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Fall Courses & Workshops

Here’s a roundup of my new communications studies this summer and fall.

Breaking writing into progressive steps, from before the writing begins to after you’ve completed the first draft, whether a screenplay, manuscript or blog post, Writing Boot Camp features assigned and spot writing opportunities and my detailed feedback. Course topics include pre-writing habits, tips, tools and resources and immersion in writing as an art and science. I instruct in selecting the format, designating a topic and formulating the theme of what you aim to write. Writing and editing are studied, examined and practiced, both one on one as well as in collaboration with the class. Students are tasked with active thinking, writing and reading aloud. So, it’s called boot camp for a reason. I introduced the course last year after creating a 90-minute workshop on assignment and, while it is structured based on what I have learned in classes I’ve attended, the course is proprietary and fundamentally grounded in my own professional writing experience. I’m enthusiastic about the new material and I hope to have my first guest instructor, a published author of dozens of books, this coming semester. I plan to expand Writing Boot Camp in the future (follow the fall course on Facebook here).

WritingBootcamp

Touch/Click to Register

Who takes the adult education course? Everyone from screenwriters, poets and published authors to police officers trying to improve clarity in reports and lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Past students include songwriters, teachers and entrepreneurs, also a studio executive in charge of writing talent, a social media manager aiming to improve his storytelling and a celebrity actor’s manager seeking to better ascertain quality scripts. Some students come for acquiring knowledge and practice in a disciplined approach. Others seek to replenish a creative supply through immersion with other writers in an encouraging, guided environment. Register for this fall’s Writing Boot Camp, which starts on September 15 near Los Angeles, by going to the link included here.

My social media series starts that week, too (follow this fall’s All About Social Media on Facebook here). Space is limited for both of these 10-week courses, so if you’re in Southern California, mark your calendar and sign up soon as enrollment has started and both courses are filling up. Improving the social media course based on student feedback, I make time for new, live demonstrations and tutorials and plans for computer laboratory instruction. I want to include guest instructors for this course, too, and I’ve already updated lessons based on the latest social media trends, tools and failures, including experience from my own client projects, campaigns and branding.

The course remains a general orientation to social media with emphasis on best editorial practices, so I want to be clear that this is not a course on every feature of Instagram or Facebook. This approach leads to interesting exchanges as you can imagine. Students often come expecting me to tell them what to do in each part of the social media experience. But, as advanced users know, you learn by doing, too, and trial and error is integral to mastering new technology. Also, the downside of social media stems from plunging in without purpose, direction or clarity in one’s highest goals, which feeds drift, distraction and aimlessness. So, I’m careful to instruct students in how to guide social media based on their own decisions while pointing to certain uses and specific features. Past students include adults who want to know more about this amorphous new industry, from filmmakers and artists seeking a better grasp of distribution means to grandparents, activists and merchants seeking to better connect, persuade and cash in. To register for All About Social Media go here.

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Touch/click for details of “Making Sense of Social Media”

Additionally, I’ve been asked to help individuals who are looking for work, so I’ve created a new 90-minute workshop on writing the resume and mastering the job interview. This one-time class is scheduled at the adult school for August 26 and it’s free to the public (details below). So is another one-time 90-minute class I’m giving on social media in downtown Burbank on the upsides and downsides of social media. “Making Sense of Social Media” also examines a range of recent social media examples, trends, success and failure.

Go here for details and here to follow “Making Sense of Social Media” on Facebook.

All About Social Media
Tuition: $89
Burbank Adult School
Mondays, 6pm-8pm
Sept 12-Nov 14, 2016
Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Writing Boot Camp
Tuition: $89
Burbank Adult School
Thursdays, 6pm-8pm
Sept 15-Nov 17, 2016
Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Free Workshops

Making Sense of Social Media
7pm-8:30pm
Monday, August 22, 2016
Burbank Public Library, Central Branch
Downtown Burbank, California | FREE admission

Jobs, Resume & Interviews
Writing the Resume
Mastering the Job Interview
10am-11:30am | FREE admission
Friday, August 26, 2016 at Burbank Adult School | Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Of course, let me know if you are unable to attend the classes, which are offered in downtown Burbank at the library and at the Henry Mingay campus of Burbank Adult School near Bob Hope Airport. Otherwise, if you want help, I can probably work with you remotely or meet if you’re in LA. Contact me to schedule a private session. Follow my events on Facebook and feel free to connect and follow on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Spring Books and Movies and a New Summer Course

Enrollment in my writing course for adults doubled this semester, so I’ve been invited to teach a summer course. The weekly Thursday night class in general writing begins in June and runs through mid-July. I also teach a summer course on social media.

I will add summer registration links. In the meantime, both courses this spring have been enhanced to include new readings, demonstrations and material. In the writing course, I’ve incorporated study of writings by Rudyard Kipling, Shirley Jackson, William Ernest Henley, Ray Bradbury and O. Henry. Students read their work aloud in class this week and next week’s class features a lesson on resources, including books about writing based on lectures by my favorite writer, Ayn Rand, who wrote bestselling fiction and non-fiction for stage, screen, print, broadcasting and literature. Rand additionally wrote for journals, newspapers and for certain editions of books by Leonard Peikoff and Victor Hugo.

BurbankAdultSchoolAyn Rand’s lectures on writing were adapted for two outstanding volumes, The Art of Fiction and The Art of Non-Fiction. For motivation, I suggest reading screenwriter Brian Koppelman’s 202 Practical Writing Tips, which are excellent. Proper writing practices are also addressed in All About Social Media, which offers an essential guide to creating, using and maximizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (contact me if you have any questions). These general courses are for personal enrichment and students represent a range of personal and professional interests. This semester includes the usual mixture of musicians, actors, writers and entrepreneurs and also an engineer, an attorney, a chiropractor and a studio executive, so the environment is relaxed, studious and inclusive. Classrooms have free wifi and courses include my visual presentations. The campus is located near Bob Hope Airport.

This spring’s Festival of Books at University of Southern California’s campus is on my agenda this week and, later this month, I plan to attend an event in Santa Monica featuring Objectivist co-author Don Watkins on his new book. I’m reading a novel by the late John O’Hara that Robert Benton recommended to me and I look forward to reading a new book by Georgetown University scholar Randy Barnett on the Constitution (for HarperCollins with a foreword by George Will). I finished filmmaker Mike Binder‘s exciting first novel, a political thriller set in London (for Macmillan’s Henry Holt and Company). I plan to post a review.

Besides my contract work, I’m entering stories in competitions and studying, developing and exploring new projects, which takes time. I plan to return to Turner Classic Movies’ Classic Film Festival in Hollywood this month for new insights and interviews on motion pictures. I’ve recently enjoyed several movies with good scripts—Zootopia‘s the best film in theaters and I recommend the new movie about Hank Williams, I Saw the Light, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition (expanding soon) and The Weinstein Company’s wonderful musically-themed 80s film Sing Street, opening soon—and I look forward to the new Jungle Book picture by Jon Favreau based on Kipling’s tales. A sneak preview I saw at Disneyland last week looks terrific.

2016 Communication Courses

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Early next year, I plan to offer my media courses again. I finished teaching my first writing course this month and repeated the social media course, too. Both are scheduled to return in February 2016.

Registration starts this week. Enroll in my 10-week Writing Boot Camp here. Register for my 10-week All About Social Media course here. Both courses take place on a campus north of Los Angeles.

Students in the writing course learn how to prepare for writing as an exercise, how to build, write and edit the piece, and how to write with the audience, context and format in mind. Each student will have an opportunity to have his writing evaluated. The 10-session series for general adult education includes a final writing assignment.

This fall, the class, which consisted of those writing for Hollywood, blogs, reports for work and fiction, read or studied literary works by Hans Christian Andersen and O. Henry among others when we weren’t reading and studying student writings, outlines and themes. I refer prospective students to this much-appreciated endorsement from a producer who enrolled in both one of my courses and several of my workshops:

Scott Holleran is the best instructor in his field in the Southland. He is also incredibly talented as a writer and blogger. He has one of the sharpest minds I have encountered anywhere. He is brilliant and creative and very skilled in all facets of communications, journalism and adult education. His instruction has had a tremendously positive impact on my life.”

Writing Boot Camp’s outline is: the pre-writing phase; choosing format, topic and theme; writing within the genre; making lists, doing research and creating the outline; the writing phase; checking one’s work and the editing phase.

social_media_bleed copy

Click to Register

My social media course covers proper social media management, including instruction in creating campaigns. This features a full examination of one’s brand, goals, context, contacts and connections, and is rooted in my premise that being social is a natural part of being human and that success must be measured by what one gains from the experience. Accordingly, students learn all major social media, including through live demonstration and step by step instruction and analysis, based on my thesis.

All About Social Media’s outline is: basic orientation; conducting introspection; Facebook; Twitter and LinkedIn; visually-driven media, such as YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest; differentiating from other media; pitfalls and live class demonstration. A final presentation by each student is also part of the course.

Registration for both courses is now open (if seats are available), so register online (All About Social Media and Writing Boot Camp) or, after January 4, feel free to call (818) 558-4611 to enroll over the phone. Please note that these courses are not yet available for online attendance.

Burbank Public Library

Burbank Public Library

I also gave a blogging workshop this month sponsored by the Burbank Public Library, which was standing room only. The 90-minute class in downtown Burbank was packed with bloggers, artists, entrepreneurs and published authors and screenwriters and the program director was kind enough to add more seating, so I hope that everyone gained value from the lesson. I appreciate the greeting assistance from my former students Jeff and Rayne and I enjoyed meeting everyone. If I missed answering your question or you thought of a question afterwards, feel free to contact me.

Private individual and group instruction is also available if you’re not able to attend class in Southern California. Contact me for details.

Civil War Stories

Photo by Matthew Brady, National Archives

Photo by Matthew Brady, National Archives

Part of this year’s American Civil War exhibit, “Empire & Liberty: Civil War and the West”, at the Autry National Center of the American West includes an occasional academic affair and I recently attended such a panel discussion, titled “Invisible Injuries: Civil War Veterans and the Legacies of Violence.” The event was informative and sobering.

Two scholars, Dora Costa, a UCLA professor of economics and author of Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War and Roxane Cohen, a University of California, Irvine psychology and social behavior professor, and moderator William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, examined several aspects of recent studies about Civil War soldiers, including certain demographic and relational breakdowns, injuries and deaths.

They addressed their research into war-related trauma among Civil War veterans and their communities and the long-term psychological consequences of the war. Among their findings, which readers can explore here, are that 19 percent of enlisted soldiers in the study were between the ages of nine and 17 years old. I had known from my education and studies with John David Lewis that those who fought in the war were especially young. I had not known, however, that 95 percent of those enlisted were volunteers, more than any other war since the American Revolution. The presentation gave me a sense of life the United States at the time of the Civil War while demonstrating that the long-term effects of war on communities, states, countries and the culture are serious, devastating and transformative, if realized decades later.

Their resarch shows that unit cohesion, such as how many in the company were related by blood, similar age, community, ethnicity, etc. and/or how closely soldiers related to one another as friends and comrades, enhanced a soldier’s ability to heal and survive. Another positive impact apparently came from strong social network support, such as moral support through picnics and parades, which had measurable improvement on mens’ ability to survive and sustain injury after the war. Even celebrations around Christmastime and Thanksgiving correlate to mens’ higher survival rates and longer lives. Scholars also explained that companies were constructed differently; the Union companies were kept largely intact, while the Confederacy constantly replenished its company troops on the idea that new recruits would motivate the men to learn to fight.

Additionally, Costa attributes the rise of trench warfare to the huge proliferation following the Napoleonic Wars of small arms. When I asked her about survivability rates among abolitionists that enlisted—survivability rates were highest among deserters and free black men in the Union Army who were not assigned to fight in battle as often—Costa said they died in greater numbers because abolitionists were more motivated to fight to win and end the war to abolish slavery, which the Civil War did, in fact, accomplish. This was a fascinating program, part of the Autry’s “Empire & Liberty: Civil War and the West”, which I plan to review in a future post.

What’s New

New to the archives are my 2006 interview with actor Sam Elliott (Grandma) about his role in a TV movie and other work (read the Sam Elliott interview here) and my 2011 interview with Robert Osborne about Liza Minnelli (New York, New York), who spoke about her movies and late parents, director Vincente Minnelli (Meet Me in St. Louis) and Judy Garland (A Star is Born). Read the interview about Liza here.

Sympathy_vote_FINAL_1007I’ve added a 2013 newspaper article about an unsolved murder in Illinois that happened 49 years ago today. The 21-year-old victim was the twin daughter of a wealthy CEO running for the United States Senate and her name was Valerie Percy. She was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in her bedroom while the family, except her stepmother, who awakened during the crime and became an eyewitness, slept in their lakefront home. The homicide remains unsolved, though the author of a book (pictured) names a prime suspect. Read Murder in Kenilworth here.

I also want to add my interview with an author of a book about Iran’s 1979 attack on America because the Iran deal is unfortunately imminent. I’m enthusiastic about my recent interview with Bob Hope‘s biographer. Besides articles, speculative writing and work for others, plans are underway to make more interviews, including several unpublished transcripts, available.

In the meantime, this summer’s writing workshop at the local library was a success, so I’ve been asked to teach a class on blogging, which I plan to do later this year. I am making a new low-cost webinar series this fall for which I plan to include a media booklet to help entrepreneurs, businesses and artists create, relate and distribute what they make and do. It’s in progress, so please stand by, as I know some readers outside of LA have asked about attending classes online or via streaming. I hope to post more information soon.

Hurry to register for next week’s 10-week courses here in suburban Los Angeles: an all-new Writing Boot Camp (register here), which explores writing habits and methodology and includes a checklist. Writing Boot Camp is fun, lively and streamlined (click/touch here to register). Registration is also open for All About Social Media for maximizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (register here). Contact me about private sessions.

Look for new book, product, home video and, of course, movie reviews. I have to admit that I am excited about the new season of Fox’s Empire (read my review of the first season here), which is purely an indulgence in escapism.