Monday, April 29, 2013

Music and Memories

The other day as I was driving and channel surfing, a song came on I hadn't heard in years. Suddenly, I was on semester abroad in Britain, sitting in a big tour bus with my headphones on, listening to that song while parts of Scotland and northern England whizzed by.

The song: "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police.

I hadn't realized that memory was so closely associated with that song--and the whole Synchronicity album. I listened to it a ton during that semester abroad because it had just been released in London. Those were the days before iTunes and even CDs. I had to flip the cassette over halfway to hear the other side.

Now I've dated myself.

What songs spark a memory for you?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Short Story Shenanigans

Every April, the Utah Children's Writers host a 30 Days 30 Stories event. Here is the short story I wrote for today. It's silly, and full of writing no-noes. Enjoy.

As Plain as the Nose on Your Face 

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning split the sky, and the sound of a dog barking up the wrong tree woke Rodney from his troubled sleep. Now he was wide-awake and chomping at the bit.

His bedroom door creaked opened. “Wake up and smell the coffee, sir,” voiced Jeeves apologetically. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a girl at the front door.”

Who in tarnation would be out on a night like this? It was raining cats and dogs. Young Rodney’s parents had both kicked the bucket years ago. Their approach to child rearing had never been spare the rod and spoil the child, but Rodney missed his old man like a duck misses the water.

“We can’t leave her hanging. Shall I let her in?” inquired Jeeves quizzically.

Rodney raked his hands through his hair and bit his lip to keep from screaming. He didn’t want to beat around the bush because he knew beggars can’t be choosers. Plus the butler was old as the hills and Rodney was a glutton for punishment.

Rodney ignored the chip on his shoulder. “I’ll get the door,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Then we’ll see which way the wind blows.”

Quicker than a New York minute, Rodney reached the large oak front door. It was now or never. After all, there was more than one way to skin a cat.

Even though he was dog-tired, he took the bull by the horns, grasping the doorknob with a white-knuckle grip. It wouldn’t open. He buckled down and pulled. Still nothing, so he made a last ditch effort. Third times the charm, he thought in his mind to himself. He put his back into it, and that was the ticket. The door flew open.

Rodney’s eyes popped out of his head. There stood a real looker, cute as a button and wet behind the ears. She smiled, flashing a set of perfectly white teeth.

Rodney’s heart skipped a beat and butterflies filled his stomach. Suddenly, a cold chill ran down his spine. Could she be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Too late now, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. After all, lightening never strikes the same place twice.

The girl at the door looked daggers at him. “Take a picture, it will last longer.” Her voice was smooth as silk.

She was only a stones throw away, and Rodney couldn’t trust her, not for all the tea in China. But why should he be afraid of his own shadow? There was no point in closing the barn door after the horse had bolted. It was just like his mom used to say, All roads lead to Rome.

“Come in,” he invited nervously while waves of fear crashed over him. No bones about it, she looked like someone back from the dead—a blast from the past. True, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, but you also can’t judge a book by its cover.

He waved the white flag and tried to break the ice. He was the man of the house now, and he called the shots. “You must be frozen solid.”

“I’m not here to chew the fat,” she declared assertively. “I have a bone to pick with you. You’ve spent your whole life swimming with the sharks, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I’m your long lost sister!” she finally proclaimed.

Rodney opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He looked like a fish out of water.

“Wow,” the girl exclaimed. “I knew you weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but you’re slower than cold molasses in January.”

It seemed his hands were tied. After all, blood is thicker than water. He would have liked to sweep this under the rug, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

“What am I, chopped liver?” he questioned inquiringly. “You’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. No need to sugar coat it, I can see you’re in a world of hurt.”

She ran forward and threw her arms around him. “I don’t mean to rub salt in your wounds, but here’s the whole ball of wax: someone murdered our parents.”

“No!” Rodney moaned sorrowfully. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“Who died and left you in charge?” she demanded angrily. “I’m at the end of my rope, and the only person who can help me is not just whistling Dixie.”

This girl was wound tighter than a spring. She should've known better than anyone that it's not over till the fat lady sings.

“When all is said and done,” Rodney uttered defensively, “actions speak louder than words.”

“Does that mean you’ll help?” she queried hopefully.

Rodney already had one paw on the chicken coop. It was time to look at the glass half full. “I may be grasping at straws, but yeah, I’m in—hook, line, and sinker.”

She tossed him a grateful smile, then pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her back pocket and gave him a taste of his own medicine.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” she started to begin saying. “I found this smoking gun. A picture of the snake in the grass who killed our parents.”

Dead men tell no tales, and Rodney doubted that what you see is what you get. Still, he gave the photo the once-over.

It was a picture of a man who had as many chins as a Chinese phonebook.

That took the wind out of his sails. He hated being caught with his pants down. Now that he was wedged between a rock and a hard place, he could finally see the writing on the wall.

He didn’t have to compare apples to oranges to know who was in the picture. And just because curiosity killed the cat, didn’t mean he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” he professed. “The butler did it.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Blind Eye - Book Trailer

Here it is. The moment we've all been waiting for!

The book trailer:

Amazing, yes?

I can't take all the credit--or even a pinch of it. The real genius behind the trailer is Paul, the super talented guy who created the beautiful and stunning shots and visual effects, and did all the editing, and storyboarding, and yeah, pretty much everything that makes it awesome.

Roll the Credits:
Oliver Howells - producer (a much bigger job than I ever imagined. Thanks Oliver!)
Mason Mac - Christian
Amberlee Wilson - Scarlett
Mariah Tess - Jenny
Beau Maxon - Connor
Rocky Bowlby - Gary

And special thanks to about a hundred other super talented and generous people who helped behind the scenes, mixed the sound, composed the original score, provided food for everyone, did the make-up, moved truckloads of equipment over and over again, let us use their facilities to shoot guns in, managed the wardrobe, loaned us their car to nearly wreck on a lonely stretch of highway, fanned fog forever, stood outside in the freezing cold for hours positioning mirrors to direct the light, responded to every crazy request I made on set, made fake blood, pushed the dolly, built a medical examiner's gurney, and so much more. You all rock!

If you like it, PLEASE spread the word! Share it on Facebook, Tweet it, whatever! Let's get it out there!