28 April, 2014
I took a class at UCLA in February to help me get to the next level in my screenwriting. Four days of intense work. Am I ready to take my screenplays, revise them, and send them out? No. I'm pulling myself off the market for now. It's not that I'm a horrible writer. I'm not. It's just that I now know what's missing from not only my screenwriting, but all my writing, and I want time to improve my craft. There are people who don't understand why I'm doing this. I've even given them the Olympics analogy: just because I can run and I lettered in track in high school, doesn't mean I'm ready to compete in the Olympics. Writing is who I am, and I want my best possible chance at a lifetime of it. I've rediscovered my love and passion for short stories. The beauty of this, is that I can work on improving my fiction writing via short stories, and improving my screenwriting by doing stand alone scenes. It's exciting. It's challenging. I'll be doing a lot of writing that may never get published, but I'll be so much a better writer, and person when it's time.
20 January, 2014
Writing is about being transparent. I love movies that make me laugh out loud, and make me cry. The actor is able to take the writer's words and create a performance that moves me. But for the actor to do this, the writer has to step up to the plate. I am a huge fan of Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch, and Martin Freeman. The end of season two had me in tears. Sherlock jumped from the building. I will not spoil the season 3, opener for those who haven't seen it yet. The writers of that show have shown me what it means to build a flawed character, that is love able, but not needy; how to put plot twists and engage the audience in solving the mystery. I am in awe of those writers. They bring everything they are to the table every week to write for this show. Think about the last movie or book you read that you were unhappy with. I bet the first thing you said was "the character". I think to write an amazing character, you have to be willing to be naked. You have to go deep within to pull all the not pretty parts out, put them on display. Doing this frees you as a writer. It's like being naked in a room-there's nothing left to hide, so you might as well be yourself. I have looked back over screenplays and novels I've written and found I have slapped my own hand a few times, and hindered my own nakedness. That nagging dissatisfaction that has plagued me at the back of my mind for more than six months has surged to the forefront. I have chosen to be naked. All those words and actions my characters wanted to say and do, that I would not allow before, I let them. It is so freeing to be naked. It can be scary, but once you've been naked in a room, there's nothing left to hide. Show it. Flaunt it. Be proud of it. Write it.
20 November, 2013
When you make a choice to pursue a dream, you will sometime hear advice that goes like this... "Make sure you have a back up plan", or "make sure you have something to fall back on". Here's the problem with that line of thinking, it's not based on faith. Faith is the "evidence of things not seen". That means you have to jump even though you can't see the ground. Now people that say the aforementioned statements to you mean well. But you were created for boldness. Be bold. Take that dream, that passion, and put yourself into it 100%. Don't have a Plan B. Here is what I've learned. If you have a Plan B, you will never devote yourself to your dream more than 80%. Sometimes not even 50%. There will always be apart of you that you hold back. Here is what I know. You only have one life on this planet. God didn't give you this life for you to play it safe with Plan B. He meant for you to go all out and pursue that dream with everything you have. Plan A. An uncle of my reminded me of something. When you do what you love (Plan A), you'll never work a day in your life. Work is Plan B. Let's decide to get rid of these Plan Bs. They weigh us down, choke the dreams out of us, and do nothing to bring joy in our lives. Take sometime to remember what your Plan A was. Prepare yourself for your Plan A and then jump.
08 October, 2013
I've finished my third novel. It's a young adult sci fi thriller. I've decided to do something different with this novel. I'm writing the screenplay adaptation for it. There are lots of screenwriting books on how to write an adaptation and I will join those ranks, but my book will be a self pub. And less than half the price of those others. Why? I'm more interested in helping other writers than making a huge profit. Writing an adaptation of a novel you wrote is easier, but not easy. Yet, I am enjoying the process. While I'm working on the adaptation, I've gone back to my first love--short stories. I'm working on a collection of short stories for women with broken hearts. Healing and second chances happen. Back to work I go...
03 October, 2013
I've been adjusting to a new job and working on a new novel. Life changes can sometimes have you on the ropes of a boxing ring, or falling out of a plane five hundred feet up, with no room to unleash your parachute. No matter. I've survived. Writing a novel about a cyborg is not easy. That is not to say I thought it would be easy, but with my Mfa and two prior novels under my belt, I thought it would go a lot more smoothly. Now I second guess myself more and get frustrated more quickly than before. I'm realizing all the wonderful things I learned in my master's program are great for after the rough draft is finished. Right now, my focus needs to be on telling that critical voice in my head to shut up, and allow myself to write badly, write okay, write brilliantly--just write. Writing is more challenging now because I'm exhausted. Reflection is a good thing. But when you reflect and realize that not only did you not have a vacation this year, but you haven't had a vacation in over ten years, it can leave you frustrated. Especially when there is no vacation in sight. However, I did find a wonderful waterfront park in the town center that is perfect for taking my iPad and keyboard, a picnic basket, and blanket and novel for after my writing. Recharging my batteries is key and will bring back that vitality I need in my creativity, and in me as a person.
27 July, 2013
I did it. I walked across that stage and received my Mfa degree in writing for children and young adults. Two years of intense emotions, deep writing, and learning all those craft techniques that I never knew. Now I can not only tell you about psychic distance in a story, I can give you several examples, among other things I learned. I cried going across the stage. I guess it didn't hit me until then what I had accomplished. I am very grateful to God for the opportunity to attend Hamline and be the person He always knew I was. I had amazing faculty advisors in Anne Ursu, Eleanora Tate, Claire Rudolf Murphy, and Marsha Qualey. Each of these wonderful writers/authors, taught me not only about craft, but about the hidden treasure that is me. Yes, I am a treasure. And so are you. There is only one you. Which means if you don't do what you were created to do, the world will shine a little dimmer because of it. Post Mfa. Leads to the "so now what will you do?" question. What will I do? Write. I was writing before, but I didn't have the knowledge, skill, or belief in myself. My writing now is not hindered, hampered, or choked as it was before. How do I know? I just started a new middle grade novel and I'm having fun writing it. Does that mean beautiful prose flows off my fingers as they tap, tap, tap the key board, or scratch, scratch, scratch the pen on paper? No. There are sentences that need work, words that are not my best, but that my dear is for the revision. And as a famous author told me, that voice that bothers you is for the revision, not the first draft. If you are a writer, or you want to be a writer. Let me give you some awesome and amazing advice from the Amazing Krissie, the character in my new middle grade novel. "Write. Don't listen to that bad voice that says what you are about to write is stupid, pointless, boring, and no one will like it. That voice is jealous of you for trying. So stick your tongue out at it, wiggle your butt, and scream at the top of your lungs-"Na, na, na, na ,na, Na. I can't hear you. And write away." Krissie is about to take a very, very, long voyage full of mystery and peril so she will have to get back to you later, but don't forget her words, and WRITE.
28 June, 2013
Options There was this show called Let's Make A Deal. I love watching reruns of it on cable The contests have to chose between door one, door two or door three. I've been thinking about that more intently since my grandmother passed away. She was a true light in my life. She always believed I could be successful (all of us) with hard work and determination, and the Lord's will. Right now I'm contemplating my options. Having an Mfa in writing fills me (or it will when I walk across that stage), with a sense of accomplishment, but also renews my desire, my dream to be a published writer. Writing is who I am. It's what I do. It's what I love. At my grandmother's funeral my uncles gave me some solid advice. It is this advice that has me looking at the three doors. Options aren't just where I want to live (U.S.A. or U.K.), but what I want to do with my hours. I would love to teach a college level writing course; volunteer to teach inner city kids the joys of creative writing. But I also want to focus on my writing; in a way I haven't as yet. Options are also what to do to make ends meet while I pursue writing. At this date I have two completed novels (young adult and middle grade), and five completed screenplays (young adult to adult). I have a partially completed middle grade script, and a partially completed middle grade sci fi novel--both of which I plan to finish by September. I guess all this is to say "Don't give up on who you are, or what you love doing. Trust in God and He will always make a way to see those dreams He gave you turn into reality." I've made my decision about where I want to live and what I want to do with my time. It is a radical shift, but its the right decision at the right time.
01 May, 2013
Alive on the page? Do you ever put a book down and think "Man, that character is crazy", or "Man, I can't stop reading this, I hope she doesn't get caught by the ogre". Or does this happen instead, "Man, that writer used some really powerful words", or "Man, that writer really knows how to mess up a book. I'm done reading this." The difference in the two is just like acting. We love to go to a movie where we can get lost in the character, not in the person playing the character. Personally I hate going to see a movie and I see the actor, not the character, he or she is portraying. Well the same holds true for a novel. A writer wants the reader to feel like the character could come off the page and be a real person. A writer does not want the reader seeing the author. I'm revising my second novel with my advisor in graduate school, and I have caught myself "writing pretty". Writing pretty is my way of saying an author throws words on the page to let the writing flow, without paying attention to the character. You see me as the author, you do not see the character. I find that I write pretty when I am typing solely on the computer (or iPad). I find that my writing is rich and full of character and description when I write long hand. So I've switched to writing my revision and all new material long hand. It takes longer, but then again God blessed me with being able to type over 80 words per minute, so I'm good. Plus the action of writing, and the typing allows me to do more reflection and editing. When my novel is published, you will be glad that I took the time to write long hand. And so will I.
06 March, 2013
I wish that title was true, but alas I have not been able to perfect the sub-light engine required to travel to Mars. Oh well, there's always NASA. My critical thesis is done, my whirlwind tour of Minnesota and LA are done for now and I am home and back to work writing. I am still hard at work on my creative thesis. It is a middle grade fantasy novel that has always had a soft spot in my heart and I am working on revisions. Oscar party in LA the night of the Oscars. I had so much fun being around like minded film people. Ben Affleck's speech via the big screen TVs, really struck a cord with me. It gave me a recharge for my screenwriting career. A meeting in Hollywood, and I got the boost I needed, confirmation of being on the right track, and an eagerness to get out there and sell my work. It really made a difference to meet someone excited to help me with my dream. Changes. Remember I've stated before change is necessary. Instead of reading screenplays on Saturdays, I'm now reading two screenplays a day. Every day. And with the change in my job I'm able to write six hours a day. Not six hours on Saturdays and a few hours on weeknights when I could, six hours a day. I have my full time job and my full time writing career and I've never been happier. I jump out of bed full of energy, trying to see what I can get done with my writing before I work, and look forward to finishing work and sitting down to my laptop to work on scripts, and my iPad to read screenplays. This afternoon I wrote a beat sheet for a new horror screenplay. It's got the elements I want, and love to write- flawed characters, life altering choices, despair, hope, twists, scares. I can't wait to get started.
20 December, 2012
A long time go I wrote a short story about people being hooked up to computers. I shoved it in my "crate of writing" never to be seen again. Then The Matrix came out. A few years ago I wrote a short about Hansel and Gretel. I put off developing it into a full script. Now Hansel and Gretel is coming out in theaters. If you have a great idea for a script, or a novel write it. Don't sit on it. When you sit on something, you are giving another writer an opportunity to take a spot that may have been meant for you. I had another idea for a movie. It was about the reality of dreams. And you know where I'm going with this one Inception. I regret not writing theses stories out and submitting them. They are missed opportunities. Stretch yourself as a writer. When you get an idea and you know it's a great idea, write it. Sit down and do it. Complete it, edit it, revise it, and send it out. At this time I have four completed screenplays (1 horror, 2 sci fi, 1 YA drama), based on topics that haven't been done before (as The Matrix and Inception hadn't been done before). I also have started the outline for a drama based on a topic that hasn't been done before. And I've completed the outline for a reboot of a mix of things from my childhood. I have a YA sci fi novel that hasn't been done before and I'm excited about it. I'm not stuffing it in the "crate of writing", I am actively engaged in writing all of these and submitting these works. December 2012 is the month of submissions for me. It's also the month of editing, and writing for me and I wouldn't have it any other way. God opens doors for us. It's important to be ready when that door opens. You still have time. Let December 2012 be your month. Don't sit on it.
18 December, 2012
God is still in our schools. In these days following the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, people are still shocked, saddened, and grieving-and rightfully so. There is one thing I would like to address. It is the term "You took God out of our schools." That is absolutely not true. See I teach in a public school and I can tell you with 100% certainty that God is still in our schools. I'm also a Christian. Does God stop at the door to my school when I head into work each day? No. He is with me. Always. What about the students that are also Christians? Does God not follow them on to school property? No. He is with them. I hear the students debate and discuss God and Jesus. I hear teachers and staff members pray and comfort one another in Jesus name. I've been on school campuses where students read their bible during a quiet lunch. Stop saying God is not in our schools anymore. Every time a believer steps foot on a school campus God is there. Don't confuse organized religion with who God is. The early believers in the book of Acts didn't have organized religion and yet God and the Holy Spirit were there with them. I may not be able to publicly display the Ten Commandments, or hold open prayer with my students but that doesn't stop me from praying for them, or loving them. If anything it intensifies it. God is very much in our schools.
04 December, 2012
Fiery Furnace I had a chance to go to LA for a screenwriting workshop on December 1st. I prayed about it and bought my plane ticket and paid for the course. Six days before the workshop I got an email it was cancelled. Now I had a plane ticket to LA, but I no longer had a workshop to go to. The same day I got the cancellation I got an email for a Christmas gala/fundraiser on December 2nd at the CBS studio lot. There was no indiction of what person sent me the invitation but I feel like it was God's providence that I got it. I showed up Sunday night with butterflies in my stomach, and dryness of mouth--not sure what to say or who to speak to. The host broke the ice for us. It turned out to be a wonderful evening. I connected with producers, actors, writers, and all manner of Hollywood people. It also happens that they were Christians. They encourage and inspired me and made me feel good about being a sci fi screenwriter. Prior to leaving for Los Angeles I had picked up a wonderful book by DeVon Franklin called "Produced by Faith." I highly recommend it, as it helped me see how I had pushed aside God's calling on me. What does this have to do with a Fiery Furnace? Daniel was forced to go in the Fiery Furnace. He said even if God did not deliver him, he would not worship the gold image of the king. Daniel chose to be obedient to God even though he did not know the outcome. Daniel stayed faithful. I'm choosing to go into the fiery furnace. I know what God has asked of me, and I know what my response should be. I don't know how long it will take for my screenplays to sell, or for me to get a writing assignment. I do know that I trust in God even though I can't see the outcome. You can call it faith. Faith that if I put all my focus and energy into writing for God that He will make a way. I told God I was ready to go into the fiery furnace. I didn't expect the difficulties and challenges that have happened recently that have nothing to do with my writing. I joked (partially) about taking my passport and running away. The heaviness in my heart due to the difficulties and challenges threaten to pull me away from my writing. I'm not a robot. I do have feelings, but I'm learning to do something my former advisor in grad school told me--take all that hurt and emotion and put it into your writing. Use it. She gets me, because she was right. I'm taking time to have my cry when I need to, to be angry (and apologize) when I need to, but I'm also turning off the phone and having some solid writing time. I know there are some people out there that cheered when I went in to the furnace thinking it would break me, and wishing me to fail. Yet I'm standing in the middle of those flames, radiant and unharmed with my Savior near me. Guess what? There's room in the furnace for you.
27 October, 2012
I think everyone has heard the term "practice makes perfect". Yet how many writers actually take that saying to heart? Being a writer is a lot like being an Olympic athlete. You have to practice daily. When you don't win a match, you go back and review the footage. I.e. you look back over your work. You see where it didn't work and you keep at it. Writing is such a personal thing, but so is being an Olympic athlete. You have to practice, you have to read up on your craft, you have to study the competition, and you cannot give up. Well you can give up, but I'm assuming you don't want to. Let me encourage you to keep at it. I love writing. I live and breathe it. In about a month, I will have a chance to meet with some executives and talk about my work-my screenwriting. I want my writing to be the best it can be so my time after my day job is filled with learning more about screenwriting, reading screenplays, and writing. A big portion of that time was taken up by writing my thesis for graduate school. The good thing that came out of the thesis, is I'm better at research, and I've gotten used to writing for six hours straight, each weekend day. As I put aside my thesis (leaving only minor editing), I'm excited to get back into my writing. I sat down Monday and wrote out a page full of log lines. Out of seven, four were viable, and I will begin working on one next week. Exciting times ahead.
03 October, 2012
Back with a vengeance, Or a purpose. There is a line that must be crossed for true change to happen. You have to want it, and you have to be angry. Angry at where you are. Angry enough to say forget this. That's my tip for today. I'm back. Yes. It feels good. Where have I been? Life events took precedence. Was I still writing? Oh yes. And submitting screenplays and novels and working on a thesis and figuring out what I'm passionate about writing, and job change and yeah. I've been writing. What am I working on now? Well I've got one script that's making the rounds. Hope they love it. I've got two other completed scripts in the wings. I just finished writing a beat sheet for another sci fi screenplay. It's got some comedic elements in it. One thing I've realized from audience feedback of short scripts and skits that I've written, is that I do know how to write funny. That also means I'm going to write a comedy after this screenplay is written. It would be crazy for me to ignore my comedic talent. What else am I working on? Finishing a thesis for graduate school. 30 pages. Rough draft is done, so I just have some polishing to do. What else? Editing one of my novels, and started a fourth. I'm taking my time writing the fourth one. One thing I've come to realize is that writing is not like making caramel--you want to take your time. It won't burn. It will actually be better. Plus I want to finish editing the three prior novels and get them out in the market place. What else? Pilot for a TV series. Phew, Desiree, you say. That's a lot of writing. I see all this and get excited. I've been reminded of how much I love writing, and how cranky I get when I literally have no time to do it. It's not a pretty picture. There's not enough chocolate in the world to assuage me when I can't write, and I'm not pleasant to be around until I get some writing done. On that note-I'm back on the iPad writing tonight.
12 July, 2012
I'm at Hamline this week for my Mfa residency. Almost done--with the residency and with the program. I'm going through a lot of changes in my life. Changes in my career, my location, my direction. Add to that mix being in graduate school and you have a recipe for stress-induced hysteria. Thankfully that didn't happen but I did do something else. Hamline has amazing landscaping. Everywhere you go are towering trees, beautiful flowers, wild herbs, and rabbits. I went to a quiet place on campus. You have to walk on the grass to get to it. As I sat on the bench I looked at the wildflowers, and the waterfall and did something I haven't done in a long time. I took my shoes off and lay my feet in the grass. If you're not a nature person its okay. I think this will still make sense. I am very much an outdoors person. I own two pairs of hiking boots to prove it. Yet I have not been hiking or spent any considerable time outdoors in over a year. A part of who I was I just ignored because I was so busy. When my feet touched those blades of grass I almost cried. No. I did cry. I missed that feeling. I realized I had not only ignored the outdoor person in me, the real me, but in doing so I had hurt my writing. The thing about writing is that you take experiences, and observations and you put them into what goes on the page. If you deny part of yourself, or you deny yourself the chance to have observations and experiences, then your writing becomes flat and lifeless. My feet soaked up life and renewed purpose from those blades of grass. I made a promise to myself. To remember who I was. To do what I needed to do to have more moments like that. Still with me? What if your a blades of grass person, but thoses around you aren't? They're concrete people. They see the forest and shriek. You see the forest and imagine all the elves, and unicorns that must live there. Don't worry. Love them as they are. They should love you as you are. If not, don't worry. Be true to you. Gently remind those naysayers that God created you this way and lace up your hiking boots and hit that trail. Go write an adventure.
14 June, 2012
Ray Bradbury passed away last week. He was 91. He accomplished more in his 91 years than dozens of people do in their lifetime. Why? He believed in himself. He was a writer who never went to college. A writer that crossed multiple formats to include short stories, novels, radio, tv, and film to name a few. If you're not sure you can do it look at his life's work. I first discovered Mr. Bradbury in elementary school from a teacher reading several of his short stories to us. It wasn't until I hit sixth grade and was unleashed on the school's library that I found the amazing world of science fiction. I was fortunate to have a librarian that didn't restrict me to reading books at my "grade level". She encouraged me to read any and everything. I started in the A's--Asimov. Then I moved to the B's-Bova, and then I found Bradbury. A man that could write a story about something as common as a paper clip and hook you until the end. At home watching Ray Bradbury theater helped me see the connection between the written word and screenplays. I started writing short stories. I would look at everyday objects just like Mr. Bradbury did, and write stories about them. This bled over into my art, as I would draw or paint items, but in each painting or drawing if you looked close enough you would see something else hidden within. I don't know how many times he was rejected by publishers, or panned by critics. I just know that at the age of 10, he took painfully shy girl and introduced her to the wonders of not just science fiction, but to writing as well. And for that I am deeply grateful. His death was a blow to me. This man who I had never met, but shaped my life just the same. Thursday I sat down with a piece of paper and thought about him. And a story began to take shape, of a young girl living in a post apocalyptic world.
12 June, 2012
Sitting in a Dunkin Donuts. Not my usual one. Had to travel out of town. Man they know how to make a good cup of coffee. Nothing against Starbucks-which has my favorite-cinnamon dolce latte, or Gloria Jeans with their caramel latte, or Tom Tom with their caramel latte. Almost completed revisions on my first novel. As in, I stripped it down to mere chapters and paragraphs and edited it with a fine-tooth comb. I can truly sit back and say wow! It's a novel that hooks you and keeps you turning pages. Plus it's nice that I'm not the only one that thinks so. Published authors agree. It's going to be a busy summer, and gladly so, in my writing world. I'll be finished revising the first novel by the end of this month. July will see work on revising my second novel-stripping it down like I did the first one, and since I've got my summer off, I'll be working on finishing another science fiction screenplay, and starting a new sci fi screenplay. Science fiction is raking it in at the box office, but I'm not writing to the market. Science fiction is my niche. It's present in my other screenplays, novels, short stories, skits, books on my bookshelves, movies I own, subject I teach (science). I am quite the expert at it. Do I write in other genres? Yes. I'm quit adept at drama, fantasy, and horror. People really like my horror. Tell me it scares them, in a good way. Not a your weird and should seek professional help way. Time to go. We'll chat again soon.