How did you find the time?

My book, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last, has been out for just over a month now.  It's been so cool to see pictures on social media of people with my book at the pool or at the beach, or tagging me saying "I just got your book!"  I've sold my book to a couple people in person and they've asked me to sign it, which is crazy.  I've had a couple conversations about the book with coworkers and family and podcasters and an interviewer for a web show.  It's awesome!  And it's especially cool because I really believe in the book.  I've created a lot of content and Happenstances is what I'm most proud of so far in my content creating career.

I work in television production and a question that invariably comes up is "How did you find the time to write a book?!"  Coworkers say they would like to write or make a film or this hobby or that and they're amazed that I completed a thing.  My answer to their question is always that I didn't "find the time to write a book"...

I made the time.

I got it into my head that I was going to adapt my screenplay into a young adult novel and then for the next couple of years I chipped away at it, an hour here, 30 minutes there.  Believe me, if I had looked at as a full task I would have been overwhelmed, but I looked at it as a process.

That's what I'm doing with the next book.  I'd love to set a deadline and write X amount of pages per day and all the sorts of things you read in the "how to write" books.  

But currently, with a 4 year old son, another son on the way, a 50+ hour a week job, promoting the first book, and everything else that pops up in life just being an adult human, I can't think about the next book in a traditional way.

So for me, right now, I'm happy to get a few moments a week, probably after my son is asleep, and probably while my pregnant wife is binge watching "Friends" and my pug is probably snoring somewhere on the carpet that she blends in with, to chip away at that next book.

I think that covers it.

A few weeks ago I got an email that was simply titled Happenstance Cover.  I was sitting at work (or standing rather, #StandingDesk), it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday, and then that email came in and rocked my world.  

The graphic designer assigned my book cover introduced herself, said that she had read the book, and loved not only the book itself, but the concept for the front cover that I pitched.  She included some sketches attached as a PDF.

I opened the attachment and the characters that I had been creating since college were there on those sketch pad pages.  It was awesome.

CUT TO: A few weeks later.

My publisher just released two potential covers to The Happenstances... and you, yes YOU, can vote on which one you enjoy the most.  Click here (or on the picture), read the synopsis and such, then VOTE via the sidebar poll.

By the way, both of these book covers have SO many hidden 'easter eggs' from the book.  I can't wait for people to read it.

A day in the life

My morning commute to work currently takes so long that the weather changes dramatically from the time I doop-doop open my car door to when I roll down my window to scan my parking card.  I'm talking maybe thirty degrees.  And I only live a baker's dozen miles from the office where I currently work.  But that's the deal.

Some days as I'm crawling up the hill, like if Sisyphus had to take the 405 to work too, I hope that I'm living my origin story, my Act One, where the average guy is doing the mundane stuff that should really only last for a couple pages at the top and then some inciting incident grabs him out of his routine and thrusts him into the meat of his movie.  I'm hoping Happenstances is that thing.

Then I get to work and I get to make television, and meet awesome, creative people.  The drive home is not so bad, especially due to the daylight savior who bequeathed us with another hour of sunlight, so even though I still miss the sun setting, the night has not completely muscled the day aside and the sky is a pretty shade of, as Jack's Mannequin might say: dark blue.  When I get home to my wife and my son and my pug my life is extraordinary, #blessed.  

Then at night, after Christian has heard once again what was on the menu for that particularly hungry caterpillar, when Summer is snoring somewhere, and Ashlea is sipping tea on the couch, watching one hour dramas about vampires or teens or vampire teens, the laptop is cracked open.

Busy Pete is a Better Writer

As I was riding my bike last night, pondering, I had some thoughts that I clumsily told my wife when I got home.  I thought I'd try here though, to clearly state something that I think is important.

There's a way of thinking, and I don't want to call it a "common misconception" because maybe it is the truth for some, that you can/should put your family life on hold while you move up in your career.  Or someone who had a child or got married young may look back at their life and think that they could have been so much more successful if they had only not had that kid or married that person.

I admit that I've had the latter thought before at times, like where could I be if I was 'Single Pete'.  But last night I realized that I was wrong.

I got married to Ash at 23 and we had Christian when I was 25, so we weren't babies having babies, but we were relatively young for my peer group.  And I've thought in the past that if I didn't have the responsibilities of being a husband, dad, co-money-provider/ co-bill-payer, that I could have more time to write, more chances to network, more time to produce sketch comedy videos and take UCB classes and such.  Which is true, sure, but...

Having less time to devote to writing has made me a better writer.  'Single Pete' would have the luxury of being able to dawdle, write a couple pages here and there. 'Busy Pete', I'll refer to my current self as, has to be laser-focused every writing session.  Before my writing sessions were watered down lemonade, today they're frozen concentrate.  Take those babies out of the freezer, add water (or booze) and start cranking.

But besides that, the support that Ash has given me has been the single most propelling thing in my writing life.  She's read all my stuff.  She's my biggest cheerleader.  She's believed in me when I haven't.  I wouldn't be about to have Happenstances published without her.

In my life, being married young-ish and growing with Ash has been the best thing.  And Christian is a constant source of joy, and often times hilarious anecdotes.

So, thanks Ash and Christian.  

Love, Pete

The Summer Before Last... This Summer!

This summer I will have my first novel published.  I mean, it's actually a novella (I like to euphemistically call it a "quick read") but still, the fact that I just wrote that first sentence of this blog and it's true is currently blowing my mind.

You know what's not short though?  The title, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  It's a mouthful, I know, but ever since I first started writing the story in college, that has always been the title.

A quick synopsis: The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last is a bittersweet, nostalgic, but comic novella about a team of misfits, including a loser who secretly lives in the guard house of the club, a struggling artist with webbed toes, a timid teen with a concave chest, and the beautiful heiress of the Comfort Inn fortune.  They have to win the impending Tri-County Relay Race and save the club from being run by a management company that only cares about money.  The management company hires an opposing relay team of ringers including a girl with a prosthetic dorsal fin and a man named Carmichael Schmelps who looks suspiciously like a certain Olympic gold medalist.

So basically it's the 'let's get the team together and win the big (fill in the blank, in this case it's a swim meet) so we can keep this place we love' story, but it's a new take on that type of story and it's also so much more than that.  

I've been writing this story in different iterations since college.  It started as a feature length screenplay, once I moved to LA I got several rounds of notes on it from my writer's group and others that I asked to read it.  The screenplay was even a finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Festival Screenplay Competition one year.  And I still ultimately see it as a movie too, and I'm hoping this book will be a step in that direction.

#Pete30Before30

I turn 29 years old today, which means next year I turn 30.  Damn, that’s intense right?  I mean as much as you want to say age is just a number or 30 is the new 20 or Orange is the new Black, and so forth, it’s still a milestone.  
And as I thought of what kind of 30 year old I’m going to be, on the one hand I’m feeling good: married, a child, a good job in a cool city, etc etc, but on the other hand I thought, how could I be better?  Or what haven’t I done so far that I should have?  What do I not know that I should?  
So I put together a list of 30 ‘things’ that I am going to try to do/eat/watch/learn before I turn 30.  I thought this was a pretty original concept, it’s not, I Googled it and many 29ers have embarked on similar journeys.  And I’m another one!
Here’s my list, in no particular order, I’ll be tracking it on social media as #Pete30Before30

1)    Save Face
I was born with a cleft lip, I donate money to Operation Smile to help kids less fortunate than me get the life changing surgery that I was blessed enough to get when I needed it.  Over the course of this year I’ll donate enough for one surgery ($240), please join me in donating if you so desire.  I set up a OneSmile page where you can donate along with me here: 
http://tinyurl.com/PetesOneSmile
2)    Don’t Run in Place, Run at a Place
I’m going to run a 5k!  Hopefully a fun one that involves beer or inflatable obstacles or mud or something.  This will be probably pretty tough for me and I’ll have to do some training for it.  I’ll keep you posted on which one I do so you can come along.  Maybe I’ll run for Operation Smile and raise some more money!
3)    Let Me Upgrade Me
I use my laptop computer every day at work, I write scripts and things on it, I’m writing this on it currently, right this second.  I got my MacBook before Facebook was invented…  It’s old.  I need a new one.  I’m going to do the damn thing and invest in a new laptop.
4)    A Novel Idea
Here’s a big announcement…  I have a deal with a publishing company to publish a novella I wrote.  This is beyond a dream come true, it’s a dream that I never knew I had in me really, I didn’t think it was possible.  I will write about this in length as the different steps happen.  So excited!!
5)    Be a Sport
I like sports, I like to play sports, but I hardly watch sporting events.  I’m going to make up for my total lack of sporting knowledge by watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries.
6)    Play it for the first time, Sam
I went through a bunch of ’30 movies to see before you turn 30’ lists and put together a set of movies that I should have seen already.  Classics that not only as a former film student I am ashamed that I haven’t seen, but I’m ashamed as a human (cough, The Godfather, cough), so uh, yeah, I’m going to watch those, so I don’t have to smile and nod when people are discussing horse heads in beds and offers people can’t refuse or whatever.
7)    Kiss the Cook…
I love to cook, but I return to the same things over and over.  I need to add some new dishes into my life and maybe try some baking.  Plus, who doesn’t love pictures of food on instagram!?
8)    And Food for Thought
And in the same vein, eat better!  I eat fairly healthfully now, but I can do better.  No soda, no artificial sweeteners, etc, so that I’ll see the next 30 years, or 300, who knows with technology advancing the way it is these days.
9)    Adventure Time!
I’m going to take my family on 30 adventures this year.  The beach, a new museum… San Francisco maybe?  Christian loves to learn, Ash loves to travel, and I love to walk around new places drinking caffeinated and/or alcoholic beverages, so let’s combine that into some amazing trips and new experiences.
10)    Investing in Myself
I’m going to start saving for my retirement.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to work, to a certain extent, but some day I’d like to not work, so I gotta get on that, I’m almost 30 for goodness sakes.
11)    Let Them See You Sweat
Exercise for (at least) 30 minutes a day, (at least) 4 times a week.  Straight up.
12)    Take a Stand
Yep, I’m going to be ‘that guy’ at work with the standing desk.  I haven’t done too much research into the whole ‘sitting down for however many hours a day is going to kill you’ thing, but I know people who have looked into it, and I trust them.
13)    Worth a Thousand Words, But What’s That in Dollars These Days?
I’m going to take and post a picture on instagram every day, #Pete30Before30, because there’s beauty all around, even in the mundane, and I need to take more time to stop and recognize all the wonderful… just kidding, I need more social media followers so that I can sell more books, haha!  The other stuff is true too though!!
14)    Have Some Class
I’m going to take a class in something I don’t know about: parkour, basket weaving, candlemaking?!  No, but something cool.
15)    It’s Time for the Percolator 
I don’t know how to make coffee.  That, paired with not knowing how to work a multi-line phone is what made me a terrible production assistant, glad I’m (fingers crossed) past that stage in my career.  But I’m still going to learn how to make coffee.  Maybe I can take a coffee making class and kill two birds with one stone.
16)    En-capsule-lating Our Lives
I can’t remember if I’ve ever done a time capsule, which means it wasn’t memorable if I have, but I know Christian hasn’t done one.  So we’re going to do one, or maybe a couple so we can bury them at his grandparents’ houses and dig them up in the future and laugh at how we used to have cell phones instead of the brain implants we’re all assigned at birth.
17)    Guilding the Petey
I’m going to join the Producer’s Guild solely for the end of the year screeners.  I mean, health care options, awesome panels, and such will be an added bonus, but yeah, just for the screeners.
18)    Be Preachy
I was asked to potentially officiate the wedding of a friend, I’m going to get ordained!  I’m not sure what this entails, I even had to Google ‘the guy at the wedding who says the stuff’ to even see that the correct word was officiate, so this is going to be a long process.
19)    Fading In and Out
Going back to a similar theme as the seeing the classic movies goal, I’m a screenwriter and I seldom read screenplays, so I’m going to read (at least) 30 of them.  I’m in love with writing so I should check out what my peers and heroes are doing on their pages as well.
20)    Cyberspace-lift
My website, www.PeterLHarmon.com (#Pete30Before30) needs to be redone (and it already sort of has, still some tweaks though.)
21)    Lose Weight
No, not like that!  Every time I travel with the fam we’re in the airport stressed, our bags are too heavy, it’s a whole ordeal that makes me hate traveling.  So I’m going to practice traveling light.  Maybe I can go on a trip with just a backpack full of essential clothing, we’ll see.
22)    Get Jumped
Thankfully I’ve never had to know how to jump start a car, but I’m going to learn now, it’s important probably.
23)    Smile Like I Mean It
Because I had a cleft lip I’ve had difficult teeth that have required a lot of maintenance, and I kept up with it pretty well.  But over the past couple of years I stopped going to the dentist regularly because I work so much that I didn’t want to take off to go, and then I finally went earlier in the year and I had some work to do.  So, from now on I’m going to take care of this group of friends in my mouth that I call a smile.
24)    Media Multitask
In the past I’ve not watched a show or read a book because I was already involved with another show, book, etc.  But I want to multitask with my media.  Maybe I’ll be reading 3 books at a time, or I’ll toggle between “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards”.  I think it’ll be good for me because sometimes I’m not feeling the particular single book I’m reading at the moment and then I won’t read for weeks, so now I’ll have a couple options to jump around to.
25)    Throw Out the First Pitch
They say to love what loves you back, and Reality TV has been good to me.  I would love to be a full time television or feature film screenwriter, but until then, I should develop some reality TV pitches, so I’m going to do one.
26)    Man of a House
We already moved into our first single family home, so I kind of already crushed this one, BUT with a great house comes great responsibility, so I’m going to be on my house-game and get in some good practice for when Ash and I can buy our own house in the future.
27)    Fresh Ink
I’m going to get a half-sleeve of tattoos before I turn 30, then I can always say it was something dumb I did in my twenties.  I won’t have that excuse next year, so I gotta get it done.
28)    Have a Spec-tacular year
I’m going to write a new TV spec script, which for those who don’t know, is one of the ways you get hired for a TV writing job.  I wrote one for “Up All Night” (you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/UpAllNightSpec) a year or so ago, but that show was canceled, so even though it’s a good sample, it’s not a great sample.  I need a fresh one of an airing show.
29)    Paint the Town, Or At Least a Wall, Red… Or Some Other Color 
I’ve never painted a wall either, so I’m going to do that.  Probably an accent wall in the aforementioned awesome house that we live in.
30)    Keep doing ME!
And also, hey, I’m not doing so bad being my damn self.  Remember the things I mentioned at the top: married, child, job, etc?  I’m doing a lot of things right and I’m super blessed.  I’m going to stay true to my work ethic and creativity and what makes me me and continue living live 100%.