about this.


This is depressing. But I guess you have to think of it in terms of children’s TV shows. There isn’t any children’s program on TV right now that isn’t trying to sell you something. Except maybe the public broadcasting shows. But if Sesame Street is any indication, with Elmo’s face on everything, the other shows will have marketing potential too. A quick Google turned up Word Girl (My favorite PBS show) costumes.

So, I guess we just have to live with it. Books aren’t just for education or entertainment anymore. The main thing they teach us is how to be a consumer.

Snake sounds like an evil version of the guy who narrates movie trailers. “In a world…where things are not as they seem…” He has this menacing tone to him that makes it sound like if he was narrating a movie, he’d want all the characters to die.

Snake also really, really enjoys what he does. There’s a subtle element of glee when he’s threatening someone.

I imitated Snake for an animated movie:

In order to do the voice, I watched a bunch of clips of the voice actor, David Hayter, mostly spoofing himself. Hope you enjoy!

I submitted my suspense story to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine last week. It had previously been turned down by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

This submission makes sense since the story was inspired by a story in EQMM which was in turn inspired by Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

What’s kind of nice is that the submission guidelines are more about format than style. I’m glad they are less picky about that. Although format guidelines in general are annoying, especially numbering pages. The Hitchcock guidelines are here:


The magazine is pretty decent, although sadly much more thin than I remember it being.

I’ve been sending my work to comic book publishers. I did some research and thought I could share it with my readers.

First, I went to my local comic stores and wrote down the names of independent companies I saw. I also jotted down what kind of comics they published (horror, pop culture) and the quality. Then I looked them up online and tried to find their submission guidelines.

Specifically, I was looking at their writers’ guidelines, and if they accept scripts without art, but some of this would be helpful for artists or writer/artists.

On a few of them, I mention they are looking for high concept stuff. What do I mean by “high concept?” That’s a judgment call on my part. It’s like when you can distill a story down to a flashy advertising phrase.

Abstract Studios is just Terry Moore’s stuff.

Alias is now part of Lamppost

Antarctic Press is open to non-super hero submissions from writers. However, they will not pair you with artists. They will keep a promising script on hand. For what I’m not sure.

Ape Entertainment – Open to subs from creative teams. Can’t just be a writer. Have to have it all together. Also does RPGs.

Arcana – Finished projects only.

Archaia – Finished projects only.

Aspen – No submissions

Asylum Press – Horror only.

Avalon/Haberlin – Might just be his own work.

Avatar – Have to be famous

Big Dog Ink – Didn’t look like it needed anything. There’s a submission link that brings you to forums where you can post links to your current works, but that’s it. Might be more for artists to post work.

Blue Water – No writers at this time. Looking for high concept stuff.

Boom – No subs

Campfire – Has a submission queue on web site, but I think it’s more for artists. Tend to have retellings of classic stories, so the Greek warthog story might work. A few originals are still period pieces.

Dark Horse – Looking for finished products

Desperado – Established only, writer artist teams only, now an imprint of IDW

Devil’s Due – Does not seem to be accepting submissions. Definitely will if you’re already famous.

Do Gooder Press – Just his stuff

Dynamite – Send a query. Top names, though. Doubtful.

Exploding Funny Books is just Eric Powell’s stuff.

Humanoids Press – I sent e-mail. They look like they only do top names, but I don’t know. In reply, they said there are no submission guidelines and to feel free to send anything.

Icon – Marvel creators only

IDW – Doesn’t look like they’re looking for anything. They responded to an e-mail of mine that said to submit through the e-mail for letters.

Lamp Post – Christian

Oni – Not open to traditional submissions. “we decided to suspend the submissions process in favor of a more streamlined process-namely, viewing online comics, portfolios, and resumes, reading minicomics, and meeting people at conventions. We are always looking for talent. Come by our booth at any convention and introduce yourself. We are more than happy to talk.”

Peregrine – Just their stuff

Red 5 – Open to relative unknowns, as long as you’re established. But you must have a team.

Slave Labor – Finished only.

Tokyopop – Closed

Top Cow – Finished projects. Top names only.

Top Shelf – Finished projects only.

Top Shelf 2.0 – Web stuff. Finished projects only. There’s an anthology thing online. No special guidelines, e-mail reply from editor: just send me a link or small attachment!

Udon – Doesn’t seem to publish anything but a few licensed properties and their own stuff. But can be hired as an art studio.

Viz – only Japanese

Zenescape – If you have an artist draw it first, “we’ll strongly consider it,” but there’s no room in the publishing schedule to do other people’s work.

Someone wrote on their guidelines: Web sites like Digital Webbing, DeviantART and Penciljack are excellent sites for connecting with other creators.