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31 December, 2010

The End of the Line

Well it's December 31st. The last day of the old year.
2010 was an excruciating year for me. I learned a lot, but I would not like to repeat the experience.
2010 also brought me some victories:
1. Finished my first young adult fantasy novel.
2. Finished and submitted a science fiction short story.
3. Completed a screenplay in 9 days. Wait, 9 days? When did that happen? Last night/this morning at 12:45 am. I tasked myself with the goal of finishing a screenplay by New Year's Eve. I gave myself two weeks to complete it, as I was on vacation from work.
I did it in 9 days. Full length, feature screenplay. I never dreamed I would be able to do something as extensive as a screenplay in 9 days, but I did. (Course now the competitive person in me is wondering if I can do one in 7 days.)
4. Finding out my blog has been read by readers all over the world.

Is it time for me to take a bow? No. I wasn't able to do any of the above without God pushing and encouraging me along the way.

This morning I sat in Panera with my spiral notebook, and my 2011 calendar, planning out my writing projects for the year.
I have to admit it was hard. Was I out of ideas? No, quite the contrary, I had too many that were crying "me first", "me first".

As I have decided that the script I just finished I will be submitting to the Nicholls fellowship (after editing of course), I need to write another script along that genre-young adult, dark drama.
After that I am still in the deciding mode. I'll pull my spiral and calendar back out in the morning and finalize my writing timeline for 2011. Tonight I'm chewing over the ideas I have.

New Year's Eve. I am so excited about the potential of 2011.

As I sit down tonight to watch back to back action movies (sci fi and regular action), in the back of my mind one high-concept, action screenplay is trying to get my attention. Pick me to write first, it says. Let's blow stuff up, it says. Nobody's done it this way before, it says.
C'mon, you know you wanna, it says. And you know what? It's right.
Here's wishing you and yours a happy New Year's Eve and looking forward to an action packed 2011.

29 December, 2010

Countdown to New Year's Eve

I think today is Wednesday. I spent all morning writing, and all afternoon reading about my writing craft. Wait...yes, according to my iPhone it is Wednesday the 29th of December. Two days until New Year's Eve.
Have I made any resolutions like: lose weight, go on a cruise, etc.?
No, nothing like that.
Do I have any exciting plans for New Year's Eve? That's still up in the air also. I am leaning toward an evening out listening to the Florida Orchestra. We'll see.

I wrote for four straight hours this morning and finished 21 script pages in the process. I am now into act three and have one or two more twists to throw at my main character before I get into the resolution.

2011. A brand new year full of hopes, dreams and possibilities. My calendar is filling up with writing projects. Already my mind is churning about the next writing (screenplay and novel) project I have raring to go in January.
I have the young adult fantasy novel I am almost done editing. I have the young adult sci fi novel that is 80% completed, that I am going to also write the screenplay for.

I have to revise the screenplay I am currently writing in order to submit it to upcoming screenplay contests.

I have a list of writing projects (novels and screenplays), that I would like to work on for 2011.

So much to do in 2011.
I will be committing these ideas to my 2011 desk calendar in order to organize my writing better.

2011. Definitely looking forward to it.

27 December, 2010

Half Way There

If you had asked me five days ago if it was possible for me to write a complete script in ten days I would have said no. 
After five days I am at the 50% mark. I am on track to be done in five more days. 
Was this my goal when I started out?Yes.  I challenged myself, since I'm on vacation from work and I knew I could devote 4-6 hours a day to my writing, to complete a script by New Year's Eve. 

I have heard of screenwriters completing a script in a week.  I think I'm almost there. That would be 15 pages a day. It's doable if you plop yourself in your chair and don't leave it, literally for at least 4 hours-typing at least 50 wpm. 
I plan to crank out another ten pages on my script tonight. 

Morning writing is done and my daughter and I are at the mall. She is spending gift card money. I picked up some cute rhinestone hoop earrings and a rhinestone princess ring (it's a crown).  
I am itching to get back to work on my script and I'm going to let the fire in me blaze. Straight to the finish line. 

24 December, 2010

December 24th

War of 1812 is piping through my skull candy in-ear buds right now. I love Tchaikovsky. I love to play it while writing. Now that I think about it. I’ve listened to classical music while writing since I began creatively writing in elementary school.
These days I don’t always listen to classical music while writing, sometimes its pop music, or Celtic music.

My morning screenplay writing session is done for today-daily writing goal obtained.
The evening writing session is to finish editing my novel and will commence once I have returned from playing my flute for Christmas Eve Service. And, once I have finished making the gingerbread bundt cake and taught my daughter how to make pumpkin pie.

Yesterday I was at Panera writing and noticed the guy at the table next to me was drawing landscapes. The cool thing is that he was sketching and then transferring them to his laptop. Technology loves art.
I love being an artist. Interpreting what God, the creator has made.

Today is Christmas Eve. So what biblical insight do I have for you today? My friend from high school, Rhonda Knebel-Wells, has been posting verses that coincide with the Christmas story daily this week on Facebook. I like that she posts the verse so you have to look it up and voila, you are reading your bible.

My heart is at peace and joy fills my soul. I have been blessed with being able to write every morning this week, and into the next. Though the screenplay I am determined to finish by December 31st (act one is done and I am well into act two), is dark, there is light coming. Before all hope is lost, though it seems there is nothing left to hope for. Jesus is the light brought into the world of His own free will.

My word for today and for tomorrow.
Merry Christmas and have a prosperous, joy-filled New Year. Focus on what God asks of you. Determine in your heart to turn neither from the left or the right (Joshua 1:7), and stay on the path (Psalm 119:105). Believe.

I have purposed in my heart to stay on the write (get it-play on words) path God has deemed for me. I am entering the screenplay I am currently writing in the Nicholls fellowship in January.
I am also submitting my novel to agents in January (my “final” revision will be done next week). I will begin writing a very complicated sci-fi screenplay in January that I am working out with much prayer and vision.

Jesus did the work God gave Him to do in 3 years. He did not seek His own glory or gain. He purposed in His heart to do the will of the Father.

God blessed us with the miracle of Jesus’ birth, and Jesus blessed us with His death and resurrection. Let us purpose in our hearts this Christmas to do what the Father has asked.
See you in 2011.

21 December, 2010

All I want for Christmas

Do you have a friend or family member who is a writer? Are you puzzled as to what to get them for Christmas? Well I've decided to do my own top ten list of things I, as a writer, would love to get for Christmas.

10. One year subscription to Writer's Digest. I already have a running one with The Writer.

9. $25.00 gift card to Panera Bread or Dunkin Donuts. For my morning and weekend writing sessions away from home.

8. Assorted colored gel pens (1mm), and thick, hard backed, spiral notebooks. The different color inks help with multiple edits as I like to print a hard copy and mark it up. The spiral notebooks are for writing ideas, short stories, separate chapters of novels, scenes for a screenplay, etc. Bound journals are not worth the effort of trying to write on the back of the page-truly frustrating and nothing kills creativity more than frustration.

7. Writing chair (desk chair). One designed for a minimum of six hours of usage. And made for tall people. (Trust me on this. There is a difference.)

6. $300.00 Visa gift card. So the writer (me) can take a three day writing retreat when my daughter is off on a youth retreat of her own.

5. A real writing desk. Black to match my bookshelves.
Long and wide enough to simultaneously hold my laptop (or desktop), writing spiral notebooks, note cards, NASA coffee mug/pen and pencil holder, study lamp, and action figures ( I promised Iron Man, Warmachine, Bumblebee and the rest that they could have space to continue their matches); with drawers and storage cabinets for my copies of scripts and rough drafts of novels.

4. Desktop computer with a 19 or 23 inch flat screen monitor. To alleviate the neck strain of trying to pick away at a laptop. Plus the keyboard of a desktop is much kinder to my typewriter-trained hands (raised with space between the keys), as my fast fingers get tongue-tied on a traditional laptop keyboard. I also notice I can consecutively type for much longer (six hours as compared to three to four) on a desktop as opposed to a laptop.

3. Producer's badge to the Austin Film Festival in 2011. To attend one of the best film festivals for screenwriters.

2. $2,500.00 To fund my writing research trip to Scotland.

1. A ticket to the academy awards in Los Angeles February 2011. So I can be refreshed, renewed, revitalized. It has been a dream of mine since I was a child to be able to attend the actual award's ceremony. Not to get autographs or take pictures with the stars. But to spend the evening among like-minded creative folk-sharing in their dreams and successes. Gleaning any information, advice, wisdom I can from them, and bringing it home to infuse into my own creative work, or receive inspiration for new work.

20 December, 2010

What you know, not what you see

John 14:1-3, Jesus is speaking to the disciples about not being afraid, and to believe in Him. That He is going away to prepare a place for them and that He will come back.
Why did Jesus go through all the trouble of telling them this? Because very soon He would be betrayed and crucified. His body would die and the disciples would begin to doubt. Jesus told them these things because He knew on the third day He would (and did) rise again. He spoke these words to them to give them hope and for them to reflect on in the coming dark days.
Application: Trust in what you know, not what you see.

Today I went and got a hot fudge brownie sundae-before dinner. It was wonderful. All that gooey hot fudge, that thick brownie topped with vanilla bean ice cream, whip cream, peanuts and cherries. Oh yes, I was in the zone.
It was a treat to myself, something I don't often do and should do.

I had just read part of a book on novel writing and was inspired by the end of the book interviews with best selling authors. The author of the book asked them the same questions but it was surprising how many had similar answers. Best way to improve as a writer: Read and write. Best way to succeed: Hard work and effort. Have I heard these before? Yes, but two of the authors were some I had fond memories of reading in my childhood: Dean Koontz (Phantoms gave me nightmares when I read it and Watchers is my favorite book of his), and Richard Matheson (I Am Legend -say no more). Robert Liparulo is a current author I am reading and I think he would agree that hard work and never giving up are key.
It helps to know that you are on the same wavelength so to speak.

Trust in what I know, not what I see. Many of the author's interviewed for the book struggled through what I am facing now-time to write, doubts about the quality of their work, rejection letters.

Application point from Jesus's words to the disciples and in effect, to us:
Whatever it is He has put upon your heart to do. That one thing that make you burst out in laughter, or smile, or makes your heart race. That one thing that consumes your waking thoughts (or like me you dream about your novel). That one thing you focus your monetary resources on- in the words of Yoda :don't try, do. Do it with your whole heart and your whole being. Otherwise what's the point?

No more of this "well I guess I'll give it a shot." What will it hurt to go all out for what God has placed on your heart? Will it be easy? No. Will you come against resistance? Yes at first, but thinking back to Joshua when he had the troops and the priests march around the walls of Jericho-that wasn't easy. He had to trust in what he was told, not an impenetrable wall he could see. And on the 6th day they gave a shout and the walls came down. Just like God said.

14 December, 2010

The chapter that wasn't

I saw the cutest thing the other day. Santa Cow at Chik-fil-a. I have a thing for cows. An obsession that may be out of control but there you have it. Cows aren't my favorite animal. That distinction belongs to black bears.
I have a picture of me with a Chik-fil-a cow, but for my daughter's sake (embarrassment) I won't post it.
My love of Chik-fil-a cows reminds me of how unique I am. God made me unique-fearfully and wonderfully.

I just finished reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Book two in the Hunger Games series. I got it on a Friday night and finished it on Saturday. I really enjoyed it but I felt something after reading the book similar to what I felt after reading my first novel.
She tells an amazing story and I can't wait to read book three, but I felt like it was shortened.
There were scenes and chapters that I think maybe were edited out for page count or reasons unknown to me. I had a thought on more than one occasion while reading her novel that I wanted to know a little more in a scene, or I wanted the chapter to go on a few more pages. I had questions to be answered, curiosity that was peaked but not satiated. And the ending happened too quickly for me.

Looking at my first novel. I felt like there were chapters missing; scenes that needed more work. When I read my novel I truly am transported into my heroinne's world. I feel what she feels. I get nervous and goosebumpy (my new word for the day), at certain parts.
But I have also found myself wishing there was more in a scene, additional chapter (s), etc.
As I go through another edit of my novel (I'm up to page 63 as of this morning's writing session), I am adding more to scenes that I feel need it. Making my characters feel so real you will think they are sitting right next to you telling you their story.

Looking ahead I know there are chapters that need to be added in Act 2 and Act 3 (screenplay terms) and I am adressing that. In my lunchtime writing session currently I am writing the chapters that go with Act3. I'm not writing in order for a reason. I want to write it as a stand alone, like a short story, then merge it in with the novel. I even handwrite the additional chapters, to further detach it from the novel.

The reason? That answer is a two-parter. First, I want to write these new chapters fresh without seeing what I wrote before or after where I plan to insert them. Second, these chapters are pivotal to my main character's development, to what caused a severe change in someone dear to her, and to set up the second and third (or fourth) novel. It's like when you see a character do something on TV or on the movie screen and you yell out "don't to it", or you cheer them on. That's what these scenes are for.

So is the rest of the novel uneventful. No. Its got plenty of teeth to it. These are scenes and chapters I didn't write at first because I thought there wasn't going to be room.
If its vital to the story, then there is always room. Like a hot fudge brownie sundae after dinner. It's not dinner without dessert.
I have another hour and a half of writing to accomplish today so stay tuned.

05 December, 2010


What do Ballerinas and Oil painters have in common? A commitment to their craft. They recognize that talent is only one part of their success story. A commitment to being the best at their talent is the key.
What is required of that commitment? Well for a ballerina she (or he), has to recognize that spark of excitement she gets when she dances as being more than mild interest. Building upon that she will take classes in method and technique, and practice, practice, practice. Finally she will dare to dream the impossible and audition for that role that was made for her.

What about writers? Do we make commitments? If we want to be successful we do.
I spent the morning on my porch with a cup of hot tea, my bible and my journal. I read and prayed and journaled my thoughts, frustrations, desires, fears. Making decisions that needed to be made for my writing.

I need to be singularly focused like the ballerina. I know I am a talented writer. No it's not prideful to say so. Pride would say I am better than everyone. I am talented. My writing has made people laugh, and made them cry. I recognize that my talent is more than a mild interest. It is my passion. I have to write. Ask me to show you the napkins I've written stories on at restaurants back before my iPhone and digital recorder. Come look at the post it notes plastered on cork boards in my writing cave.

Talent, passion, desire. Now I need method.
As I go through the last revision of my novel before submitting it to an agent at the end of this month, I am pouring over books on POV and character, and grammar. I can tell a difference in my editing. I'm looking more closely at what I've written. Is it true to my characters, am I short-changing them? Do I like what I wrote? No, then I change it.

Editing is slow, but after I've edited a page and look back over it I like what I see.
Reading back over the novel I finished this summer I like what I'm seeing. It looks good. I didn't say perfect, but good. I feel more confident in it's ability to hold it's own when I submit it later this month.
Dance ballerina, dance.