Sep 18

Relaunching ChrisJayBecker.Com

After close to 1 year of this website being without Hosting, and then having to let the domain name lapse, I finally relaunched this week. It’s not like anyone really missed me… I’d never really built the audience I’d hoped to build back in 2010 when I first attempted to do this.

The hardest part, both then and now, is deciding my blog’s target audience. Back then, it was easy to say that I wanted to use this blog as my Official Website for my works as an Indie author and publisher. Then my lack of prolificness as a writer, and the fact that my books were not selling like hotcakes on Amazon made this audience more of a pipe dream than any thing else until I get a back catalog.

My lack of success as a writer prevents me from making this blog an authority blog for indie publishing and writing, or for just plain creative writing itself. Who wants to listen to the ramblings of an unsuccessful writer?

I’ve decided to make this blog about storytelling. I’ve always been more of a storyteller than an artist anyway, and storytelling IS the new stand-up comedy, so there is that.

Talk to you soon.

Jul 18

Back In Hollywood

Legacy Post

First posted JULY 2013

As I write this post, I’m sitting by myself in a corner room in the ReTan Hotel on Whitley Ave, just a few doors down from the seven-nights-a-week party that is Hollywood Boulevard. I started this journey on June 1st, leaving Cedar Rapids, Iowa with my son Andrew, 30. We were driving a 27 foot Winnebago I’d just paid $5000 for, after having to abandon the Ford Escape SUV I’d just paid $6000 for. Our trip west, I-90 to Seattle, was fraught with all kinds of perils. Then we spent 6 weeks in Seattle trying to find an apartment to rent for me, Andrew, and our longtime friend, whom we’ll call Joe, and his pregnant girlfriend, whom we’ll call Magda. We moved to Seattle partly to help rescue Joe and Magda from the streets, from three years of homelessness and meth.But Seattle didn’t exactly open her arms to us, not even when we waved thousands of dollars in her nose. After 6 weeks in motels and in the RV, we had to give up and make an end run to Los Angeles before my savings was gone.

So now I’m home. Andrew found himself a place here in Hollywood with old friends. Joe and Magda and their newborn baby Magnus have gone off to live in the desert near Lake Isabella with Magda’s mom.

I’m staying night-to-night in this Hollywood hotel while I search for a room to rent from somebody and find a telemarketing/customer service day job. At least I’m here. I’m back in Los Angeles where I belong. As I write the second King Leary novel, The Meaning Of Death, I can walk the same Hollywood/Los Angeles streets that Leary and Adler walk, I can drink in the sheer OOMPH that is Los Angeles in 2013. I can find new stories every day I walk these streets, ride these buses and trains, find new places to eat at, find new dives to drink at. And I can continue my careers as a stand up comedian, a screenwriter, even as a movie extra.

It’s a thrill every day to walk the tawdry, cracked, yet-somehow-glamourous black sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame, worrying about my future as I dodge the homeless, the crazies, the dudes trying to hand me brochures to their Hollywood tours, listening to the excited tourists speaking Spanish, German, Portuguese, Swedish, and other languages of the world as they politely TAKE the tour dudes’ brochures and pause to consider which tour is the best deal.

And here I am… yet another writer, comic, movie extra, scanning Craigslist for that chance…

Living the Dream, baby! The HOLLYWOOD Dream!

UPDATE: Late last week, I found a shared room in South Los Angeles, down the Metro Blue Line. Today I started a telemarketing gig in Culver City.

All night long, the Blue Line trains whoosh by my open window with rattle and often a blaring horn.

Somehow, for this L.A. Crime Writer, it all seems right.

Jul 18

Elmore Leonard

Legacy Post

First Posted AUGUST 2013

Los Angeles, CA

Today we learned that Elmore Leonard died. He was universally lauded as perhaps the finest American Crime Writer alive. The world is a little sadder now that there will, soon at least, be no more new Elmore Leonard novels coming out. We’ll have to do with the 80 or so books that he left us.

Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans but raised in Detroit. He continued to live near Detroit even after Hollywood began to churn out Elmore Leonard adaptations such as Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, 3:10 To Yuma, and that TV show where Timothy Olyphant plays Marshal Raylan Givens.

Dutch Leonard excelled at writing sympathetic bad guys. I submit to you that Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction engaging baddies Jules Winfield (Sam Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) owed everything to Elmore Leonard. Small coincidence that those two actors would soon star in Elmore Leonard-derived films: Travolta as the likable shylock-turned-movie mogul Chili Palmer in Get Shorty, and Sam Jackson as a likable arms dealer in Jackie Brown (directed by Tarantino.)

When I first discovered Dutch Leonard, in the early 1980’s, I realized that he was, to me, the new Hammett. Later, I realized that he was much better than Hammett had ever been.

My current WIP, the second King Leary novel titled The Meaning of Death, features two likable hit men named Mambo and Fatmouth. Basically, I’ve been following the Elmore Leonard template for such characters. But I’m far from alone in this… were it not for Leonard’s many Florida-set capers we wouldn’t have Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey. And my own L.A. tales owe as much to Get Shorty as they do to Raymond Chandler.

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard. You were the best.

And now James Ellroy really IS our greatest living American Crime Writer.

The King is dead.

Long Live the King!


Jul 18

Review: Ignited Spaces Hollywood

Legacy Post

First Posted JULY 2014

Los Angeles, CA

This might be a geeky thing to admit, but I was watching the pilot for the Amazon Prime sitcom “Betas” which opens at a communal office somewhere in San Francisco. This caught my imagination, so I immediately paused the episode and Googled communal workspaces in Los Angeles. One of the spaces that caught my attention was Ignited Spaces on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood. It turned out that Ignited Spaces is at Hollywood and La Brea, above my favorite Hollywood Blvd coffee shop, Tiago.

I decided to check out Ignited Spaces first because I discovered through their website that they offer a 3 day free trial. I quickly contacted them through their website’s reply form. Later that night, I received an email from Ignited Spaces’ co-founder Matt Davis asking me when I wanted to come by and check them out.

The next day, after I left my day job in North Hollywood, I got off the Red Line at Hollywood/Highland Station and walked two blocks to Ignited Spaces.

To my surprise, when I walked in the place, Deidre, the receptionist, greeted me with, “Chris?” This surprised me because I had not confirmed which day I was gonna come by.

She took me on a quick tour of the outrageously comfortable office, showed me the kitchen, the main co-op space which features three large tables with eight desk spaces at each table. there were a total of four people at work on their laptops. I made the 5th. Five spots out of 24 is not bad. And these tables are situated in front of two large picture windows with kick-ass views of Hollywood Blvd and the Hollywood Hills. I sat with my back to the Boulevard, on my six, and Runyon Peak to my right at my two.

I’m typing this post at that table right now. I figured why not give Ignited a quick review. So I grabbed a cup of joe, plugged in, entered the wifi passwords that Deidre gave me, put the Afghan Whigs “Gentlemen” album on Spotify, and started typing this post.

I will continue this post later, when I’ve gathered more info, but my point for this blog post is this: writers, check out the cooperative or communal office spaces in your city. Here in L.A., a day pass to one of these places runs $15 to $20. Not bad. And a monthly membership is in the $125 range. As broke as I usually am, $20 for a day of productive writing, free of the distractions of home and the guilt of tying up a cafe or fast food table for 7 hours is well worth it. At this point in my writing career, I’m only gonna need 1 or 2 day passes a week. Once my blogs, books, stories, and copywriting gigs start paying off a little more, I’ll spring for the monthly membership at one of these places.

More later…. I need to write other stuff for awhile.

Jul 18

Write Drunk Edit Sober Pt 2

Legacy Post from 2013



Alright now, people. This here’s where the rubber meets the road.

You’ve already hammered away at your latest masterpiece, AKA,”The latest P.O.S.” You wrote it three-sheets to the wind, drunk, plastered, bombed, or at least an approximation thereof (I’ve heard T.M. works great, as does good old-fashioned Speaking in Tongues.) Remember it’s Write Drunk, Edit Sober, so you Wrote Drunk.

So now you’re left with a brilliant-in-spots steaming pile of words.

What to do what to do what to do?

Another Jager Bomb? Later, dude.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober.

It’s coffee time, or Red Bull, or Monster, or Rock Star. But NEVER Diet Rock Star, that offends my sensibilities. I mean, NOBODY ever said, as a child, “When I grow up, I wanna be a DIET Rock Star. Buy me a lo-cal guitar, Daddy.”

Anyway, it’s time to Edit Sober.

So how do I do that?

Here’s Big Daddy Becker’s Five-Step Program (You were worried I was gonna say Twelve-Step Program, right, ladies? Relax, lush.)

Nothing helps iron out awkward prose like the good old ham-actor’s “Line reading.” You should write they way you speak, anyway, so this is a major step in that direction.

These are paragraphs that make sense, but not necessarily WHERE they are now. Would this paragraph make more sense down the page a click or two, preferably with the other paragraphs that are on the same subject matter. The problem with Writing Drunk, is we have a tendency to “Shoot all over the tree.” So get those disparate threads of thought and put them where they belong. Sing that old Sesame Street song to yourself,”One of these things is not like the others/one of these things does not belong…”

Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things. Watch for these:

Too, Two, To
It’s, its,
Your, You’re
Affect, Effect
Casual, Causal
Our, Hour
Our, Are
Allusion, Illusion
Than, Then
Pin, Pen

The problem with sound-alike words? Spell-check is not gonna catch them because they are actual words which are spelled correctly, but are used incorrectly.

Which brings me to my next point…

This is always a good idea. However, there are times when perfect grammar makes for stiff writing. So read your corrected copy aloud again.


Put your copy aside overnight. Edit it again in a day or two when you’re no longer in the white heat of creation.

Jul 18

Write Drunk Edit Sober Pt 1

Legacy Post from 2013



“Write drunk, edit sober,” it’s an often-quoted bit of advise generally attributed to Ernest Hemingway. This pithy quote is all over the internet. You can buy Write Drunk Edit Sober posters, Write Drunk Edit Sober coffee mugs, and Write Drunk Edit Sober t-shirts, often accompanied by a photo of Papa Hemingway himself.

Write drunk edit sober. Never mind that Hemingway never actually said it. It’s actually a paraphrase of something 1960’s novelist Peter De Vries had his main character say in his 1964 novel “Reuben, Reuben.” in that book the character, a famous drunkard poet Gowan McGland, says, “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober…”

de vries pic
You remember De Vries… he’s the guy who said, “I love being a writer… what I can’t stand is the paperwork,” another quote which has often been attributed to everyone from Hemingway to Capote to Groucho Marx. Poor De Vries is the Rodney Dangerfield of American novelists… the Quotation Gods never give him any respect.

Here’s the full McGland utterance:

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

Write drunk edit sober. To quote Yosemite Bear when he saw the double-rainbow, “What can this MEAN?”

Let’s dissect the chief elements of McGland’s fictional utterance, because there is just so much there:


Okay, most of us have done this, literally, at one time or other. For me, it’s a load of fun but it rarely produces readable copy. The whole Blakean ideal of a derangement of the senses in order to produce Art… it seems to work on some levels for some of us. In my personal experience, getting even a little out of ones head works well for short pieces like poetry, song lyrics, jokes, or story ideas. It doesn’t work at all for me when it comes to writing long stretches of story.

Then again, what intrigues most of us about this whole idea to “Write Drunk Edit Sober” is the realization that Hemingway, De Vries, or whomever we choose to believe said this maxim, was not necessarily trying to say to write drunk in the literal sense, but, rather in a broader metaphorical sense. As Charles Baudelaire wrote, “Get drunk, with wine, with poetry, or with virtue as you please.” Our “drink” may not be drink at all… it could as easily be good food, good company, Love, Romance, Sex, God, or even good old-fashioned sleep-deprivation. In other words, STOP OVERTHINKING THINGS… WRITE without editing yourself. The editor part of you will do his or her job later. Never write and edit at the same time. Even if you have your story all planned out with maps and flow charts and outlines when it’s time to write, then just blow, man. Jam it out. Let yourself get into the white-hot zone of creation. Just jam it out until the words refuse to come out any more. Then put that writing aside ’til at least tomorrow. For now, write like Dionysus/Bacchus on a wine bender, let the rhythm, the music, the colors, the smells, just wash over you like a warm forgiving Sea.

In the next installment, we’ll look at the Apollonian half of the dichotomy. The Soberness. The Editor. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun too. As the saying goes: Writing is Art, Rewriting is Craft.

Jul 18

Back To The Heartland

1 August 2014– After exactly one year of living in my native Los Angeles, which to me also meant a return to Hollywood, I have returned to my adopted hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to regroup, work, save money, and of course write.

In truth, I barely even got a chance to work on my Hollywood writing career, or to do much stand-up comedy. I did hit a half-dozen open mics in Hollywood and North Hollywood. That was a learning experience. And I wrote a spec sitcom pilot while riding the Red Line and the Blue Line. But, overall, I just worked my day job and then suffered at nights, living in deplorable conditions which I could not seem to get myself out of. With no support system, no family.

1 December 2014– My sojourn in Los Angeles was good for me as a writer. I relearned the land of my birth, and the land of Raymond Chandler, Billy Wilder, Nathanael West, James Ellroy, and of my own King Leary stories. Now, as the dreaded Midwest Winter sets in, I’m working on a few more sitcom pilots, a young adult pilot, and a one-hour cop drama pilot. They’re all on simmer now, on back burners. Maybe once I hammer out their respective treatments, I’ll write the actual scripts and start the submission process. The sitcoms and the Y.A. pilot will go to Amazon Studios first. They’re my dawgs. The one-hour cop drama… Amazon doesn’t need those, so I’ll pitch that elsewhere.

Maybe once one of my Amazon scripts gets me an option, a ticket back to El Lay, and an agent, I’ll be in a better place to pitch the cop drama.

Now is the time, though, to forget about pitching and marketing and Hollywood, and just get lost in STORY.