Looking For a Pet?

I have described my dog Zoe as an angel sent from heaven to bring joy into my life. She is so precious to me.

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I was in my early to mid twenties when I got Zoe. My wife and I decided we wanted a chocolate lab, so we found a reputable breeder. Before we knew it, we had an eight week old puppy, and she has enriched my life every day since.

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So now, I find myself at forty years old questioning my choice to get a dog from a breeder. There are rescue groups for every breed of dog, and animal shelters are packed with pets in need of homes. As I ponder this, I blame my decision on my own ignorance. I simply did not know how many animals are killed every day. Every pet bought from a puppy store or breeder, equals a pet from a rescue or shelter that must be killed. I had never considered that before getting Zoe. All of my cats are rescues, and they are perfect fits into our family.

I would never trade the experiences I’ve had with Zoe, but I now know I made a bad choice.  I was uninformed. So let’s spread the word and make sure people are informed!

I won’t go into numbers of pets killed every year, but the numbers are staggering. And you would be surprised how many of those are owner surrenders, where the pet became too inconvenient for the owner. Pets are a lot of work, and require a lot of time and money. If you go on a trip, someone needs to take care of your pet. If you work all day and leave your dog at home, he will likely get bored and chew something up.

If you can’t take care of a pet, don’t get one! If you are ready for that commitment, you are in for years of love and warmth from the best friend you can imagine. Just don’t make the same mistake I made. SAVE A LIFE! Rescue a pet in need of a home.

There are generally adoptions at the local pet supermarket every weekend (for me it’s Petsmart), plus rescue groups and animal shelters in every county. There are no shortage of places with tons of animals in need of rescue. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out Best Friends Animal Society; a great group with global reach. But I’m sure you can find a place right around your corner with a friend that will be perfect for you.

A final note. Thank you to my sister Enger who is a hero in the pet saving world 🙂  Love you sis!

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Excitement Over Audio Books!

Hey guys! The audio book version (or books on tape version) of Gasparilla’s Treasure is now available on audible.com.  Which has me extremely excited over audio books right now.  Audible.com is the site where I get all my audio books for passing time in the car.  They are an offshoot of Amazon.com, and they have the audio book thing pretty well figured out.  I have listened to about 50 audio books from audible, and absolutely love it!!!

ImageHere’s how it works.  You get the ap for your phone, and you download the book right to your phone or ipod.  Or it will work with most any mp3 player or on the computer.  The ap allows you to shop for books, download them, and play them.  I not only listen in the car, but also listen while mowing the lawn, or going for a walk.  If the narration speed isn’t to your liking, the ap allows you to speed it up in varying degrees.  It’s really quite ingenious.

Audible currently has a special running where new members get one “credit” a month for $7.49 for the first three months, cancel any time.  Check out the deal here.  A “credit” gets you one audio book.  So let’s say you want to listen to “The Hunger Games” series (which I did, and they are quite good), you can do so for only $7.49 each.  That’s a bargain for an audio book!  Or listen to another series I absolutely love.  The “Peter and the Starcatchers” series which is narrated by the amazing Jim Dale.  His voice talent will blow you away!

I listen to so many audio books, that I subscribe to one of the other plans listed here, which is 12 credits for $149.50 per year.  Then I browse around and look for books I find interesting.  You can sample a bit of the narration to make sure you are happy with it before you commit.  I am always pleasantly surprised with what the narrators bring to the story.  It really is a treat!

Now for the main reason I am so excited!!! My audio book, Gasparilla’s Treasure, became available today on audible.com (check it out here).  Narrated by the amazing Glenn Hascall.  And if you sign up for any of the plans mentioned earlier, and make one of your first three purchases my book.  I get a $25 “Bounty” fee from audible!  That’s right… for every member who takes advantage of the $7.95 per month for 3 months, I get $25!  Plus, the audio book is really great!  So if you’ve ever been interested in trying out audio books, now’s the perfect time 🙂

Either way, take a moment to check out Gasparilla’s Treasure on audible and listen to a bit of the preview.  I think you will enjoy Glenn’s amazing work on this audio book!

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Indie Movie Review – Action!!!

As an indie author, I find it tough to get the word out about my book (shameless plug for Gasparilla’s Treasure), and I know it’s equally tough for indie film makers to get the word out about their films.  So when I stumbled across “Action!!!” by Hillary J. Walker, I knew I wanted to share it with you.

Most of you know I am a production sound mixer in the film and television business, and there are a couple of must see movies for all of us in the film business (and anyone interested in the goings on of the set); “Living In Oblivion“, and “And God Spoke“.  And now you must add “Action!!!” to the list.

Action!!! is a mocumentary, and if you’re not familiar with mocumentaries, they are pretend documentaries.  In Action!!!, Zach Andrews gets the opportunity to go behind the scenes of a big budget movie and shoot a documentary for a school project.  We get to see all the shenanigans of a movie set through his lens.  As he videos the cast and crew going about their daily business, and shoots interviews with them, we start to get a picture of some pretty crazy people living ridiculous lives.

Director Hillary J. Walker has given us larger than life characters with comically blown out of proportion traits, which is the charm of this film.  From the extremely stressed out script supervisor, to the miserable alcoholic gaffer, Walker and her fellow cast did a masterful job bringing us characters we can enjoy laughing at.  In fact, I laughed out loud when Tom, The Stand In said, “If I want to succeed, I must make somebody else fail.”  Or when in reference to script writing, JG The UPM said, “You’re gonna have a lot of people that tell you not to sell out… They’re lying.”

As a member of the movie business, I really enjoyed this little gem.  A few minor negatives:  First, there wasn’t much of a story to thread the characters together, but I didn’t care since the characters and their performances were so much fun to watch.  Next, and this may be because I work in the business, I couldn’t accept the setting as big budget movie, or the characters as working professionals.  For me, it would have been more fitting if they were on a small movie, and the cast and crew all thought they were big shots.  These two points took little away from a wonderfully performed, laugh out loud mocumentary.

The downloadable copy is available for $3.99, and the DVD for $9.99. For your copy or to check out the trailer, go to:

http://www.filmbaby.com/films/6140

 

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Burn Notice – Is it just a job?

For those who don’t know me, I am the production sound mixer on the TV show Burn Notice.  Many perceive a career in the Movie/TV business as glamorous, but I assure you it is not.  It is a job.  We deal with office politics, difficult/uncomfortable working environments, and power struggles on a day to day basis.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to the job I wont go into, but understand, we get burned out and frustrated at our jobs just like everyone.  I won’t turn this into a whining session, so let’s just say it is not glamorous.  It is a job.

Today I was given a gift from one of our fans.  It was not a physical gift, but a reminder of why we do what we do.  A reminder that I will keep with me every day I work on Burn Notice.

A young fan was on set today.  It was his “wish” through the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” to be on the set of Burn Notice and have a small role in the show.  I had the opportunity to talk with him and his mother and father.  They were so delightful, and a real treat to have on the set.  This young man sat with the director (Jonathan Frakes) as we shot a scene in the morning, he got to interact with the stars of the show (Jeffrey Donovan, and Bruce Campbell), and he appeared in a scene with the actors and our stunt coordinator.  He even had a line of dialogue.  They will also receive VIP treatment at The Forge restaurant, where they will meet our lead actress, Gabrielle Anwar for a meal.

I stopped by to say goodbye and talk with the family as we finished our day of shooting, and they were thrilled with the day’s events.  They expressed their gratitude for the experience and it was then  it hit me.  I work on a show that touches people’s lives.  This young man could have asked for anything in the world, and he choose to be a part of the show I take for granted every day.  He loves the show that much!

What right do I have to complain about a bad day at work?  What right do I have to complain about a struggle in my personal life?  This family’s strength and positive attitude was a blessing to me, and I will never forget them.

How lucky am I to have been given this gift of understanding!  I challenge you to find the blessings in your life that are currently hidden from your view.

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Writers – Do You Feel This Way?

Just curious if fellow writers feel this way:

I just completed the first draft of my next book, and have forwarded it to my “first readers”. These are people I trust and respect, but it’s a scary time.

I feel I have spent a huge chunk of my time breathing life into these new characters, and molding them into who they have now become. I have given them settings and situations to interact within, and I have poured a small piece of my soul into them.

And now it’s time to see, for the first time, if that piece of my soul will connect with a reader. And it’s not just the first reads. Every time I get feedback from a reader, I feel the tiny piece of my soul I have given to that book is on trial. I know it’s too much to ask for my characters to connect with every reader, but the first time I put that new piece of work out there, I have no idea if the story that was in my head, is the story I put into words.

I’m not sure readers realize how personal a story and its characters are to the writer. It’s a bit scary, but totally worth it when someone connects with your story and characters.

Any one else feel this way? Or should I seek psychiatric treatment? 😉

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Jose Duarte – Master Artist

As I dig through old photos from season one of Burn Notice, I came across a few photos taken by my friend and co-worker Jacob.  They are of a man with unmeasureable artistic talent, Jose Duarte.  Jose was a staple in the Miami film and TV business, and it was a great loss to our industry when he passed on August 24, 2008.

Take a moment to see some of the projects that benifited from the touch of Jose’s hand on imdb:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0239107/

I had the pleasure of working with Jose on many projects, but never really got to know him well.  He was always busy in the shop, painting and staying one step ahead of the shooting crew.  But the times I was able to stop and talk with Jose, his gentle/loving spirt always lifted my mood and gave me reason to walk away with a piece of his ever present smile.

As I was rushing to post a quick memory on Twitter this morning, I did a Google search and found this website.  As I read through the comments, I watched an interesting story unfold.  It started with fans of Burn Notice who were curious about a dedication at the end of the show.  A few people responded with tidbits of information from the internet, but then the story became personal as family and friends of Jose chimed in and spoke of who the man truly was.  Check out the story below, and make sure to read throught the comments:
http://el-comentario.com/celebrity/jose-duarte-burn-notice/

On Burn Notice, Jose was often painting a sign or piece of set dressing.  He set up in a spot near the bathrooms where my path often lead me past him.  He never failed to say hello and throw a smile my way.  I was always amazed with his work.  The following pictures show Jose at work on a mural that was just a piece of background art to lend authenticity to the shooting location.  The crew was mesmorized as we watched the art unfold from the master’s hand.  Luckily, Jacob had the forsight to document the creation, an that is what I want to share with you.  Thank you Jose!  You are truly missed.

And below is the final piece, hanging on a wall in the streets of Miami.  Well done Jose!

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Wooden Treasure Chest Project

My son and I were looking for a way to spend some non-computer time and made this wooden treasure chest last weekend.  It was a nice tie in to my book Gasparilla’s Treasure, took us about four hours, and was a blast.  He has since filled it with a few of his own treasures, like marbles, balls, slinky, etc… Check out fellow blogger NonMom’s review of Gasparilla’s Treasure and then build your own treasure chest!  We’re going to try and build another treasure chest out of foam board for those who don’t have the wood working tools.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

This project required a reasonable amount of experience with the table saw, but the project was simple and cost under ten dollars.

So here we go:

We started with a 1X5, six foot long piece of knot free pine (about $8).  I showed Corey how to set up the table saw, and where all the controls were.  I had him help me make all measurements, but I did all the cutting.

I cross cut the board into 3 @ 14 inch pieces, and 3 @ 5 5/8 inch pieces.

Next came the hardest part.  I set the table saws rip fence to 1/4 inch. (This can be really tricky, so don’t do anything that is unsafe.  You don’t want this to turn into a lesson in how to reattach a finger).  I ripped the 14 inch pieces into strips with a final dimension 1/4 inch, by 3/4 inch, by 14 inch.  The three 14 inch pieces yielded 10 strips each, for a total of 30 strips.

Next I had Corey drill holes for the nails.  Each strip got a hole in each end, and we made shorter work of it by drilling four strips at a time.

Next I ripped two of the 5 5/8 inch pieces to their final dimension of 5 5/8 inches by 3 1/2 inches.  These became the end pieces of the treasure chest.

The final 5 5/8 inch piece got ripped into, 2 @ 5 5/8 inches by 2 inches.  Then I used a one gallon paint can to draw an arch on these pieces.  I used my scroll saw to cut the curve.  These pieces became the end caps of the lid.

Here are all the pieces laid out. Along with the panel nails and hinges (that’s everything you need.)

Then I had Corey nail the strips onto the end pieces.  The strips formed the bottom and sides of the treasure chest.

Nailing the strips onto the lid was a bit trickier.  We worked together on this part.

Once the chest and lid had all their strips attached, we attached the lid with hinges.  We didn’t have a perfect solution for the hinges, but Corey doesn’t seem to mind.  A strip of duct tape would do the trick if you don’t want to deal with the hinges.

Corey wants to add a lock, and we are probably going to try and add one tomorrow 🙂

And there you have it!  Your very own treasure chest!  And don’t forget to get your copy of Gasparilla’s Treasure for an exciting treasure hunt adventure!

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Q&A on Goodreads

I asked for questions about Gasparilla’s Treasure in a forum on Good Reads. Here’s the first question and answer:

READER:
My only question I ever really have when I’m finished reading a book is where the author came up with the idea. What gave you the inspiration to write ‘that’ book, specifically? Where did Gasparilla’s Treasure come from? How long was it a thought before you put it to paper?

Don’t worry, I won’t pick your brain clean. (: Just curious where authors get their ideas from. I’ve read the book, reviewed it for you, and absolutely LOVED it! But you already know that 😉

ANSWER:
I wish I had a more interesting answer to this question. The reality is, I had penned a screenplay (different story) and gave it to a friend of mine who is an accomplished script writer. His advice was “Throw it away, read these two books, and start over.” Sure I wanted his response to be, “I love it! It’s amazing! Let’s go produce this movie right now!”, but his advice was exactly what I needed. So I read the two books on script writing. One was “Screenplay” by Syd Fields, and the other was “Writing Screenplays that Sell” by Michael Hauge.

Syd Fields breaks down the “structure” of a movie script (act 1, act 2, act 3) and what happens in each act. Michael Hauge talks about each character and what they can and can’t do. He also gives some step by step advice to writing.

One of the key points in Hauge’s book was to come up with a single sentence that defines the story, using the following format: [main character] wants or needs [what they want or need]. Every scene in your movie script should serve that sentence. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.

I sat down and wrote about 10 sentences, and the one that connected with me most was “Average 13 year old boy wants to find the treasure his family has been seeking for generations.” And Gasparilla’s Treasure (as a movie script) was born!

The Syd Fields book helped me structure the story in a way that kept it moving at a good pace without getting bogged down, and the Michael Hauge book gave me some tools to connect with the audience. With all of these things in place, the story just started to flow. It was almost easy to see exactly what the story would be and what the characters would do and how they would react.

I finished my first draft, and did a few revisions. I got another script writer friend to give it a read, and he loved it. He gave me a crucial piece of advice that required me to dive in to a heavy rewrite. He suggested a “ticking time bomb”. In my original story, Trip just wanted to find the treasure because Pappy asked him to. The “ticking time bomb” was missing. What happened if Trip didn’t find the treasure, and what happened if he didn’t find it now? I had to find the ticking time bomb.

After a bit of thought, I came up with the idea of Pappy getting tossed out of the retirement community and the impossible burden it would put on Trip’s mom. Now Trip had to find this treasure ASAP, the ticking time bomb.

This required a pretty major rewrite, because I originally had Pappy die of a heart attack, and now he needed to live. In addition, I added in some new scenes, which threw off the Syd Fields “structure” which meant I had to throw out some scenes. This felt like cutting off an arm. In the end, the story is significantly better because of it, and the proper pacing remains in tact.

So to answer your question, I started writing the idea based on a single sentence, and let it form into its own story.

When I converted the script to a book, I added a few things, and changed a few things, but the basic story, characters, and outline were all there. I did put some significant thought into the prologue, as it was not in the script. In fact, in the script, I had made up a character named Verlof, and the script was called Verlof’s Treasure. As I pondered the prologue (for months while driving back and forth between Miami and Orlando for work) I came across the true story of the pirate Gasparilla. It was a perfect fit. My original prologue was much longer, but my wife didn’t like it. And again, it was like cutting off an arm. The final prologue is about 1/3 (or even less) of the original.

OK, I think I blabbed on a little too long… I hope this answered your question 🙂 I look forward to more!!!

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Reviews from Kids

I love to get reviews from kids who have read my book. Here are a couple from Amazon:

11 Year Old:
This book is my favorite! Great mix of the present, history, and pirates. I recommend it for all ages, especially 11 year olds. When my parents told me to go to bed, I couldn’t put this book down! I live near St.Augustine and I can relate to all the historical sites. Thank-you Scott Clemets for writing Gasparilla’s Treasure!

10 Year Old:
I liked all of it. I didn’t get bored and I always wanted to know what would happen next. This is exactly the kind of adventure I enjoy. I brought the book to school to share it with my friends. I think they will like it.

Keep up the reviewing kids!!!

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A Nice Feeling

It’s a great feeling when someone let’s you know they  truly enjoying your book.  This is an email from nice person/actress Lauren Stamile, who some of you may know from Grey’s Anatomy or as Agent Pearce from Burn Notice.  She is reading my book, Gasparilla’s Treasure, and she sent this email.  I asked her if I could share it in my blog and she kindly said “Of course.”  So, here it is:

WOW.

Scott,

It’s Lauren, 🙂
Um… I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!!
About 30 pages in….

Love how it’s “To Everyone who sees life as an adventure.”
Love how the Prologue just grabs you by the neck and how Chapter One
starts off SO differently, in another time and place.  It gives the
reader the thrill that these two insanely unrelated worlds are
somehow… RELATED!  And the thrill is in knowing that you (the
reader) are on the journey to see how!
I love the name of the freakin’ old person’s home.
I love how the whole thing feels so personal to the teller of the tale
but does not alienate the reader in any way.  It is so welcoming.
And it took NO TIME to instantly get swept up into the world of the
story.  That rarely happens for me.  I generally need a few chapters
of slow reading to really get in there.  Not so AT ALL in this case.
There is heart, humor, action, a sense of wonder and pathos — all the
ingredients needed for a great adventure.

I am SO GRATEFUL that you generously gave me a copy.
I can’t wait to read further and ask questions and discuss!

–lauren.
ps–Geez!  You couldn’t just get nominated for a freakin’ emmy for
sound!  You also had to go and be uber-talented in another medium.
Jerk! 😉

You can find the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Gasparillas-Treasure-Scott-Clements/dp/1475028539

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