Don’t just ride.

me1

There are days when I feel a bit invincible in my own home. Cocooned in my little bungalow where it’s just my husband, my son and two scruffy dogs. When I know it’s okay and I’m okay, and despite the news, the world is okay, too.

There are days when I feel low. Dropped to the bottom of a steep incline and slammed into the seat, jolted, breathless, and ready to get off now, please.

This is a roller coaster we can’t just leave. There’s no escape hatch. There’s no emergency off switch, and that makes us feel aimless. Like we’re just here for the ride, but we’re not actually required for the journey.

Schools are closed through the rest of the school year. The stay at home order is in place for many until May 1st – for now. I walk through my neighborhood and prickle when I see someone on the same side of the street, walking the same sidewalk. I take a wide berth, reroute, and feel lonelier when the dogs tug back, wanting to greet, and me just wanting more space.

It’s easy to feel a little defeated. To want to sit down, right here, and just stop. Not cry because that would mean you were still fighting. No – just sit, just let it all pass you by, because this coaster is going fast on the loops and the dips and you aren’t the one manning the controls.

Without vision we perish. Right now a lot of us are getting vision confused with existence. Existence is what we do to survive. Vision is what we need to prosper and thrive. And even in a season of collective cocooning, we must have vision or we’ll just ride.

The real question for many not on the frontlines of this fight isn’t what should we do to survive – it’s who will we be if we do?

Time isn’t going to stop.

We’re not just gonna pick up in a few months where we left off. Too much will have happened, and even though this pause touches everyone, we as individuals must still carry on. In our homes, in our work, dreaming our dreams, doing our deeds by whatever means possible — by innovation and with determination.

We must keep our eyes like flint on the vision, however we can, because even though it will surely tarry, it will still arrive.

The roller coaster of this pandemic will one day come to an end, but who we will be when we get out of the car, stretch our legs, and take the first steps into the new normal, is still up for debate.

Faith is not a passive thing. Faith is an action word. It is alive and it requires our participation.

Whatever you have to do – whether it’s make a mask, clean your house, rock your baby, call you mother, write your words – keep doing it and don’t let this pause convince you that you aren’t still here for a reason, for such a time as this. ❤︎

Blooming

bloom

When I moved into my new house in LA, I wanted a yard full of poppies in springtime. A small thing, sure, but I could see it, and it was going to be glorious. Rows of sunset orange, tangerine, cream and dusty green. I bought seeds, put them in the fresh, damp ground — I expected them to grow.

As spring arrived, and the whole of California it seemed was bathed in that orange glow, my backyard filled up with green stalks. Rows and rows of green. Not a single blossom anywhere. I would walk outside, combing the —what really just looked like weeds at this point — green for the smallest sign of color.

And I was disappointed. I really wanted those flowers to bloom and they weren’t. Every time I saw a poppy on the roadside, or in my neighbor’s yard, it was a small reminder that my flowers might never bloom. It was hard to be happy for the rest of California when my yard was still poppy-free, and my expectations were totally dashed.

But, I didn’t pull up the green, even if it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. One day, maybe, there would be poppies in this garden, maybe I would get to see it, or maybe I would have moved on to some other house, some other garden, some other field of wildflowers waiting to bloom. One day, I would get my little sunset garden.

Sunday afternoon, while I was doing homework at the kitchen table with my son, my eyes traveled to the backyard, to all that wild green, and they caught on something.

Bright, vibrant, wide open, bathing in sunlight. A few perfect poppy flowers.

popp

When I look closely now, I see a multitude of blooms waiting to open up, promising me flowers for days, more than I even expected.

Expectations can create a false sense of urgency, they can push your patience into panic, your faith into fear. They can make you feel like everyone around you is getting the fields of wildflowers you hoped for, while you are getting green stalks of flowerless weeds. But patience pays off in time. Not pulling up the flowers you planted because they aren’t blooming yet, pays off, too.

Waiting for that warm Sunday, when the sun touches the garden just right, and the first little flower opens up, pays off in spades.

 

Big Announcement

announcement
I’m thrilled to say that I am now represented by Devin Ross of New Leaf Literary! She’s fierce and whip smart. Her passion for my book is the stuff of dreams. I’m an over-the-moon and flying-through-space kind of excited about partnering with her to build my career in new, awesome ways.

It’s a journey, y’all. This publishing journey. This life journey. It’s a ride full of twists. It’s sitting and thinking and digging deep. It’s getting up and doing the work.

I couldn’t be happier with all the dips and ebbs, the massive climbs, the sweeping views I’ve already experienced. I can’t wait for all the things to come, and glad I have this person in my corner to help me pull the best punches.

Here we go…!

 

Writer Recharge: I sucked this week, but I’m on YouTube

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise —

This week I sucked it up on my writing goals. I was out of town until Friday assisting Lindsay Cummings on a book tour and making a YouTube video with her about it. I did manage a little over 1000 words, but that is all.

Read —

I read another 50 pages on my CPs MS. That is my focus this week. That is my primary focus.

Self —

I walked by a gym at the hotel we were staying in. Everyday. Everyday I asked Lindsay if she wanted to work out. She did not. Neither did I. We did watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban twice while planning our Harry Potter Tag video. I drank a lot of tea, for my health.

Connect —

I would say that my entire week was connecting. I met readers and aspiring young writers. I learned about the author life in a very real and sometimes emotional way. I was super impressed by my friend for the time and effort she gives (freely) to these kids.

Fun —

  • My sister-in-law and I got badges to one day of San Diego Comic Con. We then had to follow through with our commitment to begin a YouTube channel should we succeed. Check out our blog Books, Booze & Bitches for more info and stay tuned for our first video — airing Wednesday!
  • While you wait, you can watch Lindsay and I discuss Harry Potter in a very ridiculous way:

Good luck this week on meeting goals!

Writer Recharge

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise —

  • Again, didn’t do 500 words a day, but did mange just over 2000 words total. So. Success. 🙂
  • I began the terrifying process of cutting scenes from my screenplay. This stage of revision always makes feel anxious. Hold me.
  • I sent my PILOT outline to my screenwriter friend, and before I finish the script, I’d like to hear back from her.

Read —

  • Read on my CP manuscripts. My goals this week is to have notes on one my the end of the week!
  • Haven’t had a lot of other reading time this week. But I’m bout 25 pages into Ruby Red for the reread. LOVE this book so much. #GwynnieandGideonForever

Self —

  • I went to the gym Tuesday and Thursday, and walked everyday — even the days I worked out! YAY

Connect —

  • Participated in a couple Twitter writing parties!

Fun —

For Galentines Day (February 13th) two of my sister-in-laws and I ordered pizza, popped champagne, ate cheesecake, participated in Lady Talk, and watched two episodes of Supernatural. It was epic girl time.

Good luck this week on meeting goals, and having fun while doing it!

Writer Recharge

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise:

  • Wrote almost everyday, and surpassed my 500 word goal each day. Total Word Count: 4,434
  • Didn’t work on my screenplay revision last week– that’s on the schedule for this week!
  • Finished my Pilot Script outline and wrote three script pages. VERY EXCITED about this project!

Read: 

I need to rework my reading goals for the month.

I have two CP reads that showed up in my inbox, so I am giving this priority.

Also, I am participating in a reread in the Ruby Red Trilogy this spring. Check out the details here and join in!

Self:

Exercise three times in the week.

  • I went to the gym Tuesday and Thursday, and I took my dogs on three brisk, long walks. Success!

Connect:

  • Didn’t do my pay it forward shipment yet, but soon.
  • Participated in a couple Twitter writing parties, hope to do more this week!

Fun:

Haven’t started Supernatural yet, but that is on the books for this week as well.

Good luck on all your goals this week! We got this!

Book-to-Film Adaptations

book to film

Book-to-film adaptations are all the rage right now in Hollywood. Thanks in large part to the shaky economy, purchasing an already established brand and turning it into a film has become the go to. A few years ago, when I had a new baby and a new screenplay completed, I received some very valuable advice from a producer.

“You can’t sell this,” she said. “It’s wonderful, but impossible to sell on spec in this market. And it will only get worse.” She went on to suggest I produce the film myself, or adapt it into a novel and try to break into publishing. “It’s easier to secure financing that way.”

The amount of books to be adapted to films, or miniseries, or television shows, has sky rocketed. And so has the amount of horribly done adaptations. For every good film version of a beloved novel, there are three bad ones.

So, what is it that makes a book adaptation worthy? Many producers would say a massive audience and a high-concept. Let’s examine some great adaptations and see what made them so flippin’ fabulous beyond a huge readership and potential for merchandising and attempt to riddle out the answer.

 The Lord of the Rings – Author J.R.R. Tolkien, Director/Writer Peter Jackson

It is my personal opinion that high fantasy epics work well as big budget films. The world building in fantasy novels is a veritable playground for special effects masters, the clothing a joy for costume designers, and the sweeping plots and complex characters a banquet for actors. Lord of the Rings worked because the filmmaker made a movie based on the books, but didn’t try to transcribe what can only be achieved in prose onto the screen. Where some movie adaptations struggle is trying to stick too closely to the source material.

Unpopular opinion time — I like my adaptations to be an interpretation. No one can create the world from your imagination perfectly on screen, no actor can satisfy everyone’s image of an adored character. Great adaptations are one filmmaker’s impression of a work, not everyone’s.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Author Harper Lee, Director Robert Mulligan

What makes To Kill a Mockingbird a wonderful adaptation is the way they streamlined the plot lines. The film is condensed, as it must be, but manages to hold onto the big plot points without feeling awkward because they shifted the perspective.

News flash about the difference between a film and a novel: books can have a first-person POV, films cannot. The problem with many adaptations of YA novels, and main reason I believe a film can feel jarring when you’ve experienced the story through the protagonist’s internal monologue, is the shift from first to third person. To Kill a Mockingbird did a beautiful job giving the film a “voice” like Scout, by using music and perspective shifts — namely bringing Jem, her brother, more into the forefront — to tell the story in a broader way.

Pride and Prejudice — Author Jane Austen, Director Many British Guys

Pride and Prejudice has been reimagined not only in film, but as retellings in literary form as well. The reason this book is so popular to adapt is threefold:

First, the story is simple. On the page there are no big fight scenes or need for CGI — yes, I haven’t forgotten what I said about those things earlier — so the budget for these films can be small or huge depending on the production value desired.

Second, the story is so famous that no matter how many times they remake it we will still go see it. Seriously, remake it again, only this time with cyborgs. Money in the bag, friends.

Third, and most importantly, the narrative tone is easy to capture through dialog and expression; therefore, you don’t lose the quality of the novels prose when you translate the story to film.

Enjoy your favorite adaptation today, and please, share in comments what you think makes a book-to-film worth viewing.

The Terrible Titles Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged by the English Badass Liz Parker in the Terrible Titles Blog Hop. Here’s how it works:

Writers scroll through their MS and let their cursor fall on random places. Those words or phrases become the new, terrible title for their manuscript. I’m scrolling through my manuscript Of Blood and Promises.

Shall we begin?

1. We Dance Soon

2. Their Blood has Weakened Us

3. I Want to Keep My Mouth Shut

4. Blood Stains Her Skin

5. The Light From Their Flames

6. I Will Never Leave You

7. This Sea of Unknown Depths

8. She Will Never be Mine

Hahahaha! I think maybe the one I chose is best. What do you think? I’m going to tag my CPs Susan Crispell, Jess Fonseca and Courtney Howell.

Ready. Set. Write! Update #9

RSWtealpolaroid

Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Week’s Goals:

1. Revise three more chapters.

I ended up revising 60 pages, so this is a major win. 

2. Write three more scenes on the screenplay and fill in the scenes I have skipped over.

I worked on a story grid for the screenplay, and then sent it to one of screenwriting friends for feedback, and then my week got CRAZY so I haven’t gotten back to it. But I think it is going to make a huge difference in shaping the Screenplay. 

3. Read

I read Isla and the Happily Ever After. Oh the feelings. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

I stare at the back of her head, my vision blurring from tears trapped in my eyes. I shake my head, and a few of those tears break free to sneak down my cheeks.

“Did you even love my father?”

She reaches up to run a hand through her hair. When she speaks, her voice is almost a whisper.

“Beyond reason,” she pauses to swallow hard. “I loved him beyond reason.”

Biggest Challenge:

This week I took Sam to the water park, Legoland, and Cosmic Jump as part of our EPIC SUMMER. I was exhausted from all the fun, and then I had to finish prep for his Power Rangers B-day party on Sunday. It was all worth it.

Something I love about my WiP:

The revision is stretching me. It’s the slow kind, where you feel the burn across all the writing muscles, must push through the pain and doubt that you can stretch that far, but you gain new flexibility.

This Week’s Goals:

1. Enjoy the last week before school starts with my son.

2. Revise the next chapter, which is a killer chapter.

3. Finish the Story Grid Revision on the Screenplay and send back to screenwriter friend.

Ready. Set. Write! Update #3

RSWStripe2

Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Monday means check-in time!

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Finish the read through of my manuscript.

~ Done!

2. BETA READING!

~ Begun!

3. Ten screenplay pages.

~ Five Screenplay pages, so I’ll make up for it this week. 

4. One blog post.

~ Done, although, it wasn’t the blog post I wanted to write. I got in an accident and I talked about it here.

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

(From the SCREENPLAY, not the TV PILOT. Takes place at Comic Con.)

Her eyes go to his hand on her arm. He removes it. She leans back against the bar.

ABIGAIL

Why the mask?

HAN SOLO (JACK)

Would you believe me if I told you it was a disguise?

ABIGAIL

I’m pretty sure everyone here is in disguise. Even me.

HAN SOLO (JACK)

But you’re here, even though you claim abivalence. What possessed you?

ABIGAIL

I made a promise.

Biggest Challenge:

After the little accident I was in, I had to fight not to just watch TV all day Wednesday and feel sorry for myself.

Something I love about my WiP:

Screenplay is an R-rated dramady. Writing dialog with this amount of curse words is quite fun. Also, research. The setting is San Diego Comic Con, so scouring message boards and reading articles is really, too much fun.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Screenplay – 15 pages

2. Beta Reading – ONE MS