A simple trip around the sun…

Today is that day when many of us, recover from one drink too many…We make promises that we intend to keep…It’s the day that we look forward at the unknown promise that lies ahead of us.


I’m including myself to make you feel good about what you do.

I subscribe to a different school of thought…maybe you will too, once you read this blog.

I have a friend that promises to make serious life changes every January 1st. It is the day that is going to change his life. I used to give him my take on it…but he doesn’t listen. There’s always an excuse why his plan fell apart, but this new “resolution” is going to change his life. I’ve stopped offering my advice, and just nod my head in feigned agreement.

Anyhoo…here’s my thoughts on the fine art of New Year’s Resolutions…

January 1st holds the same 24-hours as any other day. In fact, each and every second is the end of a trip around our central star…and the beginning of another journey.

What I’m trying to say is that we all have demons to beat, goals to achieve and places to go. Why wait until January 1st to begin. Right now is the best time.

As I mentioned in my last post, I think that 2K18 is going to be a great year. Books are going to hit the shelves, new works are going to inch closer to completion, and my foray into the exciting world of screenplay composition is going to become an important part of my writing schedule.

I say that because 2K17 was not a very productive year. Health issues, taking on too many projects, and the biggest issue…poor planning, all played a part in 2K17 not being my greatest year in the writing biz.

Accountability is first and foremost. Who am I accountable to? That is a good question. Rather than bore you with the unimportant…I’ll tell you the answer:

I am accountable to you…the reader that comes up into The Attic to read my stories. Whether there is one of you, or one-million of you, I am accountable to each of you. Those of you that support my art and want me to create more of it.

This time, my resolution just happens to come up on New Year’s Day.

My resolution is to you…my dedicated friend.

Here is my approximate schedule for 2K18: (Of course, things are subject to change)

January 31 – Finish Scenic City Cafè Volume Three/Begin writing Scenic City Cafè Volume Four.

March 01 – Publish Scenic City Cafè Volume Three.

March 31 – Finish writing Scenic City Cafè Volume Four.

April 01 – Continue writing “Calling For Raine”

May 31 – Complete “Calling For Raine”

June 1 – Begin writing holiday horror book. (Yeah…the holiday season really inspired me to write some creepy stuff for next Christmas.)

Wednesday’s…work on “Evangelist’s Pawn” teleplay.

Weekend – I’m gonna step out of my realm and work on something new…and exciting.  I’m going to work in a genre that is unfamiliar. I’m scared, but ready to see other places inside of this exciting world or writing.

Well, it’s time to get to it.

Another trip around the sun begins…now.




Has it really been that long since…

Long time, no hear from?

What have I been doing? Writing…of course.

Right now, I’m going through quite a fertile cycle. The ideas are still coming like drops from a angry, black, humidity laden, thunderboomer.

To look at the career of accomplished wordsmith, and musician, Thomas Earl Petty…There is a limit to those raindrops.

One day, the raincloud will evaporate into nothing.

And so, I write.

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I can promise each of you that 2K17 isn’t going to be a very lucrative year. I will not have a single new book on the shelves by the end of this year. I hope that I don’t have another year like this…well, until I stop writing…permanently.

That’s not to say that 2K17 was a bad year…in fact, it’s been a very good year. The kind of year that I may look back on as being a turning point in my writing career. It is the springboard to 2K18…and…

…2K18 is going to be a good year…A very, very good year. Let’s just talk books…at first. Scenic City Cafè Volumes Three and Four will hit the shelves by July of 2K18. I’m looking forward to seeing those two volumes sit proudly on a bookstore bookshelf next to their brothers and sisters.

I’ve also decided that there will be a final, Fifth Volume, that will tie everything up with a nice, neat, blood stained bow.

I’ve started a new novel series…a little out of my wheelhouse. However, the few people that have read the first draft of 20,000 words like what I’m doing. The first book in the series (Probably a trilogy) will be titled, “Calling For Raine”. I’ll share more as I come a little closer to completing the project. I’m thinking that will be finished around Christmas of 2K18. I’m not going to paint myself into a corner with a publishing date. When it’s done…and it’s done right, then it will go to the publisher.

(Now we’ll get off the books) I am currently finishing the first draft of my Scenic City Cafè adaptation. I am working with Arzola Films (arzolafilm.com) to make this a reality by the Summer of 2K18. Regardless of what happens with Scenic City Cafè, I’m going to continue writing and marketing my screenplays.

Adapting an unfinished novel, “Evangelist’s Pawn”, into an episodic screenplay for the small-screen, is one of my writer “side-projects”. This is only something that I pick up in the rarest of my rare…spare…time. (I’m writing the second episode now) Before I even try to pitch it, I plan to have six polished episodes written and registered. A one-sentence pitch practiced and prepared for any and all producers and directors that want to listen.

Looking way…way…ahead to 2K19 I have an idea for two more anthology series. I’ll probably complete them in a different style than Scenic City Cafè, but they will be my interesting…slightly deranged…short works. They are tentatively titled, “The Seekers” and “The Attic”.

Finally, my weekend project is a foray into a genre that I never thought that I’d never leap into. Because the story idea isn’t mine, but I’ve been trusted to bring J.P. Harper’s characters and world to life, I’m not going to discuss the story, concept or genre. I can tell you that it is cool getting to know these characters and the world that they live in. It’ll be another month before I really get into the writing. Right now, I’m just having the time of my life letting these new folks run around inside my “Attic”.

Finally, I’ve said it before…I’m going to try to make more frequent posts. Still, that’s one of the perks of being a relative unknown. I can post when I want, and not have a publicist clawing at the fringes of my time. (Not that I have anything against publicists…)

I’m climbing back up into my attic. Something’s thumping up there…and I swear that I used enough chloroform to knock out a rhino.


(P.S. If you read this far you are a real trooper. Check out the arzolafilm.com page again…scroll to the bottom. Eh…eh…eh…what’cha think?)

Gladwell’s 10,000 Grounders…

Back in the days when I thought my time was limitless, and my skillset was better suited for athletics, I was a fanatical practicer. Whether it was grounders in baseball, wrist shots in hockey, or passing drills in soccer, I loved the idea of practicing. I’m a firm believer in the Malcolm Gladwell adage, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice in order to become proficient at a certain task.rippling-water

Malcolm’s words are quite wise…but misguided.

No amount of practice was going to make me a better defensive shortstop than Ozzie Smith. For that matter, I wasn’t going to be better than the worst player in professional baseball…or any other sport I fancied.

Even as a kid, I was able to glue words together on paper. I continued writing throughout my twenties and thirties.

At fifty-three, I sit at my desk, with creaking bones, twisted fingers, and a body scarred from chasing the wrong 10,000 hours of practice.

I’m not regretting one minute of time spent in other endeavours. In fact, I’m fairly certain that if I’d followed the life of a writer, I’d be dead. I would have done my damndest to “Out-Hemingway Hemingway”.

I started this quest in 2K7, and I’m reading, practicing, and trying to hone “The Craft”.

I’m not claiming to be good…I have quite a bit to learn. I am also defining my writing style and not pulling on the strings of another.

You might see some Lovecraft, Poe, or King woven in there…but that’s just me practicing.

I don’t know how many hours I have invested. I have a ways to go…

Practice is hard.


“All that you need is one…THE ONE…”

Last week, I was fortunate to have a long conversation with a pretty successful writer. She has written books, screenplays and Op-Ed pieces. She’s won a number of prestigious awards for her ability to turn a word. I am flattered that she takes the time out of her life to give me advice and tutelage.

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As my truest fans know, physically, this has been a very tough year. I set lofty production goals, but Mother Nature and Father Time have worked in concert to keep my goals and work flow very humble. I utilize this blog, Facebook and Twitter as a way to keep in contact with the people that like my work, and want to know what’s coming next.

I don’t know what I did…or said, that caused her to reach out and talk to me. She was concerned that I was becoming depressed at low-interest numbers and responses to my posts. She was right…I was down and worried that I was doing something wrong.

What she told me next lit a fire under my ass…well, a fire under my desk chair. “As artists, we create art for ourselves. As writers, we write in the genre that most appeals to us. Any deviance will show in the final product. We become authors when we have one person that is willing to pay for our creation. All that you need is one. Just ONE.”

We’ve talked a lot about the craft over the past year, and that was the most passion that I’ve ever heard in her voice. She really stressed the word “ONE”. I could hear the capital letters in her urgent tone.

Like any writer, I want to write something that moves thousands…no…millions to purchase my work. There’s no reason to lie about my desires. I’ve moved that desire to the back of my shelf. It’s still there…it’s just not prominent.

I’m looking for that one…ONE reader that is waiting impatiently for my next literary sculpture. If I can move that person’s soul, they’ll share my work with another ONE reader.


If you are THE ONE. I’d like to thank you. We share the same interests and I am thankful that you’ve allowed me to be a small part of your soul.

I am working on a number of good projects. I give you my word that the second half of this year and the beginning of next year, my labors will be returned to you in the form of books, and possibly small and/or large screen works.

I will begin referring to you…THE ONE.

You are the ONLY reader that matters to me.


You know who you are.

You are, THE ONE.

Thank you…

A.L. Gates

When Goal Setting Goes Wrong (Part Deux)

It’s been a while, but I’m back. Hmmm…maybe I should not use the word “BACK”.

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When I last wrote to you, I was using my phone to share my feelings. I was unable to sit at my desk, due to what I’ve now discovered were two slipped/herniated/out of place discs that were applying unnecessary pressure to nerves. After a month of suffering (including one maddening day that included a trip to the ER) I awakened one morning with no pain. None. I’ve been advised to enjoy these good days. One day I’ll be in the process of brushing my teeth, or some inane activity that requires little physical effort, and that blinding light will reappear. I will scream out as many epitaphs as possible before I hit the ground, and then crawl to a corner to cry and await my release from my unphysical prison.

I’m rambling…sorry. It’s become apparent to me that if it’s not one thing…it will be another.

(Here’s a recap for the newcomers: I set out to write over 1,000,000 words this year. ONE MILLION GOOD WORDS. For me, a very possible goal to achieve if I average 3,000 words per day for the entire year.)

My personal goals included completing the Scenic City Cafè Series, along with three other novels and a collaborative novel with my friend and “Jocko” cover artist J.P. Harper. In other words, this was going to be a break-out year.

Looks like the only thing that has been broken are my enthusiastic plans.

Ten days ago, I awakened to no back pain. Repeat: NO PAIN! I stoked up the fires under my coffee pot and set to working on the screenplay that I wanted to finish before June 1.

Wait? Did I not mention my NEW desire to write a full screenplay, even though going into this year I had no clue how to write a screenplay? Yeah, add that as icing on the top of my one-million word cake.

Since January, I’ve made contacts within the film-making fraternity. I’ve asked the right questions, purchased the right books and even purchased the industry standard software. (More on that later)

Once I was assured that my back would allow me to sit in one place for ten or more hours, I jumped in with both feet and a mending frame.

Four days ago, I felt like a man on the ascent. Scaling my personal Everest, one word at a time. I discarded friends, shunned my social media toys. Locking myself within myself. Looking  toward that…



Seventy-six pages of a screenplay lost?

I’m gonna give y’all the short version. This had nothing to do with not backing up my work. It had everything to do with too many formats jammed into a program that was designed to write screenplays…not act as a stand-alone word-processor.

Oh…it was gone. Every single word of it. If I can say so myself, it was pretty good for a screenplay-writing-newbie.

Another setback. I could have cried…pouted…blamed everyone and everything…

I didn’t. Once that I realized that the words were gone, and they weren’t coming back…I just laughed. What could I do? Screaming and throwing things (which some of you know…I have a very good arm) wasn’t going to make everything better. My time machine is broken, which makes it difficult to go back and warn myself to not cut-and-paste different formats in.

There is a partial happy ending to my tale of woe and loss. I’ve called on a few of my friends to read my work as I completed sections. My last PDF save was on the 24th of April. A total of thirty-six pages. Half of my work.

So I sit here on this sunny Sunday evening, seven pages into the re-write of my first screenplay.

I’ve already found a few things that need changing…or adding…or subtracting.

Me thinks that this next effort will be my coup de grâce…

Or the beginning of my Part Tres…

P.S. I promised to tell you about my software.

I’m an avid-obsessive note taker. While you are talking, if you say something that peaks my creative soul, I’m making notes in my head which I will transfer to my favorite note taking software, Evernote. It’s synched to my computer so if I take notes on a trip, I will have them when I pony up in front of my laptop. Use it with Android, iOS and Windows devices. Sync two devices for free.


I use Scrivener to write my stories and novels. There is a use for every single writing style or project. The 30 day trial is free and is fully functioning. If you have any questions, hit me up at the E-addy at the bottom of the page and I’ll be sure to answer your Scrivner queries.


Finally, I’m new to this area of expertise, but everyone that I spoke with suggested Final Draft as the industry standard for composing screenplays. Scrivener does offer a screenwriting template, but–as I learned this past week–importing it into another program could be a recipe for disaster. The learning curve is short, and you’ll be composing your silver screen, or small screen masterpiece in no time.


Special Note: Like I said earlier, coming into 2017, I knew nothing about screenwriting. I am certain that I am making some errors, but when I want to learn something, I’m going to get all of the tools possible. I read a few books in January and the one that really impacted me the most is “The Screenwriter’s Bible”. If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, PURCHASE THIS BOOK. I’m on my fourth time through the book, in addition to using it when I have a question. I have it in hard copy and digital.

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One more thing…if you’re still reading, you are really into my work, and I appreciate that. Everyone sees us artists at book signings, or gallery debuts, or styling a red carpet. No one sees the hours alone…thinking…creating…discarding and finally showcasing.

There is no greater pleasure than to have someone purchase my work and then to hear them tell me that they like it. Actually, there is one better…when a total stranger tells me that they’ve purchased my book because someone suggested it, my soul dances a jig.

Well, I’d better get back into the Attic. I feel a story in me that needs to come out.

Like me at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-L-Gates-518223168201942/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/algatesauthor

When Goal Setting Goes Wrong…

If anyone tells you that goal-setting is useless, just punch them right in the mouth…


Then, pick them up, close your eyes and wait for their return blow.

Don’t ever  think that nothing can sideline the goals that you set. There is always something.

Over the past ten days, my “something” has been amazing back pain. This may be all that I can write today–because the pain is unbelievable–but, I’m bound and determined to write something.

And that’s what writing is…WRITING SOMETHING.

This upcoming week will be spent working with a chiropractor. His sole job is to get me into a pain-free-upright-position, so that I can finish my work.

Right now, I’m going to sign-off, and lie in a hot epsom salt bath, before slathering my back in Icy Hot, taking some of my “herbal” pain reliever, and lying horizontally for the next twelve hours.

Still, through all of this, I hold my goals close to my heart. I will achieve them. I’ll just have to push everything back a couple of weeks.

I’ll be back…It’s just not today.

Today…Seinfeld Makes Sense to Me…

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld occurred in Season 4. Jerry, with some assistance from George, went ahead with a request from some NBC executives to create a sitcom. George, being George, commandeered the ship, leading to hilarious…disastrous…then a slightly successful outcome.


The title of the climactic episode is, “The Pitch”. Commander George stands in front of a room full of NBC executives and pitches a show about…Nothing.

The episode is written on a number of levels. All of which are hilarious.

Let me digress for a few paragraphs. Over the past six weeks, I’ve been distracted by the opportunity to practice writing screenplays. It’s a long story how…but I am glad that I’m trying it. It is different from writing novels and the craft is quite difficult. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that any fool can write a screenplay. It’s really hard.

Anyhoo…I’m giving myself a crash course in the art of writing a screenplay. I’m practicing on my own works, published and unpublished. I’ve downloaded and printed several full movie screenplays, purchased the best books on the subject, and purchased software that is considered the best screenwriting software in the business.

I’ve also reached out to industry professionals, some of whom have given me their precious time and most important…nuggets of their wisdom. Maybe they see that I’m hungry to be good at another aspect of the writing game. Besides, if I compose a great screenplay…well, a decent one…they may have first dibs on it.

One of the filmmakers that is giving me leadership and advice is quite interested in my finished works. I keep cranking out screenplays for him, so that he can “grade” them and give me more words of wisdom. Earlier this week, after sending him a couple more of my screenplays, he expressed interest in an adaptation of my novel “Jocko”. For my own reasons, I eased him away from that and we started discussing a newer project.

Not really knowing the process, I suggested that I begin writing an idea that I’ve been kicking around. What he said next shocked me:

“Get me a pitch.”

After two days of research on the process, most folks don’t go into a “Pitch” without a screenplay…but I am.

I’m going in with…Nothing.

Yes, my story has all of the hallmarks of a traditional story, “Beginning-Middle-End”, “Good guys & Bad Guys”, “Cliffhangers”…etc…but when I pitch it, next week, to a real-live, breathing producer, I will be walking in with absolutely nothing except an outline, notes, my memory…and NOTHING else.

I am not “lost in the ether”. I know that there are millions of screenplays that never see the light of day. So I’m not overly giddy. I am quite thankful that I am getting an opportunity to experience the business.

Oh…I forgot to mention…I’m not abandoning my true love, writing novels and short stories. I’m just going to try to do both.

I hope that you continue to take this little trip with me.

Hmmm…Maybe George was on to something…

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