Book Report

When I was writing my first book I didn't know if it would ever even be published.
Now, two years later and another book coming out in a couple weeks, writing books has lead to awesome things. BUT I never imagined that someone would do a BOOK REPORT on one of my books!!!! Below are some awesome pictures from a creative young lady with great taste.
(some *spoilers* for the first book in the text of the report)

So cool!!!!
And yes that is a Jell-o pool.

DREAMS & REALITY - Me!! Peter Harmon

Hello!! Today I'm debuting DREAMS & REALITY, my new blog series. As a prototype I interviewed someone I know pretty well... ME!

Name: Peter Harmon
A handful of credits: Transcriber/Logger/Production Assistant/Story Assistant on Intervention, Producer on Celebrity Wife Swap and Home Free

How did you get into Reality TV?
My directing teacher back at Towson University was simultaneously teaching the class while also producing episodes of A&E's Intervention. He would go on location to shoot or work in post in LA then fly to Maryland to teach a Saturday directing class. Once I moved out to LA he was one of my very few contacts. I met him for lunch, asked him about work, and he said he did have a job for me, transcribing, but it wasn't a great job.

I said "I'll take it!"

What is transcribing?
At the time when I was doing it a few years ago, I would watch a DVD of interview footage and type exactly what the interviewer and the interview subject were saying. I made $1 per transcribed minute, which sounds pretty cool, except when you're trying to figure out what drug addicts are saying through their slurred, hazy speech.

How did you get promoted from Transcriber to Logger to PA to Story Assistant all on one show?
I worked on Intervention for about 5 years, roughly 7 seasons. This is not typical in Reality TV. Usually a stint on a show lasts a couple months and then it's time to find a new job. So, since I always got my transcription minutes in on time with few errors and took "rush minutes" and was a pretty cool dude they promoted me to Night Logger. Logging footage (when I was doing it a few years ago...) was watching raw footage and making excel documents about what happened in the footage for the producers and editors to look through to find a topic or a shot or an OTF (On The Fly interview) that they may need.
I actually could have gotten promoted to Production Assistant sooner but my wife and I had our first son while I was night logging and I logged at night and watched the baby during the day. So I didn't take a day position a couple times when it was offered because we weren't making enough really for childcare and he was still so little we wanted me to watch him. 
During that period of time I didn't get a ton of sleep... 
Once our baby was bigger we transitioned to childcare and I switched to the day shift and right around then the current Story Assistant was promoted and I took his spot. 
I attribute the promotions to: being around, learning, making my intentions of going into the story department known, having a good attitude, and being a chill dude.

What's a weird thing about Reality TV that no one thinks about?
People have microphones strapped to their bodies while they're being filmed. They forget they have them on. They go to the bathroom. 
I've heard dozens, maybe hundreds, of people pee.

You must have moved to Hollywood with a dream, what is it and how are you still pursuing that dream? 
I have been shooting video, making movies, and writing since I was a kid. I started as a camera person and switchboard operator on my elementary school's morning show. I wrote poems and stories throughout grade school and took television productions classes in high school. My curfew was before all of my friends had to be home so after I hung out with them I'd hit Blockbuster and see what was new, what was in the Sundance section, what else had some writer done that I had just discovered.
I went to college for Electronic Media & Film and Creative Writing.
Simply, I came to Hollywood to write movies.  
And I have! I've written several produced direct to DVD movies (when that was still a thing...), for example, anyone a big fan of Nora's Hair Salon 3???? I wrote that. I also wrote a movie that was released last year, shot in Tokyo, called Love In Tokyo. And a handful of sketch videos, a web series, and other various projects. 
I'm still out here writing and hustling to do bigger movies. I wrote a young adult novel that I hope will be adapted into a movie at some point as well. SO I am still on my journey.

Thanks Pete!
Yep.
Check out The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last. The sequel is coming this summer.

Hey Reality TV friends! I'd like to interview YOU! Please email me at TheHappenstances at gmail.com or message me on Facebook or whatever. THANK YOU!!!

#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: Part 2

I'll discuss a few more of my #30Before30 things now, one week from my 30th birthday!

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.

OK, well I didn't keep track of this as closely as I should have and unless Training Day (which I rewatched the other night) counts as a classic movie (which I would argue IT DOES!) then I think I'm more than a few shy of 30. I did watch: Annie HallChinatownDefending Your LifeGlengarry Glen RossGoodfellasGrease, and Philadelphia to name the ones I kept track of. This was also a learning experience though. I don't think I could power through several classic movies in a row. I need a wide variety of older movies, dumb movies from my past (I'm looking at you Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), and the best of modern day movies (Ex MachinaStar Wars: The Force AwakensThe Revenant... and that's just great movies with Domhnall Gleeson in them!) So yes, I did really love watching the classics, but I have to keep abreast of what's happening as well. I am going to try to incorporate more classic movies into my diet though.

Speaking of a variety of movies, you've got to check out my friend Joe Frank's debut movie Sweaty Betty, now available on Amazon on DVD or streaming.

In a cramped row house on the border of Washington, D.C., two stories of big dreams take place. Floyd and his family have raised a 1000-pound pig in their backyard, and are determined to turn her into the team mascot for the Redskins football team. Floyd puts his plan into motion, but the pig, named Miss Charlotte, draws unwanted attention. A few blocks away, Rico and Scooby, two teenage single fathers and best friends, are hanging around the neighborhood. As they scheme up a plan for a better life for themselves and their children, they are presented with an unexpected opportunity. Based on a true story! From the Producer of Straight Outta Compton.

"The great discovery of this year's SXSW festival" --Eric Cohn, Indiewire

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!?

I most certainly did this. A couple standouts were: banana and egg pancakes (that's it, those are the only ingredients! you can add vanilla or blueberries or whatever, but they're so good and easy), black bean burgers, a buffalo tofu and bleu cheese panini, and many, many more. I tagged them #Cook30 on my Instagram. I'm going to try to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into my life because in general meat in America isn't handled well. It contributes to pollution in a major way, the animals are treated cruelly, etc. BUT, any time my brother in law Josh kills and prepares deer meat I'm in because he hunts his own meat, stores it, and uses it to feed his family and lucky others. 

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.

I gave up soda and diet soda, I stopped using Sweet N Low and switched to Raw Sugar, I drank more seltzer water and less drinks with calories in them. I generally ate pretty well... However, I didn't cut down on caffeine or alcohol, if anything I doubled down, haha! Those are still areas where I could improve but I love a good buzz going up or down. I am going to go all out on my birthday, but I could probably take some time off afterwards.

must have...

must have...

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.

Some notable family adventures: going fishing, Street Food Cinema, Santa Barbara day trip, Palm Springs, Sriracha Chili Grinding Festival, Krispy Kreme's Talk Like a Pirate Day, Christian learning to swim over the summer, Big Bear, the LA Zoo, Bro's Mornings, Sky High Trampoline Park, and of course, the biggest adventure of all, having another baby, yowza!

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.

I was not able to do this, in fact, I'm looking for a new gig right now so if you hear of anything, let me know...

However!!! I was talking to a good friend the other night, Marc E., editor extraordinaire and person of frequent mention on blogs across the land, and he was talking about another gentleman who said you should have a way of making money that makes money for you instead of you making money for someone else... whatever, I'm butchering the concept, but anyway, writing my book was another stream of income that will hopefully become a way of making money while I make money at my other job, you know? So far I've spent way more on marketing the book than I've gotten paid in royalties, but someday hopefully that tide will change or the book will get optioned to be a movie or what have you. And I'm going to keep writing books and keep making that "mailbox money" as one might say.

Did I mention buy my book?!

11)    Let Them See You Sweat
Exercise for (at least) 30 minutes a day, (at least) 4 times a week.  Straight up.

Check.

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.

I did this at work for 1 out of 3 jobs last year, so not the majority, but I did it at home too though. After Calvin was born my go-to move for a couple weeks was to wear him in the Baby Bjorn while I wrote at my stand up desk, pretty sweet.

And the last one for this batch, lucky 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!!

You can see all of my picture-a-day posts by searching the hashtag #Pete30Before30 on Instagram. I did indeed increase my social media followers this year, on Instagram I have more than double what I did last year and I know that I have made book sales directly by posting on my social media accounts, so onward and upward.

Alright, more to come later, thanks!!

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.

The Sunglass Ville Saga

Let's flash back to weeks before my novel, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last, was released (now available from Koehler Books, www.tinyurl.com/TheHappenstances by the way).  I was in the midst of planning my book release party.  I ordered two boxes of books to be sent straight to Maryland, I ordered whistles that perfectly complimented the color scheme of my cover as bookmarks, AND I worked with a company called Sunglass Ville to design some promotional sunglasses to give away at my book events.

The staff was helpful over the phone and the process was easy, I ordered 144 pairs of custom sunglasses and it was $135.

A week or two later I checked the tracking number to see when I could expect my sunglasses because my event in Maryland was fast approaching and FedEx's website said that they had delivered the box a couple of days before.  Ashlea (my wife) was missing a box of prescription contacts she was expecting as well and it was around Christian's (my son) birthday and my parents sent him gifts that were also MIA.

We all called our shipping services and it was apparent that someone had seen several boxes outside of our house and stolen everything.  It was sad that Christian's gifts were gone, it was inconvenient that Ash's contacts were gone, and I was mad that my sunglasses were taken.

I'll cut through some of the back and forth with Sunglass Ville because in the end they did the right thing and reprinted and re-sent a new box of custom sunglasses to me at their loss.  The sunglasses are high quality and Sunglass Ville's customer service helped me work through the problem, I applaud their business ethics and I will be buying custom sunglasses from them again in the future.  I recommend Sunglass Ville for ALL of your custom sunglasses needs.

Here is their lovely product (and mine!!)

Their site is: https://www.sunglassville.com/

Such a Tease

I posted the book teaser trailer for The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last last week and I've gotten very positive reactions to it, thank you to everyone who has watched it so far, and if you haven't, here it is!

Another bit of Happenstances related conversation, last week I also sent out my first email newsletter to the mailing list I've accrued of family, friends, past and current colleagues, collaborators, etc.  I plan on sending content, updates, etc once every couple of weeks, nothing intrusive, but totally fun.  

If you'd like to be on that mailing list, or just want to drop me a Happenstances related line, email me at TheHappenstances at gmail.com, or contact me on Facebook or Twitter or even leave a comment on this post, (so many ways!!?!).

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

First Attempt

The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last was the second screenplay I ever tried to write.  I would sit in my classes at Towson and brainstorm scenes for it then go back to my dorm and plunk away at my Costco-bought desktop computer's keyboard into just a Microsoft Word document.

My first attempt at a screenplay was called Worth a Try, but the Word Doc was just called "First Attempt" because I didn't have the courage to actually let myself pretend I was actually writing a movie.  It was just an attempt, an experiment.  I loved movies so much that I couldn't imagine fooling myself into thinking that I could write one.

But I wrote it, and it may have been a little short, and cliche, and it was definitely too autobiographical for anyone to probably care, but I left the document titled "First Attempt" when I gave it to my friend to read.  He thought the script was pretty good, but suggested I change the title, First Attempt wasn't that compelling.  I said "Yeah, it's called Worth a Try, I don't know why uh, it says "First Attempt" on there..."

My second attempt was the brashly titled The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  It started as the kernel of: how would I feel if I graduated college with a film degree and then immediately went back and worked at my summer job and exploded from there into the collage it is today.