Want some light beach reading that'll keep you laughing? Buy an autographed copy of my book, "My Wife & Times." A mere $15, postpaid.

Napping your way to Stardom! (acting tips)

Come watch me on a new site devoted to video reviews of independent films from around the world. I'm one of the reviewers!

It's like "Siskel and Ebert on the web." And in case you weren't sure, I'm Eberiffic.

This is only site on the web to feature video reviews of independent films and it also guides you to web sites where you can watch independent films from around the world, without leaving your computer (no sticky art house floors!).

Please take a look and tell everyone you know on the planet to also drop by.

Watch it now--it's free, it's short, it's very possibly entertaining! http://www.yourindiesareshowing.com/reviews.html

OK, so why am I reviewing films? Because I'm a working actor now, which of course makes me an expert. And, as an expert, I have some advice for all other actors:

My new book:
Napping your way to stardom, not to be confused with sleeping your way to the top

"Get the knack of getting people to help you and also pitch in yourself. A little money helps, but what really gets it right is to never ... I repeat, never, under any conditions, face facts." ~ Ruth Gordon

Last year I stopped facing facts and started doing what I wanted to do--acting. I used to act, then I stopped because it got all realistic and filled with rejection, which I finally understand has nothing to do with me.

One of the advantages of age is perspective, and now I can see that auditions aren't about rejection, they're about having fun. Go in, read, play. You either are what they're looking for or you aren't. So much of it is out of your control that you can give up trying to control it. Just go in, be energetic, commit, and then que sera, sera.

As soon as I started doing it for fun, I started to get parts. First the lead in a feature thriller (which will either be released--or escape later this year), and another lead in a feature--this one I've also somehow ended up co-writing (we start shooting in August).

All this explains why I've done so much less writing lately (other than the screenplay!), and also how I've come upon this priceless advice, which I am going to give to you, my dear readers, for free!


Acting is a very strange thing to do. It's partly a childlike game of pretending, part a very mature and sophisticated study of human nature, part alchemy and almost certainly a form of insanity.

It's difficult for actors to explain what they do to people who don't act, or even people who want to act but don't quite get it.

There have been countless books written trying to explain some secret method to acting so that simply reading the book can turn you into an actor.

Actors love to write these books because 1) other actors are sure there's a secret they just don't know yet, 2) are willing to pay almost anything to find out what it is, and 3) writing a book taps into this desperate market and writing one could possibly earn you enough money to quit your day job so you can concentrate on figuring out how to act.

No one has yet succeeded in writing one single book that really explains it (not even the Russians) which is why most actors have read countless books on the subject, optimistically and naively thinking the very next one will reveal the secret.

All of which explains why I'm going to write a book about acting myself.

My working title:

"Napping your way to stardom, not to be confused with sleeping your way to the top."

My "Approach" (and I can't call it "the Method" because that one's taken) is simple: Take naps and let your unconscious do the work.

Of course, I can't say it in one line like that, because 1) no one will pay $25 for one line, unless the one line is the secret to the universe, and while this comes close I still have to dress it up so the book has enough pages to seem worth 2.5 bills and is thick enough to have a spine that stands out on shelves--and, of course, despite it's outward simplicity, I assure you it's full of subtle complexities that can make or break the Approach.

Done correctly, you'll be the next George Clooney if you're a man, or Cate Blanchet if you're a woman. I personally feel those two actors should be cast in every movie ever made, especially because then I might have a chance to work with them.

But done incorrectly, you might sleep through a take, be fired and never work again.

So--you see--you must read the book. The entire $25 book. Every word. Even the little ones at the bottom of the page with stars in front of them that explain how I legally took concepts from other books and inserted them into my own, making it seem all that much more scholarly and official.

If nothing else, then you will be titillated by the chapter about "sleeping your way to the top" which goes into graphic detail and names names. It's good clean fun for the whole family.

In the interest of time and marketing, I will now present the preface to the book:


Acting is mysterious. It's probably something you can't do. The jury is out on whether even I can do i, but there are people who can do it, or at least be made to look as if they can, and these people are alternately called "Actors" and "crazy-ass."

There's no magic pill you can take to replace years of costly lessons, painful digging deep into your own damaged psyche, and dragging your sorry behind to seedy auditions where so-called directors ask you to remove your clothing and make barking noises, but my patent-pending method is as close as it gets.

"How," you may ask, if you are still reading, "can napping be the key?"

"How indeed," I reply, buying time, trying to figure out a answer that sounds like it's worth the $25 clams you shelled out to buy this book.

I pause, wondering if I should set The Secret free, knowing that if I do, the entire rotation of the earth might be thrown off its axis as myriad new actors rush to Hollywood or Bollywood or Dollywood to find fame, fortune and Botox.

I decide to risk it, knowing that unlike magicians, who must keep their tricks secret, the brotherhood of the magic craft of acting is one of sharing, caring, and most of all, swearing.

So, without further ado, here's the frigging secret.


It's a very good secret that only contains three letters. So easy to remember and/or tattoo.

Why napping? you might ask, if you're the kind who cannot leave well-enough alone.

The most logical reply to that is "Why not napping?"

You see? Simple. Direct. Clear. Precise. Easy to spell. Easy to type.

If you are still reading then you clearly didn't get it. Read it again, "Why not napping?"

Any better?

No, you're still reading. OK, I'll treat you as if you're a not-very-bright chicken and spell it out for you.

Napping has numerous benefits, the first of which is that it's a very good way to pass the time. You can escape from reality--just as you should when you act (even though while acting you must simultaneously immerse yourself in the reality of the given situation). See? Escape from and escape to. Mucho Zen.

Does this make no sense? No? That's a good sign. Keep reading.

Napping is refreshing. When you're on the set for 16 hours, most of that time is spent chatting with other actors trying to see if their agents are nicer and their career is better than yours, eating whatever is on the crafts services table (excuse me--they just put out the bean dip!), and if there's WIFI handy, checking your email to see if you have gotten a better job while waiting to do this one. Or heard from your agent. Or, if you're really bored and desperate, your mother. If your mother is like mine and has passed into the next world, then you shouldn't spend too much time waiting for email as it's just not healthy.

Naturally, the director will want to shoot your closeup at the very end of the day, when your makeup is starting to look cracked like Arizona on a hot day and the sun is setting so the production is "losing the light" and only have time for one take.

So as well as trying to get into the character and situation, you have 30-45 people staring at you, wondering if you're going to be able to get through a paragraph of dialog so cumbersome it can send lesser tongues into spasms. Or hoping yo're not one of those idiot actors who knew your lines all day but now that the camera is two inches from your nose is suddenly only able to think about the fact that you might have bits of chips in your teeth and are also distracted by the burning question of why you didn't trim your nose hair, just in case.

Now--if you have been awake all day, pacing, chatting, eating, then by now you will be quite tired. You might, in fact, be crashing from a sugar high caused by one too many little chocolate brownie bite things from Costco. In which case, you're screwed, the shot is lost, you have cost the producer tens to thousands of dollars, and your career is as dead as Pia Zadora's. Don't remember her? That's what I'm talking about.

Or--if you follow my advice, you will have 1) eaten protein before the take (cheese sticks are handy for this as they can fit in your pocket or sock), 2) checked your teeth in a mirror and flossed if necessary and checked your nose hairs, and 3) found the makeup person so they can fix your face and possibly save you from an eternity of playing corpses on bad TV shows, and 4) arrived on the set early, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and used my patent-pending, sure-fire, no-guarantees method of almost instantly falling asleep amidst the chaos of the set.

On a film set, if you aren't moving, you are instantly invisible. People will be having intimate conversations around you as if you are dead. Some of the crew might in fact wonder if you're dead but not want to check because then you'd be their problem. In other words, people will leave you alone.

And you will have escaped the insane, busy, tension-and-sweat-filled atmosphere, and have opened the door to your own subconscious mind, the place that holds the key to all the best acting. And you're right there, right in the middle of it. Seeing and hearing the things that lead to your character to achieve a metamorphosis from a bunch of badly, even randomly written words on the page, to a believable, deeply moving, and somehow spectacularly desirable character just ripe for acting awards.

That's right, all these benefits in one simple Approach.

Or at least, it seems simple enough. Did I mention that if you do this wrong you'll never work in this or any town again? I think I did, but I'll repeat it, in case you haven't yet purchased this book and are just some deadbeat reading it in the aisles, wondering how much you can glean for free.

If you glean nothing else from this, my friend, glean this: Napping is the key. I am so sure of it I guarantee it. If this book doesn't change your acting career (and life) for the better, than I guarantee you are doing something wrong.

So you see--you can't lose!

(Unless you're cheap, illiterate, stupid, tacky or completely lacking in talent.)

So read on, as I explain, in terms so simply they may even at times seem condescending, how napping is going to make you a star, even if only in your own mind (which, when you come to think of it, is really a lot easier than public stardom which, if you're ever seen a tabloid gets messy, fast).

Daniel Will-Harris

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Your Indies are Showing (movie reviews)

Come watch me on a new site devoted to video reviews of independent films from around the world. I'm one of the reviewers!

It's like "Siskel and Ebert on the web." And in case you weren't sure, I'm Eberiffic.

This is only site on the web to feature video reviews of independent films and it also guides you to web sites where you can watch independent films from around the world, without leaving your computer (no sticky art house floors!).

Please take a look and tell everyone you know on the planet to also drop by.

Watch it now--it's free, it's short, it's very possibly entertaining! http://www.yourindiesareshowing.com/reviews.html

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My Wife & Times

MY WIFE AND TIMES: Want to give someone (including yourself) a special gift? The one you know they don't already have, and that no one else will give them? There's nothing better (no overstatement there!) than autographed copies of my book, "My Wife & Times," for a mere $15, postpaid. Two for $25. http://www .SchmoozeLetter.com/book or get an unsigned copy on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/5lz6s


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XARA XTREME 4 - gives you super graphic powers!

If you've always wanted to be a super hero, but weren't sure which super power you'd choose, take my advice- -choose the super graphic powers of Xara. No, it's not like being able to fly or shoot lasers from your eyes, but 1) these are powers you can actually get and 2) you can actually afford it.

It's faster than a speeding bullet (virtually instant--it uses both cores of the new dual core processors). What you see is exactly, pixel for pixel, what you get. It was the first program with real-time anti-aliasing (so text and graphics look smooth), and transparency, so you can see through objects (just like in the real world, only with Xara you can see through anything, even a photo of a concrete wall--it's like having x-ray super powers without the need for tights and a cape!).

Xara has been my graphics software of choice since the previous millennium and it's still the best there is.

Xara Xtreme Pro's newest feature is real time image enhancement--even on huge 21 megapixel high-res images your adjustments are instant ("the world's fastest," they say). The auto image enhancement is truly amazing--like removing a layer of grime from your photos. And all image editing is non-destructive, which means your original image is always still available.

You can apply Photoshop-style filters to any object, even vectors and the bitmap handling and editing features have been enhanced.

Xara is so flexible you can use it for page layout--and building a web site!

Create multi-page files with text that flows for page layout-like power (great for short, design intensive documents without the need for a separate page layout program).

Export your design to a working multi-page HTML web site. Unlike other graphics programs which turn everything into a graphic, when possible Xara's web sites use normal HTML text.

Xara is also the easiest way I know to create Flash animations. No time lines or complex groups, just name objects, create a new "frame," then move, rotate, size or make other changes and Xara automatically tweens the objects, text, even photos smoothly from one frame to another. The results are perfect, compact SWF flash files you can drop onto any web page.

You can also do the highest quality print work, quickly and easily exporting to industry standard PDF/X files (for spot -on printed output). It's easy to import and export Photoshop PSD, and Acrobat PDF files for editing!

Xara's a rare combination of feature-rich, lightning fast and bulletproof --which is why I call it the best graphics program on the planet. Download a free trial.

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VMWare - Run Windows on your Mac

I love Xara--even though it only runs on Windows. A few months ago I switched from Windows, which I've used for years, to the Mac. Why? Because I didn't want to deal with Windows Vista which is only half as fast as Windows XP and offers precious little in trade.

Meanwhile, Mac OS/X is fast powerful (the spotlight search feature lets you find any file in seconds--I love, love, love it), not to mention beautiful. It's also a joy to have a beautiful piece of hardware (the aluminum keyboard is a work of art--of course, if you aren't ready to switch it'll work with a Windows PC, too!), and a quiet computer that doesn't sound like a 747.

That's all wonderful, except Xara is indispensable graphics software. I cannot be without it. And it only runs under Windows.

Luckily, there's a simple solution called VMware Fusion (not to be confused with so many other pieces of software called "Fusion"). VMF lets you seamlessly run Windows XP (or if you're masochistic, Vista) on your mac while you still use all your other mac software--at the same time.

And it runs flawlessly and fast. I say this, because I initially purchased a program called Parallels, which was the first software to run Windows on the Intel-based Macs. Parallels was difficult to install, then didn't run right and crashed so often that I lost work every day!

So I uninstalled Parallels and installed the trial of VMF which worked perfectly from the start--and also ran twice as fast (because it uses both cores of the duo-core processor). In fact, my iMac runs Windows faster than any "Windows" machine I ever had! Plus, you can put your "windows" to sleep and come back exactly where you left off, something I could never get windows to do properly by itself!

You can easily access all your Mac files under Windows, copy from the Mac and paste into Windows, even run Windows apps in their own window as if they're just another Mac app. Printing, USB and web access all work just as they should.

If you are switching from Windows to Mac and have Window software you need to run, click (don't walk) to http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/ , download a free trial, and see how great this is. It's literally like having the best of both worlds.

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Edit your existing site anytime from anywhere right through your web browser! Takes less than a minute a page to set up. Clients love it--and you'll love it, too. Make changes in real time without special software. Service starts for as little as $9.95 a month. Give it a try right now--for free. http://www.EditMySiteOnline.com

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http://www.heifer.org/ You can change lives and bring hope and possibility to the people who need it most by giving the gift of an animal to a needy family. Heifer has helped more than five million families become self-reliant. Gifts start at $20 for chicks. It's a great gift for the person who has everything, for the person who doesn't. http://www.heifer.org/ or call them at 1-800-422-0474.


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P. S.

Did I mention http://www.yourindiesareshowing.com ?

Oh, right, I did. Well, go check it out now. If you already have, go recommend it to someone else. If you already have some chocolate, you've earned it. Thanks!




Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2008, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.