Letters From England/The Legend of Free Wheeling Frank.

When you have a sliver of a story and some pieces are missing, what do you do? You create your own story. I never met Free Wheeling Frank. My mom did. Now I don’t know if he arrived on campus as some sort of nomad or with a girlfriend. However, I think it was speculated he was the boyfriend of some NEC student. I used that idea for my story and created the girl too. I built a whole backstory for these two, with how they met and how they came to England. I don’t know if my mom knew Frank’s name. So we don’t know what Frank’s real name was. This is why Frank remains a legend in our household to this day. My Dad and have talked about this character many times. It reminds us of mom and makes us chuckle at how she talked about this guy.

When my mother passed she took the secrets with her to the grave. I didn’t want to know what his name was. I didn’t care. He was a mystical legend to me. He mysteriously arrived on campus one day and then mysteriously left without much fan fare. I don’t even know if this guy was a Hell’s Angel. He could have been some motorcycle enthusiast who was a hippie. The whole story was incredibly wild as was that first year that NEC Arundel.

Without Free Wheeling Frank’s name, or complete story, I was given the freedom to play with the facts and create an interesting story. There has always been some confusion between the two books, Free Wheeling Frank and Zen, the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Two fictional accounts of two completely different stories about the same theme. Motorcycle riding. Every time I would mentioned Free Wheeling Frank, someone would add the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the title. I wanted to say, no I don’t think that’s it. For so many years, I wasn’t sure whether the book Free Wheeling Frank actually existed. Once I did my research, and found the book at long last, I decided to use this confusion as part of the story. It almost fits. Here’s a guy looking for a book named Free Wheeling Frank, after he lost it and no one has heard of it, or they think it is another book entirely. I don’t know if my mother tried to obtain the book for Frank. However, it would have been within my mom’s obsessive compulsive nature, to do just that. My mother was like a pitfall with a bone. She would not let go when she had an idea in her head.

This episode shines my mom in a bright light. My mom is the star in this episode. I think I have brought out a lot of her enthusiasm. Every student that walked into that bookstore, would tell you that Pris Murray was one of the friendliest, kindest people they ever met. If you knew my mom, and came into her bookstore, I hope this is how you remember her.

There are elements of my mom’s mental illness. Part of it is shown here. In this episode we first hear about my mom’s nervous breakdown in a conversation between my Dad’s character and my sisters. We also have a sense of it through this episode. We see her highs when she figures something out and her lows when she is hit with a roadblock. get In this episode Eileen is obsessed with finding this book for this student. She will stop at nothing. I decided to start this episode with sort of an odd Ray Chandler dream sequence. My mother becomes the detective in these dream sequences. I play around with corny gags and music within the dream sequence. I even spoof the fact, that my Mom and Dad, looked like Betty Davis and Clark Gable. When my Dad tells my mother, because you have Betty Davis eyes, I couldn’t resist but play the intro to the song of the same name. I went with the gag and took it further where they had no idea where the music came from. I then did it again later, with the George Thorogood song, “I Drink Alone.” I had a blast writing these scenes, because I loved all those 1940’s PI movies. They are so easy to make fun of. I also loved the fact, that my mother comes off as a strong independent woman in these dream sequence scenes.

Without further adieu, I give you The Legend of Free Wheeling Frank. Enjoy.

As always if you have not read an episode or if you haven’t read any of my series I will put links here for those previous episodes for you to read.

Film Noir/Free Wheeling Frank

Long ago in a far off place called Tortington Park, Arundel England an interesting fellow showed up at a small American International campus. This gentleman was a motorcycle enthusiast. Now I never met the guy, my mother did and heard about him through her. I’m not sure if he was a Hell’s Angel biker, but I speculate he was. He came in search of his holy grail at the campus bookstore. My mother attended to this motorcycle fellow. He asked for a book called “Free Wheeling Frank.”

At the time my mother and her friend Bea Gay had never heard of it. For the next few weeks, this mysterious man would enter the bookstore and ask for the book “Free Wheeling Frank” and my mother had to tell him they didn’t have it. My mother would ask the many NEC students about the book. Many of them had heard of it, and referred to the book as “Free Wheeling Frank” and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My mother found the book in print and waited for this mysterious biker chap to come into the store again. When he did, she was so proud. She presented the book to this biker chap and for a moment his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. It was indeed his holy grail and then after starting down at the book, sudden despair. No it was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He reassure my mom, that it was okay. My mother ever eager to please asked, “Who’s it by?” The biker thought for a moment and he came up blank.

When mid semester break came, the biker had mysteriously vanished, never to return on the NEC Arundel campus, leaving my mother with an interesting story to tell. From that day forward my mother would tell this story over and over again. The story was told at Barnstormer parties in Tamworth New Hampshire or any time she ran into someone from Arundel or Henniker. My mother was the type of person that would be fascinated by someone this interesting and she truly was. If my mom, took a liking to some rogue person, that person became a project to my mother. When I say project, I mean that she wanted to know all about them and see what made them tick. If she really liked you as in the case of a college buddy of mine, she wanted to guide you and help you improve yourself. In other words a project. I sensed this biker guy was one of those projects.

Free Wheeling Frank was a Robert Stack Unsolved Mystery. She never found out this fellow’s name. So when she told the story he was known as Frank or Free Wheeling Frank.

Upon my mom’s death I took up the mantle of this strange story, which is really just one part of my mom’s life and one part of a day in her life. For years people mistook this book as Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. One person knew the book, but did not know the title. He gave me a brief synopsis of a wild Hell’s Angel and his story about being a member of the California gang. Whenever I would go into a bookstore, I found myself looking for this book. I always came up with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I began to wonder if the actual book, “Free Wheeling Frank”, actually existed, or if my mom made up the story. I knew my mother well enough that she would never make up a story such as this. This year, I did a google search and low and behold there was a book called “Free Wheeling Frank.” I ordered it ands started reading a few chapters. The book was ghost written and I found it hard to follow because the lead character sort of seemed to be speaking in a code I couldn’t understand.

As my mother learned how to run the NEC bookstore she became a total wizard when ordering books. If it was out of print, this was a challenge and she was more than up to the task. You see there was always a bit of a detective in my mom. She liked a good mystery as much as the next person. After all this was a woman who consumed Ruth Rendell mysteries like they were candy. She never did find that book, but continued to tell the NEC Arundel story. The Legend of Free Wheeling Frank.

Throughout my own life I have often wondered what happened to this mysterious biker named Free Wheeling Frank. I often wanted to create a character around this enigmatic fellow. Letters From England allowed me the chance. This is why I went in search of the book called “Free Wheeling Frank.” Like I did in Episode six with my sister Nancy, I wanted to give my mother the spotlight here. Another story is in the wings. We’ll talk about that at a later time. This was a story that truly starred my mom and this is the first episode that directly revolves around her.

When I came up with the idea for “Free Wheeling Frank,” I wasn’t really sure how I was going to write this small chapter. I felt like I should honor this guy. So I blew the encounter my mom had and created my own story. The best way was to create the history of Free Wheeling Frank. I don’t know if the story I conjured does Mr. Frank justice, here is what I came up with.

Free Wheeling Frank is as a member of a Hells Angel gang. Late one night in some bar, in a small college town in Juniper New Hampshire he meets a cultured wealthy college Senior named Mary. Frank is a quiet type, not your typical Hells Angel and he is an intellectual. He reads Kerouac and other beatnik writers of the day.

Mary and Frank fall in love. When she takes Frank to meet her well to do, snobby parents they have horrible visions of her future. They forbid their daughter ever to see Frank again. The wealthy daughter is devastated until she hits upon an idea where she and Frank can be together. When Hopkins College opens up a branch in England, Mary decides to spend a semester abroad, where she will take a complete course of independent studies, on Art, History and languages. The two will spend one month on Campus. Mary takes classes before going off on her wild ride through Europe with Frank. While on campus, Frank will be in constant search of his elusive holy grail, the book Free Wheeling Frank.

My first idea was to create a spaghetti western movie, with the Harley being the horse. Frank and Mary(Who Frank nicknames Chilli) ride off into the sunset on this Harley all over England, and the rest of Europe. The idea changed about four days ago. I thought, hey wait a minute let’s try a film noir style. I am a huge film noir fan. My mother is the gumshoe and My Dad would be the client coming in to find out the legend of Free Wheeling Frank.

I started this episode two nights ago. I started the teaser and I have written three pages. The teaser opens on a cold drizzly night, while Eileen Livingston (My Mom) is working late at her Private Investigations office. A strange tall man named Blake (My Dad) enters the office just as she is about to leave. He has a case for her. The case is the legend of Free Wheeling Frank. He will pay her handsomely to find out the story of this legendary Hells Angel Biker. The film noir is the Walter Mitty Fantasy world inside Eileen’s head, while she does go in search of this strange character. Kitty Grainger will be her detective partner.

Free Wheeling Frank is coming in film noir. If you check out my blog I hope you will read the Legend of Free Wheeling Frank.

Letters From England/First Day Jitters

This episode is largely about how we deal with stress. I find stressful situations to be amusing, so I often write about them. The first day for all four members of the Livingston family is a very exciting new moment for all them. Originally my plan was to tell the entire story through Ned’s eyes. It would be his first stressful day of school. The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize the whole family should have some interesting stressful moments.

I must say this episode was difficult to write, but very rewarding and fun as I chopped and changed it. I had a different teaser, but it was making the script a bit longer than I would have liked so I started it from the First trip to school at the bus stop. Ned has all sorts of interesting things happen to him there. One is stressful and a true story. He meets a girl here, based on a girl I knew that seemed to have a crush on me. We eventually became friendly and would talk at the bus stop.

Ned is not the only one we deal with. Eileen has a particularly bad day, when two Cash registers break down and she has to deal with the entire campus of students buying textbooks, to make matters worse, she is confronted with an absent minded Economics Professor and here is where we finally meet, Free Wheeling Frank. It’s a tease leading into the Free Wheeling Frank Episode. In the next Episode I want to have Eileen narrate the episode as if she were narrating a film noire movie.

Blake also has an interesting moment teaching his first class called the History of British Theatre. Here, he is confronted by and antsy student named Clarice Jennings, She is antsy for one particular reason, which ends up becoming quite the accident.

Darcy also is confronted by her first day jitters. She attends a school in Westerly. As I described it through Ned’s eyes, she chose the school where all the juvenile delinquents attended. I was never sure why my sister chose that school. She eventually ended up transferring out of there to Littlehampton. Her day starts off with struggling with her locker, when Lucy Swan shows up and offers to help, she is reluctant. After all this is Noah’s ex girlfriend and a woman who blames Darcy for their breakup.

The other aspect of Ned’ day that is based on a real moment is the English teacher, my first form year. As I had said in my previous blog Gareth Langmere is a combination of two characters, one from Eastergate(The Soccer talent.), the other from Chichester high. This story concerns the Chichester guy. The English teacher we had that year came into a classroom full of wild animals. My first form gained a quick reputation as being the most rambunctious class of all. She had heard about it. The first day Mrs Hedges as I named her, came into our class to lay down the law as she saw it and her rules. This didn’t sit too well with my friend(Who at the time I didn’t know all that well. This was really my first introduction into his personality.) This guy, a son of a military man, had a certain cocky swagger about him. As I said in the previous post, he wasn’t afraid of anybody or any situation. When Hedges left the room for one moment, my friend immediately paced the room and jumped upon the desk and immediately starting giving a soliloquy that would have reminded you of William Wallace at the battle of Falkirk. He was not best pleased. I think my buddy had felt he didn’t do anything to deserve Mrs. Hedges scorn. If he couldn’t accept it, none of the rest of the class should either. I think the idea was to lead some sort of coo in this class. The most memorable part of my friend’s speech was a classic and it was almost cliche, because I had seen and heard it on English Television and movies many times. Yes, the who does she think she is, the bloody queen of England speech. I call this scene the bloody queen of England speech. Even though he got caught by Mrs. Hedges mid speech and was sent down to the head of first, it was the defining moment in the speech and among his peers this chap gained a whole lot of respect. Nobody ever picked on him or challenged him. Not that anyone ever would, you see this fellow was one mean hombre for a short guy(Although he had quite a bit of muscle.). He was never to be trifled with. This is all part of Ned’s day. By merging the soccer guy and the Chichester guy together I was able to create this one interesting character that Ned comes to admire and respect throughout his time in England. One aspect that did pop in with this character that I hadn’t suspected, is his mind is always active and he has interesting ideas in his head.

So here is the completed draft of First Day Jitters, Episode 8. Once again, I will link all the other episodes and you can read those to catch up.

Letters From England/Next Episode in The Works

In my five years I lived in England, I went to two different schools. My primary school, was down the road from me. Then I moved on and attended Chichester High School for Boys. In my story I called the town Chilton and the school is named Chilton School For Boys. This is where my brief but illustrious Cross Country and track career happened. You never think you’re going to get in a race when you’re the alternate, in my case it happened twice. In my case, something awful happened to the best runner in my home form and I became his replacement on both occasions.

Today I scoured the internet for my alma mata and found this familiar building. This is the front of the lower school of Chichester High. I found some more modern pictures of the school. It has appeared to have been completely rebuilt and the school uniform and badge have completely changed. The blazer is now a purplish blue. I am not partial to either the old snot green blazer or the new purplish blue blazer. I am not partial to the Purplish blue one that has replaced it. The badge has also changed. The three partridges remain, but the color is now red.

I spent two years of my life in that building the Chichester High building. I wouldn’t say they were fond, but they didn’t kill me and I lived through the good and the bad. This school will be a major part of my English years in Letters From England. I went to school here with many chums from my Eastergate days and along the way, met many new characters who will create the tapestry of what I write about this school. The teachers I met there, were a mix of awesome and just plain mean. Some were far too strict. I went to this school at a time when Corporal punishment was allowed within the law. It has been some time since England, decided to outlaw punishment for infractions with a cain or a slipper. Thankfully I escaped such a fate, but I knew others that did not.

The introduction of this episode isn’t just about Ned’s first day at an English School. It’s about the Livingston family first day. Ned’s day starts off on the wrong foot as he meets a bully. Gareth Langmere ends up saving him when they meet for the first time. The incident I wrote happened at Eastergate Primary. I set this up at the Westergate Bus stop. At Eastergate Gareth was not the one who saved my butt,(Although he did make things easier for me when I arrived.) it was an Upper Junior who I became friends with.

The original idea for Gareth was my Football friend at Eastergate. I had a problem with him. I wanted to fit in another character. There was another student I met at Chichester, who was the son of a military officer. His name was Martin Bacon. For a time Martin and I became great friends, by the time I left, Martin and I were still good friends but we had drifted. Like my buddy Christian(Gareth.), he was a class act. I decided to merge the two to create one character. I have many Martin Bacon stories to tell and through Gareth I will tell stories of Martin and Christian, fictitious and truthful.

As we watch all four of the family go through their first day of work, or school, Eileen’s story becomes the most interesting. It will be on her first day that you see a tease of Free Wheeling Frank. This sets you up nfor the Free Wheeling Frank Episode. I have some interesting plans with this story, so stay tuned, Free Wheeling Frank is coming.

Letters From England/A Chance Meeting.

I have just completed episode seven of my television series. Originally this was called the Tank. Although the first half of this episode is about our car when we lived in England the rest of it is about how Ned has a chance meeting with Lord Atherton-Hall’s daughter, while eating burgers at Dennis Baskins pub.

As I write this series about two parts of my life, I am struck how when you write something that is semi autobiographical, you change things. Not all happened in these stories and if I was to completely write these stories as they were, then they wouldn’t be as strong. Some would have a hollowness to them and seem incomplete, or seem too short. What I had to do was make the short stories longer and create some stuff that didn’t happen to create something that seemed believable.

Another interesting thing about writing Ned(Who is me or based on me.) is I have played a what if game with him. What if this had happened to me(Ned), rather than the way it happened. What occurs out of some of those situations is a more realistic portrayal of how and adolescent handles himself in a different country. How does he react to English girls as opposed to American girls. How do his parents react to English customs as opposed to American. It’s interesting to play around with the idea of how the English relate to the Livingston’s. The language is a big part of this series for me. American slang is always brought up in front of the English and there is always some sort of translation that goes along with it. The same is true with the English language that must be understood by the American characters.

As usual if you have read the first six episodes I will leave links up so you can read them. If you are new to my series, this will give you a chance to read the series from the beginning. Stay tuned to Episode Eight, season 1 called First Day jitters. This is Ned’s first day in the English school system. I’ve got all kinds of whacky ideas for this.

Fundraiser Cope Murray Campaign.

COMING FEBRUARY 14 A FUNDRAISER FOR THE COPE MURRAY CAMPAIGN. 

Pigeons by the Charles written by Peter C. Murray will be broadcast as a ZOOM recorded staged reading. 


Cope Murray taught at New England College for 30 years and became a well respected part of the faculty and a favorite among his acting students.  

Beginning in 1958, through 2010, Cope’s  summer job was acting at The Barnstormers summer stock theatre in Tamworth New Hampshire run by the son of President Grover Cleveland.   There he delighted audiences with his range in a wide variety of parts and he had to learn the parts in all of one week.  Not an easy accomplishment and certainly not done today, even at The Barnstormers.  At the later stage of his Barnstormer career Cope jumped into film, most notably, In the movie “In Bedroom” with Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson.    It is now time to honor the Cope with a dressing room in the Putnam Center at the Campus of New England College where he enjoyed teaching.   With your help, this fundraiser will help accomplish our goal of $25,000 for the naming right.  A large part of the work has already been done by his students, former colleagues, college friends, and the Tamworth community.  We are seeking another $16,397.00 to accomplish this goal.  We are seeking your help on February 14th by watching a staged reading of Pigeons by The Charles.  

As a Playwright Pigeons by The Charles is a work in progress for me.  The plot is simple and tried and true.  It is a classic boy meets girl play, with some twists and turns along the way.  By I telling you a little bit about the play, I won’t be giving much away.  I will leave the twists and turns out of the plot.    

Kurt Denmark and Julie Alexander meet at Boston University and become friends after a disastrous frat party. They share a love of the Charles and an odd connection with the kit of Pigeons that reside there.   Kurt and Julie remain friends through their four years of College and you think maybe these two kids have a chance at love.  All is lost when Julie wants to help Kurt move on from his high school sweetheart Charlotte Van Nordstrom.  Julie introduces Kurt to her best friend Natalie.  Julie realizes her mistake when she suddenly realizes she has feelings for Kurt.  She lets him go, thinking Kurt and Natalie have married and she has lost two best friend.  Four years later, Kurt and Julie reconnect at the Charles.  Kurt did not end up with Natalie after all.  The couple re-establishes their friendship and fall in love, but will that love last?  How will their friends the Pigeons aid in that process and get them through a turbulent part of their relationship?  Yes the Pigeons are a metaphor for what happens here.  It may seem like a tired plot, but we have been through such a turbulent part of our history with COVID and the division we have in this country, I felt why not re-establish what we all lost, the hope of coming together and the hope that two people can still find each other and fall in love.   

The reading will be recorded and broadcast on Youtube and Linkedin on Valentines Day.   The night of the broadcast, there will be some information for you to help donate to The Cope Murray Campaign.  You are not obligated to donate, and there is not a set amount to donate, but your support and your word of mouth will allow others to hear about this event and perhaps donations will come from you as a source. 

Fundraising Event, Pigeons By The Charles.

I have talked about my play Pigeons By The Charles which is my third play I have written. I am at a stage where it is time to have the play read. In this time of a pandemic this may seem crazy, but with the innovation of Zoom, it makes this all possible. I am doing two things with this. I am currently using this as a fundraiser for my Dad, who is a retired and well respected theatre professor at New England College in Henniker New Hampshire and an actor at a Summer Stock theatre in Tamworth New Hampshire. If you saw “In the Bedroom,” than you saw the poker scene. The guy with the Baseball cap who recited the poetry is my Dad. I am trying to get my Dad a dressing room named after him at the New England College theatre. The cost of the naming right is $25, 000. I have currently raised, $8,503.00 for this project.

I am currently seeking actors to help me Zoom read this play. I have cast three so far. This is on a first come first served basis. Whoever contacts me before I cast the entire show, you are in. I have posted this on Facebook and my Facebook page the Cope Murray Campaign. I also have massed mailed to a list of actors on my email list. The other place I have posted is to my hometown board, the Tamworth Exchange. I don’t expect to receive many responses from this, but nothing hurts. The play has 3 men and 3 women in it. I am also looking for someone to read the Stage Directions. The three actors I have cast so far are men. So I at least have the men somewhat cast. The person that reads the stage directions does not have to be male or female. I have not determined the time and date yet for this event. I am including a brief rehearsal process so actors can become comfortable reading the script. If you are interested in this, contact me at this email. petercmurray26@gmail.com

My Writing Has Old Fashioned Themes.

Say Anything is the ultimate guy gets girl movie. Ah yes Lloyd Dobler (John Cusak.) that slacker guy, who nobody thought would amount to much of anything. Diane Court(Ione Skye) was certainly taken by surprise as much as her Dad James(John Mahoney) disliked this matchup. I like Lloyd because I knew some of these guys in school. Lloyd’s character personifies the type of character I root for. He gets the girl in the end.

I was born in the early sixties. In that era, I discovered TV and a lot of old movies. Casablanca happens to be one favorite. Odd that I chose that, because Humphrey doesn’t get the girl in the end. These were the types of movies I was weaned on. As I hit my teens, my generation was being courted by movie marketing. Yes, the teen movie genre blasted off. Before my era, not many coming of age movies were made. There they were though and we had a whole host of them and our hero always ended up with the happy ending. The Sure Thing(More of a college movie, but what the hell.) Say Anything, Better Off Dead, Some Kind of Wonderful(Girl gets guy here.), and many more. The television shows and movies I watched had those old fashioned themes of the Good Guy wins and he eventually gets the girl.

I am not ashamed to say I am a romantic at heart. If some wish to call me a metrosexual, here’s the barf bag. Hell, I’ll admit it I am and why not, I’m a Taurus. We Taureans are all about the romance thing. This is who I am and I will not apologize for a part of my personality I have embraced and become comfortable in. Part of why I write romantic themed plays or scripts has a lot to do with things that I went through in my own childhood. I was that geeky nerd and shy fellow, who had trouble even talking to himself let alone a girl.

When I first dabbled in script writing, most were plays and a lot were mysteries. I was weaned on The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth New Hampshire, where the mystery was king. The summer I first set about writing my own stuff, I counted 6 mysteries that were produced that summer and what did I write? A murder mystery set on a boat. It was horrible.

Later in college, I dabbled in other stuff. One was a dark piece about an incident that happened to me. I needed to write it to let the incident go. I always say writing is cathartic for me, even when I don’t mean it to be. After that I was looking to write something light. I chose the romantic comedy and some of it was teen oriented where the guy gets the girl. I switched to writing movies at this point for this genre.

My first full length play was a romantic comedy called “Crossing The Bridge,” about a screenwriter who is forced to write his next script with a Script Doctor. The conflict? The Script Doctor happens to be the girl he had a crush on in his youth. My second, called “Most Likely To… was not a romantic play, but there were two romances going on in the story. It takes place at a disastrous high school reunion. It entails a mob informant who comes out of the Federal Witness Protection program to his reunion to catch up with the girl he’s always had a crush on. The second romance is a married couple. The Husband is an FBI Agent. He married a girl from his class many years ago. He’s always working and their marriage has taken a real toll as a result. The reunion helps them realize what’s been missing as they work back to each other. My third play, Pigeons By The Charles, is set through a ten to fifteen year stretch. Two friends meet in college years and help each other through their rotten love lives. Suddenly they realize they both really like each other and feelings develop. Eventually they get together in the end after many years, but it is a struggle for them to get there. The One movie I wrote “Derby Double,” is a little more controversial in nature, because I dabble into the IRA conflict. I set it in the 1980’s to make it work, but the two main characters worked together to bring down the IRA and eventually fall in love.

People have accused me in the past, that what I write never happens or why does the guy have to save the girl. Or that the girl is just there as eye candy. The latter I will whole heartedly defend. These are strong women I write as I grew up with two extremely strong female characters in my own home. These women I write don’t take crap and they aren’t looking to be saved. The guy doesn’t always save the girl in my scripts. Sometimes it’s the girl that saves the guy. This happens in my soccer movie Derby Double. Three times the female lead saves the hero from certain death. Then again it helps that she’s an Emma Peale type, which is what I was going for when I created her.

In this tumultuous era we are living in now(Which I hope is changing now.), I think it is time to start bringing these romantic types of movies back. Although the way the arts have taken a hit, I wonder where our movie making is going now or our theatre is going.

I plan on continuing this type of theme when it suits me. Here’s to the guy getting the girl, the hero winning and the happy ending. After four years of unrest, the happy ending movie would be a refreshing change, don’t you think.

As I end this post, I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Drop me a line and let me know how you feel about this. Yes, I am expecting to be chided for my metrosexuality, so be it as Mark from “Pump Up The Volume” would say. By the way he gets the girl in the end too.

Writers Block The Evil Menace For Every Writer.

Suzyn Waldman.

I have talked about writers block before. Writers block is the evil little menace that will afflict every writer at some point. You know what I am talking about. You have this brilliant idea and the words (or dialogue in my case) are flowing. The storyline and the characters are great and then suddenly you crash, like a twenty car pile up, you hit that brick wall. You’re stuck and not even a jackhammer can get you through the block.

It’s happened to me numerous times. If an idea comes to me and is any good, I never give up on it. I stick with it. If the wall is built like an impenetrable fortress and I can’t break through then I set the idea aside for a while and work on other things. Eventually something will hit me when I least expect it and I can move forward. That happened last night.

My most recent play (Which will be my fourth.) about Baseball Broadcasting has been sitting on the shelf for two years, waiting for me to blow through the block. The idea is set at WPLM in Portland Maine, the flagship to the Portland Seadogs. (The Red Sox AA farm team.) The play revolves Chick McSorley, a former washed up bombastic Baseball player, who turns to Broadcasting to save his life. Chick is not only bombastic, no one likes him and he is a drunk. Chick was the reason I came up with this idea. The character came to me one night while having a strange dream about my radio days.

Last night, I broke through that wall and saw “Play By Play,” in a new light, while watching a British show on Netflix called “Lovesick.” My focus turned to “Play By Play,” when I was watching this one particular actress named Hannah Britland. She plays a key character in Lovesick. As I am watching her I couldn’t help but think that if I were directing “Play By Play”, she would be perfect for the female lead Abby Rollins. After the show was over, I couldn’t get my mind out of “Play By Play”. I began to go over what I had written. I wanted to know why I couldn’t break through the block.

I realized I had overcomplicated my play. There were too many things going on. At the end of Act One, Chick meets his new play by play guy, named Marty Busby, a young broadcaster trying to get his first break. My original plan was to have Abby become the producer of the games and help Marty improve his Baseball Broadcasting skills. That’s where the love story would have come in. Then like that, it hit me. “Wait,” I asked myself, “is Marty really needed? Isn’t this just another one of those tired stories, where a guy’s career is kick started by the woman he loves. I wasn’t giving Abby enough credit. I put her in a thankless receptionist job who is promoted to broadcast producer of sports. No, I didn’t want that for her.

It took me five minutes before a different story became clear. Abby(Whose name might change.) is going to be Chick’s play by play partner. Not only that, she’s his long lost daughter from a one night stand Chick had in the minors. Chick has never met her.

I have added another wrinkle now. In the play I keep mentioning this bonus baby pitcher named Bobby Robertson. I talk about him, but my plan was not to make him a character. Now, he is, which creates another interesting idea for the second story in the play. I am fully set to move forward with this play, once I rework the outline.

As writers, ideas hit us at the strangest times and it’s one of the beauties of it. An idea will come to you when you’re in the woods going for a walk, or when you are reading a book, or in my case through dreams or watching a simple little romantic comedy show called “Lovesick.” If you’re a writer and you’re blocked, don’t give up on the idea. I suggest putting the idea down and when you least expect it, something profound will hit you that will solve your block.

Angels Lament/Mj Pettengill

One of my fascinations has always been history.  When I grew up for five years of my life in England, my family and I had our own smorgasbord of history.  From the great Norman castle of Arundel Castle to Longleet House with it’s incredible animal preserves.  In school, I excelled in history and was fortunate enough to have Gary Millen as my history teacher at Kennett High School.  He taught history like it was an event.  It was and he showed us how history binds us all.   

            When I started to read the series Etched in Granite, I was taken back to post civil war New Hampshire, and interesting to note that history was in my own back yard.  This was a history I never knew.  In the first book in Mj Pettengill’s historical fiction novel Etched in Granite I learned about the many poorhouses in Carroll County.  This one concentrated on Ossipee’s County Farm.  It wasn’t until I was speaking to the chair of the Tamworth History Center, that I discovered a poorhouse just up the road from me in my own home town of Tamworth New Hamsphire.  Reading Mj’s first book, I learned about the hardships the poor went through to keep the family farm and some circumstances that occurred that brought many to those poorhouses.  The poor were treated inhumanely back in those times.  After they died in those they were buried in unmarked graves.  At the end of the first book, Mj honors those people in those unmarked graves by giving them their dignity back and providing the numbered graves with the names of those people who died at the Ossipee County Farm.  You come away from the first book thinking that no matter a person’s circumstance in life, we are all living on this same planet and must treat the less unfortunate as we would want to be treated.  Give each person a humanity and we are all happy.

            I find Mj’s series is important.  These are stories that need to be told so that we can learn from our past and not make the same mistakes.  

Book two, Angels Lament, follows the other part of the Hodgdon family.  We are given a look into the life of Abigail Hodgdon’s sister Sarah.  She has a musical talent.  Her cornet is her lifeblood.  She dreams of a better life for herself out of Ossipee.  The farming life is not the life she wants.  She moves down to Fall River Mass, where she finds the life of the big city is not what she had envisioned.  She gets herself a job at the Mill and we learn that life at these Mills is just as harsh as landing up at a poorhouse.  Her cornet is her only salvation.

            I found as I was reading Sarah’s story that I was learning about a world, that was not too dissimilar to anything that Charles Dickens would write.  The poor is once again our main focal point here.  Once again Mj, weaves these new characters into one another.  Each chapter as in her first book, is a day in the life of these characters.  With each heading of the Chapter providing you with a date.  

I was most struck by August Wood and his friend Finn, who he calls his brother, because he saw good in him and wanted to help.  These two characters give you the flavor of a Dickens novel.  They come from poor backgrounds. August lived in the Five Points of New York.  I’ve read a little and have seen the movie The Gangs of New York by Martin Scorsese.  That was a harsh world.  August is taken in by a man named Smitty and is forced to beg for.  Smitty is our Fagen from Oliver so to speak.  

            The story of how August and Sarah meet and what happens to them along the way takes us into a world where you are forced to survive by any means possible.   Mj, paints a picture, of a stark realism of the times.  As I did with Abigail and Silas Putnam in Etched in Granite, you pull for these characters.  They are good hearted people and you want to see them succeed.  It doesn’t always work out that way.  

There is a subplot which merges into the Sarah and August’s story.  We are brought into the world of the wealthy.  Bess Adams is the woman’s name.   The Father doesn’t say much and is one of the benefactors of the mill.  He doesn’t care about what happens to the people that work for him, only the bottom line.  

The Mother has a contentious relationship with Bess.  She is always worried about etiquette and keeping up good appearances so that Bess will attract the right sort of wealthy suitor.    There are many parts of Bess’ mother I found strikingly familiar.   In one chapter, Bess talks about how her mother was a stickler on letter writing.  Everything had to be perfect, otherwise, the letter was thrown in the fire and Bess had to start again.  The Mother encourages one of Bess’s passions and that is her piano.  Her mother uses Bess’s talent as a way to showcase her to wealthy families.  This portion of Bess’s life becomes the merging point with Sarah and August.            If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend this read, by Mj Pettengill.  A gifted, intuitive writer who senses and sees light when others have lost hope.  An Angels Lament can be purchased at her website mjpettengill.com.  I would also be remiss if I did not send her to her website.  There is far more than a writer here. Her blog posts will