10 October, 2017
All I want is a cheeseburger. I had to have dental surgery. That meant stitches. That meant no chewing. No real food. For over a week now, I've had only soft food. I was excited when the dentist said I could have ice cream and Jamba Juice. Who wouldn't want to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? That lasted two days. Yogurt? One day. Mashed potatoes. One day. All around me I kept smelling food. I dreamed about platters and platters of ribs and steak and coconut cake. Now I know how Oliver felt watching all that food go to the rich people in the back room while he had to eat gruel (watch the movie). I wanted real food. But I'm a writer, be specific. I wanted a greasy, half pound cheeseburger, on a bun baked by a ninety year old grandmother in her family run business. I wanted my cheeseburger to have a thick slab of melted cheddar cheese from a two hundred year old dairy farm in Wisconsin. And I wanted steak fries. A whole plate of steak fries. With potatoes from...you fill in the blank. What does this have to do with writing? When you query and submit your manuscript to an agent before it's ready all you've done is give them mashed potatoes or ice cream. They get served mashed potatoes and ice cream all day. They don't want it, and so they reject your manuscript. Take the time to build that oozy, gooey, cheeseburger. The kind that drips juice down your chin and onto your denim capris when you bite into it. No one wants to keep eating ice cream forever. And you! Why are you still making yourself eat ice cream? Take the time to dive deep into your work. That doesn't mean write writhing on the floor in anguish. Be true. Have fun. Build cheeseburgers.
02 September, 2017
I finally did it. I wrote one of those defining screenplays. The kind of screenplay that takes an emotional toll on you to write. That takes everything you have to write. So much of that screenplay pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, ittook me longer than usual to write. And I don't mean just the extensive research, but the emotional weight of it. As I typed fade out on the final page yesterday, I knew. This screenplay would be my calling card to Hollywood. The screenplay is an inspirational drama about a family going through something no family wants to deal with, and it centers around the sixteen year old daughter and her father. I know, you want details. I'm leaving the details to the pitch I'm writing for it. The script is not ready to hand to someone and say "here, read this." It's my first draft. But I'm putting myself on a "working writer" deadline. Because if I was writing this for a studio, I would be on a deadline. Not just to finish it. But to deliver a perfectly polished script. My goal is to have a perfectly polished script in six weeks. That means before and after my day job, I'll be working on this script. Diving deep. Making sure my conflict happens at the right moment, and that my characters act and speak authentically. Making sure I have high stakes and escalations (screenwriter talk). Not just the larger than an elephant in a shoe box conflict and high stakes, but that the stakes keep getting higher during the screenplay. And that they are the right stakes and escalations. That the emotional impact it there. That the meaning/theme is woven throughout. That it honors what God wants me to say. I've prayed about this screenplay the entire time I worked on it and will continue to do so while editing it.
26 May, 2017
I had an amazing post planned for this blog entry, then I realized it would make a great novel. The past few months I've been working on a faith-based screenplay. It's about a subject most Christians don't talk about. I won't reveal it yet, because there are so many people that like to steal ideas and would take this one, sell it, and profit from it before I even finished the third draft. Suffice it to say the topic is relevant for society today and you don't have to be a believer to get it. Emotional journey. That is what this screenplay has taken me through. To be a great writer, you have to be able to feel what your character feels and then translate that onto the page. My characters have been taking me on an emotional journey. It's a heavy script, heavy with emotion, and when I am done with the first draft, I will let it cool off in a "drawer" for a month and continue working on my YA scifi novel. That novel is at the point where my character must make a terrible decision. There is no "good" choice for her. Only a necessary choice. She will find out in the end how "all things work to good..." And so to, I hope, the character in my screenplay does. Keep writing.
24 May, 2016
Death has the unique ability to help us pause and reflect on our lives. We think about what we do day to day. We think about whether we have accomplished what we set out to do with our lives. I started this blog to chronicle my steps to becoming a published writer. I have published and am publishing science curriculum. Curriculum writing is a passion of mine. But I also long to be a published fiction author. And I am very close to seeing that dream become a reality. My next project is a middle grade (think ages 7-13), science fiction novel about a most remarkable girl. She just doesn't see herself that way yet. But circumstances will force her to shine and believe in herself. I'm 12,000 words into it and will have a rough draft by the end of June. I can't wait for the world to meet her.
28 December, 2015
Like ocean waves that crash upon the rocks of the Pacific Northwest, movement is necessary. This blog has been silent for months. I've worked 12 hour days only to come home and work four more on my writing. I've celebrated and I've cried. This journey I am on has seen its share of movement this year. And I look forward to 2016 with much hope and belief. and a return to the things I love, including this blog.
06 October, 2015
Lets briefly talk about fear. I needed to add an opening scene to a teleplay I've been working on. This scene has no dialogue but it packs a huge emotional punch. I procrastinated for three days. I could not write it. I mean, I could physically write it, but emotionally I could not write it. What my character was feeling was too raw, too powerful. I knew it would take over me and swallow me whole. And I knew I had to write it. Isn't that like life. Sometimes we have to make decisions and they are hard, and stressful and sometimes even painful and we'd rather just not do it...but we must. To be true to ourselves, to be true to our writing, we must do it anyways. I wrote the scene. And now I'm preparing to revise it. I hurt for my character, but I kept writing. What decision do you need to make in your writing or in your, life that is hard but you need to do it anyway? Do it anyway. Take that step. Make that call. Do it.
17 June, 2015
03 January, 2015
You've set your goal, now what? Congratulations. You set your goal for 2015. Now how do you accomplish your goal? I can tell you how I used to go about achieving my goal. It involved no planning, no strategy, no focus. But let't not dwell on the past. How do I do it now? Well I'm glad you asked. Write your goal down. Write down the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. If you're not sure, ask someone in that field. Since I am a writer, I will let you peek at last year's steps. 1. Identify where my writing needs work. 2. Take classes that address my weakness in my writing. 3. Rewrite and see if I show improvement. 4. Take more classes as necessary. That was my focus and planning. My strategy involved using a calendar planner, looking at classes that were offered, scheduling them on my planner, booking plane tickets, and paying for onsite and online classes. My goal was to improve my writing. I had to identify where I needed it. I knew from published authors and screenwriters who'd read my work that I was great at plot, great at dialogue, great at story. Everything that was necessary for a novel, screenplay, or teleplay to work was on the page, but I wasn't great at editing. Now I revised, and revised and revised. But It still wasn't working. So my focus last year was on learning how to edit my writing. Did it work? Yes. I can see the flaws, and deescalations, and lack of conflict and fix them. I can cut entire scenes and even characters. I can rewrite scenes three, four, or five times to see which one fits the story better. When I do revisions, I set the revision as my goal and then I write down the steps. What am I looking to edit/revise: dialogue, conflict, stakes, emotion, characterization, setting, plot, etc. Approaching my writing this way allows me to write that first draft like a young girl running through a meadow, listening to pixies play on flutes. Because I know when I'm done, I'm going into the underground bunker with bare concrete walls and its time to revise-get brutal with my editing. Some writers are different. They start in the bunker with the writing craft tools and even an outline. I need to let myself flow free for as long as I want. Write the way that comes natural to you. 3. Do the steps. This is where the planner comes in handy. Write down what steps you are going to take every day. Yes, every day. I work eight hours a day, five days a week, so I know it means sacrifice-sleep, or something else. But this is your dream. Do it. 4. Write some celebrations in. I like a glass of sparkling wine when I finish a writing project. Or it could be a trip to the office supply store for fluorescent sticky notes. Anything that motivates you to continue. My goal for 2015: to option a novel and screenplay/teleplay. I've already gotten started, and yes, my planner pages are filling up. I'd love to hear what your goal is.
20 December, 2014
Sunday a childhood friend of mine passed away. This week has been tough. The weird part is I haven't cried yet. I've been holding it in. And all the grief counselors are nodding their heads. They know what's coming next. Colette and I drifted apart the last decade. Which is strange for two people who used to be so close. Busy lives, different priorities, different states of residence, or possibly a Tragic life event in her life. Now she's gone. Random thoughts about her popped into my head this week. Going to her house to play dolls. Going to her house for sleepovers. Her coming to my house for a sleepover. Running high school track together, though she was two years behind me in school. Going on double dates together for high school dances, me a senior, she a sophomore. Me driving to Murfreesboro to visit her at college, her going to my college. Going to fraternity parties in college together. Me so bored at one I wrote a short story. She was a character in it. So were alien invaders from outer space. Road trips to Atlanta in college, staying with my aunt and uncle who didn't mind a gaggle of college girls eating their food, making a mess, staying out until the crack of a dawn and then ringing the doorbell to be let in to sleep it off. Her meeting her one true love Dexter, who would tutor me in math in college. Road trip to Atlanta to shop for wedding dresses. Endless hours looking at dresses in Atlanta and back home. Bachelorette party at her house. Me, a bridesmaid in her wedding. Until a few year ago, the dress was still in my closet. I donated it to an organization that help girls have a prom dress. My daughter and I living with her and her husband Dexter in Atlanta for a few months as I tried to sort out finding a job. Random thoughts about the secrets we told each other. Sorrows we both shared that no one else knew about. Things she never told her family. Things I will still keep silent for her. She became a widow and life changed for her. She changed. Walls were put up. I resigned myself to seeing posts on Facebook, hoping one day we could reconnect. That she would let me back in. Her two sons kept her busy. That much I could follow online. They looked so much like Dexter. She was alone. Her chest hurt. She couldn't breathe. She called an ambulance. She went to the ER. She passed away. I received the news and I wanted it to be a horrible, sick practical joke. I wanted it to be. I needed it to be. We'd never had a chance to reconnect the way I wanted to. We would never have that chance. Then I thought about her sons-orphans now. Her brother, sole survivor of their family as their father passed when she was in college and their mother this last summer. That was too much grief for my heart and I had to distract myself. I focused on work. Five days. Now I'm allowing myself to feel. To fall apart. To weep. To yell. Today as she is laid to rest. Yesterday I sat down a made a list. It was all the things I said I would do, that I never did. Time is not promised to us. Tomorrow is not promised to us. What matters is what we make of today. Life is too short is the saying. My friend was still young, yet that youth did not keep her from dying. On my list are things like go experience the Grand Canyon. That trip to Paris I've dreamed about since high school and never did. Get back into my art (painting, clay). My writing. My writing. Prominent on my list and a reminder of where my focus should be. Life is too short to be miserable, stressed, unhappy. You(we), literally don't know how much time we have left. Why are you wasting it being miserable? Being stressed? Being unhappy? Refuse to be a lemming. If it is within your ability to do so, do so. If it is not,what is holding you back? I'm Working on a new screenplay. And it is about death. And it is taking me places I never would have written on the page. There is no fear. There is no hiding. It is all coming out on the page. Colette Is/was one of only two people outside of academia that I've let read my fiction writing. Heather is number two. I've never told her how dear her friendship is to me. How it's like the sun on a warm day that make you happy. How I can rely on her no matter the time of day or the circumstance. I will make sure she knows, because life is too short.
16 November, 2014
Missed opportunity. Standing in line waiting on a movie screening and the person next to me struck up a conversation. I'll call that person Jane Doe. Jane is a screenwriter. She wants to see her screenplay turned into a movie. She's invested years of her life into this script. She's done research, she's done marketing, she's even done some fundraising. You see, Jane Doe wants to make the movie herself. She's looking to raise a lot of money for the project. I congratulated her on taking that step-knowing what she wants. I commented that she must have been busy this week, networking at the different events going on around town. She said no. She doesn't do it that way. She asked if I had seen a particular screening of a very we'll know actress's film. I commented that unfortunately I wasn't able to get in to see it. She said not only did she see it, but she had the opportunity to talk to this well know actress. I said what any reasonable person would say, "Did you discuss your project with her, because it seems like she would be interested in being involved in what you told me." Now this is the part where you need to make sure you are sitting down. Jane said "No. She didn't see me." I asked what she meant. She went on to explain that she waits for people to see that she's different from everyone else, and waits for them to approach her and then she discusses the script she is trying to make into a movie and her need for funding. She then went on to tell me this was the second time she'd been within conversation distance with this actress. Neither time did she say anything. I had no words. Thankfully I have words now. Before you judge her too harshly, have a care for your own glass house. Have you had a dream you wanted to pursue so badly and God brings the opportunity for you to do so and you remained silent? Pursing a dream is active. Being that this woman was a stranger to me, I could not shake her and say are you crazy? How many times do you need for this to happen for you to see its time to open your mouth and say something. News flash. No one is going to walk up to you and say "Hey, here's a couple of million dollars because you just have something about you. Or "Please come work for my company because there is something about you." You have a goal, you have a dream. Open your mouth. Pursue it. Go get it!
03 September, 2014
Yesterday, September 1st, my best friend died. She was fourteen, furry, and had four legs. My cat was my best friend, my heart, my confident, and my compass. Nothing makes sense since she passed. She fell ill on a Friday and by Monday morning she was gone. Can a cat be a best friend? Yes. She woke me up before my alarm every morning, and if I tried to sleep in late on the weekends she was on the job. Her meows, and head butts to nudge me awake, as if to say "good morning friend, let's have some fun today." I will miss her smiles. I will miss her licking me whenever I was down, or sad, or had gone through a break up or a rough time at work. I will miss her warmth as she curled up in my lap, and kneaded my legs to make a comfy spot for herself. I will miss her curled up next to me in bed, or lying across my legs in bed. I will miss my writing partner. She would lay under my writing chair in such a way that it was difficult for me to get up or move my chair, so I would find myself sitting in my chair for hours writing. I believe she knew exactly what she was doing. And times that I could get up, I would see her peering at me from under the chair as if to say "we're not done today are we?" Her presence eased my loneliness, her antics as she played with her toys or ran up and down my stairs made me laugh. She loved to carry on conversations with me. She loved tuna. She loved lying on the screened in porch, to spend hours looking at nature or napping in the sun. I had fourteen years to be loved unconditionally by this magnificent cat and I am thankful for every second I had with her. I miss her terribly.
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.