Littlefoot, Zenon & Cigarettes

After 35 years as a screenwriter and eleven years as a full-time professor there's one thing I know for sure: what we write matters.
Especially in this age where a willful liar is at the helm of our country, we have to take responsibility for the content we release into the cosmos.
Our words have the power to change hearts and minds. We have the ability to create characters that become role models. We have the opportunity to use our innate kindness and humanity and vulnerability to apply our verbal brushstrokes to pages that can paint us a better world.
As the screenwriter of "The Land Before Time" and all three "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century" movies, along with many more produced credits (available on,) the bulk of my career was in family entertainment. Now as a teacher at both the University of California, RIverside and at USC's Peter Stark Producing MFA program, nothing can brighten my day quicker than having a student come up to me with one of the many variations on the sentiment that usually ends with, "Dude, you wrote my childhood." They speak with great affection about watching my films and TV shows with their parents, siblings and friends when they were kids. They quote dialogue I've long since forgotten. They tell of games they played with their peers based on the characters from my work that they would pretend to be. They talk about what they learned -- about family and friendship and responsibility -- and what a positive impact I had on their early lives.
I gotta tell you; that feels pretty damn good.
So now I've written a counterfactual history novel, THAT ONE CIGARETTE. As you can probably guess, it's not for the family audience. The tagline says its "about ordinary people making extraordinary ripples in the ocean of life." While that's true, it's also about taking power and responsibility in our own lives. It's about commitment to enduring relationships and navigating the minefield of being in a family.
Oh, and I've been told there are some pretty hot sex scenes in there, too.
But pay attention when you read the book -- all of those spicier scenes involve people in long-term relationships, something too seldom seen in popular entertainment. Most writers seem to have this sad notion that it's all downhill after the "I do." After 36 years of marriage, I heartily disagree. And while it may seem as if I've gone off on a tangent, I haven't: my whole thesis is to encourage writers to write YOUR truth.
Truth is and always will be subjective. Still, the only thing that separates you from other writers is your perspective, your voice, your way of seeing the world. So use it. I have.
And that's the one thing that binds Littlefoot, Zenon and a fateful pack of cigarettes together.
(For more information on THAT ONE CIGARETTE, please visit:
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Published on October 17, 2017 16:38
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