Author Archives: Head Wombat

New Year, New You, Just Don’t Tell Everybody About It

So the newest* social** media platform, Social! has launched a new helpful conversion tool for 2017 to help you, yes, you.

One thing I’m trying to do in 2017 is drop off social media for a bit more, and Social! kind of fits my needs, in that it’s not terribly social at all. So what I’ve done, and the gang at Social! have created a handy guide for this process, is that I’ve taken my Facebook and Twitter accounts and replaced them with the super cool Social! replacements.

For example, for Twitter, I visited http://supertart.com/social/tw/index.html on my phone. I then hit the little sharing icon, like so:

 

I then clicked on the Add to Home Screen button, here:

At this point, I picked a name that would fool me into clicking this app instead of the real deal:

 

And that was it. Now, I’m a chicken, so I chucked Twitter and Facebook somewhere in the nether regions of my iPhone screens, so they’re still there, but just that bit more out of reach, which encourages me to get off my phone and onto writing (or at the very least onto writing in Scrivener on my phone or doing some editing of the latest manuscript in PDF Expert). So that’s 2017 for me… me, the dregs of Trip to the Quiet Room and a little manual about nose picking.

 

Check out the how to for Facebook or Twitter and hopefully that’ll help you get off your own personal echo chambers into an even more personal echo chamber.

 

 

 

* Warning: May not actually be the newest.
** Warning: May not be terribly social

Cahokia — Sub-Par Maya Ball Game Team?

Annalee Newitz has an interesting article on the ancient city of Cahokia in modern day St. Louis-ish that’s worth a read. Of course, this whole city was predicted (years after it was found) by the fascinating and edifying History of the Mayan Ball League. As a major stop on the Mayan Ball League All Stars tour, the Cahokians had to adapt their game of Chunkey to the more physical ball game.

Ancient Mayan TempleOf course, Chunkey was played with spears, which helped the Cahokians overcome the physical advantage by simply chucking spears at the opposing players, and may also have contributed to the downfall of the Mayan Ball League. But their fans were super-polite about the spearings…

Rain Delay

I don’t know if it has anything to do with our new residence in beautiful Dalkey, but it seems like something’s gone sideways, with our dear author-tracker:

Rain Delayed

Rain Delayed

We’ll see if and when the storm passes, but here’s hoping our intrepid author (oh, me) gets back out on the field without serious injury.

Dalkey is a little town maybe twelve miles south of Dublin, on the shore. It is an unlikely town, huddled, quiet, pretending to be asleep. Its streets are narrow, not quite self-evident as streets and with meetings which seem accidental. Small shops look closed but are open. Dalkey looks like an humble settlement which must, a traveller feels, be next door to some place of the first importance and distinction. And it is — vestibule of a heavenly conspection.

-Flann O’Brien, The Dalkey Archive

Welcome to Dalkey

Welcome to Dalkey

 

Dr. Belly, I Presume

Listen, I think Chad Finn is the business. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked an article or column he’s written. He’s usually thoughtful, measured, and eloquent.

And he nails it again this week, with this article “Rick Porcello and the best out-of-nowhere extraordinary seasons in Red Sox history.” He takes us on a nice road trip down memory lane, celebrating some of the unexpected delights coming out of Fenway.

Further Fenway Fiction

Further Fenway Fiction

It’s almost like the very reverse of my story, “The Curious Case of Doctor Belly and Mister Itcher”, which was part of the excellent Further Fenway Fiction.

In that story, one loosely based on what happened to Matt Clement, a promising pitcher takes a ball off the noggin and proceeds to meltdown for the remainder of the season. He starts the next season on fire again, and like some phantom echo of the hit off the head, he collapses in the home stretch again. It’s been really, really fun watching Porcello turn from Mr. Itcher into Dr. Belly.

The collection’s worth getting, if you’re going to get any of the Fenway Fiction anthologies, as I think it’s got the strongest work, by far; a collection of Red Sox fan writers who were still writing in that afterglow of having seen a Red Sox team win a World Series in their lifetime. So go read Chad’s article, then go buy Further Fenway Fiction to read in between innings.

Ice Guardians to Honor the Place of Tough Guys in Hockey

I almost expected to see William Murphy, the protagonist of Trip to the Quiet Room, make an appearance in the trailer.

Go check out the article at http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/ice-guardians-aims-to-honor-the-place-of-tough-guys-in-hockeys-history/. Obviously I think the enforcer character is an interesting one and it looks like this movie is an excellent exploration of that role.

 

 

 

 

[No other news to report that I can report right now, Trip to the Quiet Room still as yet unpublished, I’m still as yet unagented, water is still wet, ice is still very cold and only a little speckled with blood.]

Trending Micro-Genres

I feel like I should get some credit for including at least three of the ten trending micro-genres, according to Audible.com.

Hockey Romance?

Hockey Romance?

Trip to the Quiet Room is a story about an ex-hockey pro struggling with his retirement, possible post-concussion symptoms, family life after the daily grind of a professional athlete’s routine, and the explosion of a time machine in his bathtub. It’s a story about escaping to the seaside to tend butterflies. It’s a story about a mysterious orphan showing up on the doorstop of Central Massachusetts’ favorite tourist attraction. It’s about a cotton candy factory that employs child labor for better or worse. It’s a story about the FBI playing catch-up with some of the CIA’s rumored more esoteric investigation techniques.

Surely this would make some sort of Audible.com list, if only someone would publish it…

Drop the puck... on entertainment!

Drop the puck… on entertainment!

My Overnight Success Story

My Overnight Success

I can’t get over how similar Rick Riordan and I are.

I may be actually boring Adam and David to death, here...

I may be *actually* boring Adam and David to death, here…

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple readings… some of them in editor Adam Pacther’s hometown of Arlington pretty well-attended, Waltham, the awesome Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster… others not so well attended. My favorite moment* was when we arrived at the Arlington Center for the Arts and one poor lady, who I don’t think intended to attend the reading, was seated in our room and bravely stuck it out while Adam and I read. Or the time I had a reading booked at my local, my hometown library, the Charlton Library (the library which banned Mark Twain’s “Eve’s Diary”… probably not for the pictures, as claimed, but probably for him being a bit full of himself) and my old boss from Ronnie’s Seafood showed up with one of his sons and… no one else. So we skipped the reading (sorry, Adam), and just chatted about what we’d all been up to.

Reading in Waltham, MA

Reading in Waltham, MA

My reading series as a young a**hole where I just showed up in parks and read from my dreadful roman à clef-in-progress God Coffee, I Miss You was similarly successful, hitting parks in Brooklyn, Seattle, and Los Angeles, with a grand total of none audience, but maybe that was to be expected.

So if some lucky agent wants to pick up Trip to the Quiet Room, this might be a great time to get in, as I’ve got loads of stories about how long the road to overnight success actually is. The book is an excellent beach read, because some of it takes place down in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where William Murphy is in hiding from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ‘Jimmy’ is in hiding from Old Sturbridge Village and the proprietors of the Magic Funtime Butterfly Ranch are in hiding from the Internal Revenue Service

It could be your next Percy Jackson… ?

 

 

 

* By this, of course, I mean my least favorite moment, the moment when my stomach drops through my toes and leaks out onto the floor in a sad little stomach puddle.

The Making of: Indu in #VOOM2016

Indu VOOM
There’s a worthy Irish startup out there called Indu, and it’s been trying, for the last week or so, to get people to vote for it in a contest, at the end of which they’d get to pitch to Richard Branson. If they get in the top 80.

Well, I told a series of Twitter stories, starting with a real-life, live-tweet of the time Carol, the founder, got locked in a hospital. I followed it up with another live-tweet of the time VOOM’s website wouldn’t let you vote and we assumed that Indu had broken the internet. And then I had the idea that Indu’s marketing was hard at work on a sequel to the popular Liam Neeson vehicle, Taken, in an effort to appeal to more people.

And, like all ideas that suck up all your time, I thought, “Hey, let’s make a real film for Indu…” I’ve been on a real scriptwriting kick for contests like NYC Midnight’s short screenplay contest, I enjoy the work, I have two children I can employ as cheap labor, and my wife loves directing them, so I figured we should give it a shot.

My Name Is Carol

We started with a rough idea of a script, the kids found some Lego characters we could use to represent Carol, Richard, and a whole slew of them for the other people pitching to Richard. We even had a green screen-ish platform if we flipped over the slats on the Lego table the kids have had for 8 years.

Original Script Notes

Original Script Notes

With the rough notes, we used an app called iStopMotion, from Boinx software, to shoot our scenes. iStopMotion lets you use an iPhone as a remote camera, so we used the iPad to capture the shots and moved the iPhone around on a little stand we got from Target where you can adjust the legs and angle at which the phone is pointed.Setting up the table

We tried a couple shots on the Friday night, but in the cold light of Saturday morning they were a little blurry… and someone didn’t consider the messy closet behind the shot, so we figured we’d have to re-shoot a good deal of it. As we weren’t using a Lego base we were essentially building a set of Lego dominoes… when we repositioned an arm or leg or head to make the characters look more alive we were under constant threat of the whole line of people falling over. After a day of soccer, volleyball, and baseball, we got back around 4:30 to start our principal shooting, working off that rough script.

Spot the Easter Egg

Spot the Easter Egg

With stop motion the part the kids had the most fun with was dropping little Easter eggs in the production (like the moving AT-AT walker in the background that became an integral part of the story or the little kid who gets chased off by an assistant during the glamping person’s pitch). We wrapped up shooting around 6 o’clock and stitched the separate movies for the different scenes together in a rough cut in iMovie on a laptop in a matter of minutes. At this stage, we needed to record some audio, and the kids are far cuter than me, so I wrote up a quick script (you can download an autographed copy! You’re so lucky!) and we recorded their separate parts in Garageband on the laptop. Some people had trouble with their lines.

The audio took a bit longer… titles, transitions, but by 2am, kids long in bed, their contributions done a little earlier, we had our finished film.

We hope you enjoy our little film. And please vote for Indu in the VOOM campaign, this is the last day to do so, and she really deserves a spot in the top 80.

Indu in #VOOM2016 from Matthew Hanlon on Vimeo.