So, the turnout wasn’t the best, but there was a lot going on that day. There was a last-minute post-election discussion in the auditorium and a union meeting, both at the same exact time as my talk. It went pretty well, though. I was way less nervous once I got started, and I even got a few laughs during the talk portion (it’s not all that easy to hear in the video).
The first 15 minutes of the video are me reading a prepared speech that includes a story from my childhood and a plea for everyone to stay creative and flex their imaginations often. This is the more entertaining part and could be enjoyed by anyone. The last 35-40mins apply more to teachers and writers, but I’d recommend anything I talk about to anyone interested in storytelling.
After the prepared speech, I demonstrate a few creative writing techniques and exercises. I walk the audience through my evolution from basic character building exercises to using Rory’s Story Cubes in the classroom to my own narrative building cards (which I call CopyWrite). I end with a quick demonstration of the pen-and-paper role-playing game Fiasco.
Hello, world. It’s been a really long time since I updated my own personal blog. I’ve been writing for Nerd Much?, Pop Culture Beast, and BuddyTV a lot as well as teaching 3 classes and a weekly writing workshop, so I’ve been very busy. Anyway, the reason I’m writing this blog post today is to share the news that I will be presenting a TED talk-esque lecture on the SUNY Adirondack campus called “Roll Your Role: Writing With Cards & Dice.”
The lecture will be in the Miller Auditorium at 12pm on November 16, and I would really appreciate anybody coming. I’ve just recently been told that refreshments (including wine, I believe) will be served. I’m really hoping to not have to look out into the crowd and just see my fiancée, Loreal, and my mom sitting there—and nobody else. Well, I’m bribing my students with extra credit if they go, so maybe that will help. Also, I’ve bugged Loreal into recording the event with the brand new HD camera she won. I plan to upload a video of the talk to my website, and anywhere else that will have it, after the event.
Lastly, I just want to give a little info on what I will be talking about in case anybody is interested. “Roll Your Role” is a name I came up with that is inspired by pen & paper RPGs, specifically one called Fiasco. These games are great interactive tools for writing and teaching how to write. I use several different types of interactive writing games from Rory’s Story Cubes to the aforementioned Fiasco to my own 5 deck system of cards that I created. I’ve made over 100 cards with creative writing elements that fall into categories such as plot, setting, character, etc. I will demo the story cubes, Fiasco, and my own writing game—which I call “CopyWrite”—as well as talk about how these things can be used to generate ideas for one’s own writing or to teach otherwise disinterested students how to love creative writing.
Wish me luck. And please feel free to contact me with any questions and let me know if you’ll be attending. I’d love to see you there!
I was thinking about this the other day when I saw some of these issues in a movie. There are several storytelling mistakes that make me cringe, but I was thinking they must come from somewhere if they are making it into the TV shows and movies we love. If we aren’t taught these lessons as students then we’ll go on to make cliché movies in which these things happen then other people will grow up seeing said movies and make the same mistakes as writers — and the cycle continues.
I figured I would re-share this YouTube video of my reading from 2013. I read this in the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard college as part of my graduating student reading. The story is called “One for the Money, Two for the Show” and is a humorous PG-13 tale with characters based loosely on my parents. The story follows Charlie & Ginny’s (yes, they share my parents’ names) quest to find an Elvis impersonator for their Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation BBQ event in Lake George, New York.
Readings were limited to ~15 minutes so I decided to take little vignette excerpts from throughout to give the audience a full idea of the narrative. You can get a good sense of the whole story based on these excerpts, and I thought that was more beneficial than just taking the first few pages. Notes: 1) The first 30 seconds, including my dedication to my parents, is cut off and 2) there is some mature language and themes. Enjoy!
So I’m not sure how this site has eluded me for so long, but I recently discovered InkShares.com. They are like Kickstarter.com or IndieGoGo.com, but once your book is crowdfunded enough they handle the editing, publishing, marketing, and distribution whereas KS & IG raise the money then you have to go find all that yourself. It’s a pretty cool idea… but is it actually viable?
InkShares pays a 50% royalty to their authors which sounds fantastic considering most book royalty deals are under 12%, but that 50% royalty doesn’t come into play UNTIL after the 250 pre-order mark or 750 pre-order mark. Why are there two milestone marks? Well, at 250 you can opt in to the Quill imprint which means they will technically print your book and put it on Amazon, but they aren’t going to put much marketing weight behind it or make too many copies. At the 750 mark they give you the full editing, marketing, cover design, promotion, distribution, etc etc (this would be worth it imo, but I’m not going to discuss this). The Quill imprint, which is where most authors will end up, would basically be like self-publishing. Let’s say you everybody in your family pre-orders your book so then your up to 50 pre-orders (generously). Now, half of your Facebook “friends” pre-order it getting you up to the 250. Yay, your book is going to get published… but is that a good thing?
Why a website? To promote myself. Gross, I know, but it is something I’m going to have to eventually do should I receive a modicum of success. So, I crawled out of my digital cave and updated my Facebook, created a Twitter account, and started this site. The reason for this? I have been accepted for publication by the Indianola Review. I can’t believe I’ve been sitting on over 150pgs of fiction and another 50 or so pages of humor/essays since I graduated from Goddard in 2013 because I thought I wasn’t “good enough” and insisted my writing “wasn’t ready” when, in reality, it may have been.