Forest City Short Film Review has continued growing and recorded a remarkable 1,359 views in February and looks set to easily pass the 1,000 view mark in March as well.  A huge thank you to everyone who reads my reviews.  I've also begun writing editorials and conducting interviews with cast, crew and talent (writer/director Ryan Robins, actress and comedian Sarah Adams, and writer/director Matthew P. Rojas, with many more to come!) which has helped broaden the appeal of FCSFR and thereby boost views.  We also have a nice Facebook page to check out as well!

I completed the first draft of a new short story, a dramatic modern gothic ghost story titled (at the moment, anyway) "Family Spirits".  I have also been working hard with film producer Linda Marie Curry, writing a script for her coming soon short film, "Dralien".  More script work is coming soon as well, not to mention more short story news and of course, many more updates for Forest City Short Film Review.

2014 is already turning out to be a very exciting year indeed!

Plenty of good stuff to talk about today!  You can find ten articles my wife and I have written for the Rockford Register Star and Rockford Parent magazine on my Portfolio page.  A movie review for the comedic short film "The Apocalypse" was posted on Forest City Short Film Review.

Much, much more on the way, as always.

Are you looking for a freelance writing team that will work with you every step of the way to deliver the perfect article for your website or business?  We are actively seeking new clients, so feel free to contact us!

The Rockford Register Star published our first article written for the newspaper on July 27th.  It was released in the print issue and also online.  It was an absolute blast to talk to David Engelbrecht, Harlan Holm and Brad Larson, and thanks go to all three for helping keep the Ogle County Fair alive.  They are a great group of guys, and they support a very worthy cause.

Another article was published on Rockford Parent magazine and also in the August 4th issue of the Rockford Register Star, this one about male daycare teachers and the unique challenges they face in an otherwise female dominated industry.  Thank you to Shane Wernick for taking the time out of his day to talk to us, and for Circles of Learning for putting us in touch.

And finally, a third article saw the light of day at Rockford Parent magazine as well, this time about bedtime stories and how kids who are read to often do better in school. A big thank you goes out to Amanda Meyers, a children's librarian at Rockford Public Library, for her thoughts.  Lisa Jones and Heather Lill also provided some great ideas for bedtime stories.  Thank you to everyone!

Many more articles are on the publishing horizon, including several that should see print in Rockford Parent magazine's September issue. 

We are also actively seeking new clients, so if you are interested, absolutely check out the Services and Testimonials pages above and get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Rockford Parent magazine has published a new article written by my wife and I.  This article is about a new culinary arts program for kids here in Rockford.  Check it out!

The "Dad Says . . ." column continues, and my latest blogs can be viewed here.  Most recently, I consider the potential educational elements of games like Minecraft here.

Forest City Short Film Review is now covering "Finish Well", a Christian war drama.  I break down exactly what's working and what doesn't, PLUS there are links to watch the actual film, so don't miss out on that!

More updates coming soon!

Rockford Parent has officially re-launched, and I am one of the authors featured daily on their new "Dad Says . . . " column.  Check it out here, and check out my wing of the blog, where you can read all of my humorous fatherhood blogs without having to search through those written by other authors.

In other news, a radio commercial I wrote is airing nightly on 97.5 WZOK.  I wrote the commercial for Cartridge World, and I have to say that it turned out great.  It airs after 3:00 PM on Sundays through Wednesdays, so LISTEN LIVE to check it out if you get a chance! 

In other news, Forest City Short Film Review has been receiving hundreds of viewers in the past week thanks to big reviews of short films like coming of age flick Cycle and poignant personal drama A Compelling Force.  

As a bonus, I posted a "how to" article on online education.  Check out a great way to educate yourself, and to guarantee learning never gets boring.  "How to Get a College Education By Doing It Yourself" is online here!

Thank you to all the viewers who have been reading "But It Feels Like Forever".  That short story, the fiction writing sample posted here on this website, is a very personal piece and one of my best.  More short fiction is coming soon, and I'll keep all of you posted on that as well.

The word "education" has acquired such a stigma over the past ten years thanks to sky high unemployment and lower wages for jobs that require four year college degrees. This is an unfair criticism of education as a whole, because the truth is, as a human being in the school of life, you are learning all the time. You can take the reins of your self-education and make it count for your personal life just as much as any money making institution, and honestly, you can do it better because you can do it for YOU.
Let's not beat around the bush here or make false promises: self education will not give you a certificate or a degree. It will not be valid when pursuing employment. But it can make you a more well rounded and knowledgeable individual. You can pursue your passion at your own pace without having to worry about the unnecessary negativity that comes along with a brick and mortar or online school: dealing with unreasonable teachers, worrying over exams or any of that.
So how do you go about teaching yourself what you want to know? I'll show you my own personal process, and you can make of it what you will. If something works for you, then go for it. If it doesn't, try something different. I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers, and honestly, I'd love to hear about your own adventures in self education, so leave comments aplenty, please!
What are you interested in? In my case, I'm a writer. I have a love for literature. I love reading and I enjoy history. I however am not well versed on the literary greats throughout history, English, American or otherwise.
I wanted to change this, so I decided to focus on literature.
In a normal college, you'd have to then pick all the required classes, including the ones that don't make sense -- like College Algebra in my case (what is a literature major going to use college level algebra for?), wasting your first two years on classes that may or may not be relevant, and then cramming all the good stuff into the final two years.
Screw that.
This is your education, so make it count. What do you really want to know about? Are you interested in history, like I am? Then write that down as one of your core schools of study. Interested in guitar playing and music theory? Write that down, too.
These schools of study will make up the classes you must take to earn your self learning "degree".
Honestly, you can call it what you want. I like the word degree, because it provides a much needed association with a higher level of learning. I want my education to be just as good as anything I'd learn in a brick and mortar school.
This is where you're gonna bust out your Google. Get on any search engine and start looking for schools that offer four year degrees for each of your schools of study. In my case, I found a few different colleges that offer four year English degrees and looked into the core classes of such a degree. I wrote down these classes (and you can choose electives as well). If there are some that aren't relevant to what you want to learn about, then skip them.
Repeat this for your other schools of study. In this case, mine was history and music theory. I checked out what would be relevant and wrote them down.
By now you should have quite a list of classes. Don't freak out -- these will be done in your own time. There is no rush to do anything.
Take it one step at a time, and if you ever feel pressured to do too much, then step away for a while. Take a breather, and get back into it when you can.
Now, pick the first class for each of your schools of study. Get back onto Google and search the class name followed by the word "syllabus". For instance, you could type in "ENGLISH COMPOSITION I SYLLABUS".
Chances are you're going to find that exact class, and the exact syllabus to go along with it. This syllabus is now your road map for this individual course. It will tell you what textbooks to buy and, ideally, a list of assignments to complete.
Once again, it's up to you how far you want to go with this. Try checking out YouTube and searching for OpenCourseWare -- that's where individual colleges will post the video of every single lecture of the class, the syllabus, and all handouts you will need to complete the course. They do this to try and show how colleges provide a worthy product, but you can use this to your advantage. You can literally take your class as though you actually trucked your butt to a real school and watch the whole thing unfold before your very eyes.
I have a three ring binder called "Lit Quest" in which I keep all my school related stuff. I like watching lectures, but you could just as easily cover the topics listed in your syllabus through educational podcasts on your topic (once again, Google it) or even an extensive Wikipedia search. Print out everything and put it in your binder.
If you're watching lectures, TAKE NOTES. There is so much information in every college class meeting that you're bound to forget some of it. By taking notes, not only will you ensure you won't lose any of the information, your writing will help organize what you're learning so you can make more sense of it.
When you've reached the point where you have a good amount of information, jot down the gist of what you're learning in your journal. You want to write this as if you're writing to someone who doesn't know this stuff -- imagine it's a letter written to your past self, the person you were before you started taking these classes.
One big thing about education is that it's all about repetition. The more you see something, the more you read about a topic, and the more you solve problems and explain what you're learning to other people, the better you'll know your subject.
Don't forget to harness the amazing power of Facebook and Twitter in your educational quest. Search for Facebook groups on self education, and about the topics you're studying. Talk to people who either know what you want to know, or who are also in the process of learning the same.
If you're taking an OpenCourseWare class online, find the professor and tell them what a good job they did on the class, and how it's opened your eyes to learning. They'll appreciate it because they work hard, and they'll be more open to answering any questions you might have about the material.
This can also work without OpenCourseWare, by the way. Just check that syllabus you printed and find the professor. You need experts to give you pointers if you're ever going to master the subjects you are studying, and the Internet provides you with an amazing opportunity to do just that.
Here's the thing: self education never ends. You'll complete certain topics, and your understanding of those topics open up new frontiers in your mind, new things that you didn't even know about before starting your own particular self educational journey.
That's the beauty of life: there's never time to get bored. You don't have to complete all these classes in four years or less. You can take your time. You can write a 40 page thesis paper, or if you'd rather not, you don't have to.
Education need not be associated with stuffy colleges and boring, menial tasks that have nothing to do with what you are passionate about. Self education proves that.
The most important thing that self education does is it opens your mind to learning and doing new things. It changes you, it makes a little part of you brand new again as the world somehow regains some of the excitement it held when you were a child.
And there's just so much out there that's worth knowing, how could you not fall in love with learning again?

I recently completed work adapting a feature length screenplay for Vathos Media.  "Closer Than a Brother" is a religious crime drama, and I look forward to reporting more on this project as more and more production details emerge.

My blog review, Forest City Short Film Review, continues to grow.  Now with eight reviews, an exclusive interview, and attention from industry professionals, the sky is the limit.  Most recently, I reviewed an experimental short film that was an impressive challenge considering the small budget the writer/director Ien Chi had to work with.

Writer/director and longtime film industry professional Paul B. Harris contacted me with incredibly kind words regarding my short film reviews.

"I really like the way you break-down the various elements of film making in the final analysis of your reviews, allowing the reader to see just how you came up with your overall numerical rating. You're providing a valuable service to the makers of short films, since without any theatrical exposure it's tough for an audience to find these films."
Wow, thank you, Paul!  His comments can now be found under my Testimonials page.

I continue working with Cartridge World Rockford producing their e-mail newsletter.  Our contact list has grown to over 5,000 customers.  That's a very big milestone and I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

My fiction blog will be undergoing major overhauls over the next few weeks in order to catch up with the new links here and at Forest City Short Film Review.  More original releases are coming soon.

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