Time to Celebrate

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything I’ve almost forgotten how to do this. Lucky for me it’s just after 3 a.m. and with very little sleep I seem to be able to do almost anything.
Christmas is just around the corner and I’ve had time to partake in almost every Christmas tradition my family has developed over the years from seeing the Nutcracker performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to baking shortbread cookies with the family and putting up the Christmas tree before December first. (These are some of the joys of having young children) and might I add they are growing too fast. Both events and all tradition partaking were good times.
Due to personal matters I’ve needed to take the last few months away from focussing on my writing to sort out other aspects of my life. It’s been trying and still is but I’ve finally managed to start writing again. I have in the past month shopped my children’s picture book manuscript around to a few publishers. (It’s a Christmas story coincidentally) and I will be happy if I can reach my goal of having it on store shelves by next October. It’s a start at least.
A really great story editor sent me really valuable notes on my first feature film script which I am hoping to start the last edit of and shop around to producers by mid-March if circumstances allow. Just this afternoon I worked on a novel that has been under construction for nine years now. I think one of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be…. On second thought I’ll share that list with you in the New Year.
On that note I’m wishing you and yours happy holidays this season. Until the New Year…

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Still Alice, Still Impressed

A few days ago I finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Powerful literature sends home a message that resonates with its readers and Genova’s writing has done just that.

Still Alice explores the life of a woman named Alice Howland, a linguistics professor, wife and mother, who learns she has the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It follows her life experience by showing the reader what Alice was experiencing before she was diagnosed to the final stages of how Alzheimer’s disease impacted her life giving insight to what this disease really does to the body of its victims.

Disclaimer: No one close to me has suffered with this and so I was able to read this book as an objective reader instead of an inquiring, concerned family member. What I found fascinating was how Genova kept a reader like myself interested: by throwing in elements of crafty literature in the character development, plot and story structure that I could relate to.

Being able to relate to the character in the story as a person is what really resonated with me. Genova crafted the type of fictional character that if one could sit down to coffee with, one very well might. Now, a message from reality: This is the effect great literature leaves with its readers. A desire to know more about the character and their life and to see them on their journey from beginning to end.

I have at times forgotten why I walked in the kitchen only to walk back in twenty minutes later and push the brew button on my Keurig. No, it’s not the same thing as having alzheimers to be clear. This simple detail: That I could possibly relate to what it means to forget things, kept me reading.The more I read, the more wanted to know and understand more about the effect this has on people who do lose their memory to this horrible disease. I wanted to even on the surface grasp in effect, the tragic loss that comes with losing life as the victim knows it and see what losing memories of the ones they love really does to them. How does this affect them? Genova captures this effectively and with great passion in her words. What is the role of the friends and family members? I wanted to know more about the fictional characters whose lives were turned upside down.

Here’s why I think Genova’s first – time novel worked:

Genova explores family dynamics at its core when families are faced with providing care for a loved one whose diagnosis is a terminal illness. She builds her story bit by bit, word by word adding a new details around every corner. She avoids repetition in her literature. She avoids flashbacks but instead keeps the story moving forward and we unravel more about her career and family life as we go along. She uses colorful verbs and meaningful adjectives in her syntax. She says what she means in a way that readers can relate no matter whether they’ve heard of alzheimer’s a day in their life or not.

Like linguistics and learning about language? You’ll want to read this. Know someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? This book will inform you while entertaining your hunger for a great story. Are you a writer? Read this book. You will learn more about the craft of writing and how to create prose that readers will love by studying the successes in literature of those who came before you.

Want to learn more about Lisa Genova or Still Alice? Check out http://lisagenova.com/about-lisa/

Reading is an important part of being a successful writer. It expands your vocabulary, brings you into another world, it’s relaxing and at times other people telling their stories can inspire us to tell our own stories.

What book will you be reading next?

 

Afraid of Commitment? The reason may surprise you.

After publishing newspaper articles, creating this blog, releasing my first children’s book and producing and writing scripts for Sparta 2016 I am not ready to settle down into any particular genre of writing. I am in fact thinking, my next great adventure might be writing a script for the stage. Watch out GCTC, my writing may be headed your way by the New Year.

The commitment of putting all my energy into only one genre or area of writing when the spectrum is so broad and there is so much enjoyment to be had from them as a writer with a versatile writing style doesn’t parse with my muse.

It wasn’t that long ago someone who had their feet deep in the movie industry told me there was no making a success of yourself as a screenwriter unless you were only writing screenplays. Only writing screenplays? But where I wonder do many screenwriters learn the basics of story structure first? Elementary school my dear Watson? Reading picture books and YA novels and learning about plot and character, story structure, syntax and the beginning principles of proper use of grammar?

Of course it could go back to high school English where grammar classes and writing essays were much of what English teachers spent their time assigning when not molding future great literary minds by strictly telling them to read the classics. Books by great authors like King, Atwood or Munro come to mind.

Michelle Berry’s book Interference is phenomenal. I also recently enjoyed reading John Green’s enchanting novel The Fault in Our Stars. It was hard to put down all the way to the last page. I digress. Read on! Emma Donoghue’s ROOM is a compelling read too.

So it is important for screenwriters to understand basic English grammar and story structure before they can begin crafting their scripts. But here’s the catch, the structure of the story is different when discussing novels and screenplays.

I digress, if I could choose writing just one genre and be satisfied I might be short changed in the experience of reaching out to different audiences and understanding the needs and interests of one group of readers to another. I like the challenge that writing so diversely brings. My five cents, don’t limit yourself. Write widely and wildly. Learn about the craft of writing that goes into a horror story compared to the challenges of writing a successful drama. (Or whatever genre floats your boat.) As for me, I’m just going to keep stringing words together and let them take the form of whatever genre they please.

 

 

Fall Calling

So I’ve been hiding out for a while. I have been busy learning. I’m studying screenwriting, taking on writing challenges (BlueCat Screenwriting Challenge) and editing other authors’ work.

It’s interesting to me how in dec0nstructing writing for its core elements while editing: story structure and plot consistency, diction, syntax and character development to name a few, I can better identify where the work could use improvement or rewriting in my own prose.

In every other moment of my waking life I am dedicated to my family and meeting their needs as best as I can. The life of a writer can be so ordinary at times. Picking up toys off the floor between sentences, sneaking away from the computer more often than not to build castles out of blocks with my daughter. Taking art lessons from my six-year -old son. Seriously, I cannot draw a convincing stick person to save my life.

I hope to get back to blogging more regularly in 2017 but for now, its all about creating fresh material to draw inspiration from and finishing up old writing projects.

Going to brew a cup of coffee now and try to prepare for my interview at 3:30 with Paperback Radio.(Interview airs August 30th between 1 and 2 p.m.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Production For Writers

 

I have been writing scripts just shy of a year now and loving it. No one told me what I was getting into when I decided to sit in the producer’s seat for my own short. Taking the leap from writer to producer taught me a great deal about the elements of writing while I simultaneously took a crash course in filmmaking. The beauty of this lesson in writing is that I didn’t have to type a word, other than the script of course. Think you want to improve your writing skills while trying your hand at film producing? Here are a few things I learned that you might consider:

Stage one: Acquiring a script. So, unless you are a scriptwriter you are going to want to acquire a script and seek out permissions from the writer to produce said project. This can seem like an easy task but while sitting in the producers seat I had the opportunity to lend my ear to other producers in the biz who have confessed it’s not enough for you to have a bunch of words on a piece of paper and call it a script, by George, so to speak.

There had better be something more to Mary shooting Damian than the simple fact that she was pissed off. She had better have a motive for said action, and that motive better draw the viewer in. That is to say, you’ve got to have a compelling plot or no one, not even and not especially the producer, is going to think twice about putting your script on the big screen.

Rule Number two: There are no hard and fast rules about producing your first short other than: thou shalt fake it ‘til you maketh it. That’s right, get your director’s and indie filmmakers books, big boots and blogs out now and keep them handy. You will learn hard and fast that you are not just the producer of your film, you are sometimes also the catering service, the electrician on the set, the improv audio person, grip, DOP and so forth until your services for yourself are no longer required.

If you are lucky you either have a big budget and great insurance or a great group of people on your cast and crew. Releases will cover a lot of potential problems so make sure you print them up and get them signed by all involved. And before getting craft services check if anyone has any special diet requirements.

Rule no. 3: It’s a wrap does not mean the hard work is done. Well, it does for the cast and the most of the crew but understand you still have a film to edit now and that means you will either want to have your own software and be proficient at your own video editing or know someone else who does this and does this well that you can count on. And write up those special credits and thanks starting now so in case you forget anyone in the first round you will hopefully notice be the time edits are almost done.

Rule no.4. You may not have your cake and eat it too, so to speak (I like Black Forest) you must keep writing, or whatever it is you do for a living while your film goes through the final production stages. And when that is done, there’s the marketing for your short. You’ll need stills from your footage to design movie posters and if you don’t have a huge budget them social media can be your best friend. Pump word out to those you know of your upcoming production and count on them to share the word with others of your project. Say It Once More With Feeling, Sparta 2016 #Ahem, friends.

Rule #5. If you don’t like producing you can keep your day job. What I like about writing, is that it’s not producing. It’s the creative process over the technical, the artistic over the directorial. It is engaging the heart and mind with a medium other than the screen. It results in something that can be shared with audiences who will no doubt give honest, critical feedback. It can help you learn about their experience of watching your work and the work of countless hard working talented individuals who helped your script come alive #SayItOnceMoreWithFeeling #Thanksguys! At the same time, it will show you where the plot holes may or may not be in your script, viewing the edits shows you where the acting was so good it made you cry and you’ll remember to bring a bunch of tissue to hand out for the after party no doubt. Audience reactions are something great to anticipate. They come from somewhere personal, where a connection was or wasn’t made with the viewer. Learning how and why people react the way they do to receiving or rejecting a film is much more personal experience than reading a review of one’s work on the internet. I’m looking forward to audience feedback this March 6th at Rainbow Cinemas.

Rule #6 if you do like producing you can always consider making more movies in the future.

I’m overdue to see The Fault in our Stars, so I may just bake a chocolate cake now and have it too. Because, I can. Writing my next script can wait for morning.

 

How Every New Author Might Feel

http://www.blurb.com/b/6790350-loved-like-me

http://www.blurb.com/b/6790350-loved-like-me

http://www.blurb.com/b/6790350-loved-like-me       There was that moment when I realised the first editions of Loved Like Me arrived in the mail that I grabbed the box and grasped it so tightly I might have dog-eared the package. There was the immediate excitement that races through every inch of you (rather, me) after you’ve (I’ve) spent five years of writing, procrastinating, working with the muse, editing, working with an illustrator and graphic designer, fundraising (as a result of self-publishing) and creating the finished product that left me walking on eggshells for two weeks. I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the mail every day. Maybe my first editions would come early? (They did, by a day). And when they did, I couldn’t bring myself to open the package.

A lot of people might be familiar with Shroedinger’s cat but I had a version all my own – and it was a magical package. As long as I didn’t open it, I was 110% pleased with the culmination of my hard work and what it resulted in. I thought about leaving the package unopened until morning. I changed my Facebook status so my friends and family might understand my excitement; although does anyone ever get as excited about a new book as the author of said creation? Honestly, I doubt it. But, after updating my Facebook status I placed the package on the dining room table and did what any new author waiting for their first book for weeks would do — I went out and bought a coffee.

I perused the shops in the mall looking at things I wouldn’t mind buying and when I arrived at the coffee shop I poured my heart out to the poor cashier at the counter taking my order and explained how I couldn’t possibly open the package because, well…I was simply too nervous.

Too nervous. I did not work this hard for five years to let a little emotion get in the way of me opening a simple package; did I? I walked home faster than, as my mom used to say, “Carter has pills”. I don’t know who Carter was or why he has pills and I’m not sure what he was doing with them or where his parents were at the time but let me tell you, he wouldn’t have been doing that if he were my son…oh the imaginative mind of a writer. Carter most certainly would have been too busy with family, school and community support to have time for such endeavors.

It was so much easier to let my mind wander than to confront the package. It took some nudging from my very supportive and loving husband to finally convince me that this was something I needed to do.

The package opened, I took one deep breath as I ever so gently pulled the books out of the package, et voila. Just like that it hit me, I accomplished one of my life goals. I am more than pleased. The result of this book is more than I ever could have hoped for had I done it all on my own. The fact is, I couldn’t have done it on my own. I have a lot of people to thank, and now I have a lot of books I hope to sell but the road to success is paved in marketing, and that is a coffee of a different latte.

The books are out of the box. I’ve done it. I’m a published author. You can do it too! Keep at it, keep dreaming, keep working hard and keep writing. For anyone interested my book is available at http://www.blurb.com/b/6790350-loved-like-me

The Dirtiest Words I’ve Ever Heard

 

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/when_to_use_swear_words_in_your_writing

Exposition: I have heard a lot of foul language in my life time, from the mundane, “Oh cookie crumbs,” to words I simply do not have the heart to put in writing or print for fear they might be rated ‘R’. No one likes the ‘A’ word, the ‘S’ word the ‘F’ word. Some people I have known used it as much as they drank coffee but that’s neither here nor there. What gets under my skin most these days is not whether or not someone is sneaking some vulgar profanity into their everyday language. Language is the colour of life. After all, as people we all have different dialects, patterns of speech, a variety of ways in which we annunciate our words.

Tomato, tomato. Did you say that the same twice or did you read both versions of that word? Inquiring minds want to know. Fiddlesticks, lost my thought. But honestly, as a new writer the biggest vulgarity in my life right now is the ‘M’ word, M for marketing. Book marketing. This is what my life must now include if I want my self-published book, Loved Like Me, to have any hope of surviving in the galaxy of books that exists on our planet.
Time to hit social media and make use of all those great social professional network connections I have amassed over the last year or two.
I spent the first week of 2016 celebrating in my mom/writer style this week with the release of the e-book and print versions of my first children’s book, Loved Like Me. It was illustrated by the very talented, Rob Nicholson.
Celebrating mom style means that I had a fancy homemade dinner and I feast on ice cream at home with a few of my favourite movies, (which I have yet to find time for),taking ‘social networking’ time on platforms like Facebook and occasionally talking to people face to face while I wait for my first editions to arrive.
This launch marks the end of what took me almost all of 2015 to get self-published and the beginning of my life as an author. Looking ahead, my writing calendar is in chaos. There are editing courses on the horizon, shorts to write and produce, a feature film I want to sell as soon as I find the time to adapt it from its present novel form (I made this one of my 2016 resolutions) and a novel to get the final edit done on and the list goes on. But wait- there’s more! Now I have to learn marketing.
Conflict: I don’t have the time, resources or marketing skills to push this book in the market place.
Rising Action: If/when I sell copies of this book, Loved Like Me, I will be able to start investing in other writing productions and projects. Time is my enemy. Woman vs. Herself: I must find the confidence to learn the skills I need to be successful or I am not going to be able to make it as a successful author. Will time defeat me? I am looking into learning marketing platforms through writers organisations such as Ottawa Independent Writers, online resources and of course other authors in the industry. Will time crush my dreams? Is there hope for selling one copy of my book before the end of the week? Inquiring minds want to know.
Crisis: The house looks lived in, the kids are happily entertained and play with one another occasionally including me in singing a rendition of songs seen on Mary Poppins, which I must have (willingly) watched a million times, I need to write something for my blog, I have editing and screenwriting and film commitments to meet, the coffee stopped working after the first sip today and I am waiting on results concerning entries for a film festival and writing contests.
Climax: Needs more story development but my eyes are fighting to stay open. I don’t know if exhaustion will win out before I can get this blog finished. I am running out of time. I am over exhausted and I have to get up in a few hours. I could market the blog based on this hook but it isn’t developed enough yet. Story development and a strong hook is key to selling scripts/stories.
Falling action: The hubby and I did the housework between eating, breathing and other uneventful necessities of life. My daughter plays on her toy computer and with her dolls, my son draws abstract art with finger paints or we all play Play Dough and sing silly songs between my writing script scenes and sometimes during. I take a break, play with the children and go back to writing and caring for them. It is tricky but entirely possible.
I am blessed with the gift of multi-tasking. I am determined to learn how to market my book so it becomes (yes, I can dream) a best seller. I realise in retrospect that I have accomplished a lot of the work I set out to do for pre-production, book editing, blogging and marketing. I realise that the film festival and contest winner announcements are a ways off and I take a breath. Time is still my enemy where the writing is concerned. There are and always will be deadlines to meet so long as this is my profession/vocation.
Resolution: I finish this blog, post it, share it with you, feel grateful that I have accomplished the things that I set out to do this evening. I turn off the computer and take some much needed ‘me’ time. That is to say, I plan on getting some sleep, although it is not likely that will be anytime soon.