LAST ONE

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE LAST GIVEAWAY!

This is the final cover in the Original Sin Series and I think it’s worth a little talk about covers in general. When you first become an author you think about your cover first. I imagine all authors are similar in that respect, ya know? When I was writing my first Junco book (Clutch) I had all kinds of ideas. I hired an artist over at DeviantArt to make my dream a reality. It’s a great cover and I still use it as the cover of the first omnibus edition. But that artist changed artistic direction and didn’t want to do anymore after he was done, so I got another guy, also wonderful. But eventually I changed them to the softer versions that are for sale now to try to appeal to women instead of men.

Funny, that lesson. 😉 Because when you’re writing romance it’s the same thing. You have a pool of “potential readers” out there when you publish a book and pretty much ALL OF THEM can figure out if a book is “their thing” by looking at the cover. So you know, fuck that saying don’t judge a book by its cover. I mean, it’s cool when you apply it to people or houses or whatever. But seriously, that adage has almost no relevance to books. Because the cover is the MAIN thing a book is judged on until it’s read.

AND… everyone has different expectations for a cover, right? Like… I read a lot of literary science fiction. I’m looking for a philosophical book so when I see a SF book with a spaceship on the cover, unless it’s like… a pastel drawing of a spaceship, I’m pretty sure that’s not my kind of book, ya know? I’m not into space battles. I’m into characters. So I actually like SF books with a person on the cover. And preferably not a full-action shot with guns drawn, but a face. I like a face. And if it’s got a little computer chip in the eye, I’m definitely gonna go take a look at that one.

So a cover is nothing more than an advertisement for what’s inside. If you like to read dirty erotica you look for a guy with abs. If you like chick lit you look for a cute-sy illustration with lots of lavish typography. If you like cozy mysteries that cartoon cupcake is your cue. Right? Right? 🙂

Our books are a little bit… literary. I mean, as far as dirty books go, they are. So even though a couple is my usual go-to for a cover (and I was making the Total Exposure and Pleasure of Panic covers as I did these for us – so yeah…) I like the idea of a “high-concept” cover. A symbol, if you will. Like Christen Grey’s tie on the cover of Fifty. Or the whole crown and leaf emblem on Outlander. Something to make a book and an author stand out.

Now here’s the thing. Covers go through trends, just like fashion. One year everyone has swirly typography, the next year everyone has a giant face, the next year it’s all about black and white, then next year it’s symbols… they go in and out of fashion like shoes. Which is why I just recently updated my old Rook & Ronin Series covers. They had like ALL those trends lol! In one series!

The covers for this series were the first… disagreement… Johnathan and I had. He wanted one thing, I knew better… so we hashed that out and finally came up with the feather for book one. It’s a perfect symbol for that book. The whole series, really. For book two the shoes were… excuse the pun, a shoe-in. We didn’t have any disagreements on that at all. The one we haggled over the most was the watch for Flesh Into Fire. I love the watch, it’s HIS watch, by the way. Right off his very own wrist. And he came around about it so… bygones. 😉

So by the time we got to THIS cover for Passion Rising, we’d had these cover talks too many times, I think. It was tough though. How to convey a theme and still reach the right readers? Well, when you read this book you’ll understand how relevant our last cover is. The cologne bottle, the cuff links, the belt… all very sexy in the romance world. And perfect symbols for what this book is about. And we hope you enjoy looking at them all!

So, with out further ado… here’s the final cover for The Original Sin Series

by JA Huss and Johnathan McClain!

 

I have two more things to tell you about before I let you leave… haha

ONE is the release Day Blitz sign-ups for the books. If you like to help promote authors on your social media (or you’re a blogger) please consider signing up for one of these. It really helps us get the word out about our stories.

XPRESSO BLITZ (WEEK OF MARCH 5TH)

SIGN UP HERE: http://bit.ly/2Bxp5t3

GIVE ME BOOKS BLITZ (WEEK OF MARCH 12)

SIGN UP HERE: http://bit.ly/2nj10Rr

TWO is the signed book order form. We’re selling signed copies of Sin With Me (both signatures) and signed copies of The Company (You know that Johnathan and I are putting together a TV deal for that, right? We are…) So if you’d like to order a signed copy of one of those two books, CLICK HERE

ALL THE BOOKS ARE UP FOR PRE-ORDER NOW, INCLUDING THE AUDIOBOOKS!

Series: Original Sin
Sin With Me

Sin With Me

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Angels Fall

Angels Fall

She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet. Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need. Good thing you don’t get to choose. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Flesh Into Fire

Flesh Into Fire

Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge. His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself. The end is coming. But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo
Passion Rising

Passion Rising

They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee. They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after. Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo

GIVEAWAY!

Did you enter all the cover reveal giveaways? No?

ENTER Angels Fall Giveaway HERE

ENTER Flesh Into Fire Giveaway HERE

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SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the beauty that is Flesh Into Fire we have yet another cover reveal and yet another giveaway for you today!

Flesh Into Fire is the THIRD book in the Original Sin Series and will release on April 17, 2018. If you’re not familiar with what’s happening with this series yet, here’s the deal…

The Original Sin Series is a collaborate project by JA Huss and Johnathan McClain (this is our website!)  You can learn all about us HERE and watch our videos chronicling our story HERE. If you’re a member of our fan group on Facebook (Shrike Bikes) you can watch us answer all the questions in an archive of a Facebook Live Video we did last weekend at Johnathan’s house in LA as well. (If you’re not a member, why not? Just CLICK HERE, ask to join, and someone will add you as soon as they see your request!) Our group is fun, very lively, and Johnathan and I are in there everyday talking to the fans!

The series has four books total, each one a continuation of the same couple, each one a full-length novel, and each one releasing three weeks after the previous book. So all four books will release in a three-month time period like this:

Sin With Me (Book One) – Paperback, eBook, & Audio release on March 6, 2018
Angels Fall (Book Two) – Paperback & eBook release on March 27, 2018, Audio releases on April 17,2018
Flesh Into Fire (Book Three) – Paperback & eBook release on April 17, 2018, Audio releases on May 8 ,2018
Passion Rising (Book Four) – Paperback & eBook release on May 8, 2018, Audio releases on May 29 ,2018

Each book is it’s OWN STORY with an ending to the book’s main conflict/mystery, but there’s a cliffhanger to lead you into the next book. So we don’t totally leave you hanging. Each book is about 65,000-70,000 words long, which is about 280-320 pages. Each book also has an END OF BOOK SHIT by BOTH JA Huss and Johnathan McClain (You really don’t want to miss that!) And all the audiobooks are narrated by Ava Erickson and Tad Branson.

Now here’s something you might NOT KNOW… Tad Branson is ALSO Johnathan McClain! YES! He’s gonna whisper all these dirty sex scenes he wrote in the book right into your ear, ladies! And he’s an AMAZING NARRATOR. In fact, he and Ava are up for an Audie Award (think the Academy Awards for audiobooks!) for the JA Huss book, Taking Turns this year! So it’s fuckin’ awesome if you’re into audio!

So this is our cover reveal week. The first three covers have been revealed and Angels Fall also has a giveaway you can enter HERE. So click over there if you haven’t entered already! In two days we’ll release the final cover for Passion Rising and have, yes, you guessed it, another giveaway to celebrate!

The ARCs for Sin With Me start going out this week and the book releases in just under three weeks, so go ahead and pre-order your copy now and get ready for a new sexy couple – Tyler and Maddie – to spice up your life!

Series: Original Sin
Sin With Me

Sin With Me

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Angels Fall

Angels Fall

She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet. Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need. Good thing you don’t get to choose. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Flesh Into Fire

Flesh Into Fire

Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge. His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself. The end is coming. But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo
Passion Rising

Passion Rising

They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee. They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after. Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

 

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SCROLL DOWN FOR ANOTHER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT AND GIVEAWAY !

This is cover reveal week for the rest of the book sin the new Julie & Johnathan series, Original Sin. Book One, Sin With Me, will release on March 6th ( so very close now!) but the coolest thing about this series is that the next book in the four book series will release just three weeks after the one before. So the release date for Angels Fall, Book Two, is March 27th!

AND… The audiobooks will be releasing in quick succession as well.

So let’s get to that beautiful cover… ENJOY!

Angels Fall (Original Sin Series #2)
By JA Huss & Johnathan McClain
Publishing March 27, 2018
Romantic Suspense
eBook ISBN: 978-1-944475-40-6
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-944475-42-0

DESCRIPTION

Sometimes angels fall.

Maddie doesn’t really owe drug lord, Carlos Castillo, money. So she hadn’t taken his threats seriously. Until now. He wants it, whether she owes it or not. And if she doesn’t have it in six weeks he’s gonna take her as payment instead.

Tyler would save the world if he could. That’s a fight that lasts forever. And if there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s fighting. So if Maddie thinks she’s gonna deal with an insane drug lord on her own, she’s crazier than he is.

She’s got a debt she can’t pay. He’s got more money than he needs.
She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.

They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet.
Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need.

Good thing you don’t get to choose.

Pre-order Sin and Angels right now using the links below!

AMAZON
AUDIBLE
ITUNES
NOOK
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AMAZON UK
AMAZON CA
AMAZON AU

Series: Original Sin
Sin With Me

Sin With Me

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Angels Fall

Angels Fall

She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet. Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need. Good thing you don’t get to choose. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Flesh Into Fire

Flesh Into Fire

Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge. His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself. The end is coming. But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo
Passion Rising

Passion Rising

They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee. They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after. Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo

PLUS… ANOTHER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT…

Johnathan and I have decided to put up a pre-release SIGNED BOOK ORDER FORM for Sin With Me. If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy of our first book together SIGNED BY BOTH OF US, just click HERE and fill out the form!

We also have a *limited number* of The Company books signed by BOTH of us, if you’d like to order one of those!

 

AND DON’T FORGET THE GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’re getting really close now! Just one month away from the very first book from the whole Huss/McClain partnership and we’ve got blitzes for you to sign-up for! If you’ve never participated in a release blitz for an author first of all YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A BLOGGER. (At least for the Xpresso Tours blitz!) You just put your social sites in the “blog” field on the form.

XPRESSO BLITZ (WEEK OF MARCH 5TH)

SIGN UP HERE: http://bit.ly/2Bxp5t3

GIVE ME BOOKS BLITZ (WEEK OF MARCH 12)


SIGN UP HERE: http://bit.ly/2nj10Rr

Then, the week before the book releases you are emailed the media kit which includes lots of teasers graphics, links for the book, and some cool excerpts to post wherever you want. If you run a blog there’s also HUGE GIVEAWAY (and it’s huge, guys!) that you can host on your blog as well. If you don’t have a blog you can still ENTER the giveaway!

So if you’d like to give us a hand and help us spread the word about our amazing new collaborative book, just choose which blitz you want to sign up for ABOVE, click the link, and fill out the simple form!

WE THANK YOU!

Series: Original Sin
Sin With Me

Sin With Me

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Angels Fall

Angels Fall

She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet. Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need. Good thing you don’t get to choose. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Flesh Into Fire

Flesh Into Fire

Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge. His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself. The end is coming. But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo
Passion Rising

Passion Rising

They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee. They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after. Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo

 

WATCH OUR COVER REVEAL VIDEO BELOW!

HUGE $1000 GIVEAWAY BELOW

Our Books
Sin With Me

Sin With Me

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Angels Fall

Angels Fall

She’s not gonna fall for his charm. He’s gonna make sure that happens.They’re destined to be together. Even if Maddie doesn’t know it yet. Sometimes your soul mate isn’t who you’d choose, it’s who you need. Good thing you don’t get to choose. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Flesh Into Fire

Flesh Into Fire

Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge. His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself. The end is coming. But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo
Passion Rising

Passion Rising

They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee. They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after. Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Kobo

SPECIAL SNEAK PEEK EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING BOOK

It’s almost an out of body experience. That’s my theory. Because… because… it can’t be real. It just can’t be real. I can’t be doing this. I’m not running from a kingpin’s henchmen, he didn’t save me, my tongue is not in his mouth desperately kissing him and wanting him, and my hand is not on his dick, squeezing as I push myself forward looking for… more.

But all that is happening. And all this is happening too, because now his hand is pulling my top down and the night air hits my nipple, making it peak and bunch up as his fingers brush across it. And then we’re walking—he’s pushing me backwards. And I don’t even feel the pain from my twisted ankle or wonder if I’m gonna trip or anything like that because… because he’ll catch me. If I fall, this guy is gonna catch me. And it’s such a relief to just let all the bullshit go and trust someone for once. I don’t even have words. Or the time to think them up. Because he’s got his hands under my thighs and he’s lifting me up, and holding me close, and I can feel the ragged edges of the brick building cutting into my back and I don’t care. I might be bleeding or fucking dying right now, and I just don’t care.

I close my eyes when he pulls back, wishing he wouldn’t do that, but then I forget about it and think about what he’s doing next. Because his lips are on my neck and he’s biting the skin behind my ear, and breathing into my hair, and he says, “I’m gonna fuck you now. So…”

We’re both just on some kind of collision course. We’re crashing into each other in a way that’s familiar, but new, and still dangerous. And then I see the gun again in my head, and the way he moved so fast and took people out. The way he hurt them and I know, I just feel, deep down in my filthy fucking soul, that he’s gonna hurt me too, and I don’t care. I just don’t fucking care. Because that hurt is gonna be worth it, and I’m gonna live for once. Like really fucking live for once. And when we spin out of control later—next week, or next year, or next lifetime—I will look back and say, “I’d do it all again.”

And it’s stupid.

But I don’t care.

So I say, “Do it.”

GET IT NOW ON PRE-ORDER

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 

Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. You can find them at their social links below.

 

FIND JULIE

On Facebook ~ On Twitter ~ On Instagram

FIND JOHNATHAN

On Facebook ~ On Twitter ~ On Instagram

JOIN THEIR FAN GROUP

Just ask to join and someone will add you as soon as they see your request!

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I’M POSTING THIS EARLY ON OUR BLOG

Tomorrow this is going up on jahuss.com.  But we wanted to give it a home here too since… you know, Johnathan lives here now. 🙂 So… in case you didn’t know I’m doing a Top 5 Tips thing on my blog every day in December and I’ve roped a few of my author friends into contributing. So of course I asked Johnathan to give us his wisdom on screenwriting in the form of Top 5 Tips. And he graciously accepted. So… you saw it here first!

I was flattered when Julie asked if I would contribute to this project and we kicked around what the theme should be that I would write on today.  We decided that perhaps “5 tips on screenwriting” would be a cool way to proceed. In addition to being an actor and a member of all the various actors’ unions, I’m lucky to also count myself as a dues-paying member of The WGA (The Writers Guild of America, if acronyms aren’t your shit) and I’ve been fortunate to have sold a few scripts as well as had some things that I wrote, filmed and then aired on the TV box. (That’s my way of credentialing myself so you don’t have to ask yourself the, “why the hell should I care what this guy says?” question. Spoiler: You shouldn’t care particularly what the hell this guy says, but in case you are curious what the hell this guy says, read on…)

So, the point is, this was intended to be 5 tips about how to approach screenwriting.

But as I started writing stuff like “First, download Final Draft…” (which, don’t get me wrong, you totally should do, but still …) and got into it further, I found that my real thoughts and offerings are far more broad-spectrum than just talking about screenwriting and crap.

So, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to ruminate here on that which has helped and inspired me along my journey, in the hopes that it may also aid and inspire you.

Please use any of what I say below in your own process if it seems beneficial, disregard it all if you feel like none of it resonates, but no matter what, and above all else …

  1. NEVER STOP WRITING. NEVER GIVE UP.

There was this writer who graduated from film school ready to take on Hollywood. But after graduating, this writer had a hard time getting Hollywood to care at all that this writer was ready to take it on. Couldn’t get a writing job. Couldn’t even get an agent. Spent years sitting at home. But while sitting there, would write. Eventually wrote a script for a TV pilot that this writer showed around to everyone. Believed in it. Thought it represented this writer’s truest, best voice.

As this writer showed it around, this writer would hear, “Wow. You have no idea what you’re doing.” Or, “This is the most uncommercial thing I’ve ever read.” Or, “Get out of my office.” And stuff like that.

Eventually the script made its way into the hands of an important writer/showrunner who at the time was a very big deal. The showrunner said, “You’ll never get this made, but I kind of like the way you write and I like you, so why don’t you come on as a writer on my show?” This writer didn’t think twice and did come on to the showrunner’s TV show, and worked up through the ranks to become an Executive Producer and lived Happily Ever After. THE END.

Except of course it isn’t.

This writer still had the script that started the whole journey and still believed it could become a TV show. And even after the success of having been staffed on a successful TV series, people would still say, “Seriously. That thing you wrote way back when is never going to get made. It did its job. It got you hired on this big, important TV show! Be happy! Let it go…”

But this writer never did let it go. And eventually this writer got a meeting with a small TV channel. One that was just starting to think about trying to do new stuff. And they said, “Okay. Sure. We have nothing to lose. We’ll give it a try.” And people said, “Oh shit. I’m so sorry. I know you believed the thing you wrote SEVEN YEARS AGO was going to one day be something special, but now it’s stuck out in the TV hinterlands and no one will ever see it and let’s go to dinner and not talk about it…”

The showrunner that hired this writer because the showrunner saw this writer’s potential was called David Chase.

The show David Chase hired this writer to write on was called THE SOPRANOS.

This writer that he hired was called Matthew Weiner.

The script Matt had written that got him the job on THE SOPRANOS and ultimately made it onto the little TV channel that no one would ever watch was called MAD MEN.

Never stop writing. Never give up.

  1. READ SCRIPTS BY WRITERS YOU ADMIRE. AND THOSE YOU DON’T.

Read scripts. Here is a solid list of websites that store screenplays and TV scripts on-line.

(If there’s a script you really, really want and can’t find on the internet, you can also reach out to me at JH_JM@hussmcclain.com and I can likely track it down through one of my silly agents or the WGA. Point is … read scripts.)

I have learned an incredible amount about the things I admire and want to emulate in my work from reading other writers whose work I enjoy. Another way to say this is “If someone does something you really like … steal it. Because they stole it from someone else.” (That’s not my quote. I think I stole it from Michael Caine. Dunno who he stole it from.)

I have also learned an incredible amount from reading writers who aren’t so great and who I don’t admire. And not because “it teaches you what NOT to do.” People will say that shit and it drives me crazy. Because I don’t believe you should strive to learn lessons in negative space. Learning what not to do is not learning. It’s being risk averse.

If you read a script that doesn’t work, don’t analyze it for what went wrong so you “can avoid those pitfalls.” That’s a coward’s lesson. Examine it from the perspective of what you would have done differently. What you would have added. How you would have approached it differently.

To quote Plutarch: “It’s a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man’s oration, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.”

Trouble yourself with betterment.

 

  1. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC.

By which I mean the music of language. This holds especially true for dialogue, but is applicable throughout all the telling of a story.

Think about it from the perspective of song-writing. “Imagine” by John Lennon is a great song with great lyrics and a great message, but if the melody that is its delivery mechanism wasn’t pleasing to hear, nobody would listen. Make the music of language a priority.

I understand that not everyone has a musical ear, but everyone can try this: Say the words you’re writing aloud. (Again, this holds especially true for dialogue.) Is it melodious? Does it feel comfortable in your mouth? Would you say that shit? Or is it a ham-fisted and clumsy attempt to just shoehorn an idea into being through wooden language that has not meter nor cadence? If it’s the latter … work harder.

And it can be work. Not everyone comes to it naturally. Not everyone is Aaron Sorkin. But it is a learnable skill. Practice and eventually YOUR natural melody will emerge and that then becomes your voice. And once you’ve developed your voice, you can sing anytime you want.

Words matter. Language is precious. Know why? Because it’s a shitty communicator. It can be confused, misinterpreted and misunderstood with startling ease. So, do yourself a favor and cultivate a mastery of it to the best of your ability. And then play the fuck out of it.

  1. LIVE IN THE WORLD. EXPERIENCE LIFE. BEFRIEND THOSE WHOSE OPINIONS AND WORLDVIEW DIFFER FROM YOURS.

This one actually doesn’t require a ton of explaining and is also critically important. The only way you can understand the world is by living in it. If your intention is to tell a story that reaches beyond your own personal borders, it becomes necessary to reach out your hand.

Learn about things that seem boring. Watch movies that you don’t think you’ll like. Do stuff that you hate. I do this shit all the time. It doesn’t necessarily make the things I’m engaging in/with any less boring, likable, or hated, but it does almost always grant me insight.

Because … you have to learn to never judge your characters. People don’t typically analyze everything they do (I do, but it sucks and is fucking exhausting – and nobody’s writing a screenplay about my trifling ass), they just do it. If you wanna write about sharecroppers, you don’t have to go become one, but you should understand why they are what they are. Talk to one. Take him out to dinner. Whatever. Engage with the world, not just your imagination.

Everything I write is 1/3 my experiences, 1/3 my imagination, and 1/3 the people I’ve seen, places I’ve been, and things I’ve learned.

And by the way, as an actor first, this is critical to that part of my career as well. Indeed, acting IS writing IS living my life. The more empathy you can cultivate in your work, the more empathy you’ll cultivate in the world, and the richer and rounder a person you will become. And not only will your work benefit, but you’ll benefit as a carbon-based life-form.

We are all interdependent beings. When you breathe, you are borrowing air from the trees, the sky, the fish, the birds, and me. So, breathe in deeply, and when you breathe out again, fill the air with the richness of all you’ve experienced.

  1. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR EGO

(This is a long one, encompassing probably more than one actual bullet point, but I’m cheating so I can say everything I think is important.)

There is this romanticized version of how creation works wherein a masterwork will magically spring forth from the mind of the creator in a show of complete genius, like Athena springing from the head of Zeus. Maybe. Once in a while. But usually all you’ll have is a fucking headache.

Here’s why: It’s a slog. And to pretend it’s otherwise is doing a disservice to the work. There may be great stuff hidden inside the messy afterbirth of whatever has sprung from your brain (yeah, I’m running with this metaphor), but chances are, like afterbirth, there’s a bunch of cleaning up that still has to happen before it looks like – y’know – a baby.

I have a friend who is an accomplished screenwriter. Has an Academy Award and shit. The first draft of his Academy Award winning screenplay was roughly 300 pages long. One year, six drafts, and lots and lots of suggestions by trusted friends and colleagues whom-he-let-read-it later, he had finally culled it down to a tight 114 page opus that would top The Black List and go on to win him an Oscar for screenwriting. He did this by being unafraid and unashamed to expose his process, show his ugly brushstrokes, and not take it personally when criticism would come back his way.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but sometimes, it’s also a group effort. Every person who weighed in on that script had a role in its crafting. And every single one had the chance to help make it better. (See: #4) Your name may go on the finished product, but often there are dozens of names that must needs show up in the “special thanks” section of the credits. It can be incredibly painful to kill your babies (our birth analogy takes a macabre turn) but there will absolutely be ideas/plot twists/bits of dialogue that you LOVE, that simply have no home in the thing you’re making and you will have to toss them out.

(Side note/point of reference: Julie and I are writing one of the books in our first series at present. A bit ago I turned in some words for her review that had a big plot point percolating. I mean, like, huge. Like an event that would drive the action for one of the characters for pretty much the rest of the books. Julie read it and said, “I love it. It’s super interesting and well written. I don’t think it’s right for these books. I think we have to jettison it wholesale and start over with a fresh take.”

That was a lot of work being tossed over the side and a lot of new work that was going to have to be done to re-imagine this character’s journey. But Julie was right. So, we chucked it and went back to the drawing board. And the books are better for it. And … we now have an idea that can find its way into another book perhaps. No idea is ever dead, it just goes into turnaround.)

All of this falls under the rubric of ‘making friends with your ego.’ You have to find a way to decide that YOU are not important. THE WORK is what is important. Your ego will want you to believe that you have all the fucking secrets to writing the next great … whatever. Bullshit. You don’t. Because even if you do, you don’t. Ideas are not YOURS. They swim around in the ether and if you’re the lucky one upon whose head the great idea lands, then be grateful and say thank you.

You may be gifted, but remember what that means. You have been gift-ED. Given a gift. YOU are not the gift. You may be fortunate. But you’re not special. Fuck you.

This, by the way, is not me pontificating from a place of remove or judgement. When I say, “fuck you,” I’m saying it to me too. Maybe me first. I struggle with my ego every fucking day. Every day. It has been the cause of my downfall more than once. On a couple of instances, it caused falls that looked like they could not be gotten up from. And when those spills occurred, I had to look for inspiration on how to get back up and keep going. Keep acting. Keep writing. Keep trying.

And so … I will leave you with two quotes that helped me do that and summarize how I feel about what it takes to keep … making.

The first is from Barack Obama, and irrespective of where you fall on the political spectrum, these words are simply correct. (If you have beef with Obama, pretend someone you like said it.)

“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped… Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ — then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.

And the second is from John Patrick Shanley, playwright, screenwriter, and major personal influence on me and my entire career. (If you don’t know Shanley’s work, he has a Pulitzer for his play Doubt, which was made into a film with Meryl Streep, an Academy Award for MOONSTRUCK, and – less probably – he also wrote the screenplay for CONGO. See? They’re not all going to be winners.) This is an excised sampling of something originally written as advice to actors, but it applies to writing as well. I have changed the word *acting* to *writing* where it applies.

“We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

Don’t write for money. You’ll start to feel dead and bitter.

Don’t write for glory. You’ll start to feel dead, fat, and fearful.

We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

You can’t avoid all the pitfalls. There are lies you must tell. But experience the lie. See it as something dead and unconnected you clutch. And let it go.

Write from the depth of your feeling imagination. Write for celebration, for search, for grieving, for worship, to express that desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness.

Don’t worry about Art.

Do these things, and it will be Art.”

And so. Returning to the first point, always, and above all else … just write. Even when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it. Know that you are not alone, sitting behind your screen, pounding frantically on the keyboard. We are here with you. All of us who struggle along with you and who silently cheer you on. Who can’t WAIT to see what fanciful flight of invention we will be taken on by the words that spill down from the ether and through you to all of us.

We’re with you. Don’t stop. Never give up.

-JM  12/7/17

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As you know from the videos we’ve posted, Johnathan and Julie are now writing partners. Not just for TV/Movie scripts, but for books too! And we’ve got lots of books coming in 2018. So we’re on the hunt for the best book bloggers in the business who would like to get to know us better and help us spread new release alerts out to readers on the internet.

We are only looking for book bloggers and consistent Goodreads Reviewers at this time. If you’re not a book blogger there will be another form in early January 2018 for ARC readers and you can apply for that then.

If you are a book blogger/Goodreads Reviewer and would like to join our new street team just fill out the form HERE. All fields are required. We are looking for people who review often and in specific places. You don’t need to post your review at Amazon (I know some bloggers have lost that opportunity) but you have to post them somewhere.

Once we’ve gotten our team together we’ll notify you by email and send you an invitation to join our secret Facebook group.

THANKS SO MUCH for your interest and we’ll talk soon!

We’ve finished our first book and we’re having a cover reveal on December 8, 2017 organized through Xpresso Tours! If you’re a blogger or a fan who would like to help us share the good news, you can sign up here to fill out the form and get on the list. Once signed up, Giselle at Xpresso Tours will email you a media kit a few days prior with all the information you need to share the good news.

We really appreciate all your support!