Lost in the Fog

With my new novel Lost in the Fog about to be published in early 2020, I'm embarking on a three month trip to Europe. A big part of it will be hiking the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile sojourn through Northern Spain. This blog will try to capture moments of the journey. David Lynch once said "getting lost is beautiful", and I hope my voyage will embody that definition.

Hi All,

I’m very excited to share with you the trailer for my new novel “Lost in the Fog”.  Thus far I’ve received 226 pre-orders of my book, and I only need 24 more to fulfill my obligation with Inkshares to receive publication.

It’s impossible to describe how grateful I am for all the support I’ve received, but I will say thank you, merci, and mahalo!

I would be so appreciative if you can help push me over the top to the goal of 250 pre-orders.  “Lost in the Fog” is set in San Francisco and is funny, dramatic, and will keep you turning pages to figure out the mystery of who stole the rare Matisse sculptures and why!  The link is here and I hope you enjoy the trailer.  Thanks!

https://www.inkshares.com/books/lost-in-the-fog

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La La Land won seven Golden Globes, the most ever by a single film in history.  It also garnered fourteen Oscar nominations, tying the record for that, and won six.  It was my favorite film of 2016.

Because of all those factors, and others I’ll explain later, I had to take a second, more critical look at La La Land.  Many of my favorites have been nominated for Best Picture, but the only one I saw in the theater that ever won was The Hurt Locker.  That made me think…had I just been charmed by La La Land or was it really that good?

After my second viewing tonight, I actually loved it even more.  La La Land is really that good. The montage that ends the film is pure magic, and overall I can truly say it represents everything that is great about the movies.

After watching it on Blu-ray tonight, it also got me thinking why the film, which was originally praised by critics and audiences,  received an inordinate amount of nasty backlash just before the Oscars.  One of the biggest disses was an article that appeared in USA Today called “The Case Against La La Land”.  I will always have complete respect for everyone’s opinion (and know that dissent is not only healthy but important), but I think the person who wrote the piece just didn’t get the film.

Unfortunately that article was just the beginning…there were others that mushroomed up just before the Oscars, which led to the surprising defeat of La La Land for Best Picture.

I’m all for varying opinions, especially when everyone is fawning over a film, and it’s always a good idea to take a second, more critical look.  If it’s deserving, someone should take a few whacks at it.  We should routinely question why the public have anointed anything “great”.

One of the arguments against La La Land, which I’d seen in a few articles, was that the main characters are thinly drawn.  At their core, Sebastian and Mia have real, tangible goals that they are passionate about achieving.  In drama, if you can make an audience believe that and also get them to root for their success, you have real, three dimensional characters.

You also don’t have to shove exposition and backstory about down the audience’s throat to make characters real.  I’m on the Hemingway side that its actually the opposite . . . if you tell the story right and true, you can leave many things out and it will make it stronger (the “Iceberg Theory”). The goal should always be (no matter how you go about it) to get a viewer to connect emotionally with a character.  If that’s accomplished then the writer, director, and actors (and everyone else who worked on the film) have done something special.  And Mr. Chazelle, Mrs. Stone, and Mr. Gosling did something special.

I also completely disagree with the argument that many of the songs are “lackluster and dull” (quoting that USA Today article).  I bought the soundtrack on iTunes the night I saw La La Land and the lyrics and music are excellent (“City of Stars” is something Cole Porter might have wrote back in the day).  I still listen to it.

Maybe the majority of today’s audiences just can’t grasp musicals.  Granted, it’s quite odd to see people just randomly break into song and dance.  Or even if you can accept musicals for what they are in theory, a lot of people don’t know how to properly critique them because they don’t have the necessary knowledge/history of the genre to do so.

For whatever reason I have always loved musicals (Singing in the RainAn American in Paris, and Guys & Dolls are three of my favorite movies).  That being said, the first time I saw La La Land, as I was watching the first two numbers (“Another Day of Sun” and “Someone in the Crowd”) I was thinking “This is a bit weird” . . . here’s  a musical and I don’t know the songs.  That gut reaction is because we’re so used to singing along with musicals that have been around for a long time.

La La Land is completely new, and has original songs.  Most people who come to thefilm have never heard any of the music.  Would critics have preferred the scenes to have been scored with songs from “Grease” or “Hairspray” or “My Fair Lady”?  I certainly wouldn’t.

I haven’t seen Moonlight yet (I really want to), and it very well may be the better film.  But . . . and this is a big question to ask . . . why does Moonlight’s story rate higher on the importance scale than La La Land?   Yes, it certainly seems more dramatic and intense, but should that matter?  To me film transcends race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, and all other categories you can name.

I think Richard Linklater (through the character Jessie) said it best in Before Sunset:

“So when I look at my own life, you know, I have to admit, right, that I’ve-I’ve never been around a bunch of guns or violence, you know, not really. No political intrigue or a helicopter crashes. But my life, from my own point of view, has been full of drama. And I thought, if I could write a book that, that could capture what it’s like to, to really meet somebody, I mean, one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened to me is to meet somebody, to make that connection. And if I could make that valuable, you know, to capture that, that would be the attempt.”

With movies (in my opinion), the goal isn’t to judge which character had it “harder” in life . . . in the La La Land vs Moonlight comparison of course it would be the latter.  We should be examining drama, plot, characters, emotional connection, how it makes us feel . . .  the heart of filmmaking.  Yes, the stakes need to be high in order for a movie to be considered “Important”, but love and pursuing your dreams and passion and giving your all to whatever makes you feel alive, will always be some of the most important stories we can tell.

Either I was smiling at the magical dancing/singing/music/cinematography of La La Land, or I was astounded at how good the performances were, or I was hit with a dizzying nostalgia at my own days of trying to succeed in Hollywood.  The film is extremely entertaining, but more importantly the subtext is rich and it has a lot to say about dreams, ambition, and the choices we make in life.  It also isn’t spoon-feeding you a “message” . . . the film wants you to make your own opinions and thoughts about the price you pay for following your dreams.

If you haven’t seen La La Land, I highly recommend you check it out.

 

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A little over fourteen years ago my first novel, A Model Community, was published.  At that time I was living in LA and had written several screenplays, but had I failed to get them noticed by anyone in Hollywood.  I was certain my novel would be my ticket to success, the thing to launch my career as a professional writer.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

While to this day I remain very proud of A Model Community, it went nowhere in terms of sales.  If you go to the Amazon page, it’s ranked 233,312 in all books.  While I still do get the occasional royalty check, it never even paid for one month of rent.  Like the fate of all the screenplays I had written, mostly everyone ignored it.

Instead of starting my career as a professional writer, A Model Community almost ended it.  Not too long after its publication I began working in hotels and in the profession of human resources.  Unlike writing, this new accidental career was very good to me.  I am grateful that I have had so much success in the hospitality field, but even more thankful for all the wonderful people I have met.  I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

But I still can’t let go of my dream of being a professional writer.

I have also never stopped writing.  Since the publication of A Model Community in 2003, I’ve written one script, several short stories, one play, one more novel, and am currently working on a third book of fiction.  My job as an HR Director takes up most of my time, but I’m able to find hours at night and over the weekend to write.

I finished the first draft of my second novel, Lost in the Fog, in 2008.  Over the next five years I rewrote the thing over a dozen times, and finally declared it the best it could possibly be.  And what did I do after all that hard work?

I printed it and shoved the manuscript in my desk.

It doesn’t take a $300 an hour psychiatrist to figure out why I didn’t try to do anything with Lost in the Fog.  All of my efforts in LA to find success with my scripts and my book ended in failure.  While I absolutely loved (and continue to love) the process of writing, the mass rejection of my work had taken a huge toll.  Working on a project brought me so much happiness, but trying to sell it to agents/producers/publishers was just pure misery.

So here we are in 2017, and I have decided to do something with Lost in the Fog.  A few days ago I listed it on Inkshares, a great company that helps writers reach their dream.  If you’re able to get a minimum of 250 pre-orders of your book, they’ll edit and publish it.  If your book gets 750 pre-orders, they’ll give it the full marketing and promotion treatment as well.  Important to note that writers cannot fund their own book, so I’m not able to help my own cause.

Whoever is reading this blog post now, I would sincerely appreciate your support in pre-ordering a copy of Lost in the Fog.  I’m very proud of this book, and I’m certain you’re going to think my comedic mystery set in San Francisco is a great read.  It’s for those who enjoy classic crime & mystery capers but with a modern twist. In movie terms, I like to think of it as The Big Lebowski meets The Thomas Crown Affair.

I thank everyone in advance of their support!  You can pre-order a copy of it here!  Mahalo!