Welcome Aboard

Welcome to my first blog.
I'm excited you've come along for the ride with me, as I blog my thoughts and adventures on the way to being a published writer. Take a look around, post a comment or two, and enjoy!

31 December, 2011

New Year's Resolution for 2012

This is not the original New Year’s Eve Resolution blog I wrote. I had this nice, neat, and pretty blog all written out. But it really wasn’t from my heart. It was surface writing. And one thing I’ve learned in 2011 is how much I abhor surface writing.

2011 I will not miss you. You were cruel, and you were unrelenting. You taught me to look deep into myself and I didn’t like what I saw. Jesus stepped in and helped me make further changes.

2011 you taught me how to write from within the center of the true me. You taught me to abhor surface writing, and to hit delete whenever I sensed my fingers typing that which was not my true self.

2011 you taught me about the “Full Armour of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18), and how I must use it every day.

2011 I thought you were cruel, but you changed me for the better and for that I am glad.

2012 What wonders will you have for me? What growth and what blessings await me?

As I stand on the eve of 2012, I look back at my writing. I have 3 completed novels, four completed screenplays, with two in progress, and 4 solid query letters for the work I am ready to market. I’m looking forward to aggressively marketing myself so I can land an agent for my novels, and an agent, or straight to a prod-co (production company), for my screenplays.

2012 I am ready for the major changes that need to take place in order for me to continue to pursue my dream and my passion—my calling from God.

As you prepare yourself for 2012, take a half hour or an hour and look back over what happened in 2011—the good and the bad. See how much growth you went through, and think about what you want to accomplish in 2012. Psalm 37:5 says to “commit your way to the Lord, trust Him, and He will act…”

Pray and make those New Year’s resolutions. They are so worth it.

24 December, 2011

Beat Sheet

I received an email from Amazon Studios alerting me to a contest. They provide the logline, I provide the beat sheet. Top 5 writers get $10,000 and a chance to write a treatment and then if chosen, the screenplay. I received the email three days before the deadline. The clock was ticking and I jumped in without hesitation.

What is a beat sheet? It's where the screenwriter writes down, in Numerical order, the scenes in the movie, with a brief description of each. I had heard of and even read a beat sheet, but I'd never written one. Amazon did state you could write it in outline form, but since beat sheets are the industry standard, it didn't make sense to do anything that would label me as an amateur.

With the exception of some short (5 page) screenplays for a few Creative Screenwriter contests, I had never written a screenplay based on someone else's logline or premise. I had also never written a beat sheet before--but I had examples in my screenwriting reference books.
I know in Hollywood you don't always get to work on your own material, sometimes you do exactly as this contest does--write based on an idea or concept from a studio head, or producer, or revise another Writer's work.

I haven't heard back yet if my beat sheet was picked. I hope so, because they have an amazing producer already attached to the project, and it's sci fi, which is near and dear to my heart. It excites me.
Yesterday I brainstormed an idea for my next screenplay. And wrote out the logline. Today I wrote out the beat sheet for it. I used my experience from Amazon Studios to benefit my writing.
Now I have a solid logline and a typed beat sheet. After Christmas I still have a week off of work and I will apply my rear in my chair 12 hours a day, using my beat sheet as a guide, to crank out as many pages as I can. I'd love to say I'll have the entire thing written, but we shall see won't we?

10 December, 2011

Studying Screenwriting

Saturday was spent working on my screenwriting. But in a different way.
I have the shooting script for War of The Worlds by Josh Friedman and David Koepp (bought it).
I sat at my dining room table/writing desk with it, a copy of Syd Field's Screenplay and Dr. Linda Seger's Writing Subtext. Plus a highlighter, sticky notes and pencil.
My goal: dissect the screenplay. See where it follows conventions, mark areas that I really admire and note why, and look at how it flows, how it handles transitions, creates set pieces, and establishes characters.
I've read the shooting script before, but one thing I've learned from my mfa program, (even though it isn't in screenwriting), is to dissect other writer's work.

When I finished picking War of The Worlds apart. I sat in front of my TV with my notebook and marked up copy of the shooting script, and popped in my DVD of the movie. I need to know how what the writer wrote was conveyed on the screen.

I plan to do the same thing with The King's Speech next week.

This will make me a better screenwriter.
A caveat to new screenwriters. A shooting script is not the same as a spec script.
Shooting script is what they use to actually make the movie.
Spec script is what you sell. It doesn't contain camera directions or anything that could be construed as you telling the director what to do.

29 November, 2011

Answer to prayer.

This a short but sweet post. The unexpected bill I asked for prayer for has been canceled. Amen and praise be to God.

21 November, 2011

Unexpected and Unwanted

Do you ever feel like you're at the end of your rope? Like you couldn't take another thing happening? In my mailbox were 2 unexpected bills. Bills I don't have the funds for. Bills I didn't incur on purpose. Call it a computer glitch but since I can't prove it, I am on the hook for one bill to the tune of $2,180.00.
What can I do? I already work full-time. Plus tutoring on the side. Plus being a single mom.
Sigh
Well I have the option of two immediate responses: I can cry, or I can pray.
See there's this thing called faith. And I can't claim to be a master of it--I am quite bull-headed at times. But as a Christian that should be my first response. Will God be mad at me if it isn't? Nope He'll still love me, but I will have stressed for no reason.

Faith tells me to pray and believe. And do as Philippians 4:6-7 says"make my request made know to God..."
So I'm not going to cry, or rant, or scream. I tried to speak to the people the money is owed to but since I have no paper trail, I have no proof I cancelled something they say I didn't.
What I do know is this: I will pray and see what happens. Will you pray with me?

12 November, 2011

Surgery

I am at the tail end of the first semester of my mfa. As a result of the work done in the program on my third novel, I realize it's time to do some serious surgery on my first novel.
I'm taking the first fifteen pages and slicing them off. Why? And how could you, you say?
First, I've matured more as a writer. I can take an objective step back from my work the way a painter does a painting, and remove what's not working. Now granted I have to have a finished work to be able to do this. Slicing while in the middle of completion is a death sentence for my creativity.
Second, it helps my protagonist tell her story better. The remainder of the novel is fast paced and meaty. My opening feels more like a preview for a different film like at the movies.
And lastly, I made my protagonist too comfy at the beginning. Boring! Who wants to read sugary sweet softness at the beginning of a novel that should start with the murder. Probably why I never liked my beginning. Trust your instincts. If you don't like something you've written--probe it. Figure out why you don't like it.
Really the final question is when do I do this surgery?
Like a medical surgery, it will have to be scheduled.
I have revisions I need to start on my third novel as part of my mfa program, plus I'm writing a short script (first 15 pages), for a screenplay contest, and I need to finish writing a short story I promised myself I'd finish.
Time to pull out my day planner. Trust me it will get scheduled and done. I'm a writer.

08 November, 2011

Finished my middle grade novel

Last night I finished writing my middle grades novel. During the course of writing it, there were times the words flowed smoothly, and there were times I could only get out one typed page a day. Last night a fever took hold of me and I refused to stop writing until I saw my protagonist to the end. Which isn't the end end, It's just the end of the first book.
I went through many personal and professional challenges while writing this book. I even doubted my talent. But I found that verse in the bible to be true.--"I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength."

28 October, 2011

Baggage

I decided to clean out my file cabinet. Years of receipts, credit card, and bank statements. Carbon copies of checks from 4 years ago, and old prescription receipts. It was time to get rid of it all. It filled an entire garbage bag (kitchen size not lawn size). It was heavy. Extremely heavy. And because the bag contains my personal information I couldn't just throw it out. It was also too much for my home shredder. I have to take it to a place that will shred it for me-for a fee.
I have to carry this bag around until I have a chance to take it to the shredder. It didn't take long for me to realize this was a metaphor for baggage we carry in our lives.
Each of us for one reason or another chooses to carry around this huge bag labeled "the past". We take it with us from relationship to relationship, job to job, state to state. We don't need to carry it but we do. We can't just toss it aside-it has personally identifiable information.
What we can do is take it to Jesus. He wants our baggage. He takes all that stuff from our past and shreds it till nothing recognizable is left.
Before that can happen we have to go through our lives and pull out all the junk from the past (He's good at pointing those out too). Then we have to agree to give it to the Master-Jesus and not try to take it back and carry it around.
Another step we often do us accumulate new baggage. We're free from our old lives but due to unresolved guilt or hurt from our past we start accumulating more baggage. Stop it!
Christ made you new. Don't collect more baggage to carry around. Live in the freedom Jesus has granted you. No more baggage.

16 October, 2011

Writer’s Retreat

There’s a little place in the country of Ireland know as Anam Cara. They host writing and painting retreats throughout the spring and summer. I have long lingered on their website on days where I feel the choking confines of my existence (yeah, I’ve been writing dark stuff today). Sorry—focus.

I feel it is time for a writer’s retreat. I don’t mean one of those where you check yourself into a hotel in town and flip through the channels, or watch people in the pool splash around, or get drunk in their lounge chairs. I mean one of those where no one is around. Solitude. The only sensory source is nature itself.

I noticed something the other day when I went to the library to write. The only space that was left to sit was in the quiet study room. Talk about the absence of everything. No sound, nothing sensory to look at. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I lost track of time in that quiet, padded asylum. And I loved it.

Images that have been in my head for weeks include a rocky coast, crashing waves, a giant man-eating squid, rolling hills, and me, with my spiral notebook and favorite gel pens—writing a novel long hand. No concern about food, or shelter. A quick walk into town satisfies my need to eat when the nibbling on feta cheese and olives, and baguettes isn’t enough. Then as the moon hovers overhead, and I need a flashlight to find my way back, I slide in between the crisp white sheets of my antique bed at a B&B with few visitors because it’s off-season.

That kind of writer’s retreat. You know that push you feel inside when you know you need to do something. And then that stupid nagging voice pipes up. “Wait, we can’t take off and do that. We have practical matters to address here. Plus we have no money.” Guess what voice—shut up!

I went to a conference this weekend called Women of Faith. I spoke of attending in my prior blog. The theme was called Imagine. It’s from Ephesians 3:20. Check it out at www.biblegateway.com

These women spoke of trusting God and believing he could do above and beyond what you could IMAGINE.
I’m trusting God to provide what I need for this retreat. Complete trust, because that “push” inside me is not from me. It’s the Holy Spirit. Best not to ignore Him. He only means my good.
That means shutting up the nagging voice, reinforcing my heart with scripture and preparing for the blessing.

14 October, 2011

Count Your Blessings

Remember that song by Johnson Oatman Jr. “Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God hath (has) done.” I have to admit life has been rough these past few weeks. Rougher than it has been in a very long time. Do you go through times like that? Where it seems like nothing goes right, everything goes wrong? Now add to that keeping up with your writing. Pulling yourself out of the chaos of your life and into your character’s world for a half hour or hour or two. Not just to get words on the page, but the right words. Words the character wants to express to the reader. Are you screaming now?

I have been surprised by the fact that through these rough weeks I have been able to write. Now, I’m not writing as much as I would be during other times, but I am writing. I wonder if because my stress is so high right now, I am more able to pluck myself out of this world and disappear into my character’s world? I think so.

I spoke to a dear friend on the phone for about half an hour Wednesday about the stress I’m under. We agreed to pray for each other. She’s artistic like me so she gets me.

Yesterday a teacher I work with bought me dinner. She did it because she knew I was under a lot of stress and wanted to brighten my day. I’ve never had anyone do that for me before and it deeply touched me. I ate and we talked about what was going on in my life, her life and our love of our savior Jesus. Her act blessed me.

Today I am heading out to the Women of Faith conference, thanks to another dear friend of mine—someone who feels like my twin. Another blessing. This is a two-day conference so I am looking forward to bonding time with my friend, de-stressing, soaking in God’s goodness and recharging my batteries.

Because of the acts of three people I am ending my week feeling lighter than air. Is there someone around you that you see struggling under the weight of stress? Be a small blessing in their life. Buy them a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts (or get them a $5 gift card so they can). Put an encouraging note in their mailbox, or desk at work. Stop by their workplace and see how they are. If you can afford to—take them out to dinner, or lunch. Trust me it makes a huge difference. It did for me.

03 October, 2011

Writing in my wait time

On the way to work this morning, I felt my car dip. A few miles later and that all too familiar "thump, thump" sound started. Yep I had a flat tire. So while I'm waiting on said tire to be fixed, I thought I'd work on my blog.
I read a really good devotional from "Girlfriend's in God" this morning about the call of God and trusting Him enough to obey that call.
Gave me much to reflect on.
What am I doing with that seed God planted in me when He brought about my creation? Is it evident in my life? Daily?
I'm going to jump the train right here, but I'll be back.
Grad school is alot of work. I have books to read, creative writing to do and critical essays-Aka non-fiction writing.
Sometimes I resent the intrusion on what little time I have to write. Yes, the program is suppose to make me a better writer (if I let it). And yes I have seen a change in my writing.
Do I want to stop my Mfa program? Absolutely not! It's changing me as a writer and a person.
What I want is more time to delve into my writing, using what I've been learning in the program.
Now I'm taking this train car and hooking it up to the previous one.
To do anything other than write is not using the true essence of who I am. With all these extra demands on me at work, it's time for me to turn to God and wave the surrender flag. Cause I'm not in control, He is. He knows the best way for me to maximize the time that I have. He knows the changes I'm going to have to make in my life in order for my dream (full time writer) to come true. He knows the path I should be on now to be successful later. I just need to trust Him, open up and ask Him.

26 September, 2011

Away far too long

Today I am finally able to get back to my blog.
Work has been unnecessarily stressful, along with difficulty with finding a quiet writing spot, and lack of freetime. All these have kept me from my blog and have hindered my writing.
I was reading in Genesis about Abraham-doing a study of his life. Sacrifices he made. Faith in God even when he didn't understand.
I'm making sacrifices for my writing, but I'm also finding myself getting overwhelmed with responsibilities at work that I did not expect.
That's a challenge many writers face who work full time while trying to build their writing career.
A quiet place to write (without having to buy coffee or listen to someone at the next table do their sales calls), will be solved in a few weeks.
Lack of free time will be solved in a few weeks also as I change abodes thereby reducing my commute time.
Stress at work-what's that expression-Just say no!
Abraham knew it was important to be obedient to God and he reaped the blessing.
I know it's important to be obedient to God and write. And I will reap the blessing.
What rearranging do you need to do to be obedient to God?

08 September, 2011

Morning Musings

I've been reflecting on Hebrews 11.1 the faith verse that starts the faith chapter. This morning was difficult. Why? I woke up on fire to write but I couldn't-no time. And no I'm not getting up at 4 am. It's not that I don't want to sacrifice. I'm a night owl and mornings are a bear for me as it is. Nothing good would come out of me at 4 am. Now 12-2 am is a different story.
This morning I wanted time to grab a cup of coffee, turn on my laptop-wait five minutes for it to wake up completely, and crank out a couple of pages.
So here I sit at DD, working on my blog after chewing on what needs to happen next in a script I'm writing, while all the while wondering if the novel I'm working on (number 3) is really the story I want to tell now.
Where does faith come in? I have an extended day today so if I can get in an hour of writing today before collapsing into bed exhausted I would be so happy.
I have faith that the sacrifices in time and zero social life that I'm making now will pay off when I am published and when I have my screenplays optioned (sold). I have faith to endure when I am exhausted, when I am discouraged.
Now I will throw a brief pity party when I get a rejection letter. But I have faith in the One who created me with this gift and talent. That the day will come when my commute to work will consist of going from my bedroom to my home office. Faith keeps that dream alive.

29 August, 2011

Somebody Hire Me

Spoke to my brother last night. He encourages me to keep writing. He checks in with me now and then to make sure I'm still submitting my screenplays. I told him the result, or lack of, from my last round of submissions. It must have been my tone of voice because he asked me if I was getting discouraged. I was until I realized through reading articles by people in the industry that agents are hesitant to sign new clients that live out of state. They'd rather have someone already living in LA. Someone who is available for meetings with studios that day, not in three days when they can fly in etc. Makes sense from a business perspective. And my goal is to move to LA. But in the meantime there is plenty I can do to make myself a better screenwriter.

Keep going with my mfa program.
Take an advanced screenwriting class-probably through Gotham Writers.
Have my screenplays read by Hollywood readers. I have 2 in mind to work with.
Attend a screenwriting conference. Either Creative Screenwriting Expo, or Austin Film Festival.
Save so I can move without worrying about working for a few months.
Keep praying
Keep writing.

09 August, 2011

Revision

I spent the morning working on revisions of my first novel. My third novel is well on it’s way and I wanted to back track so to speak and clean up some issues with the first novel that were revealed during my workshopping at my mfa program.

The errors: Author intrusion in a third person narrative. Protagonist and antagonist are to one-dimensional. Using present instead of past tense. Felt like a movie not a novel. The last two issues are due to the fact that unbeknownst to me I was still wearing my screenwriter hat whenever I worked on my novel. The first error I caught in a couple of places, but there were some that the expert eyes of my fellow workshoppers and our faculty caught for me. Going back in to work on my novel past the part I workshopped I see where I did that frequently.

One-dimensionality. My faculty advisor sent me a list of character exercises that have exploded the world of my novel in my head. I found out things about my characters that I didn’t know and I am incorporating them into the revision. Nobody cares about a Miss Perfect, and nobody cares about a Mr. Evil. Characters need layers that can be sorted out and developed in the course of a novel.

Are these revisions easy? No. It’s hard to switch gears from present tense to past tense. I’ve become accustomed to writing in first person. Will it get easier? Yes. It takes some time for my brain to register that I’m writing in past tense. Once it does, the writing flows smoother. Plus switching from present to past is more than changing verb tenses. Sometimes it can change the meaning of the entire sentence. Sometimes I have to rewrite the sentence before, and after in addition to the present tense sentence.

Am I glad I’m doing it? Absolutely. I love my first novel. The characters are real. I feel an emotional tug from each of them. Some pleasant, some not. Which is to be expected. I have characters that I love and characters that I hate and hope my readers hate for the right reasons. Not because their flat but because they remind them of the deepest darkest part of themselves.

How will this affect my screenwriting? For the better. Being a better fiction writer has transferred over to tighter, grittier scenes in my screenwriting.

Revision may be a chore to some, but it is necessary if you want to be a successful writer. Don’t dismiss it. It is the process by which we as writers grow. Or did you think only your characters changed during the course of a novel?

04 August, 2011

I finally did It

I was reading in Genesis 18, where God and two angels visit Abraham and tell him Sarah will have a son in a year's time. It was a reminder of God's promise to Abraham. I thought about my writing and I wondered why I still hadn't submitted any of my screenplays to agents or production companies. I'd submitted to several contests, so what was I waiting on? Did I want God to come strolling down my street and say "Hey Desiree, it's time". I knew in my heart, right then, that it was time.

Today I submitted queries for two of my screenplays to agents and production companies.
Next step-submit another query of my novel to lit agencies. It's ready. I'm ready.

It's a scary step but there comes a time when you have confidence in your work. Not prideful boasting, but confidence that what you wrote is good and that it's ready. That takes hard work, writing often not occasionally and reading about your craft. I needed all these and the support of my fellow students in my mfa program. As I submitted my work today I could hear them in my mind cheering me on.


While I wait, I will finish work on my end of the world screenplay (I didn't realize how dark it was), and work on my third novel.
I love being a writer.

01 August, 2011

Fourteen Days

While staring into space, lost in my own world, is great for a writer. It’s not so great when the writer needs to hit submit. Another screenplay competition deadline has come up. This is for a legitimate competition, not most of those take your money and see ya kind. And I have a list of agents to submit to also (screenplays only at this time). And yet here I sit staring into space. Counterproductive doesn’t even cover it succinctly. And yes I know I just dangled a modifier. Heh.

Fourteen days until I go back to work. That is the reason for my staring into space. Fourteen days before I go to a new school in a difficult area. I am to the point where it is becoming increasingly difficult to pull myself out of my writer fugue and into anything else. When I get into that writer-state I disdain leaving it for anything, even food. And yet I must. I must pay the bills. I must pay the rent. I must put food on the table, because it is required and expected of me. My family cheers me on to be a writer and my heart yearns to be a full time writer, but I’m not there yet, so I stare into space, daydreaming about my character’s world while I occupy my own.

Fourteen days. I’m mourning the shortness of my summer break. I can’t call it vacation because I didn’t go on a vacation this year. All my free time when not devoted to family is spent on my writing. I live the writer’s life in carved out niches of time.

Fourteen days is time to get much accomplished. So I will pull out my daily planner and write down my objectives for this week. The biggest project I have is the revision of my first novel. The good news is that I know the areas it needs improvement. I had a chance to practice on it twice during my mfa residence and wow! The change was enormous. I eagerly look forward to revising it because I love my first novel. Fantasy is in my lifeblood, and it is apparent in my first novel, and my third, and several of my screenplays.

Fourteen days is not enough time to do a revision of a 300 plus page novel, (for a first time novelist), but it is enough time to get the framework of it going, to get this script out to the competition, to also send it to agents, to crank out 10 pages on my end of the world script (finally into act 2), to get reading done for my mfa, to clean up the POV in my third novel (basically pick one and stick with it), to dream impossible dreams and watch them become reality.

Fourteen days? Watch my fire.

19 July, 2011

Day After

Today is my first full non-residency day. I was pleasantly surprised by St.Paul/Minneapolis. When I thought of that area, one word came to mind-snow. The twin cities are definitely on my vacation list now.

After 11 intense days of residency in St. Paul, Minnesota, the writer is home-perched in front of her laptop like a sloth.
I look at the tasks before me and I shriek. Eek!
Then I remember all the encouragement, feedback, and support I got from my fellow Mfa-ers. I crack open my daily planner and I write.

Overall goal this week: Finish two YA novels on my reading list, Finish animation TV script, do last revision to feature screenplay and submit to an agent(s) in Hollywood, re-read the first chapters of the novel that I am going to be working on with my faculty advisor this fall semester. Breathe, and squeeze in some time to go to the movies. Probably be early morning matinees, so I can spend a solid 6-8 hours writing.

It feels good to be back in the writing chair.

When I decided to pursue my MFA I made the choice to give writing the priority in my life I hadn't done before. I understand why God created this talent, this drive in me to write and I am eternally grateful. I love writing. I can't see myself doing anything else.

18 July, 2011

Leaving Residency

Waiting on the shuttle to the airport.
I have been amazed, awed, and greatly inspired by my 11 day residency at Hamline.
I came in feeling unsure of myself as a writer and I leave feeling ready.
I still have work to do in the upcoming semester-creative writing and critical essays, but I am on the correct path. I am a writer.

11 July, 2011

Day 5 of Mfa

I am learning so much. My piece yesterday-that was workshopped went well. I'm not allowed to discuss what goes on in workshop, but I am smiling if that is an indication.
Our theme for this residency is Plot and I'm seeing it with new eyes.
Every faculty or student reading I am engrossed in it with new depth of perception.
Tomorrow we head out for a few hours to the largest collection of children's books in the country. I'm gonna feel like a kid in a candy store.
Meanwhile according to my email there is a sci fi short story contest coming up in 8 weeks- I've got one ready; and another screenplay competition-deadline the 15th. I've got something for that also.
Tomorrow here in my residency program I signed up to do a student reading. It's where we get 5 minutes to read anything we've worked on. I have an idea of writing a poem tonight. I don't usually write poetry when I'm not sad, but I feel like I need to express something. If it's not what I want then I do have something else to read.
As I sit here on the front steps enjoying the cool evening air, I am reluctant to go back inside. It's my first real outdoor quiet time-alone-peaceful-relaxing, and I'm loving it.

10 July, 2011

Day 4 of Mfa Residency

Today the first 20 pages of my first novel are being critiqued by my workshop group. Even though I am only four days into my mfa program I have learned so much that will benefit both my fiction and screenwriting.
Each day is crammed pack with workshopping, lectures, and readings. Sometimes I have a faraway look on my face and faculty or upper level students will ask if I am OK. I am, I'm an internal processing person. I need time to take the day's info and let my brain churn. Like the red blinking light on the computer. I need to find time in my schedule here to get alone for a time, each day, to let my mind process it-otherwise I will stop where I am and let my mind process. I will look like a hibernating stand up brown bear. And now it is time to walk over. My piece is up first. Here we go.

08 July, 2011

Day 2 and all is well

Today is day two of my mfa in writing for children and young adults, hence to be called mfa. It is 8 pm and my mind is wired with activity. Do you ever find yourself rambling and you don't know you're rambling? Or you do know you're rambling but you don't know how to stop that train cause the brakes are out, Timmie has fallen down the well, and Lassie is too busy watching Underdog on TV to come help either one of you? That's where I am, so excuse the rambling and weed through to get to the good parts.

I am excited about my first workshopping experience tomorrow, nervous about when it's my turn to have my piece reviewed (not tomorrow but another day in the non-too distant future).

Wondering when I will have time this week to finish that animation script on top of 12-14 hour days here. Wondering if Netflix is going to work on my iPhone tonight so I can drift to sleep watching Battlestar Galactica (the original series. Just love Dirk Benedict).

I could spend the next hour in a worry tizzy, like a frazzled-haired witch riding a broom to an X-box convention in Vegas but I won't. This week has me pumped and excited to be taking the next step to improve my writing-both fiction and screenwriting.

I haven't quite decided what new piece of writing I want to work on with my faculty advisor. I need some quiet reflection time to chew on that. Looking at all the writing I've done in the past few years-non fiction, articles, picture books, poems, short stories, novels, screenplays, skit-I have to decide what do I really want to sink my teeth into? I've had a thought in my mind, like a craving for a Godiva key lime truffle that won't go away. I'm enthralled by C.S.Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe", and by J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit." I'd love to write something along those veins-Christian Allegory, But then I'd like to write something really edgy, with a Christian emphasis. Or that YA sci-fi/horror story.

Je ne sais quoi. Am I over thinking right now? Probably. I know my brain is on overload and has been since 4p.m. Probably time to crack open the journal and brainstorm, and not worry. Whatever I write will be my own.

04 July, 2011

Coverage

I have finally reached that point. The point where I am ready to submit my screenplays to agents. But before I do that I need to submit it for coverage. What is coverage? It's where you pay a Hollywood reader to pick apart your script. They find the errors, they tell you the parts they love.

This allows you to change the screenplay before you submit it to an agent. In the world of agents, they read hundreds of query letters. You don't get a second chance. My screenplays need to be perfect before I send them out.

Coverage isn't cheap, but this is a business, and a good utilization of financial resources, even if mine are dwindling at the moment.

I have a list of four potentials. Four people/businesses that were recommended because of their integrity, and skill.

In total I've finished four screenplays. Two more are in the works, and another two have a complete synopsis. But I'm looking at my strongest two to submit to open doors for me. And yet, I will do one more pass through them. Did I put enough tension and conflict in them? Is there too much dialogue, verbal vs. visual? Would anyone care about the characters? That is my task for the next few days, in addition to finishing the animated TV Pilot. Nice thing about the TV Pilot is that it won't take me more than a few hours to flesh out a rough draft. 32 pages, easy. The tougher work is in the revisions.

21 June, 2011

Blank page

Today I am working on an animated TV pilot. Age range of 3-8, and writing a spec based off of the hit SyFy tv show "Sanctuary".

This entry was penned yesterday, but my writing got temporarily derailed by unforeseen circumstances. So here is yesterday's blog.

There is nothing more daunting that the look of a blank page/computer screen. Like a blizzard without end, the page/screen stares back at you, knowing it is the three-ton giant in the room.
Three hundred fifty page novel, One thousand page novel, One hundred thirty-five page screenplay, Thirty five page sitcom. Looking at the task from the end point the challenge seems insurmountable, and yet it has to be done.

What is the alternative? Put the screenwriting, and TV writing books in a box and forgot about the dream? Withdraw from the graduate program designed to teach you to be a better writer?

There is a line from the movie Galaxy Quest spoken by Tim Allen’s character. His crew from the TV series realizes they are in outer space and want to go home. He states: “If that’s what you want, just say the word, we’ll go. Pay out taxes, feed our fish, and miss out on all of this.”

Just say the word, put all your writing in a box and store it; sell your writing books at a garage sale. Get a job, pay some bills, walk the dog and soon the echo of your dream clamoring for your attention becomes just that. A dull echo that soon becomes nothing at all.

Plop yourself down in front of that TV watching episodes of your favorite show. Go pay $12.00 to see your favorite science fiction-action flick. And when you shut off that remote, and when you leave that movie theater, ignore that empty feeling inside. The one that says-hey I wanted to do that. Because you were too afraid of a blank page.

15 June, 2011

What Happened?

I'm sitting at Panera ready and eager to work on my writing. And bam! I forgot the summary of the animated tv pilot I was going to hammer out today. Kinda need that. It's got the character names and plot points, etc.
Well that's okay I say to myself, I'll type in the work I did on the sci fi script. Bam! Brought the wrong notebook.
So here I sit, staring at a screensaver of The Smoky mountains, trying to figure out where my mind was when I left this morning, and what can I work on with my planned work sitting at home on the dining room table, as I type this on my iPhone because Frankenstein laptop is acting wonky again. Oh and the battery just died in my wireless mouse.

Can I just call this day a wash since my planned work is not where I need it? My computer is acting up and my clicker is dead?
What did you say? Just go home and do it? Nope. Can't. They're replacing the ac in my apartment and had to turn the electric off. Its probably 90 degrees in there right now.
So I will smack the laptop a couple of times and scroll thorough other work I have, then do some YA Novel reading to help me be a better writer.
Then I'll call it a day. And hope tomorrow I am better prepared.

08 June, 2011

On the Right Track

Read the feedback yesterday from a screenplay contest I entered where you had to write one scene and the winners of that moved on to round two.
I didn't make it to round two but I wanted to read the judge's feedback and see my score.
What did the judge say:
"A well crafted scene...excellent mix of horror and comedy...Could use some subtext in the dialogue...overall a job well done."
So my focus is going to be on adding subtext to my screenplays. I had more, but I cut it in favor of what I thought was better dialogue. A mistake I won't do again.
Oh and my score? 93. Only a few points away from making it into round two.
Wow. I am growing. How can I say that? Because each time I get feedback it's not the same error. And I had a feeling about the dialogue, but didn't listen to myself. Rookie mistake? Yeah, but what I've learned about screenplays is that even those that are optioned (sold), have errors in them. My job is to make mine as perfect as possible so I get the job and the next job and so on and so forth.
That feedback will give me the boost I need to finish tackling this high concept sci fi screenplay I've been working on.
Having faith and believing.

01 June, 2011

Youth

I've drawn a blank today for or in my writing. Something terrible happened to two people I know Sunday night. It could have been worse, and I am thankful God was watching out for them but it made me wonder where is the morality of our youth today-referencing the male that intended harm to these people. Why is it our society teaches our youth that anything is permissible even if you have to take it by force?
I wonder what words would persuade today's youth to seek the truth and be exposed to the light? God's word yes, but they are so far removed from the bible it's heart breaking.
Six years of teaching adolescents and I have witnessed first-hand their despair.
When people think of mentoring a child they think it is impossible for them (all things are possible for the one who believes-Jesus). Guess what today's youth need? TIME. It's as simple as that. Sit with them, listen to them. Hear their hearts and show them the right path to take. Just do something!

24 May, 2011

Can you smell it?

Summer is almost here. Summer vacation. Hooray. Time to read for pleasure. Time to go in-depth with my writing.
This summer will be different as I will have more flexibility to travel.
I still haven't raised all the funds that I need to go to Scotland (only 20%), but I still have hope that I can make that trip a reality this summer.
If anyone has any frequent flyer miles that they aren't in need of I will gladly accept them.
I discovered a new library thanks to a former co-worker. The library is a fiction lovers dream. I loaded myself down with a nice stack of middle grades fiction.
I started reading a book about mermaids, which is translated from it's original German. The title escapes me at the moment. And I don't have it with me at my morning coffee spot.
But another book I grabbed I have always wanted to read-"James and the Giant Peach". That's up next.
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy reading middle grades fiction.

My writing right now? Frankenstein laptop is at it again. This time he turned himself off for no reason whatsoever. I went to put paper in the printer and when I turned around he was shutting down. Yeah-no work done yesterday. Perhaps he will be in a better mood tonight?
I am editing my second novel and writing (by hand), my third. The third novel is fantasy and it will surpass the length of the first novel I wrote. I don't have an exact word count, but I have my rough outline. I'm looking forward to digging deeper into it over the summer.

And even though I can smell summer coming, the clock on my iPhone says it's time to upload today's blog and get to work.

11 May, 2011

Acceptance

Today's blog will be brief but full of good news.
I have been accepted into an Mfa writing program.
I am looking forward, strange as it may sound, to have my writing picked apart by published authors and to write critical essay after critical essay of other writer's work.
It's what I've been craving for my writing and it is my heart's desire. I am thankful it is also God's desire.

02 May, 2011

Lay it on the Altar

Monday and the first song the shuffle feature on my phone's iPod selected is "Where there is Faith", by 4Him.
Returning to work after a nice, albeit late spring break. I have six weeks left at my job. I'll have to start the process of moving my things. I'd rather not wait until the end so I'll start taking home my belongings a little at a time starting today.
It feels weird to be in this position again-losing my job.
One of my favorite songs from The Color Purple movie is "God is trying to tell you something."
I spent three straight hours yesterday editing one of my novels and I enjoyed it. I relish the days that I will be able to be solely focused on my writing.
What if that time is now?
What is God telling me? Am I to look for another teaching job, or let the sun set on that career and focus solely on my writing?
I don't have the finances to "wing it" so to speak, but is God asking me to agree to so He can open another door?
Like in Genesis 22:1-19. When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham obeyed in faith, but God did not intend for Abraham to kill Isaac, He was testing to see if Abraham was truly ready.
Is it time for me to lay my job on the altar of sacrifice?

29 April, 2011

Productive week

Friday at 4:30 and I'm finishing up a late lunch. I've had a productive and restful spring break. This week I have: submitted my first novel to another agent, submitted my sci fi short story to a magazine, edited 50% of my second novel, read a great book on writing YA novels, revised some query letters, downloaded guidelines to Christian magazines I hope to sell articles (6), I've already written, applied for a writing grant, went to the park and wrote some poetry, and brainstormed some ideas for the next series of novels I want to write.
A busy, productive week. It did get off to a slow start and I let it. I still needed to process losing my job next school year and where in the world will I work in three month. That's where immersing myself in God and His word helps. He said don't worry just write.
And so I have. Through fits and starts this week I got alot done.
Next week is open transfer period and I have to start competing with other teachers, who lost their position like me, or just want to switch, for the few slots that are out there. It's gonna be stressful but I have determined in my heart to write through it. To not let my homelike or my writing suffer due to circumstances I have no control over. Jesus says in John 14:27 "let not your heart be troubled, nor afraid." I gotta go with what He says cause it's my lifeline.

26 April, 2011

Restoration

I found a house for sale. Only $8,000.00. To say it's a fixer upper would be a gross understatement. It would be a fun project, but it would take way too much of my time.

Now the house I am truly interested in was built in 1920, has 5 bedrooms and two baths. It is two stories and sells for $35,000. An investor bought it, was seeing dollar signs after restoring it- in the $350,000 range, and then the housing market collapsed.

It is a beautiful house, original hardwood floors, fireplace(probably decorative only at this point), original windows. It would give me just the right amount of challenge to restore it. Am I going to buy it? Well, I have to check it out first. Termite damage-yes or no, New roof-yes or no, Rotting floors-yes or no. Original electrical wiring-yes or no.
Because that $35,000 price tag could easily jump to $150,000, or be unrepairable.

I love the idea of restoring an older home. Taking something that still has value and bringing it back to its glory.

Like God does with us. He sees us as we are-downtrodden, broken, defeated and restores us through His son Jesus.
He takes us as He formed us, strips away what the world has piled on us, and makes us shiny and whole again.

Being a lover of all things antique (historical) I am intrigued by this house. I have always loved "old" things and time periods.

In regards to my writing, upon the completion of my third novel, I will be dipping my fountain pen into the well of historical fiction-specifically young adult historical fiction. By that time I hope to have raised the funds I need for a trip to Scotland. That trip will allow me to work on several novel ideas, historical and present based.

18 April, 2011

Change

I took the weekend to unwind as my uncle suggested. But also to spend time at the park seeking God's direction.
Change happens; many times without our permission. That's what happened to me Friday. I know good will come out of it, and I know I'm not the only single parent that has found themselves having to dust off their resume, dig out their interview suit (where is it anyway), and hit the pavement looking for work.
Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" is playing in my ear as I write this. I sometimes wonder if God uses the shuffle feature on my phone's iPod to get my attention-to remind me.

Oddly enough it has lent more passion to my writing. I'm not in a panic of "If I don't get published we'll starve", I trust in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I enjoyed my time of relaxation this weekend.
I also found some dig opportunities for this summer (my anthropology degree) in various places. I figured it would be cool to spend a week or two lying in the dirt digging up fossils, or shell middens, or an abbey in Ireland (okay that one's gonna cost me airfare), but still like the song says "The rest is still unwritten".

15 April, 2011

Hiccups

Have you had the hiccups? A severe case that went on for minutes?
It causes you to stop what you're doing and focus on getting rid of them.
I've been focusing on my hiccups for the past couple of weeks and haven't written or blogged ( 1 entry).
Much prayer, solitude (at the park), bible reading, and a great book by Kevin Leman "Have a new you by Friday", helped me address my hiccups.
You see, I had some life hiccups that I'd been ignoring. And the thing about hiccups is they must be addressed.
What were my hiccups? Well, you'll have to read my 4th novel (I'm still at the research stage because it's a fantasy/historical novel), to find out. I'm taking some of those hiccups and creating a fictitious character.
It feels good to be hiccup free. That is not to say that an occasional hiccup won't come my way, but I am being proactive and not reactive.
It also means my life is dramatically changing. Which is good. As Gandalf told King Theoden in LORD OF THE RINGS THE TWO TOWERS: "Breathe the free air."
Oh I'm drinking deep of this air and loving it.

04 April, 2011

Aliens

This week I am paying homage to my love of science fiction by writing a series of short stories based on sci-fi.
The purpose is two or three fold if you will.
I miss writing short stories. I want to work on my setting, and characterization. And I want to have a collection of sci fi short stories to self publish (possibly).
The one I am working on today came from a dream I had. It's cool. Aliens and a surprise ending.

20 March, 2011

Musings

Driving in South Florida. Stopped at a rest station. Not tired, just hot. The ac blower went out on my car and I'm not able to get it fixed yet so I'm hanging out in the shade at a picnic table for a few minutes before I resume my journey. Blue sky with billowy white clouds. Four birds of various types are flying around chasing each other. Not sure if it's play or territorial disputes. 
My writing lately has had all the viscosity of cold lava.  That's an oxymoron but you get the point. So much uncertainty at work. Will any of us have a job?

 Editing my screenplay before I submit it. Is it really ready? Did I over edit it? Will it stand out or is it too way out of conventional Je ne sais quoi?
It has the honor of being the most grueling, emotional piece of writing I've done so far.  But there is also hope in it.  
My hope is that it is well received. 

And now I must resume my journey in the hot car. 

04 March, 2011

My Voice is Gone

Don't be alarmed. It's not my writing voice that's gone, but my actual physical voice. Don't you just love spring-the birds are chirping, the trees are budding (mmmn smell those buds on my lemon tree), and the OAK POLLEN is out for blood. Yep, I am a seasonal allergy suffer. My sinuses are at war and my tonsils are the first casualty. I'm home today on bed rest per doctor's orders. Antibiotics and sleepy allergy meds kicking in.

Although my voice is gone and I feel yucky I cannot pass up this time to work on my writing. Now granted it's 1pm and I've only been awake a total of three hours so far today but I can make use of the non-sleepy, non-drowsy hours in between my allergy meds (4 hour pills), and my sleep time.

I was reading on SCRIPT SHARK'S facebook page, the comments posted to this question- "how long does it take for you to write a rough draft?"

I was surprised by how many people responded that it takes them years to write a rough draft of a script. Bearing in mind a script for a feature film is 90-120 pages.
Now I am not here to judge them. I'm happy they are writing. But I do want to address the notion of a rough draft. Because two to twelve years (yes 12), is too long to spend on a ROUGH DRAFT.

Rough Draft (my definition) something that is done with the understanding that changes will be made upon completion.

When I first started writing (many moons ago) I would use a spiral notebook or loose leaf paper in a binder. I still start all my writing projects in either a spiral notebook or a binder. I NEVER start a project looking at the blank computer screen.
Why?
To me if I start my project on the computer I feel like it has to be perfect the first time, and I find myself going back and editing, and re-editing, and it stalls out.

Writing on paper first (with my wonderful gel pens), gives me the freedom to write anything I want. I also write notes to myself in the margins, circle items, and will put mini sticky notes in key places. Now I know some of you will tell me, "but Desiree, you can do all that with Microsoft word, or the latest technology program for writers." True, and I am happy for those of you who chose to go that route. But I think of my writing like an artist.

And because I am a watercolor painter, I do like the feel of the ink flowing on the paper. I like to see the different colored gel pens crying out their symphony of shades.
Once I feel comfortable with what I write I will do one of two things: I will continue to hand write it and type it in later, or I will switch completely over to the computer. It depends on what kind of deadline I've given myself.

And that is another area some people don't get. You have to give yourself a deadline. Especially if you are like me and you don't have a publisher (yet) expecting a product at a certain time.
I think the best thing for those people who take so long to write a ROUGH DRAFT of a 90 page screenplay to do is:

1. Don't over think it. A rough draft is simply that-something to go back and refine, like clay from the potter's wheel. It may look like a water pitcher, but you know at the table you are going to take your knife and whittle away this section, or that piece; stain it and bake it.
2. Give yourself a deadline.
3. Get organized. If you are writing and you're not sure about something-flag it, sticky note it (yes I have sticky notes on my laptop), and keep moving. You can research and put it in during your edit.
4. Set for yourself a minimum page or word count and don't go to bed or do anything else until that is accomplished (within reason).
5. Don't compare yourself to other writers. Do what you feel is appropriate for you. When it's no longer fun it's called work. I like my writing to stay fun. You may not be a 10 page a day writer in the beginning, or ever. As long as you can turn off the laptop, or close your notebook with a smile and feeling of accomplishment-it's all good.
6. Is this a career or a hobby to you? Be honest. That admission alone will affect all that you do.

So let me give you an example.
If you are an aspiring screenwriter (please pick up Movie Magic or Final Draft), you can start by writing two pages per day. In 45 days you will have a rough draft of a feature film completed.
If you are an aspiring novelist, you can start by writing two hundred fifty words a day. In 280 days, or less than a year, you will have a completed rough draft of a novel.

When I'm writing I will do ten pages a day minimum on a screenplay, and 500-1200 words a day on a novel. I silence my inner critic, and remind myself it's just a rough draft.
REMEMBER-you are not me. You do what is comfortable for you.
I like deadlines, they drive my inner being. That's the reason for the high word and page count for me. Find your comfort, or groove zone and just go with it.

Don't look back, (don't pause and edit what you just wrote/typed) that way leads to a madness you will not escape and you will never finish.

Does that mean anyone can write? God created us to love Him and His creations. Artists just express their love of His creation and the Creator in their painting, music, dance, and yes-writing.

My opinion-you won't know until you try.

02 March, 2011

Underway

FADE IN:
Started my sci fi thriller screenplay this morning. Wrote the synopsis yesterday. And now I must head into work-my day job.

27 February, 2011

Where Have I Been

Writing duh!
Seriously, I have been writing my tail feathers off. I think in the past week I've had only fifteen minutes of independent thought time per day. I don't mind, I just know I'm getting cranky from job stress and writing deadlines.
I'm still trying to balance working full time and being a mom and a writer.

Last week brought me some milestones. I submitted my spec script for a sitcom to a very prestigious writing fellowship. I also mailed my application for a Christian screenwriting training program. Those deadlines were met. My prayer is that God will provide the funds to participate and the living expenses.

I finished my second novel last week. Now it has to do the-sit and not look at me-wait. That helps a writer do a better job of editing. My third novel is 25% complete and there it will stay for now until I look at my calendar for the next three months and plan out my writing goals.

At this time I am sitting at my kitchen table, having just put the baking potatoes in the oven to cook. I am looking at upcoming screenplay contests, and other writing fellowships, as well as preparing to view The Academy Awards tonight.
I'm so excited, even though I didn't write, or star in any of the films (as of yet).
My favorite categories are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Costume design.

Next week, wait no that's this week. Forgot what day it was, yeah I need a vacation.
This week I will be finishing my final edit on my Christian Horror Screenplay. Yes, you read that correctly, no it isn't a typo. It is possible and I have addressed that already.
After editing it, I will be uploading it to WGA, then submitting it to a very prestigious screenwriting fellowship competition, as well as competitions without a fellowship.

How is Frankenstein laptop you ask? We'll I'm typing on him right now. Ten minutes to fully boot up, still freezes, playing havoc with my Movie Magic Screenwriter program. Other than that he's holding strong. Lucky for him I'm too strapped for cash right now to go out an buy another one.

21 February, 2011

Compass points

Where am I? Currently I'm sitting in a hard, unyielding plastic chair while my daughter gets her hair cut. My writing so far this month has felt like it's been all over the map. Novel editing here. Screenplay edit there and new script contest over there.
One thing that was dead center was completing my second novel.
Yes, it (the first draft), is finished. As of 12:25 this afternoon. I finished it on my lunch break today.
Feels good to have two completed novels.

Yesterday I submitted my entry into the creative screenwriting cyberspace open. One weekend to write a scene based on their premise. I didn't follow traditional, predictablel genres when I wrote it. I went way outside the box on this one. Hope it pays off-literally. And looking at the battery on my iPhone, I'm outta time.
I will bask in the glow of having completed my second novel once feeling has returned to my bum.

13 February, 2011

The King's Speech Movie Review

My goal is to see Christian writing raised to the level of academy award and national book award status (including Caldecott, Newberry, and Pulitzer).

From time to time I will be supplementing my blog with novel and book reviews. Here is today's review of a movie I saw last night.


Saw The King's Speech last night for two reasons: academy award nominations, and the recommendation of my best friend. I went to Cinebistro, and while the service was not up to par, it was a comfortable seating and viewing experience.

First off, I am a sci-fi, action movie type of girl. My video collection reads like a list of Marvel comics, so I was unsure how I was going to like The King's Speech, even with one of my favorite actresses-Helena Bonham Carter in the movie.

The King's Speech hooked me from the beginning. It didn't start off with a long prologue, it dove right into the conflict, the dilemma.

Watching Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush banter back and forth, I felt like they had spent most of their life looking for that one person who would understand them the most and found it in each other.

SPOILER ALERT--



The difficulties the King faced with his brother and his father surprised me. Monarchy aren't suppose to be like us-they aren't suppose to have siblings that pick on them, or fathers that bully them; or suffer abuse, and they certainly aren't suppose to be afraid of power-and yet they do.

One of the lines I loved in the movie is delivered by the King to Lionel Logue. He said all this time he never really knew the commoners; he knows as little about them as they do about him. This movie peels back that veil of aristocracy and shows us frailty, courage, and the power of a true friend.

My recommendation: A

06 February, 2011

I found her voice/my voice

Last night was rough. Bad dream woke me up at 1 am. Memories from the past. I took that dream and Ephesians 6 (armor of God), and put it to good use.

God spoke something to me a week ago and I couldn't understand what He was saying to me until last night/this morning.
He said I've forgotten my first love. Yes that is a verse out of the book of Revelation, but that's not the context He was using it in.

What was my first love? Books. What kind of books Des? Anne McCaffrey Dragon Riders of Pern, that I read in elementary school. My first love was adult fantasy books.
And for you legalistic Christian-modern day Pharisees: Revelation 2:4-God is my true love. He used this verse to remind me in my writing what was my first love, that I had abandoned,and that I can use my first love and my true love harmoniously together.

I was the kid who got in trouble at school for daydreaming; for after reading a novel, or even some of my own writing I would stay in that world, as oppose to the one around me.

It's like the light bulb came on. There is a reason I am and have been such a daydreamer. I can literally live in my character's world. So I rewrote the opening of my novel. And yes it has changed considerably. She's older, and has already suffered a great loss and more is to come before she can be the person she was created to be. As she is on that journey to who she is meant to be, so many of us will be able to take courage from her and make our own choices. That is my hope-what comes across to the reader.

For the first time I feel my character. I'm not just writing about her like some casual, uninvolved observer, I am in her world, stalking her. I feel her. She hurts I hurt. She rejoices I rejoice.

Cool huh? Well that's all I have time for today. Ive been writing for three hours. Now I'm taking a short break to eat and let her world firmly mesh into mine. Daydream time.

05 February, 2011

Pass

So two agents replied with a "pass" on my first novel. Do I feel disappointed? Yes. But I know this is normal in the writing world, and I know I want someone that will love me and my work. Oh, gotta go. I'm at the volunteer meeting for The Gasparilla Film Festival.
I'm back. Way cool time. They have a good list of well known actors that have confirmed their attendance. No, I can't say who yet, but once they announce it to the public I'll share.

Headed to Barnes and Nobles (yes I like Border's too, I just picked the closest one), to read jacket covers and the first ten pages of some young adult fantasy novels. Purely for research because, confession time, when I look for a book to read, I read the jacket and I flip towards the middle of the book. If I like what I see, then I buy it, or check it out at the library. However, literary agents read the first ten pages (same rule for screenplays). I wanted to see how my first ten pages, (which I've loaded onto my iPhone), held up against published authors. Bearing in mind that I'm not trying to match writing styles, I'm seeing how they start their novels. Almost bought the new Orson Scott Card novel. I did buy the Anthony Horowitz novel-Horowitz Horrors. Couldn't resist. He's one of my favorite authors.

Where was I? Yes, the first ten pages. I have a gripping opening But... I will be tweaking it.
In other news the editing of my horror script is coming along well.
But wait? How can a Christian write horror. Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death." there is a cost for living outside God's will. Trust me, that script has been bathe in prayer from Fade In, to Fade Out.

03 February, 2011

It's away

I'm sitting on my bed staring at my laptop screen. My fingers are rapidly firing away this blog via my iPhone. Yes I know I can do it on my laptop using Wifi, but this is Frankenstein laptop remember, he doesn't always work correctly. Wednesday I did it. I knew in my heart it was time. What did I do? Submitted a query letter in regards to my first novel to an agent.
Received a response back and sent the first ten pages as requested.
Now what do I do? Two things. One wait for a reply and two, continue writing.

My second novel, the young adult science fiction novel, is 85% done. Right now I'm staring at the sitcom I'm writing for the nickelodeon writing fellowship. Screenwriting format is vastly different from novel writing, and sitcom writing has its own set of formatting rules that differ from feature film writing and even hour long TV drama writing. So glad I have my movie magic screenwriter software.

So why am I staring at it instead of writing. I'm tired. Long day at work. I figured I would update my blog, thereby loosening my mind up to write my goal of five pages tonight. I think it's working. Yes, it is. I feel the need. The need to create.

29 January, 2011

My eyes, my eyes

I just spent the past three and a half hours finishing the final "steak edit" of my YA fantasy novel. (For details on what a steak edit is, see my last blog). As I wrote on my notepad- je suis fini. 286 pages, 83 chapters, and 68,007 words. My eyes hurt from staring at a computer screen that long.

Next step is the dessert edit. Spell check, then print out and do a page by page edit. My goal was to have the steak edit done by January 31st. Love being ahead of schedule, especially since my writing is getting backed up. I still have to finish the sitcom I'm writing to enter in the Nickelodeon fellowship, and edit the screenplay already written for the Nichol's fellowship.

Plus the character from my YA sci-fi novel is screaming at me for neglecting her. Yes I know you've been on the tarmac for awhile. I haven't forgotten you. You shouldn't be in a rush for what happens next, trust me, it's beyond anything you (or the reader) could imagine, or could have seen coming.

So I am happy to be in the final editing phase of my YA fantasy novel before I send it out looking for a buyer.

Jesus was right. "Only have faith and do not fear... All things are possible to the one who believes."

22 January, 2011

Update

101.5. That was my temperature as my body waged its battle against the flu. Never mind that I got the flu shot in October. Well, actually it did lessen the severity of the flu. And now I'm back.
The screenplay that was halfway done on January 10th I finished on January 11th. I decided to sit myself down and not get up until it was done. Something was driving me to finish it. Phew. Two screenplays in less than thirty days? Talk about mentally draining. Serious adrenaline rush though.
So what is the writer up to now?

February 4th is the deadline for Gotham Writer's to announce the winner of their YA novel contest.
February 18th is the start of the CS Open. What is that you say? Well, it's a contest with industry recognition and filming of the winning scene. You write a short scene, 3-5 pages, based on the premise they give you on the 18th. If you win, you advance to round two and do it again. The final winner gets the aforementioned prize.

The remainder of this month I am finishing what I like to call my final steak edit of my YA fantasy novel. What is a steak edit? I've been going through and adding more meat to certain chapters, and in places adding whole new chapters. I'm about forty pages from the end of the book.

After the steak edit comes the dessert edit. That's where I print out my novel (again), and do a spelling and grammar check. (Special shout out to Office Depot and Hp for having Hp ink on sale for 40% off this month).
Goal for my novel is to have it ready to submit to a publisher/agent
by February 14th.

February is also time for me to edit the last two screenplays I wrote (still haven't decided which one I'm submitting to the Nichols fellowship-The Oscars), and to work on the second novel that is already in progress.
What I have learned is that you cannot blaze through the rough draft of a novel the way you can a screenplay. The format of a screenplay allows you to write it much quicker than a novel.

Screenplays are a visual medium and novels a mental medium. It could take me six more months to finish the second novel and by that time I will have written at least five more screenplays. Then again it could take me one month to finish the novel.

I don't believe in writer's block. There was a time that I did, but then I realized, writer's block is actually a choice to not do what I love to do. Why would I deliberately block myself from that? Sure I may not like the first five minutes of what I'm writing, but after that I am in the zone.

I may write five pages or twenty one in an hour, either way I am doing what I love. And let's face it. If your not doing what you love, what are you doing?

10 January, 2011

Halfway mark-again

My new screenplay, started on January 2nd is half way done. I am deep into act two and have drawn likeable and hateable characters.
All this writing was done with pieced together time: writing on my laptop on the mornings I have free, writing long hand (yes you can write a script long hand) during times where I could not have my laptop out (thankful I can type 85 words a minute as I transfer it from handwriting to my laptop); figuring out plot points and changes to scenes while grocery shopping or even while brushing my teeth.
I'm not use to being able to write something so quickly, but then again I've never been this passionate, or this sure about my writing. I am on fire.

At church last night our senior pastor spoke out of Hebrews 11: the faith chapter. Heroes and heroines of the bible that stepped forth in faith, trusting, receiving their promise.
I love that chapter. It is a reminder of how God uses regular, every day people like you and me. The only difference is they acted on their faith.
I am acting on my faith, hence the writing during even scraps of time.
I remember telling someone last year -"that which is important we make time for."
Make time for your passion, and watch it catch fire.

06 January, 2011

How's it going

I need to be random for a moment. I was all set to sit down with my coffee at my favorite coffee going place when I was thrown for a loop. I spend my weekday mornings writing at this place before heading to work. I love it because the table height is perfect for writing, it's not over crowded with noisy people who don't know how to use their inside voice, forcing me to crank my iPod up to dangerous levels to drown them out, and the employees are great. It only took them two weeks to figure out my usual order.

So why was I thrown for a loop? I'm now used to having my coffee and donut (gave away the name didn't I) ready for me by the time I reach the counter, without my even asking.
Today my two usual cashiers were not in. I had to actually order. I miss seeing and talking to them.
And it's nice that with the volume of people that come through every morning they pay attention. Unlike another establishment I went to daily for two months and every day I ordered the same coffee (no donuts there), but they never caught on like this place does. Okay I think I'm done.

6 days into the new year. How's that new diet coming? That commitment to write more? Are you struggling? Good.
Now let's get serious.
I've heard it said it takes 21 days to form a habit. I say 21 days won't make any difference if you don't have two things: a goal and a plan.
Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,
What is your passion? What is your dream? Have you written it down, and prayed about it. God opens doors through our prayer and our
obedience. Obedience to follow His plan for our life. So listen to Him and write it down.

Step two, the plan. What plan have you drawn out to help you reach your goal?
Haven't done it yet? That's okay. Sit down in a quiet place away from the TV, the computer, and the phone.
Talk to God. Never done that before? That's okay too. He's ready to listen. Talk with God about your plan and ask Him to help you create one based on His desires. Then write it down.
Keep it somewhere close so you can refer to it when you feel doubt and discouragement creeping in.

I know friends who also get together with another person and tell them their goals as a way of holding themselves accountable. That's good too, but I've come to find the best person to tell my goal to is Jesus. He helps me be accountable.
When it comes to your dreams and desires, don't put them off any longer.

01 January, 2011

Day One

This morning I was curled up in bed with my bible and journal reading in James. "Faith without works is dead." I take it to mean, that if I truly have faith, I would put it into action, seeing the fruit of my faith in motion. Like Noah building the ark. Noah had faith in what God told him to do, and he built the ark.

Day one of the new year and I've been at work since 10 am (it's 5:50 right now), and by work I mean writing.
Editing, revising, looking up screenplay resources on the web, checking contest deadlines, finalizing my writing schedule for 2011.
Oh yeah that,
If I was strictly writing just novels, I could plan out the entire year of writing. The issue I found is that since I am writing scripts, they don't fall into a rhythmic pattern.

I took the contest deadlines I have coming up, and the scripts I want to write and enter into those contests. I then took the two scripts I want to "shop" around Hollywood, and put all those into my calendar first.
The end result is January through April are planned out. That's not to say if an opportunity is presented to me to write a screenplay for someone, I wouldn't take it. I would. I would fit it in.

Today was a good day of writing. I have one more day of vacation. Part of my planning today was going over my Monday through Friday writing time frame and seeing if I could tweak it to get more time in the day to write. I have a plan that I will implement on Monday.

I have enjoyed my two weeks of daily writing. As my stomach grumbles to remind me I've only had a bag of microwave popcorn since lunch I feel like I could push on for at least three or four more hours, and in a way I am.
I will be watching episodes of a tv show on netflix to make sure I have the character's mannerisms correct before I start writing the script for the tv writing fellowship.
I will sit with spiral notebook and pen in hand and watch TV for the remainder of the evening.