18 June, 2018
Recently I had the opportunity to direct a horror short I wrote, at Warner Brothers. It was my first short film and it was an amazing experience. That experience gave me the final push I needed to start self-publishing my fiction. LA is the land of don't wait to be discovered, go out and do your thing. In the world of publishing, there is still this division of "I got an agent and I got a book deal from a major publishing house", vs. "I decided to self-publish my novel." Despite the number of best-selling, self-published authors, traditionally published authors and agents, (not all, but enough), look down on a self-published author, whereas in LA, an actor or writer that goes out and does their own short film or web-series, is praised for taking the initiative. Doesn't make sense does it? Glad we are in agreement. So I had a choice. I could continue submitted my writing to agents, even though I knew dozens of people, just in my circle alone, wanting to buy my books, or I could start self-publishing, knowing that my novels are: well-written page-turners that are marketable. And I have an Mfa in writing from prestigious Hamline University. I have a network of people I can call on to proofread and edit my novels. Beta readers ready to read ARCs. The only thing that was missing was for me to let go of "waiting for an agent to discover me", and get on with my work. I am an author now. And I have work to do.
14 June, 2018
Today Today I published my first piece of fiction. It's up on SMASHWORDS. The title is The Do Over Door. Go get it! It has been an interesting journey, this road to being a published author. My family and friends have stood by me and encourage me. My MFA alum have also been there--go HAMLINE! And along the way I got to direct a short I wrote at Warner Brothers. It's been an amazing June. What's next for the author? I'm up to page 118 of 370 of my YA fantasy novel that I will be self-publishing. It needs one more revision after this week, then a final revision. then an editor's eyes. Then a revision based off of that, then a proofreader to check my spelling and grammar and incessant use of commas, then a book cover designer to give it that Wow factor, then it'll be ready. Devoting 8-10 hours a day and giving the editor (who I still need to acquire), time to do his or her magic I hope to have it ready by June 30th. From there, I have a YA fantasy to complete the first draft on and a horror script to write. July is looking good. Thank you for being with me on this journey and I will post updates on my status as a AUTHOR!
02 April, 2018
Nothing and Something Every time a writer puts pen to page, or binary code to laptop, he or she takes a risk. Will the audience love my writing? Will I get an agent? Will this book ever get published? Then there are other risks like: should I get an Mfa? What happens if you don't take a risk? Two things. Nothing and Something. Wait, you mean I don't have to take a risk? I can leave my novel about giant chicken invaders in the drawer or on my laptop? Yes. That is your right. And nothing will happen to the novel. But something will happen to you...if you are truly a writer. Because someone who is truly a writer can't let their writing sit for weeks or months or years without be touched, without doing some work on it. Someone who is truly a writer can't go a day without thinking about their writing. It could be thoughts on a novel in progress, or an idea for a new novel that bubbles to the surface of your psyche. Regardless, you will feel the effects of not writing: sorrow, a feeling of being out of step with the world, confusion, irritability. A complete shut down of all mental faculties, leaving you howling in the corner of your bedroom in a tattered robe, with a boiled egg in your pocket. Okay, the last one was an exaggeration, but you get my point. Not taking a risk in writing your novel or short story, or picture book affects you as a person because you are a writer. There is nothing on this good Earth that will satiate your writing passion except writing. I have a YA scifi novel that I am editing. I think I'm on draft four. It should be done by the end of the month. I don't write dozens of drafts. I write a solid, meaty, first draft and hit each revision hard--not allowing myself to shy away from dumping paragraphs or characters, or going line by line to make sure I told the story in the best way possible. I am ruthless at editing and revision. I have a list of ideas for at least half a dozen scifi and fantasy novels that I'm ready to get started on. My mind is a writer's mind and it never stop. And I am so blessed and grateful that it doesn't. What if you don't think about writing every week or you pull out your novel you've been working on for the past ten years and have a go at it once a year? Does this mean you're not a writer? I think it means your a hobbyist. Which is fine. Writing isn't your passion. Something else is. Writing may be your stress reliever or quirkiness that exhibits itself once or twice a year, but it is not who you are. What if you used to write daily or even weekly and it's been a month or six months or even a year since you've written anything beyond a report for work? Are you exhibiting the signs I mentioned above? If so, you need to cut out the fluff in your life and get back to writing. If not, that means your passion lies elsewhere and you should figure out what it is. Being a writer doesn't mean you have to write 5,000 words a day or even 500. Sit down and write. Your writing brain will let you know when it's time to stop for the day. Let writing be a natural extension of who you are. I don't know who said it, but it's so true "we always make time for what's important." You have time to write 5 pages a day in your twenty four hour day.
24 November, 2017
Every year I participate in nanowrimo. The goal is to complete a novel in 30 days. This is the first year in awhile that I've completed a novel via nanowrimo. Check them out for next year nanowrimo.org. It's my third completed novel, if you don't count the novel I wrote in high school (horror), or the novel I started, but didn't finish in college (scifi). Yeah, that scifi novel still has some potential. Writing a novel makes you reflect on your life. I've always been a writer. Always. Elementary, middle, high school, college--always a writer. People get writer's block, I don't. People write strictly for the money, I don't. To me, writing is pure and utter joy. There's a spring in Florida where you can see all the way to the bottom. You can, and many people do, float on it via inner tube--for hours. It's relaxing, tranquil; it's perfection. That's what writing is like to me. It's like floating down that spring and never getting out of the water. Or, if you're not into the whole nature thing (I love the outdoors), imagine a full day at a spa and someone else paying the bill for it. Facial, mani-pedi, massage with weird scrubbing sugars, champagne, lunch, the works. That's how writing feels to me. As part of nanowrimo, I wrote a YA, scifi novel. YA means young adult. The heroine of the book is sixteen. She is not "the one", or "the hero destined to save the world". She's not even "she's pretty but doesn't know it". She's a girl who believes strongly in the bond of family and sees that bond tested in some pretty horrible ways, that I won't give away on this platform. The novel is a rough draft at this stage. I will continue to work on it until it sings, while I work on my next YA novel. I love being a writer.
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.