A cute little girl liked my open mic.

At a Red Rock Coffee open mic some time ago, I read a Super Holly story that went over well. When I sat back down in the audience, a cute little girl ran up to me and gave me some artwork that she drew. (You can say it: “Aw!”) That made me feel good.

I then proceeded to lose the artwork for a few months. It turned up when I recently did some home cleaning. I felt good when I found it, cuz I’d felt bad when I lost it. Here’s the artwork (color edited to make yellow show up better, I had to have those stars).



Aww-some open mics.

audience-awOpen mics uncover good lines.

At one open mic, I performed “The Malevolent Mystery Meat” starring The Puppy Brothers: two grade-school brothers with super puppy powers who save Super Holly from the evil school lunch ladies. I’d read what I’d written: “Tucker bit the door handle and yanked off the door: KA-RUNCH! Near the barrel, Holly was still passed out.” On an impulse, I ad-libbed, “And still pretty.” A young lady in the audience smiled and said, “Aww!” That ad-lib went into the final draft.

At another open mic, I read an upcoming short story where Super Holly had performed her comic book in the children’s ward in a hospital, ending it on a cliffhanger. A little girl in a wheelchair asked Holly to tell her the ending now. Holly said she’d read it next time. The girl said, “I’m not gonna be here next time.” “Aww,” said a young lady in the audience. I knew what Mario Puzo knew when he wrote, “I’ll make him an offer he cannot refuse.”

Kid-sitting one evening for my cousin, his kids asked me to read a Super Holly story. They liked her fighting Billington Stumpfinger. When Holly’s boyfriend Cal kissed her and said, “I love you,” and Holly kissed him back and said, “I love you more,” the kids said, “Ew!” I told this to their mom. She said they just started doing that. I’ll keep that kissing.

Listen to your audience. Small words can mean big reactions.

Who are my fanboys?

beth-barany-30-Day-Writing-Challenge-to-PLAN-WRITE-YOUR-NOVELI am taking Beth Barany’s Branding For Novelists class, which helps writers nail down exactly what their brand is. Such as who is my audience, what is my author bio, calls to action that I can do to help my marketing, and so on. And part of her lesson to make a branding statement says that if I say my audience is everyone, I need to think again.

I started writing my superheroine Super Holly for me, and anyone who wanted to read her. But I needed to narrow it down, else how will I know who I am really writing for? Did J.K. Rowling write for everyone? No, for little British boys and girls who felt oppressed by the snooty upper class! Did Stan Lee? No, for comic book geeks who wanted to read superheroes who talk, act, and have problems like real people (not those boring interchangeable clones that DC Comics was doing in the 60s)! So here is the audience I think I’m aiming at:

Females, kids, gays, and anyone else who is not a superhero fanboy, but would like to be.

How’s that? I think this is really who I am thinking of. Sure, I love fanboys, I am a fanboy! But us mostly white older male geeks are gonna die out in the next two or three decades, comic books and superheroes need new blood!

I wrote Holly because I love when the woman steps up and punches out the bad guy. Some superhero stories should be written for that half of the planet’s population. Boy, would I love for Super Holly to give Darkseid a BIG FAT BELT right in his genocidal kisser! And if that does not work, a super-telekinetically-enhanced kick in the you-know-where. And he’d better not use his Omega Beams on her if he knows what’s good for him, because they would fry Holly’s beloved blonde hair, and Holly would get steam-rocket-out-her-beaky-nose, GRRRRRROWLing Belker-The-Biter (Hill Street Blues) MAD!!!

beth-baranyThank you, Beth. You are making me think.

Boys inspire stories and raise blood pressure

Watched the Super Bowl at my cousin’s place, with his two little boys. They talked a bit loud, crashed toy cars together, threw stuffed animals, and otherwise raised their daddy’s blood pressure. At their bedtime, I read some of my stories to them. They are a good audience, and sometimes tough. Whenever they looked bored, I skipped slow talkie parts and read fast punching parts. Good to know when I write more kid superheroes.

They asked me if I might write them into one of my stories. I said I’m inspired by little boy behavior. Holly’s future little super-strong son should talk loud, somersault on the couch, dress and punch like Batman, throw toy cars through the wall, and otherwise drive mommy crazy.

P.S. Got another idea for a super kid. Puppy Boy, with doggie powers. A big power would be his long, snakey, licky tongue. Snoopy could defeat Lucy with his licking.

P.P.S. I am not scared to blab ideas. They’re a dime a dozen.


The 2016 Oscar Animated Shorts Laugh Track

world of tomorrowWho’s old enough to remember the laugh track? The laughter added to the audio of old sitcoms in lieu of a live audience? Watch Gilligan’s Island. The laugh track tells you when to laugh.

I just saw the 2016 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts at the San Jose Camera Three theater. One of those shorts before, World of Tomorrow, I saw on Netflix a few days ago. In the privacy of my apartment. Alone. And quietly. No laughing. But watching it again at the Camera Three? People laughed at the funny parts. So did I.

Earlier today, when I bought my weekly comic books, the store manager told some friends about a TV show. “See it with friends,” he said.

A live audience makes a difference. Or maybe it was my good twin sitting next to me (I am the evil one). Or maybe I would make a lousy movie critic. But I liked World of Tomorrow a lot more the second time around. And the rest of the shorts were good. Check out the 2015 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts at a movie theater if you get the chance. Seeing it with an audience, and with friends, makes a difference.

P.S. The last short in the show, Prologue, had male nudity and violence. The shorts program gave two warnings in easy to read, screen-filling text. Just before Prologue started, a lady did the right thing and took her little boy out of the theater. On the way out, he cooed, “Why?” The audience laughed.

A header change, and an open mic

Holly belongs in my header pic, so now she is there. That change was a long time coming. I bumped Dev-Em to my about page.

I did an open mic last night, my short story in this year’s Scripting Change. I did not use any music, I should not rely on what I do not own. Instead, I got more animated when I did my reading. More grand gestures, such as an uppercut fist and holding up a comic book (actually my iPad) to fend off the evil teacher. More character voice: getting more screechy Wicked-Witch-of-the-West evil with the Word Witch’s voice. And more sound effects: a kiss, a little lip smacking. I should try that again, it seemed to go over well. The younger people liked my performance. I handed them some Holly cards.

Maybe it’s time to practice my performances in front of a mirror. Worked for Jim Carrey.

P.S. It might help if I could attach my iPad to my hand, giving me more freedom of movement. I have a couple ways to do that buried at my place from old MacWorld Expos, hope they are secure. Tossing my iPad across the coffee shop might make me say words not suitable for a younger audience.

Publication advice from author Todd Borg

todd borg tahoe chaseAt the Mountain View art and wine festival last weekend, I bought another book from Todd Borg, who seems to know my face now. He writes mystery/thrillers about Tahoe-based detective Owen McKenna and his great dane Spot. I emailed him a little advice about adding tags to his blog, and he was nice enough to email me some advice and a compliment that made me feel good.

I read through many of your blog posts, and I think you are a good writer with a clear voice. I believe that as soon as you start publishing a series of books on Holly or something similar, in graphic form or just prose form, especially if you can do it on Kindle at a low price, you will find an audience that will grow with each new book. From my experience, I think that regular publication is critical, regardless of whether it is monthly, semi-annually, or yearly. That way your readers will anticipate each new publication and spread the word before and after each new book comes out. Not only will you find an audience, but it will grow, and it will monetize your blog because your blog readers will naturally want to buy your books. All they need to be is quality, relatively cheap on Kindle, and produced on a regular schedule.
How’s that for unwanted advice??!! (Sorry about that!) But I rarely see writers who can write well, and you can, so I want you to turn your skill into a profitable career.

Todd, don’t be sorry! I’m sending that story I told you about (Holly punches out illiteracy) to Scripting Change today. Then I’ll push another story to Amazon. You inspire me.

Click here to see a list of Todd’s books. And click here to buy Todd’s books (paper or Kindle). He has won writing awards. He is worth your time. And he’s a nice guy.