What Else Have I Been Missing?

Hey everybody,

I had my first Krispy Kreme donut on June 4th, 2010.

I’m sure you might be asking how I remember that exact date? Am I a fatty savant? Perhaps I have a rare eidetic memory that allows me only to remember food related things.

The answer is rather unremarkable…

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I was doing an internship outside Cleveland, Oh and one of my superiors brought me there for Free Donut Day.

Eating that hot, glazed donut for the first time, I only had one thought…which I expressed in an over exaggerated shout…

WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN MISSING?!

It was like salvation.

I just had to tell someone about it!

 

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“Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Donuts?” (Not me. This is a stock photo)

Now I’m sure you’re asking, “Who the hell cares?”

Well.

Recently, as I’ve begun to take myself more seriously as an author, I’ve been doing a lot more reading (as all 3 followers of this blog can read in my previous post from two months ago).

Yesterday, Jacob (my 3 year old son) selected for me the next book I’m going to read.

A book that has been sitting on my “to-read” list and shelf for better than three years.

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I’m on page 100, and it is amazing.

I have no good excuse for not reading it sooner.

In previous instances in which I encountered a, “WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN MISSING?” moment, I’ve chastised myself.

ALL THOSE WASTED YEARS!!!” I’ve thought.

When really, I was so damn focused on the years I’d been missing out I forgot to take the time to enjoy experiencing it.

Which brings me to 2 recent, “WEHIBM” moments that have served as a sort of paradigm shift for me.

The first was listening to, “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” on audible.

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When I’m quiet at night, I can admit to myself it’s my favorite book.

I was so captivated from the beginning, I didn’t think about how long the book had been out until after it was done. It was then I had my moment of realization…

I needed to start approaching every book, show, movie, etc. like it might be my new favorite.

My second moment of paradigm shifting goodness occurred when Brandy and I started to watch…

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Yes, I know…I’ve never watched Friends. We’re on season 4. Shut up.

A few episodes ago, I realized I didn’t care how long I’d been missing out.

I was just happy to be experiencing it with my wife.

I didn’t feel like I’d been missing anything.

I didn’t feel like I should’ve broken down and watched it sooner.

I was just happy…enjoying it in the present.

This had made my first time viewing of another 90’s sitcom all the better…

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Yes, I’m just now also watching Frasier. Shut up.

 

All these new (to me) experiences aren’t being wasted in the same way my first Krispy Kreme donut was…

I’m haven’t once thought, “What else have I been missing?”

I haven’t been disappointed.

I’ve just been enjoying the experience.

I realize for other people this will read just like an appeal to, “live in the present.”

And I suppose it is…

But it was my personal revelation.

I understand finally what it means, not in a universal sense, but in a way that makes sense to me.

I’ve also finally read a book by G.K. Chesterton.

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After reading two books and A SPEECH I ONCE GAVE: ON LEWIS, TOLKIEN AND CHESTERTON by Neil Gaiman, I felt I owed it to myself to read it.

It did not disappoint.

I’ve also finally engaged with an online SFF indie author’s community through…

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In which, I entered my first novel, The Last Days of the Wanderer.

Available again on Amazon. Paperback coming soon.

Pornokitsch will be reading the first 20% of it and doing (at least) a micro-review.

I don’t expect more than that.

Bloodseeker (being edited by Brandy) is a much better novel.

All these new (to me) experiences, and I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.

I’m just enjoying the ride.

Do with that what you will.

 

– scritch out.

Goodreads

Hey everybody,

I know I did this recently, but I still wanted to write it down.

Mostly for my own accountability.

For the first time in ever, I’m actually using Goodreads to track my reading!
This was inspired by my wife’s boss who tries to read 50 books a year.

They’re in publishing so that makes sense.

I decided, fancying myself a fledgling writer, to really work on reading to better improve my writing (excluding this blog because, let’s face it, this hardly counts).

Therefore I am going to try to stick to reading the following list of books (in this order)

  1. Fool Moon by. Jim Butcher (Finished 3/24)
  2. A Darker Shade of Magic by. V.E. Schwab (Finished 4/29)
  3. Salvation by Allegiance Alone by. Mattew Bates (Buy Here)
  4. The Judge of Ages by. John C. Wright (15% in)
  5. Speaker for the Dead by. Orson Scott Card
  6. The Reader by. Traci Chee (Finished 5/13)
  7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Finished 5/22)
  8. Grave Peril by. Jim Butcher
  9. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimen (Finished 5/1)
  10. Station Eleven by. Emily Saint John Mandel
  11. Storm of Swords by. George R. R. Martin
  12. The Silmarillion by. J.R.R. Tolkien
  13. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton (Finished 5/19)
  14. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Finished 5/30)

AND on Audio Book

  1. That Hideous Strength by. C.S. Lewis (Finished 3/28)
  2. A Crown of Swords by. Robert Jordan (Finished 4/6)
  3. The Path of Daggers by. Robert Jordan
  4. Wheel of Time 9+

My goal for the year is 25. I think that’s doable.
I may bounce around this list a bit, but I want to get through all of these as part of my 25.

I am already 5 books in, by the way, having read:

  1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by. Susannah Clarke
  2. Lord of Chaos by. Robert Jordan (audio book)
  3. The Hermetic Millenia by John C. Wright (so glad this is done)
  4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by. NOT J.K. Rowling
  5. Storm Front by. Jim Butcher

Mind you, all of this while revising Bloodseeker and reading/memorizing scripts.

It really is a good time to be me.

-scritch out

Wife of a Scritch.

Hey everyone,

Brandy, you may not want to read this.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I decided to write about something I have long wanted to share with everyone.

My wife is the best.

Let me explain.

This is my wife, Brandy Noel Steel (circa 2009. A year before she chose me).

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We were both attending Valley Forge Christian College.
I was getting my degree with relative ease while spending most of my time at the theater, playing World of Warcraft, and generally making some of the poorer decisions of my life.

She was working on two bachelor’s degree, three minors, working as a TA, and also making time to act, stage manage, and build sets for the theater.

Just to be clear, I didn’t even learn how to do my own make-up because
1. I liked attention, 2. I was lazy, and 3. I really only had an interest in acting.

That will give you an idea of the disparity of our work ethics and priorities.

Regardless of this difference, we became very good friends over the course of that year (mostly because of the theatre) working together on The Diary of Anne Frank, Mousetrap, and Tartuffe.

During Mousetrap, I caught some feelings…but decided not to pursue her because I thought she was too good for me.

[FUN FACT: She was/is/will always be]

One second…

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Okay. It’s 2010 now. I’ve made some more bad decisions. Admitted those bad decisions and nearly lost her interest (that I didn’t know I had), and now we’re working on…

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I was assistant directing because I was acting in the other show.

Friendship grew more.

Misunderstandings abounded.

She confessed feelings.

I had an emotional weekend.

I confessed feelings.

We started dating – Nov. 2010.
We got engaged – March 2011.
We got married – August 2011.

I realize that may seem fast to some of you…but I knew what I had…And plus…
This was a thing at the time.

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She was a scholar.

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A world traveler.

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In Greece I think. Maybe Israel. I have no idea. I’m not the traveler.

An actress.

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That’s me as Tartuffe. Her as Dorine. She pwned all the n00bs.

And then there was me.

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Thank you, Dan “The Sexy Beast” Graham for enduring so much.

Who wouldn’t learn make-up because I was lazy and didn’t think I could learn how to be good at it.

But regardless, despite being infinitely more interesting than me, she fell in love with me.

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“Carving the cake” 😉 😉

Because of her, I worked harder. Partly out of a healthy competition, but also because I wanted to prove to myself I was worth her interest. My gpa (which wasn’t horrible at 3.2) jumped to a 3.9 over those semesters.

A year after marriage, I got into a MFA in Acting program despite only having a minor in drama under my belt. I got freakin good at makeup.

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This isn’t actually makeup. Those are real metal plates in my skull.

And now, 5.5 years later…she continues to out do me.

While I earned my Master’s degree, she earned hers, worked full-time (at the RU Writing Center), and had a baby (Jacob) at the same time as writing her thesis (picture above).

During our 1 year layover between Virginia and Michigan when we couldn’t find jobs in our fields, she had switched roles and was a stay at home mom and had a second baby (Kaeden) while I worked construction.

Then she landed a job at Baker Academic Publishing House. So now she works full time in her dream job while I stay at home with the boys. At night, I’m able to audition and work in the theater. I’ve written another novel (which she edits). This amazing life I have now, I owe to her. She chose me when I was close to being the worst. And because of her, I’m the best me.

I’m not saying I didn’t contribute to her life too.

She’s much more chill now than when she was single. She’s wittier too (I made a joke about this at rehearsal for Much Ado and no one understood). She’s able to work her dream job because I’m the homemaker. I’m not deluded or unaware of my contributions. I just want to draw attention to how amazing she is, and how immeasurably blessed I am by this woman.

I don’t know is she knows how great she really is..

But I do hope she knows how much I love and appreciate her.

She’s the best.

-scritch out.

 

Bloodseeker – Official Announcement

Good afternoon everyone,

After months of typing and hacking at various keyboards, I have a rough draft of my forthcoming novel: BLOODSEEKER.

“Three times a year, the dried blood of St. Januarius, Patron Saint of Naples, is said to miraculously turn to liquid. If it does not, it is believed to signal the start of a period of war, disease, or famine. The last time the miracle failed to occur was in 1980 when the earthquake of Irpinia killed 2,900 people in Italy. In 1973, it served as a precursor to an outbreak of Cholera in Naples, and in 1939, 1940, and 1943 it closely corresponded with Italy’s involvement in World War II.

On December 16, 2016, for the first time in 36 years, the blood did not liquefy. While many, including some within the Catholic Church, regard the ceremony as nothing more than coincidence and superstition, Adrian Ramsey knows better; he knows this means hell is literally about to break loose.

On November 23, 1980, the same day the earthquake of Irpinia devastated Conza della Campiana, Adrian’s parents opened the gates of Hell.

Thirty-seven years later, Adrian Ramsey has betrayed his oath as a Bloodseeker—an ancient order dedicated to self-empowerment— so he can use his abilities to combat the escaped creatures and correct his parents’ treachery against humanity. When he and his assistant, Kiara Wells, hear of the sign of St. Januarius, they begin a desperate quest to prevent the world from being plunged into the chaos of the Hellscape.”
Please let me know what you think, and if you’re interested in being a beta reader.
I’m currently hard at work revising and editing the first draft and would love some feedback once it has made a round through rewrites.
My sincerest thanks to everyone,
J.L. Scritchfield

February State of the Blo(ger)

Hey everyone,

I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I really wanted to have an official announcement already, but I’ve decided to wait until I have a more polished manuscript. This is something I am currently working on. The manuscript is now 60,000 words and is more likely to grow than shrink as a lot of my third act is more of a skeleton. I’m also not satisfied with the way I brought about the third act climax.

This novel has been a tremendous experience so far. I’ve been able to push and stretch my creative abilities and really delve in to a new project rather than getting hung up on my first novel. It is extremely refreshing to have ideas and characters to be excited about again. I have started and stopped so many different projects in the last four years since I wrote the first novel. I technically finished a sequel that I’ve tried to edit and revise numerous times, but I haven’t been able to get up the stomach for it. I think it’s partly due to the my not loving the story. It always felt contrived.

I have three other projects I’ve started and felt too ill equipped to actually continue.

Until this one.

Everything I’ve needed has been there when I’ve needed it. Facts and places strung together in a way I had never thought of. I connected dots and made sense of mysteries.

It was a great deal of fun, and I’m very excited to share it.

Unfortunately, it has also taken over query letter writing.

I’m still debating on whether or not I want to query for my first book, this new one, or both.

Time will tell.

Thanks for reading and sticking it out with me.

-scritch out

I don’t like anyone

Hey everyone,

Last night Brandy and I had a long talk about the state of the world and how it keeps me up at night. Not because I’m worried ISIS is going to break in my door and kill everyone I love or that I think Trump is going to blow up the world. Although these scenarios are possible (however unlikely), I don’t stress about those things. Not because I’m not invested in the plights of our country and other countries but because my belief God and allegiance to Christ helps assuage those fears.

What keeps me up at night is that I don’t like people anymore.

Don’t get my me wrong. I have friends I love. I even have new friends I love.

But people in general.

I just don’t like people in general.

In the last year, I have watched as my liberal friends have grown progressively more liberal and more conservative friends have grown progressively more conservative all the while my moderate friends have gone quiet. I know a lot of people who think this is out of some desire to hide political affiliations. I think for some, it might be.

For me, it’s simple.

I just don’t like people anymore.

I’m tired of the ignorant elitist smugness of BOTH sides.

I’m tired of both sides straw-manning the rights and opinions of their opponents and acting like they have it all figured out.

You don’t.

Neither do I.

No one does.

To pretend otherwise is to shut off our ability to listen to opposing viewpoints and to adopt an attitude of smug intellectual elitism that does nothing to change minds.

It just makes you look like an a**hole.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.

In fact, I expect everyone to disagree with me on something.

I’m a moderate. Comes with the territory.

And for the things I stand for, I fiercely stand for…

And am willing to engage those points… in person… or privately.

But being a condescending ass and speaking in over-generalizations perpetuated by a corrupt media owned by the top 1% of the world is not helping anyone or anything.

So…

Fight for life.

Fight for equality.

Fight Fascism.

Love everyone despite fear.

Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

But have open ears and minds… not to the far right or the far left…

But to common sense.

-scritch out.

A (Forgettable) Fire Inside

Hey everybody,

So I’m an unashamed fan of the band AFI.

I would love to lie and say I’ve been a fan since Black Sails, but the truth is my first AFI album was a burned copy of Sing the Sorrow my friend made for me. I promptly went out and purchased my own copy, which I later accidentally broke.

I did move backwards from there and picked up their entire discography.

Anyway…

They’re still trucking along.

In fact, they just put out a new album.

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AFI (The Blood Album) named so for all the references to blood.

Based on their first two singles, I was extremely hopeful.

I never really expected them to return to the likes of StS or the Art of Drowning.
Albums I was truly inspired by to create my own art, but I figured I’d enjoy it even if they didn’t quite get back to their, “roots.”

I’ve given the album four listens now, and for the life of me I still don’t feel like I have a good feel for it.

After Burials, I knew I liked it even if it wasn’t Sing the Sorrow. I even gave Burials another listen today after I finished the Blood Album again. It is largely better than I remembered.

As I write this I’m listening to Crash Love, which I really liked when I finally listened to it. I had heard it was bad. After listening to it though, I could remember most of it.

Just about every song on StS resonates with me. Same thing with every album pre-Burials.

I think that’s what I’ve discovered about the Blood Album.

It’s just forgettable.

Which is a bummer for me to admit.

It’s just…

With few exceptions…

Every song sounds like a watered down version of a better song they’ve already written!

What makes it even suckier is Davey Havok’s voice has somehow managed to get even better! Seriously, I don’t know if it’s the result of doing this for years, doing a show on Broadway, or the production values, but the man still has my favorite voice.

The two singles (and their music videos) are really cool and worth checking out.

Hell, the entire album is definitely worth checking…

It’s just not as good as anything else they’ve done.

Ah well. I’m gonna keep listening regardless.

Check out their videos below.

-scritch out

 

 

The Importance of Being Violent

Hey everybody,

I’ve been thinking about violence lately.

As I’m writing a novel about demons (sort of), magic (kind of), and death (maybe) and am stage managing a production of Titus Andronicus, I’ve been recently confronted with some dark themes and ill feelings I’d like to expound upon a bit.

As far as my new project is concerned, I’m still playing it close to the vest. However, the above themes are mostly there and in doing research to set it in our contemporary world, I’ve had to dwell on evil and demonic things. I’m extremely excited about the project, but every so often a chill runs down my spine.

Not that I’m afraid mind you.

There’s just something disconcerting about engaging with the, shall we say, unnatural.

Similarly, while being  a part of this excellent production of Titus Andronicus with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, I’ve had the opportunity to witness and in some instances help stage moments of murder, rape, and cannibalism.

For those of you who know me, violence isn’t a huge issue in my real life.

I’m a nice enough guy who isn’t prone to violence.

As a theatre artist, however, stage combat is one of my things.

See below a 10 beat fight of me getting beaten up.

Of course, it isn’t real.

It’s fun.

But when you’re watching it transpire, (evil, I mean. Something that goes against what you believe to be the way things are supposed to work) there’s a sort of jarring that happens.

Last night, while on book for the actresses playing Demetrius and Chiron, a feeling of dread came over me, and I had to know my wife and sons were okay. So…clumsily, while staying on book, I sent a text message along the lines of

“How’s your night?”

The response was everything I needed.

The boys were asleep finally. She was reading. Asked the same of me.

That’s all. I just needed to know my family was safe.

This is an extremely small (and not quite perfect) example of why I think it’s important to sometimes put yourself out of your comfort zone.

To watch, read, or listen to a book, movie, or album that puts your back up.

Makes your hair stand on end.

It FORCES you to do something.

You can’t just sit there. You can’t just read the words on the page or watch the actors perform. You need to reach out to someone you love and know that there is justice in the world. There is order in the world.

There is good in the world.

Now, I know there are people who have done heinous things inspired by simulated violence.

But I don’t believe they’re the norm.

Nor do I advocate for people immersing themselves in this kind of evil.

I know a Fight Choreographer who talked about building a dummy for a theatrical production that had to be capable of basically being disemboweled and spurting blood everywhere. He would work on it and experiment with it in his basement (as it was his job) and then just above his head, his kids would be playing. He would go from torturing this dummy to playing with his 3 and 5 year old kids. He said it was a, “challenge.”

He needed that good to outweigh the bad.

Because the bad was exhausting.

I think if you indulge those jarring senses to the point where you no longer cringe at it. When you’re so desensitized you can think about rape or murder without it seeming unnatural, you’ve let yourself go too far in, and you need some good in your life.

For me, it was knowing my family was safe.

So…

As you write, as you act, as you watch or participate,  keep in mind those things that are right, just, and natural about the life.

Let evil jar you. Let it bother you. Let it get under your skin.

And then do something.

-scritch out

January State of Blog(ger)

Good evening everyone,

I know it has been three weeks since my last post.

Forgive me. I’ve been ill.

I promise I’ll get back into the swing of things starting this coming week.

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That’s worth something right?

For the few of you concerned, I did not win the Novelist competition on Inkitt.

I know, I know, you’re crushed.

But I did tell you to expect nothing.

HOWEVER!

I have been hard at work on a new writing project.

One I am extremely happy about.

I’m not quite ready to announce the title or give a book summary yet, but it is unlike anything I’ve done before. Not that you’re at all familiar with my books apart from The Shadow of Fate, which will likely be vacating in the internet in the near future.

I’ll say this much. Urban Fantasy. Blood Magic. Mythology.

Piqued your interest?

No…

Well, fine.

I’m 35,000+ words in and I still have plenty of story to tell.

THAT in part is why I have not updated recently…

Because I’ve been writing…and sick…

Often at the same time.

Anyway, I’m up and at ’em.

Tell your friends.

-scritch out

State of the Blog(ger) 2016: A Year in Review

Hey everyone,

What a year it has been!

For the most part, 2016 seems to have sucked for a LOT of people.

Even had Trump lost the presidency, I think you’d still have the type of unrest we’re seeing now. It would have been a lot less smug and more angry, but I still think people would be bemoaning how lousy this year has been.

Which is why I’d like to tell you about all the grand things that happened for me this year.

For my family and me, 2016 has been a huge year of change and progress.

Here are the highlights!

Life:

From September 2015 – June 2016, I got to live a childhood dream of being a carpenter.

Brandy landed a job at her dream company – Baker Publishing.

We moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

We had another kid!

Kaeden Lewis – 4 Months

I played Petruchio and met a whole bunch of really cool people.

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Sports

The Bears are garbage…

BUT THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!

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And for my birthday, Brandy took me to Soldier field!

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Sure,  they got killed…But it was a lot of fun.

Books

I finally started putting my writing out into the world, it was featured on a website, and has received some great feedback.

I’ve also started a new project to be announced sometime in the near future.

Read it free here: Shadow of Fate

The next one won’t be free.

Combat:

Interned at the Beach Bash, met some awesome people, choreographed for a school, fight captained/choreographed another show, and am the fight captain in another show in 2017.

Made some neat things in my spare time:

Heater cover

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AND MOST IMPORTANTLY

I got to be a Dad…

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…To these two amazing boys.

AND

A husband…

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Even if we haven’t had a proper date since September.

To this amazing woman…

And that’s all that matters to me.

So sure…2016 was a rough year. Everyone wants you to believe that everything is falling apart and maybe it really is. People suck. The economy sucks. The government sucks. A bunch of celebrities died.

But this…

THIS.

Life.

Love.

Family.

THAT is what matters.

THAT is what is worth fighting for.

Not everything about 2016 has sucked.

I hope you’ve had happy holidays.

And if you haven’t, I hope 2017 brings about the change, hope, and love you’re searching for.

-scritch2016 out