Ohio Mock Trial 2015

Ohio Mock Trial 2015 State Competition

I’m exceedingly proud of the Portsmouth High School Mock Trial Teams I have the pleasure of coaching as a Legal Advisor.  One of our two teams will be competing in the State Competition tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio.  Our team is one of 32 teams competing in the State March 12th and 13th, 2015.  Our other team didn’t advance past the District competition, but did a phenomenal job and I have to credit both teams for the overall success.

Courtesy PhotoTeam Blue, which will advance to State.

2015 Portsmouth Mock Trial Team Blue

Having competed in the Ohio Mock Trial program myself a REALLY long time ago, I can say it provides invaluable lessons and skills to high schoolers whether they seek a law school education or otherwise.  I marvel at how advanced these kids can take their arguments their skills.

2015 Portsmouth Mock Trial Team Red (Plaintiff)

2015 Portsmouth Mock Trial Plaintiff Side Team Red

I’m proud to be part of the established tradition at Portsmouth High School with our Mock Trial Program.  This year marks our 3rd appearance at the State level in the last 4 years.  One of my fellow legal advisors was once one of my students many years ago, and my daughter competed for the first time on our second team this year.  It’s amazing to me that this program has impacted at least 3 generations now in my life.

Good luck to the Portsmouth Mock Trial team.  I know you’re going to make us proud.



Snow Day

Snow Day-3/5/15

Not used to snow storms in March, but this was one hell of a storm.  We had 16 inches of snow in our front yard, and 20 inches in the back.  Took us 2 1/2 hours to shovel out the cars and driveway.  Otherwise, a most enjoyable day.

I spent a good bit of the day writing and managed to add a chapter in my rewrite/revision on Dream of the Sphere, over 2,500 words.  Also watched Divergent with the kids.  Pleasantly surprised.  Good movie.  I’m adding the book to my list of To Reads.

Snow Day

The Influence of Batman

Batman ClocThe Influence of Batman

Since I was a little kid I’ve always been fascinated by Batman.  I grew up watching Adam West and Burt Ward fighting Caesar Romero, Burgess Merdith, Frank Gorshin, and Julie Newmar (the only Real Catwoman, Earth Kitt, Blech!).  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.  I even had a talking Batman alarm clock as a boy.  Really wish I could get it to work again, since I still have it.

The Dark KnightOdd that I didn’t read a lot of Batman comics as a kid, having gravitated to Marvel and The Avengers (sounds like another influences Blog Post).The Frank Miller Batman books, The Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum, are all definitely graphic novels which I would consider influences.  For me, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is the definitive Batman.  Haters hate, I don’t care.  I love Christian Bale.  Hell, my favorite Batman from the 80’s and 90’s was Val Kilmer.  I’m weird like that.

JokersThe thing is, as I got older I became as fascinated with The Joker as the Caped Crusader.  Mark Hamill’s Joker is great, but Heath Ledger is my all-time favorite. Batman and Joker are simply two sides of the same coin.  Harvey Dent’s coin is no coincidence, I’m sure.  Put another way, Batman and Joker are all about Balance:  Law and Chaos, Order and Entropy.  The fact is, you can’t have one without the other.  It’s the way of the universe.  Those are the types of ideas I like to explore in my writing.  My characters are never black and white.  Real people are never black and white.

So far, I have to admit I’ve been very pleased with Fox’s Gotham.  I’ve avoided reading the criticism.  It won’t change my opinion.  I like what I like, and I like Gotham.  It’s good to see yet another step forward in the Batman mythology.  I see Gotham as a step along the same path Nolan charted with his three films.  Thus far, my only disappointment has been the initial appearance of Joker, but the kids performance was great.  Gave me chills at the end, but I just have to wonder if they shouldn’t have waited for a while to bring him in.  I’m more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt though.  Penguin’s blossoming origin story has been amazing and I’m enjoying Jim Gordon coming to life, layer by layer being added with each episode.  They could speed up development on Bruce Wayne for my tastes, but again, I think they are heading the right direction.

I only hope that Mr. Affleck’s upcoming portrayal isn’t as sinfully awful as I fear it will be.  Regardless, I’m confident Batman’s legacy can survive even Ben Affleck.


Writing Mastery with David Farland

For Christmas 2014 I enrolled in David Farland’s Writing Mastery class.  The class is online, with ten assignments designed to be accomplished at your own pace.  One of the greatest benefits is the online meeting with David Farland.  Dave holds live video chat conferences, usually three to four times per week, depending upon his schedule.  He answers typed chat questions live at each meeting.  His insights on the publishing industry and writing are inciteful and invaluable.

I’ve completed the first four of ten assignments thus far.  With each assignment Dave has personally reviewed and edited my work, offering extensive feedback.  I’m proud to say that Dave has been very encouraging and positive in his critiques so far:

Assignment on Setting-“Excellent job on this.  …Honestly, I get the feeling that you’re layering the details in pretty well.”

Assignment on Characterization- “Okay, this is very nice.  Excellent job!”

Assignment on Dialog- “You did a good job on this.”

Dave’s instruction and feedback has helped me improve my writing already.  I really want to finish the other assignments, but I’ve been inspired over the last month since I started the class, and I’ve been spending all my writing time on revision on Volume One of the Sphere Saga.

Anybody looking to improve their fiction writing skills would greatly benefit David Farland’s tutelage.  I highly recommend it.  Information on Dave’s classes can be found at www.mystorydoctor.com.

A Brave New Blog

A Brave New Blog by Jay S. Willis

I aim to misbehave, er, I mean write.  Thus, the birth of a Blog.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, though the form has changed over the years.  From handwritten, stapled-together books in Elementary school, letters to friends out of the country as foreign exchange students in high school, to research papers, journals and poetry in college, to short stories in law school, to novels.  As an attorney, writing is always part of my professional life, but it’s not an exercise is pure creativity.

Legal writing is satisfying, don’t get me wrong.  But in order to maintain balance (and sanity) I HAVE to write.  I spent far too long suppressing my need to write in order to stay focused on career and raising a family.  While those things have an important place, the selfish desire to exorcise my creative demons has clawed its way to the surface and can no longer be denied.  It has been a painstaking process, but I think I’ve finally succumbed and writing has to be a daily mental exercise.  Butt in chair, fingers to keys.  The commitment has to be made before a different kind of commitment comes about.

I spent a good bit of time in November 2013 conquering NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and won!  Managed to pound out 50,000 words, and then some and completed a first draft of a bouncing baby novel called Implements of Sacrifice.  I did not however reach my goal of completing revisions to it, so it continues to molder on the shelf for now.

Long ago, (I won’t finish that thought so as not to draw the ire of Disney/Lucasfilm’s legal department) a world began to form itself in my mind and I started exploring that world in a novel.  I wrote on that novel for many years and I couldn’t say how many drafts it has seen, but an official First Rough Draft has settled itself into place as Volume 1 of a three part story, The Sphere Saga.

In November 2011, I made my first run at NaNoWriMo and wasn’t successful because my desktop crashed, along with many other life-related reasons.  However, that novel wasn’t for naught.  That novel is the seed for Volume 2 of The Sphere Saga.

Fast forward to today.  NaNoWriMo 2014.  I’m 38,075 words into Volume 3 of The Sphere Saga and looking to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month.  The book will be more than that, and it will get completed eventually.

For me, the point of NaNoWriMo is to push myself into developing a writing addiction/habit, which I think I’m well on my way to doing.  It is my intention that this Blog become an extension of just that.  This is a writing outlet.  A tool.

I hope to hone my writing skills and one day be able to write fiction professionally, full-time if at all possible.