Movies For Fathers: Big Fish

Standard

tim-burton-big-fish

Every now and then I like to take time to recognize fathers and provide something enriching. My last entry was about an amazing book for dads with daughters, Oh Boy! You’re Having a Girl! by Brian A. Klems. This time I have a great movie recommendation for anyone who has had a father or father figure in their lives, or anyone who is a father.
The film “Big Fish” by Tim Burton is nothing short of a masterpiece about fatherhood. Coupled with Danny Elfman’s soft, loving score, you are guaranteed to shed a tear. If you’re not familiar with the story, it is about a middle aged man returning to his hometown because his father is gravely ill. Father and son have not spoken in many years because the son got tired of his father’s constant tall tales and feels like he never gets the truth from his dad. He comes back to say his goodbyes and, in the process, learns more about his father than he ever knew, including that all of his tall tales were based on actual events that happened to his father. I won’t spoil the ending, but if you have a father you will call him immediately after the film, and if yours is no longer around you will cry yourself to sleep.

Take some time for yourself and connect with who you want to be as a father. It is a very rare thing here in America for men to get introspective about who we are. We’re told to do certain things and be some sort of caricature of fatherhood. View yourself from your kid’s eyes and build yourself the way you wish to be seen. Be yourself and show your kids that it is okay to have fun, have faults, make mistakes, win, lose, laugh and, most importantly, cry. Go watch “Big Fish”, evaluate yourself as a father, and rejoice in being a father.

How I wrote Kyle McDuffy, Elementary School Investigator

Standard

I haven’t been giving much love to the blog as of late. I am currently focusing on getting a first draft of my next book revised. As any writer will tell you, this is the least fun of the entire process. Painstakingly going through every sentence and tweaking, removing, reworking, reimaging is, at times, a mind-numbing process. So, why not take a little break and tell you about how I got my ideas for the stories in Kyle McDuffy, Elementary School Investigator.

I started off by reading the entire original catalog of Goosebumps books. All 62 of them. I loved them as a kid and wanted to capture that same sense of excitement, horror and mystery that made those stories memorable. I also started watching reruns of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Similar concept to Goosebumps with more of a paranormal bent. Originally, I had envisioned Kyle McDuffy as a paranormal investigation series. Once I started writing, I figured out it is much more interesting to read about the exaggeration of mundane things as can only be seen through the eyes of an elementary school kid.
So, inside my new book you will find several cases. Each case can be considered a chapter in a normal book. Each case deals with something extraordinary happening at the elementary school. For instance, the first case involves the principal’s toupee of terror. Is there really something living under his toupee, or is it just Kyle’s imagination? Or perhaps another case of Polly’s pigtails. How are they so perfect every day? And what’s up with Mrs. Micer’s voice? Could she really be a mouse turned into a human?

The first draft is finished and being revised. I look forward to sharing these great stories with you, and I hope you are excited to read them!
Stay tuned to this blog for official updates and a few sneak peeks as I edit the story.

Surface Pro 3: The Writer’s Perfect Companion

Standard

untitled

A few years ago I posted about the original Surface tablet. I praised it for its portability, slim keyboard cover, free Office and amazing battery life. I still use mine to write, surf the web and entertain my daughter. However, the device can be a bit limiting with only one kickstand option slow processor. Today I would like to introduce you to a true laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3.

angles-better

Many angles – millions of possibilities

It all beings with a slimmer design, faster processor and 8 hours of battery life. That stuff may not be exciting to non-techies, but it is very important. It will enable you to load applications faster and work longer.

Why is this device such a great buy for writers? Where do I begin? For one, you can buy a keyboard cover to make sure you always have a fast, accurate keyboard anywhere you are. Any time inspiration hits, just flip open the Surface and get writing.
The kickstand can be positioned to any angle you need. Writing on a tabletop with a pen? Flip it all the way back. Writing at a desk with a keyboard? Position it at any angle you choose.

But those are mostly novelties. What’s the reason to sell your old laptop and get a Surface as a replacement? Glad you asked. It, of course, runs all Windows applications, including Office. You have Word with you anywhere you go. And all of those Word files can be stored in the cloud via OneDrive. When I update my latest story on my Surface, it saves automatically to the cloud. If I go home and want to continue working on the story on my desktop PC, the story is there waiting for me right where I left off.

Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.

Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.

Not only will you have access to 6GB of free cloud storage with OneDrive so you can work on your documents and have them sync seamlessly between your PCs,  there is also a USB port and MicroSD slot on the Surface. Let’s say you are out at a conference somewhere and there doesn’t happen to be Wi-Fi. All you have to do is carry your documents with you on a USB Memory Stick, external hard drive, or MicroSD card and you are ready to go. Or, of course, store them directly on the device itself.

Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!

Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!

For those who like to write by hand, the Surface Pro 3 also comes with a special pen. This digital pen will allow you to instantly write on the go. Just simply double click the top of the pen (just like a real life retractable pen) and your Surface will wake up and launch OneNote. What else can you do with this pen? Well, there’s Photoshop, Paint, etc. You can also write directly into Word or OneNote and it will convert to digital text. The perfect compromise for those who still wish to write by hand! You can also write directly on Word documents for editing, proofing, etc. and those notes will be viewable by any other person an any PC. Cool stuff!

The Surface Pro 3 is the perfect device to travel with you to the next writers convention. Leave your bulky laptop at home and get just as much work done in an even faster time with your Surface.

Surface Pro 3 is available for preorder at the Microsoft Store.

Fantastic Adventure: Shakespeare by The Sea

Standard

slide-terranea

This is a special event based entry in my Fantastic Adventure series. For my readers in Southern California, coming this summer to a park near you, Shakespeare by the Sea!
It is FREE and I will most likely be at every performance working in some capacity.
I would love to see you! Get the schedule on the website above or message me your address and I will mail you a flyer!

Shakespeare by the Sea is a touring Shakespeare play. Each play is shortened for time and somewhat modernized. This year they are presenting Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These plays take place out in a local park. Bring your own blankets, chairs food, etc. and have a great time!

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Introduce your kids to Shakespeare plays in a fun and supportive environment. Don’t wait until they have to read Romeo & Juliet in high school. They will be lost and they will end up hating Shakespeare. No one wants that!
This is a great intro to the world of Shakespeare and a fun and interactive way to get your kids into all kinds of live theatre.

Come on down and say hello! Not in So Cal? Look for touring theatre groups in your area this summer!

 

Sneak peek of my newest story

Standard

Berea_Elementary_School,_Montgomery,_NY

I am currently working on two projects at the same time. It’s not something I’ve really tried in the past but, I love these stories too much to hold one of them back. Today I will be sharing a short section from Kyle McDuffy: Elementary School Paranormal Investigator. Enjoy!

Will and I sat next to the jungle gym, our eyes moving back and forth over the playground. All the other kids were laughing and playing kickball and having a great time. They didn’t know what was going on right under their noses. Where was Cindy? Recess was almost over and there was no sign of her. “Where do you think she is?” Will asked. “I wish I knew. She must still be in Principal Adams’ office,” I said. “Man, I hope she’s okay. I knew we would get in twouble,” Will said. The bell rang to end recess, and Will and I walked back to the dark halls. Cindy was usually in my third period. I was hoping she would show up, but the class came and went with no sign of her. I could barely focus on the jumble of plus signs and long division. My first investigation was on course to go horribly wrong. What would I tell Cindy’s parents if she got kidnapped by whatever was living under Principal Adams’ toupee?

 

 

Introduce your kids to Shakespeare!

Standard

shakespearesmBeing that today is Shakespeare’s birthday, why not use that as an excuse to introduce your kids to Shakespeare? Not sure where to start? You’re in luck, because I’m bout to give you a guide!

Start here: The Folger Shakespeare Library has an excellent site for teaching Shakespeare to kids. Filled with activities, facts, challenges and introductory Shakespearean word definitions, this web site will give you a lot of educational content to share with your kids.

No Sweat Shakespeare: This collection of Shakespeare stories are rewritten in simple English that kids can understand. They also pass over all the violence and lewd jokes (no fun for adults) which is perfect for younger kiddos.

Shakespeare 4 Kidz: If you are a bit more ambitious (and you should be), you can get these shortened, kid friendly Shakespeare plays to put on with your kids’ school, church group, friends, etc. Everyone learns and has a great time!

The best thing about all of these options is that they get kids interested in Shakespeare’s stories. The younger they are when they start learning the basics of Shakespeare’s work, the more interested they will be when they have to read that mandatory Shakespeare play in high school. And hopefully they will start taking an interest in not only literature, but theatre as well! Win win!