Contra Mundum – Episode 7: Firefighting, EMS, and More!

Hey guys. It’s late, but it’s here.

In episode 7, I interviewed my friend Mica Kluge. I met her last year when she came to my writing club. We’ve always had really good conversations, so I invited her onto the show.

As it turns out, she has had some really interesting experiences as a volunteer firefighter. We talked about how it feels to fight a fire, what it was like to be a 13 year-old firefighting cadet, and her scariest firefighting experience.

Enjoy!

This was a really fun interview to do, and I learned a lot during it. I hope you all enjoyed it just as much.

This is probably the last of these episodes that you’ll see in video format. I’m not a huge fan of the time it takes to edit the videos, and I have a lot more freedom to make it sound really good when I just do the audio side.

Also, WOW, my hair was fluffy in this video. Must have been humid or something that day, sheesh.

Any thoughts on this video? Did you learn something about firefighting? Let me know in the comments below.

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My hands hurt

Hello lovely readers. I am happy to report that I am finally done with my classes and projects for this semester. I’m officially a senior in college, but sheesh it was a long haul.

Looking back, it doesn’t look like there actually wasn’t that much to do in my last two weeks of classes. I didn’t have any major video or audio projects to finish. I only had 3 final exams, two of which I could take on my own and open book, and two that I could flunk almost completely and still get an A. So what was it that inspired today’s title?*

The writing.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I had 140 pages of screenwriting to do in the last two weeks. That’s about 10 pages a day. I had two 25-page sitcom episodes (one of which ended up being 30 pages) and two 45-page dramatic TV show episodes to write. Considering how long the one sitcom episode ended up being, I suppose it’s more accurate to say I had 145 pages of screenwriting.

Either way, far too much writing to do in such a short amount of time.

Now understand, screenwriting isn’t like regular writing. The words are more spread out on the page, so it doesn’t take as long to do a full page. Still, 145 pages is a ton. The average feature film is 120 pages.

Honestly, as much as I like screenwriting, I’m a little sick of it right now. In screenwriting, you can’t get into the head of the character. You can only describe what the audience will see and hear, not what the characters are thinking or feeling. And I’m tired of describing things.

I’m going to take a little break from screenwriting for a while, I think. I want to do some storytelling that lets me get deep into the thoughts and emotions of my characters. That’s good news for any of you following my fantasy story, Erya, on Wattpad. You’ll probably be getting some new chapters in the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in seeing some of my writing in action, check out this show pilot that my friends and I made over spring break. It’s called Flicker, and I wrote the screenplay.

I’ll probably do a separate post on Flicker by itself, and I’m planning to have our director appear on my podcast.**

*The other cause of the sore hands is a combination of playing with my new fidget spinner (so addictive) too much, and hiking up some boulders and scuffing my palms up.

**Yes, I know I forgot to upload this past Sunday’s episode. You’ll get a double episode next week in penance. One on Sunday, and one on Wednesday. Stop throwing tomatoes already.

Songs I’m obsessed with right now

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. Partly because I just went on a long car trip and I needed it to stay awake. I usually have some song stuck in my head, but right now, I feel like I’m stuffed full.

Which means now you get to hear what I’m thinking.

1. The DreamWorks Bible movie soundtracks

When I was a kid (okay, I was two), DreamWorks struck gold with The Prince of Egypt, which is, in my opinion, the best Moses movie ever made (yes, better than The Ten Commandments). It also has probably the most majestic sounding soundtrack of any animated movie ever. I posted my favorite below. Just try to listen to that without getting chills. Hans Zimmer is a genius. You really should just listen to the whole sound track.

The second movie that DreamWorks made in the same vein was Joseph: King of Dreams. The songs aren’t probably as incredible as the ones in Prince of Egypt, but then Zimmer didn’t do this one. Still, the songs are pretty good, especially since it was the composer, Danny Pelfrey’s, first musical score. Better than I was the song that popped up on my Spotify list that prompted this nostalgic musical journey.

2. Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

I heard this on the radio at some point recently and it’s been stuck in my head. This song is ungodly catchy. The beginning is catchy. The chorus is painfully catchy. The ending is catchy. Worse, it’s still a popular song, so I can’t make it more than a few days before I hear someone else singing it and getting it stuck in my head again.

The last song that was stuck in my head this thoroughly was How Many Kings by Downhere, and that was stuck in my head for literally months.

3 & 4. Money and Fame and Happiness by Needtobreathe

These two kept popping up on the radio, so I added them to my Spotify list. Which was a mistake. Now, they are never out of my head. Money and Fame, in particular is just SO catchy. I don’t even know the whole song, just the chorus. Happiness is the opposite. I know the whole thing, and it’s still stuck in my head.

Most of the time, when I get something stuck in my head, it’s because I don’t know all the words and my brain is trying to figure it out. Obviously, that’s not the case with the DreamWorks soundtracks. For those, I think my brain is just longing for something awe-inspiring and majestic. But maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get at least Heathens and Money and Fame out of my head sometime soon.

I hope so. It’s getting crowded in here.

Sorry, no podcast

I’m sorry about the lack of podcast episode yesterday. My schedule is insanely tight right now, and I still have 45 pages of screenwriting to do by Friday. I was up till 3am last night finishing the last script.

Thankfully, after Friday, I’m basically home free. Oh sure, I have a few finals to study for, but I’m less than worried about any of them. I’m not missing a lot of points in any of the classes I have actual exams in, so could basically flunk most of my finals and still get a A in the classes.

All this to say that I promise you WILL have a podcast episode this weekend.

It’s going to be a fun one about firefighting, so it’s worth the wait.

You will also be getting a regular post on Wednesday. I pre-scheduled it. 🙂

Announcement: New travel blog for the summer

First off, sorry about the lack of podcast post on Sunday. I started the week with 140 pages of script writing to get done in two weeks, so I needed the time I would normally spend editing the podcast episode to write. I’m down to 90 pages, so I’m on target currently, and if I still am at the end of the week, hopefully, I will have time to edit that episode and get it up.

Now please enjoy this scheduled post.


I have an announcement:

I’m starting a new blog/website over the summer. Since I’m going to be in Lynchburg for the whole summer, I decided to start a travel style blog for the city. I’ll be visiting interesting places in Lynchburg and within an hour of it.

A few of the places that I’m planning on visiting include Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains, Jump Trampoline park, various downtown Lynchburg shops and restaurants, and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.

The blog will include video, audio, and text posts. I’m getting a GoPro-style action camera that I’m looking forward to using. I’m also going to try to interview local people and business owners as well.

So what does this mean for this blog? Well, basically, you get an extra post every week. I’m planning to have posts from that blog up on Tuesdays. I’ll be posting the first few paragraphs of each post here, and then you can click on it and go over to the other site.

So, if you’re interested, the new blog is called Exploring the Seven Hills, and I’m starting the posts on May 23rd.

Interview with author Shannon A. Thompson about blogging

I interviewed Shannon A. Thompson, an author, poet, and blogger who writes about writing and publishing. She is the author of the YA series The Timely Death Trilogy. She helped me out with a journalism class project, and I thought her answers and advice were so good that I decided to post them here. Enjoy!

1. What prompted you to start blogging? Why blog on that topic? 

I began blogging in 2012 when I decided I wanted to get re-involved with the publishing community. I’d been involved before—back in 2007—but that was a different time. There were no eBooks, for instance. The first thing I noticed was how much bigger (and better) things had become after everyone (writers, cover artists, editors, readers, etc.) found one another, mainly through blogging. So, I started my own blog. Granted, I had no idea what I would blog about. At first, I started blogging about books, music, and movies, but I quickly noticed that my followers responded to my writing tips the most, so I continued to focus on that.

2. What are the goals and intent of the blog? What types of subjects are featured in the blog?

I didn’t necessarily have any goals when it came to blogging. I simply wanted to find my people, and I loved writing anyway, so blogging was a way to combine those two aspects of my life. The topics changed over time, but I mainly focus on what my followers want me to discuss the most.

3. How do you communicate with your followers? What types of responses have followers  given to postings?

I respond to every comment on every article. I often read other blogs, too. Communicating goes both ways; so does blogging. Thankfully, I mainly receive positive responses. I have received a few negative ones in the past, but as long as they are constructive (and not trolling), I don’t mind. We can all debate a topic. But trolls aren’t allowed. I delete anything that doesn’t add to the conversation in a mindful way, because I want my website to be a fun and safe place for readers and writers alike. It creates extra work, but I believe it’s worth it.

4. How do you promote the blog? What works best and worst?

I don’t really promote my blog, to be honest. In fact, I’ve had to slow down over the years. When I first started, I blogged every other day for two years straight. It was a lot of work, and I eventually realized that my time could be better spent elsewhere. Also, followers tend to enjoy less updates than more, so I cut down overtime. I’m currently blogging once a week now, and I love it just as much. In fact, I think it’s more productive with fewer postings. But I share my weekly posts across my author platform, mainly Facebook and Twitter.

5. What new things have you learned about the world and your field of interest because of the blog? What would you do differently if starting a blog today?

As stated above, I’d probably blog less than I originally blogged, because that time can be spent working on your craft. (Then again, maybe that’s why it grew so fast. It’s hard to say.) In my case, once I had an audience, I was able to spend more time writing books by cutting down on blogging. But I will always have a blog. My blog has connected me with some amazing people, and those amazing people changed my life. In fact, my current publisher and I shared a connection through my blog, and I think that helped when we decided to work together. Blogging can open amazing doors. (Even if those doors are invisible and on the Internet.)

6. What suggestions do you have for students and others who want to blog?

Start! The best part of blogging is that it is easy, simple, and free. You don’t have to own a URL or get a custom-made website right up front. Just start, and see where it goes. You’ll find your way.

Contra Mundum – Episode 6: Why Would an Author Quit Publishing?

Hey guys! Again, I’m sorry I’m a day late. I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friend in Georgia, and I forgot to actually post my podcast on here.

On the other hand, I did post the video on YouTube on Saturday. I actually usually post the video to YouTube earlier than it goes up here. So, go ahead and subscribe for early viewing.

This episode was fun. I sat down with my friend and fellow writer, Elizabeth McKinney. We talked about writing, publishing, and the reason that she decided to stop publishing. She also has some good advice for writers who want to go into publishing.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel on YouTube if you want the episode a little earlier. I’m trying to get them done a little earlier than the day they’re supposed to go up here.

Next week’s episode will feature my friend Mica, who will be talking about her time as a firefighter.

See you next week!