Resolution update: March 2015

Each month I post the progress of my New Year’s resolutions here as a means of holding myself accountable. The following are the results through the month of February.


1. Don’t die.

Didn’t even come close to dying.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I remain just one pound down. At this pace, I will miss this goal by a lot. It’s mostly been my inability to get to the gym regularly in March due to illness and scheduling.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.

Done. I’ve added a plank every morning as well.

4. Stop drinking soda from two-liter bottles.

I didn’t drink soda from a two-liter bottle in March, and my soda consumption remains cut by well over half. I’m also drinking more water than ever before.    

5. Practice yoga at least five days a week.

I tried last week to restart my yoga routine after healing from an injury and  realized that I could barely remember it. I’ll be meeting with my yoga instructor in April, I hope.

6. Learn to cook three good meals for my wife.

No progress


7. Complete my sixth novel before the end of the summer 2015.

The book remains about half finished, and I am about to launch back into fiction, but for reasons that are complicated, I may actually be putting that half-finished novel aside temporarily and beginning a new one.

It’s crazy. I know  

8. Complete my seventh novel.

This book remains about half finished as well.

9. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

I have three books written and ready to go. I have three new ideas that I plan to work on in 2015. We will submit one or more of these books to editors at some point soon.

10. Sell a memoir to a publisher.

The memoir is written and is being polished now.

11. Sell a book of essays to a publisher.

My book of essays did not sell, but the responses that we received from editors were exceptionally positive. In a few cases, it was not a pass as much as a request that the book be reorganized and written slightly differently than it is currently constituted. I will do so. Fiction is now my main focus, but this remains a priority in 2015.  

12. Complete a book proposal for a book on storytelling.

Progress continues.

13. Write a new screenplay.

I’m still revising my first screenplay based upon film agent’s notes. No progress on the new one.  

14. Write 50 pages of a new memoir about the years of 1991-1993.

I have 25 badly written pages for this memoir that must be transformed into 50 good pages in 2015. No progress yet.

15. Write a musical for a summer camp

Excellent progress. It’s moving along well.  

In addition, I completed revisions on the musical that my partner and I wrote last year. In the fall, it will be produced by a local theater company.

We also have interest in our first musical – a rock opera – from another local playhouse.



16. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a physical newspaper.

I published three more pieces in the Huffington Post last month.

How to be a Grownup

12 Things Teachers Think But Can’t Always Say to Parents

Why “Your Child is Not As Gifted As You Think” Is the Worst Thing That a Teacher Can Say

Again, this is not a physical newspaper. Writing pieces for physical newspapers is part of the plan to launch my next novel, so this may happen in the fall if not before.

17. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

No progress.

18. Select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

My first idea: Backing into a parking spot. I rightfully assume that anyone backing into a parking spot is a lunatic of the highest order. I shall spend a week backing into parking spots and see what wisdom I can glean.

I have not begun this experiment yet.

19. Build an author mailing list.

Third email sends today. Things are good. The job remains twofold:

  • Create engaging content that will keep readers interested.
  • Build my subscription base.

20. Build a new website for

Nearly finished. I will be migrating my blog and website over to the new website at some point in April.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will open this blog one day in April and find an entirely new look. I hope you like. 


21. Produce a total of eight Speak Up storytelling events.

Two down and six to go. We have two more shows scheduled in April, at both Real Art Ways and Connecticut College, and we have two new partnerships with local venues that we will be announcing soon.

22. Deliver my fourth TED Talk.

I will be delivering a TED Talk at Boston University in three days. I have also pitched talks to two other TEDx events in 2015 and await work.



23. Build a website for Speak Up.

Done! It’s a single page on my new author website, and it’s not nearly as robust as we want it to eventually be, but Speak Up finally has a webpage where you can find dates of events, ticket information, an opportunity to sign up for the mailing list, and more. You can find our webpage at

24. Attend at least 10 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I performed in a Moth StorySLAM at Housing Works in New York and a GrandSLAM at The Somerville Theater in Somerville, MA, bringing my total number of Moth events in 2015 to four.  

25. Win at least two Moth StorySLAMs.

I’ve competed in one StorySLAM in March, receiving the two highest scores of the night from two judging teams (9.6 and 9.4) and the lowest score of the night (7.9, which is also the lowest score I have ever received) from the third team, which landed me in second place. I still cannot understand what happened, and when I think about it, I still get a little upset.

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Like the February GrandSLAM in NYC (and six before it), I placed second in the March GrandSLAM in Boston. I was chosen to tell from second position, which is an exceptionally difficult spot to win from, but I was still in the lead when the seventh storyteller took the stage and beat me by a tenth of a point.

I compete in another GrandSLAM in NYC this month.



27. Launch at least one podcast.

The MacBook Pro has arrived, complete with GarageBand, which was critical to my podcasting efforts.

I have crossed over to the dark side, at least in terms of podcasting.  

My website is nearly ready to receive podcasts.

This will happen soon.     


28. Pitch at least three new projects to two smart people.

I pitched one of my projects to one person in January. No further progress.

29. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

Nothing scheduled yet.


30. Enroll in the final class needed for certification as a high school English teacher.

No progress. 

31. Set a new personal best in golf.

There are rumors that the golf course may open in April. .  

32. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.


Another Yes Man

Back in January, Andy Mayo and I debuted our rock opera, The Clowns, at The Playhouse on Park. During our two weeks of workshop with the actors, musicians and director, there were three performances of the show.

At the Saturday evening show, a man named Kevin Eldridge was present in the audience.

Kevin grew up with me in my hometown of Blackstone, Massachusetts. He was a year or two older than me, but we lived on the same street and took the same bus to school everyday. Kevin and I were the only male flute players in the school system at the time.

Despite our geographic proximity, we were not friends. Acquaintances, perhaps, but we did not spend any time together.

Kevin went to a private school for high school and I continued my journey through public school. For more than twenty-five years, I did not see or hear from Kevin. In truth, I didn’t see or hear much from Kevin when we were kids, either.

Then Kevin heard about my writing career and read one of my novels. He began following me on the Internet. He discussed my book on his podcast.


In reading my blog and becoming a Facebook friend, Kevin heard about The Clowns and surprised me by driving with his wife from their home in Massachusetts on a Saturday night in January to see the performance.

The clowns

Three hours on the road to see the workshop version of a musical written by a kid who he used to ride the school bus with in elementary school.

Last month Kevin surprised me again by showing up for our first Speak Up storytelling event, this time with his podcast co-host, Cornflake.

Once again, I was both honored and stunned.

speak up

It turns out that Kevin and I are cut from the same cloth.

Kevin does not know me well. He did not know what to expect from either event. He was potentially driving three hours from his home to watch a failed attempt at unproven, experimental  entertainment.

But what were his options?

He could’ve stayed home on Saturday night, as so many others did, watching television or going to bed early.

Or he could’ve taken a chance on something new and far away and potentially entertaining and memorable.

Kevin said yes when so many said no.

I like to think that people like Kevin will find themselves with considerably fewer regrets at the end of their life.

Lessons and observations from a week of The Clowns.

This evening we will meet to discuss the future of The Clowns, the rock opera that my co-writer and I have spent the last five years writing. With two weeks to reflect on the workshop process that brought The Clowns to the stage for the first time, I had some final thoughts:

1. When collaborating on a project, I strongly suggest that you find a partner who is considerably nicer than you and is willing to put forth 100% effort while gladly accepting 60% from you. It is an ideal situation.

2. When given the freedom and encouragement, actors are like writers without keyboards.

3. Similarly, directors are like editors without red pens. They, however, do not require the encouragement and simply assume the freedom.

4. Watching actors say lines that you wrote and become the characters that you envisioned while listening to the audience around you laugh and gasp and applaud is just as good as seeing your novel on a bookstore shelf.

5. I’ve acted before and thought this while doing so, but two weeks of rehearsals and performances confirmed it: Acting is a form of collaborative, non-competitive sport with much of the physicality of athletics and all of the pressure of a championship game on the line. 


I never know what I’m actually writing about

Long after I finished writing my first novel, SOMETHING MISSING, I discovered, only after my wife and therapist pointed it out to me, that I had written a book about my battles with post traumatic stress disorder, my hatred toward my evil step-father and my longing for my absent father.

I didn’t know any of these things while actually writing the book. These revelations were only pointed out to me much later.

Upon finishing my second novel, UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO, I discovered that I had written a book about the challenges that I’ve faced throughout my life as a result of refusing to conform. Though readers might think me crazy, it turns out that the most noble character in that story (at least for me) is Louis the Porn Fiend, a character who my agent suggested I cut and who only appears in one chapter. Louis’s nobility derives from his willingness to remain true to himself, even though the world around him may be repulsed by this essential truth.

As Budo says in MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, “You have to be the bravest person in the world to go out every day, being yourself, when no one likes who you are.”

In the process of writing MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, I discovered that I was actually writing about my obsession with mortality and my near-constant existential fear as a result of two near death experiences and a robbery at gunpoint. In fact, an armed robbery takes place in the book, but while writing the scene, it never occurred to me that I might actually be writing about my own experience and the fear still surrounding it.

Books can be funny this way. You think you’re writing about one thing and you’re actually writing about something entirely different.

It turns out that playwriting is the same.

While watching last night’s performance of The Clowns, I wondered why Jake, the play’s protagonist/antagonist, appeals to me so much when so many audience members expressed dislike and even hatred toward the character following the previous show. His likability has been a question that I’ve been considering for quite a while, and the answer finally struck me like a load of bricks last night during the first act.

Jake is me when I was his age.

The Jake who I wrote is far cooler than I ever was, and the actor playing the role is even cooler than the character written on the page, but at his heart, Jake represents someone who I once was, and in that instant, I understood the character completely and knew that needed to be done to mitigate the loathing that audience members felt for him and develop him further.

This couldn’t have happened had not the actor, Richard Hollman, not fully  inhabited the character to the degree he has. I don’t think I will ever think of Jake without thinking of Rich. There may be other actors who play the role of Jake someday, but in my mind, Jake will always be Rich, and Rich will always be Jake. It was only through his performance that I was able to truly see the character, and in many ways, see myself.

All this probably sounds a little hokey (and I agree), but I can’t adequately express how stunned I felt when this realization finally dawned upon me. Not only did the character of Jake become instantly clear to me like never before, but I suddenly understood myself in ways I had never even approached. 

It was an honest-to-goodness moment of epiphany.

Once again, I find myself thinking that I am writing about one thing when in reality, I am writing about another.

I should stop being surprised, but I can’t. It’s so bizarre.

Writing is a strange gig. I often say that I get paid for making up stuff in my head, and while this may be true to some extent, it turns out that writing is far more complex and mysterious than it ever seems.

At least for me. 

Opening night for The Clowns! And perhaps a new way of writing fiction?

Opening night of our rock opera, The Clowns, was a huge success. Over the last eight days, the actors, musicians and director have taken our original vision and brought it do life, and in the process, the show has become so much more complete.

Most surprising for me has been the way in which the actors have informed my vision of the characters. In less than two weeks, each of them have used the script and score to develop their characters into more compelling, fully realized beings. From improved dialogue to newfound aspects to a character’s personality and backstory to something as simple as the way a character walks, the actors have provided me with an enormous amount of material for future revisions.

In many ways, they have come to know these characters better than me. I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve stolen so much from each one of them and plan on doing so much more.

As a novelist, I suddenly find myself wishing that I could have professionals like these performing each of the scenes in my manuscript. I fear that there is so much more that I could learn about my characters if I could involve actors in the process.

Perhaps someday I might give this a try.

Of course, I’ll need enough money to keep professional actors on staff during the writing process, but there is always hoping.

Actually, maybe Kickstarter could help. Would readers be willing to fund a project like this in return for a signed first edition of the novel (signed by rhe author and the actors) plus complete video footage of each of the scenes as performed by the actors involved?

The more I think about it, the more interested I become. 

Our second show kicks off tonight 8:00 PM tonight at The Playhouse on Park. If you’re local and would like to attend, please call the Playhouse on Park in advance. We may be sold out for the Saturday performance.

In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of the show. This was recorded a few days ago during one of our music rehearsals. The song is called Forever, Wrapped Up in a Day, written and composed by my writing partner, Andy Mayo.  

Save the date

The Clowns, the rock opera written by Andy Mayo and myself, continues its march to Broadway with a weekend production at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT on January 4, 5 and 6.

This will be staged workshop, meaning actors, directors and writers will spend two weeks perfecting the show (if that’s possible) prior to the weekend performances. We will be in New York City in early December to cast the show and working hard on revising it until then.

Tickets are not yet on sale, but I will let you know when they are.

Hope to see you at the show!