Irving Williams and the Lighthouse Ghost–Part 1–New Fiction

I am working on the fourth book in my Dolbin School series.

 

But I placed a challege to myself to write a chapter book without an outline and into the dark

I got the idea from my last post about the Orcacoke Lighthouse, when @thecryptofiend asked if the lighthouse had a ghost.  Suddenly I had an idea and the start of a story.

Anyway, here is:

 Part one of Irving Williams and the Lighthouse Ghost

 “Oh, Jeez, who pooted gas?” Irving Williams waved his hand in front of his nose.

A loud giggle came from the seat in front of him.

“Haha! I did!” Squealed Lucas, Irving’s little brother.

“Mom, make them stop!” whined Carrie, Irving’s older sister.  Who was sitting with Irving in the back seat of their three row SUV.

“Boys, stop being gross,” Julie Williams, Irving’s mother, said from the passenger seat.

“Boys, I need you to cut down on that sort of talk when we reach grandma and grandpa’s house,” George Williams, Irving’s dad, instructed from the driver’s seat.

Irving Williams was eight-years-old, had sandy brown hair with freckles on his face and was soon to be in the third grade.

Carrie, was ten-years-old, also had brown hair, hers was pulled back into a ponytail. And she was going to be a fifth grader.

Lucas was four. And he laughed for at least three minutes every time he passed gas.

Mr. Williams turned on the blinker and he turned the family’s grey SUV into a driveway.

The two story brick house, had a dark green roof. Large potted plants stood on both sides of the front door.  An elderly man and woman appeared from the front door, Irving’s grandparents, Grant and Lucille Williams “Well, who are these lovely people who landed here in my driveway?”  said Grant Williams, the man smiled and walked quickly to the car.

“Grandpa!” screamed Lucas.

“Here, let me get you out of this car seat,” said Grant as he fumbled with the latches and eventually got Lucas out of the seat.

“Hey mom,” George hugged his mom.

“How was your trip?” Lucille Williams, Irving’s grandmother, asked.

“It was fine. The traffic was better than usual.”

“Can we go to the beach today?” shouted Lucas.

His grandparents laughed.

“We need to eat and get unpacked before head to the beach,” Mrs. Williams rolled her eyes as she shuffled Lucas off into the house.

“There is my little, oh, excuse me, grown-up adventurer,” Irving’s grandfather shook his hand. His grip hurt Irving’s hand. He was still strong in his later years. He pulled Irving in close and whispered in his ear, “I have something to show you at the lighthouse. But you need to keep it a secret. Understand?” Irving looked at his grandfather’s face, the lines were deep, but there was excitement in his eyes. Irving held his grandfather’s gaze for what seemed to be hours.

“Irving, let you grandfather go, and help with the luggage,” instructed his dad. Irving followed instructions, got the luggage and followed his family into his grandparents’ large house.

Top Ten Reasons Why Star Wars is the Greatest Movie Ever Made.

(This post originally appeared on my Steemit page.)

Star wars came out when I was four.

According to my parents it was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. I’ll let you figure out how old I am based on that information.

And when I say Star Wars, I mean the first one, A New Hope. When I first saw it wasn’t called A New Hope, it was just Star Wars.

Star Wars is a great movie.

Star Wars became my childhood.

Star Wars became my birthday and Christmas for years.

It became visits to my grandmother. She would regularly have a new action for me. It was always wrapped in a brown paper bag.

It became playground games—lightsabers verses lightsabers.

It became Halloween costumes.

The music made my four-year-old chest just stick out. I grew muscular and taller listening to opening music.  Star Wars was the world I was in.

Yes.

We all know the cultural phenomenon that it has become. And the huge intellectual property that it has become to Disney.

5 Billion dollars to be exact.

But it wasn’t just me. An entire generation of boys and girls, who are now middle age with children of their own who are into Star Wars. We are passing down the world to another generation of movie lovers.

But there has to be reasons why it is so good…

Here are the ten reasons why Star Wars is the greatest movie ever made.

1. The opening. Beginning a movie with loud music and a title crawl was ripped directly from the Flash Gordon serials of decades previous. But they weren’t done nearly as well as this. Then flew in the ship in. But it flew in FROM OVER HEAD! And not just one ship but two!

2. Darth Vader. Five minutes in we are introduced the greatest villain we have ever seen. And here is the thing, he doesn’t say one word. But you know, you need to be scared of him.

3. The Music. Let’s face John Williams is the Master at cinematic music. There is John Williams, and then everyone else.

4. Lightsabers. They were described originally as laser swords and they’re such an obvious invention, but I know of no other place before where laser swords existed in a movie.

5. Ralph McQuarrie . The average movie watch does not know who Ralph is. The hard-core of us do. And we know that it was him who took George’s words and turned them into beautiful illustrations.

6. The Toys. Lucas made a seismic shift in how movies were promoted. The toys were just awesome. I got new toys every Christmas and birthday from 1977 to 1984. Have toys allowed children to replay the movie. (Remember kids, this was before DVDs.)

7. Sound Effects. Without Ben Burtt there is no laser blast, no lightsaber sound, no roar of a tie fighter, no growl of Chewbacca, no rumble of the trash compactor, no explosion of the Death Star. In other words, no Star Wars.

8. Industrial Light and Magic. Lucas needed special effects that had never been done before. In the process he created a company that is used by most of Hollywood.

9. The spaceships. The x-wing, tie-fighter, and of course the Milineum Falcon. The Falcon itself is a character in the movies. The Falcon is such a character than when I saw The Force Awakens the crowd cheered when the Falcon finally appeared on screen. Personally part of the reason that Return of the Jedi is not my favorite of the series partly because no scenes really occur in the Falcon.

10. The Force. Everyone wants to have the Force. The Force is the spirituality behind the story. It is with the Force that the movie goes to a different level. We all want the Force. We are all interested in that sort of power.

This was a love letter to a movie.

A remembrance to my childhood.

That is why it is the great movie ever made.

Letter to my daughter on the eve of her fifth birthday

You were born on a Monday.

I was born on a Monday.

I can’t believe you’re five. It’s not possible.

You are so eager to grow up. You can’t wait for Kindergarten.

I can.

You can’t wait until you are bigger so you can sit in the front seat of the car.

I want you to stay in the back.

I want to reach back through time and space to hold you again when you could fit into one arm.

I remember the first time I heard you cry. You were three seconds old.  That sound is permanently in my brain. Dementia couldn’t take it away.

You see at one point the doctors told us that you could have special needs and would have difficulty growing up. I hope you never experience that fear.

When I heard you scream I knew your lungs were okay. The doctor wouldn’t let me see you at first.

For an eternity, I heard you cry, I was not allowed to see you. Then he called me over.

He turned to me and said, “Congratulations. She’s perfect.”

He was right.

You are so eager to enter school. But I am so afraid that school will stifle your individuality. And remember, your daddy is a teacher.

But I know you are an extrovert. You love people. School will provide you a wealth of people to meet.

You make friends as easily as fish swim. It’s amazing.

As you enter five, I am going to do my best to make sure you can be as creative as you want to be. I don’t want the world to end that. I am going to be that difficult parent as I defend you in school.

You won’t remember this, but we talked about rhyming words, you didn’t say cat-bat, you said, “You mean like light and white?”

I had to stop, think, and say, “Yes. That is correct.”

I’ve had first graders who couldn’t make that connection.

You memorized an entire Frozen book, and then you told me to read “the wrong word,” so that you could then read the correct word.

You once cut out a shape and sang about trapezoids. I looked at the shape you made. It was a trapezoid.

I didn’t know what a trapezoid was until middle school.

How do you do it?

I am selfish, you are the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

I am thankful to be your daddy.

(This post originally appeared on my Steemit blog.)

The many things to learn from Neil Gaimen–Ideas for writers and other artists.

I published my first book in 2013.  It was a children’s picture book.  

At that time I thought I would keep writing picture books.  I felt out of sorts when my second book was not a picture book.

But then I learned about Neil Gaiman.

He does everything.

neilgaiman1

I knew that he had written Coraline.  I had read the book and seen the movie and liked it a lot.


Then I saw him appear on Youtube with a wonderful commencement speech.

And an amazing speech at Bookfest in 2013.

Then, I read American Gods.


Wait?  The guy that wrote Coraline is the same guy that wrote American Gods?

How is that possible?

Then it seems he writes many other things.

He takes the time to write short stories.

 

Hold the phone–

He began his career writing comic books.

 

And before that he was a journalist.

And it was as a journalists that he learned to write fast and under a deadline.

What I did was work as a journalist. It forced me to write, to write in quantity, to write to deadline. It forced me to get better than I was, very fast.

Oh, and P.S. he didn’t go to college.

HE. DIDN’T. GO. TO. COLLEGE.

And yet he has an honorary Doctorate.

Oh, and now he does audiobooks.

Yes, his books aren’t made into audiobooks.

But not only that….He narrates them.

Seriously,.

And he does pictures books

Now he’s just showing off.

My favorite book of his is, Fortunately the Milk.

Just wonderful.  I remember reading it and thinking “Man, this is the book I wanted to write.

(Seriously I can’t recommend this book enough.  Just pure joy from start to finish.)

Here’s what I learned from reading his books and reading about his career.

  1. Write many different things.

  2. Learn to write fast.

  3. Be creative in different domains

  4. Enjoy the process of writing.

I’ll leave you with his eight rules of writing.  Very beneficial for anyone trying to write.

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Check out my post about Neil and the need to market like a dandelion.

Also check out my latest book:

 

The Return of the Professor Kindle Cover 1

Hangout with AJ Cosmo June 2016-Report Cards, Poop, and Jar Jar Binks

It’s been awhile but AJ Cosmo and I were able to catch up again.

TL:DR

We cover these topics:

  • Writing groups are great ways to keep you FROM writing.
  • AJ’s next book is called Hugs and was written for a mom who is reader of AJs.
  • His next middle grade book is called “Poop”–he’ll get on a banned book list and then that will be the end of that.  He’ll be super famous rich.  (The book is actually about health.)
  • I learned from most recent book The Return of the Professor that new books really do help increase sales.
  • Also that I should have added pronunciation guide for Dolbin School.  It’s pronounced DOLE-bin (long o sound.)  I stole the name from Dolby Labs.  When writing the original book in 2013, I needed a name for the school and I have movie posters in my office and I saw the Dolby Labs logo and I adapted name.
  • Writing books for me has become enough to consider it a part-time job.
  • We both are not fans of Scrivner writing software.  When you spend more time trying to learn the software opposed to writing, well, that’s a problem. There I said it.  Glad I got that off my chest.
  • I also talk about the rule that Report cards can only be given out at a certain time on the last day of school, plus AJ spouts his disappointment that Jar Jar wasn’t in The Force Awakens.

Check our previous hangout.

Get AJ’s latest book Nuts:

And you can pick up my latest book The Return of the Professor.

 

Createspace ISBN

Setting up your imprint and ISBN on Createspace

I’m setting up the paperback for the newest book, The Return of the Professor.  Ever since my second book, Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien, I have used my own imprint and bought my own ISBN for $10.  (Which is way cheaper than buying them through Bowker.  So don’t go that way.)

Createspace ISBN

Why Create your own Imprint?

I tend to recommend this because your paperbacks will look more professional when they have your business name on the inside of them.

Createspace says that if you don’t use their ISBN numbers then you can’t be in colleges or libraries.  This hasn’t been true for me.  My books are in at least five different school libraries here in Virginia.  To get those books into the libraries I just either donated them, or I spoke at the school.

Once I got a book into a school library, I stopped worrying about the Createspace statement that my books won’t go to libraries.

What they really mean is that libraries won’t order them from Createspace.

Well, in terms of hustle and getting your name out, it is up to you to get your books to be in libraries and you can do that with your own imprint and ISBN numbers.

How to Do it

Getting your own numbers is easy.  When setting up your title on Createspace choose the Guided Route, where Createspace guides you through the system.  In that route they give you the option of purchasing your own numbers with your own imprint.  You also set-up the name you want for your imprint in the process.

It’s very easy.

 

My newest book, The Return of the Professor, is now available for preorder.  Check it out!

The Return of the Professor Kindle Cover 1

The Idea for lesson plans with the new book.

I have a new book available for preorder.  The Return of the Professor, The Dolbin School 3.

The Return of the Professor Kindle Cover 1

But I am also offering lesson plans/activities to go with it, and the other two books in the Dolbin School Series.

Knowing my readers

I don’t know why more writers don’t do  this.  Especially if you write for children.  When books are taught in class, teachers need to take the time to come up with plans for the books they use.  I am a teacher.  I want teachers to use my books.

When visiting Potomac Elementary School, I spoke with the librarian and she told me that she appreciated Dolbin School for the Extraordinary for the short chapters.  Suddenly it dawned on me that teachers were using my books.

I also know that parents of older kids are reading the series, so with these activities parents can also have some value with with the books.

How many times have you had your child read a book and then be done with it?  I hope with these activities I hope parents will be given ideas of what to do with other books their children read.

Trying something new

With the release of this new books I have taken over a year to get the book the out.  Which is a mistake and another post in among itself.  So I wanted to do something different for it.

I have no idea if this make any difference in sales. But part of indie-publishing is trying something new and experimenting.

But I also know who a lot of my readers are, and I know what they need.  And I know they need activities and lesson plans.

So here’s how get the plans for the new book.

  1. Buy the book.
  2. Forward your receipt to thereturnoftheprofessor@gmail.com

An email will be sent immediately to you with a link for the plans.

P.S.

I also have lesson plans for my Kevin series.  If you join my Insider’s List you get them for free.  They were written by  a teacher friend Nikki Sabistion over at Teaching in Progress.

 

New book, The Return of the Professor, now available for Preorder.

My newest book, The Return of the Professor; The Dolbin School 3, is now available.

The Return of the Professor Kindle Cover 1

Click here to preorder the book.

Because I know that a lot of my readers are teachers and parents, I created 15 pages of lessons plans and activities from the entire Dolbin School series, Dolbin School for the Extraordinary, The Dark Cloud Rises, and now The Return of the Professor.

In order to get the extra plans all you need to do is:

  1. Buy the Book.
  2. Forward your receipt to thereturnoftheprofessor@gmail.com

That’s it.

The last day to get the extras is June 17.

Please share this out.

Hangout with AJ Cosmo

AJ and I did a Hangout back in January, and I just realized that I had not posted it here.  (It’s on Youtube, and my Facebook page.)

We spent time talking about our school visit to Potomac Elementary.

We discuss our current projects, including my next book Dolbin School 3.

Also check out AJ’s latest book Nuts.

If these videos help anyone let us know by leaving a comment.

Check it out below:

 

The strange critiques of The Force Awakens

starwarshorizontal

The Force Awakens hits Blu-Ray here soon.   And there is something that has been bugging me about the fans response recently to the movie.

First of all, I admit it.  Star Wars takes up a lot of my thinking.  I was 4 when the original movie came out.  Apparently it was the first movie I ever saw in the theater, according to my parents.  And I’m pretty certain they would know.

So when the news hit that Disney had bought Star Wars in October 2012 I was excited.

Episode 7 30 rock

But let’s be honest the prequels left a tinge of disappoint.  (Or for some, complete hatred.)  So there was some worry that maybe we would get a new series of prequels, movie that had lightsabers but  were still somewhat off.

The Trailers

Then the first trailer dropped in 2014 and there X-wings, and the Millennium Falcon.  Holey Moses, the Falcon is back.  (And the radar dish is now rectangle, because as we all know the dish was destroyed in Return of the Jedi.)  It was great, but still, keep those expectations in check.

Then the second trailer dropped in 2015.  And it ended with the perfect lines “Chewie we’re home.”  Chills. Down. Spine.

Chewie, We're home

The third trailer just brought it all home,

“There are stories…”

“It’s true.  All of it.”

That exchange was just perfect.  I admit.  There may have been weeping.

Then the movie.

I saw the very first showing available here in the Richmond area, 7 pm on December 17.  I was giddy from the opening crawl.  Here was an opening crawl devoid of trade federation, trade talks, and blockades.  Instead there was talk of finding Luke Skywalker.

Yes!  The story has always been who is Skywalker!  So here we finally have a story where we are looking for someone.  A holy grail search in a Star Wars movie.

And it’s here that I begin to scratch my head at the complaints that Force Awakens is a retread of A New Hope.  With Force Awakens the entire story is getting us to finding a person.  A person.

A New Hope’s driving plot point was about blowing up the Death Star.

The Similarities and Differences

Yes, there are similarities.  There is a desert planet, Han Solo, Chewie, and Leia are back in the movie, there is something hidden in a droid that everyone is looking for.  And of course there is a new Death Star, Starkiller Planet.

But there are differences.  The first interaction between Poe and Finn, it feels like actors are finally excited and happy to be in a Star Wars movie.  Finn is funny.  Rey is funny.  And not forced Jar-Jar funny, or even worse C-3PO funny in Attack of the Clones.   (Dear Lord in Heaven, C-3PO in Episode 2 is just unbearable.)  Their joy was such a breath of fresh compared to all the other Star Wars movies.

Complaining that the Force Awakens is too much like A New Hope is just spoiled complaining.  For years people complained that the prequels weren’t like the originals, and now people complain about The Force Awakens is TOO MUCH LIKE THE ORIGINALS?!

What the actual heck!?!

Seriously Haters…get a grip.

Creating is difficult.  Complaining that a great movie isn’t the Second Coming Perfect is just stupid.

The deal is JJ Abrams had a near impossible task of rebuilding the Star Wars brand and he pulled it off with flying colors.  Good for him.

Creating is difficult.  If all you do is critique, then you realize that it is difficult, and you have chosen the easy way out.

Creating is difficult.  When creation succeeds, celebrate it.

Also see: Ten Things I Learned From George Lucas.