Friday, May 22, 2015

Cheers! A Place Where Everybody Doesn’t Know Your Name by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

David Koepp. Chuck Lorre. Brian Garfield.

Ever hear of these people?

Do Jurassic Park, The Big Bang Theory, and Hopscotch ring any bells?

David Koepp helped write the screenplay for Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: The Lost World. He also wrote or co-wrote some other notable films like, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise), Mission Impossible, and Men in Black 3, just to name a few. Koepp has won three awards, including a Hugo Award, and been nominated seven times for various industry awards.

Chuck Lorre is the creator (and one of the directors and writers) for The Big Bang Theory. He has also created or written stories for shows like Two and a half Men, Mike & Molly, Mom, Dharma & Greg, Grace Under Fire, and Cybill. He’s garnered several Emmys and been nominated some 22 times for various awards.

Brian Garfield goes back a little further in time. I bring him up because he not only wrote the novel, Hopscotch, but he also helped write the screenplay for the movie, too…my favorite movie of all time, by the way. His novel won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1976. Other novelists to win that award are people you might know, like Steven King (Mr. Mercedes, 2015), John le Carre (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1965), and Frederick Forsythe (The Day of the Jackal, 1972). So, not bad company. Garfield’s screenplay earned him an Edgar Award nomination for Best Motion Picture (1980) as well as a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy adapted from Another Medium (1980). Ironically, I thought the movie was so much better than the book. Not often the case, but in this one, it was. Garfield is also known for the Death Wish series, starring Charles Bronson, and Death Sentence (2007).

Looking at all the accolades mentioned above, one could easily surmise life for these three men as always being glamorous and glitzy. All the time. Every day. One look at their credits, and years of fame and fortune jump off the list. At face value, for no names like you and me, that can become discouraging.

Yet, did you know their names? When I asked you, did you say to yourself, “I know him!” In most cases, I would say, probably not, especially if you are a novelist.

In this day and age, with information glut adding pound after pound of unwanted trivial fat to our writer bodies and reading diets, and coupled with the specialization that occurs in most industries these days, is it any wonder you may not have heard of them? If you are a screenplay or teleplay writer, then you probably did know who they were. But you’d be scratching your head on writers’ names we novelists know.

The point is this (In my best Yoda voice): A name makes known one not. A name makes important one not.

Instead, it’s the work. The work makes the person. Not the name. And in most cases, there was a lot of work done before these men ever “caught their first break.” And yet, even though they are responsible in part for helping create some of the most famous TV shows, movies, and novels out there, many people still don’t know who they are. If you did your own Man on the Street interviews, Jay Leno style, the percentage of people who would correctly recognize these three men is small.

Chuck Lorre just wrote his 500th vanity card, a kind of trademark for him, at the end of his most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. In those cards, which always appear in the credits at the end of one of his shows, some little editorial or comment from Lorre is printed and shown. The topics vary, but often have something to do with the show itself, or his life as a writer.

In this 500th card, he wrote the following1: 

When I sat down to write this, my five hundredth vanity card, my first inclination was to use self-deprecating humor. Something along the lines of how proud I am to have a large body of work. Sure, it has no real value, but hey, it's still large. If a person were to sit down and try to read all my cards, the verb "wade" might come to mind. But then I thought, "No. I am not going to waste this momentous event with false modesty. I am going to trumpet my accomplishment. I am going to take a well-deserved bow for eighteen years of hard work. Unpaid work. Work done just for the love of doing it. And let's not forget, I've really spilled my guts in some of these things. A man's life and innermost thoughts exposed for all to see. And oh, how I've labored over the jokes. Literally thousands of hours, grinding away, trying to find just the right combination of words to make you laugh. What was I thinking with the self-deprecation? Five hundred vanity cards. Who else has done that? I'll tell you who. Nobody. Just me. Yeah, that's right. You heard me. And I'll tell you another thing. No one ever will do it. You know why? Because you have to produce five hundred friggin' TV shows first!"

Okay, I'm done trumpeting.

And I think I need help.

Did you catch it? Eighteen years of hard work? And he’s only referring to the work done that we would probably recognize (See aforementioned shows above). What about the phrase, “Unpaid work”? Did you catch that one? Pro bono? Famous people don’t do pro bono work, do they? Only if they can write it off their taxes or get some great pub, right?

Apparently, yes. They do. Probably as a favor. Possibly as a means of “getting their name out there.” When you look up Lorre’s work, there are a great deal of “one episode” listings on his IMDb page, including Muppet Babies and some cartoon named Defenders of the Earth (Ever hear of that one? Me neither.)

It’s all about the work. Not what comes to us as a result of the work. Those things fade. But the work lives on long after the last paycheck’s been spent. And don’t be concerned if someone doesn’t know your name. If they know your work, isn’t that good enough?

So, before you go on your next self-deprecating tour, remember, it’s really all about the “hard, unpaid work” that makes us who we really are. For us, as Christians, that means even more (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Getting paid is gravy.


Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
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Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson