Thursday, March 27, 2014

Launching Your Screenwriting Career

Are you interested in writing a movie? Are you having difficulties figuring out where to begin? Check out this website: It has quality information for beginning screenwriters.

From personal experience, it takes a minute to figure out how to format a screenplay. But once you figure out the form, the writing isn't too difficult. When writing a screenplay, think of your story in images. The more images and less dialogue the better. Also, follow the industry rules in the beginning. Learn the rules and write quality scripts before trying to bend the rules. This will start your writing on the right foot.

One of my favorite tools was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting. This really helped me in my beginning days.

When your screenplay is complete and you are ready to try and sell your story, the best solution is entering your script into a competition. Choose the right competition for you. My favorites are,, and If you win a competition, doors will open that you never dreamed of. Contacts will be available. And then the fun begins launching your screenwriting career.

Never give up. If you really want to become a successful writer remember "the journey begins when you hear the word NO." Once you hear the word no, keep trying until NO turns into a YES.   

Friday, March 21, 2014

This n that and pondering.

    I'm still unpacking boxes, or unpacking and repacking because I still need the shelves and cabinets to put the things on or in and they aren't here yet. It was comical listening to my Michigan born and raised spouse go on about how he grew up in the cold doing all sorts of fun sounding stuff, (if you're a kid) and it didn't bother him...and then after a mere two and half months- he's complaining its cold/windy/freezing and I'm pointing at the phone and snickering. He'll be back with that load soon and I'll probably snicker every time he says he's sweating as he unloads. I'll soon have garden pictures to share, the blueberries are almost ready to pick and I can't wait.
   Writing has gone by the way side since the end of Jan. Losing Daisy had a bigger effect on me than I had imagined. 2 weeks ago we went to the shelter and adopted a lab mix that we named Chance, his favorite thing is giving kisses. I find the silliest things make him jump and hide behind the closest two foot, usually me or Joe. He cautiously peeks around our legs and then eases up on what ever it was that spooked him, earlier today it was leaves skittering across the concrete. Love bugs are a favorite thing to chase, and butterflies have caused him to meet a bumper and a wall. They said he was a year old, but I think he's younger. Too many things seem new to him and I find myself wondering what his story is. Where did he come from? Was he a throw away? Was he on the streets long? What happened to his people? Did he ever have a family? He's discovered he doesn't have to inhale his food, and waits patiently for me to get it to him.The act of playing was lost on him, he's learning it thanks to our beagle. Tug of war has become a learning tool, sharing the water bowl is still a work in progress, but he's getting the hang of taking turns. Wondering about his story made me start to think about a story I had started back in October and then lost when my computer did something dumb and ate over half of it. The plan was to have dogs in it, now I'm thinking I may use some of the dogs at the shelter here as stars in the story...they have a history, a story to share too.  
     My husband says I'll be the doggy version of the crazy cat lady, he's earned the right to pick on me, we celebrated 30 yrs of marriage early this month. We went to see the Tigers play the Houston Astros- Tigers won, actually it was more of a slaughter than a win. I also discovered that depending on where you are, ball park food changes- in a huge way.(That little tidbit went into my notebook for future reference.) I also discovered if you have spent too long in the north, not taking sun screen equals to a sun burn...something I had forgotten. That won't be part of a story.
 The fog took forever to burn off, that's berries, all the way back to the trees. We need more hands.
This is Chance, taken at the shelter before we brought him home. Who wouldn't want to rub those ears?

Game day. Sunburn day...which ever. It was still a fun day.

  Live Oaks and Spanish moss, but that tree in the front is an orange tree, that's my new one a day..ok so sometimes it's more like 2-3 a day. Here's hoping Spring actually finds y'all, and the snow melts without flooding anyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm so over Winter, aren't you?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m Lisa Orchard the author of the bestselling Super Spies series and I don’t know about you, but I am so over winter.

 I never thought I suffered from the Seasonal Affective Disorder, but this year I believe I do. I crave sunlight! I was so excited last Friday when the temperature reached fifty degrees and the sun was out. I was sure the end of this long dreary winter was in sight.

Sigh. It was not meant to be, because the temperature plummeted and it’s freezing again. On the plus side, I was able to get my fourth novel completed and I’m in the editing phase now. Nevertheless, I've watched more TV this winter than I have in the past. I’ve also found I’m less motivated to exercise and I don’t accomplish as much. I’m sure that I have some form of the Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve never been diagnosed, but I do notice I tend to slow down in the winter.

 Maybe I’m supposed to hibernate.

Maybe I was a bear in another life. Nah.

This thought does make me wonder about the connection we have with nature though. Maybe everything’s supposed to slow down in the winter. Look at the trees, they lose all their leaves and go into their own kind of hibernation. They don’t grow in the winter; instead, they enter a stage called dormancy.

This seems to be the natural cycle of many species, but we humans are different. We can’t go through a whole winter without food. Our bodies aren’t made that way. However, I do believe there is a natural ebb and flow of energy and in winter, we have less.

I can’t wait for summer when it’s so hot the heat shimmers off the road and you have to leave the windows open at night, hoping for some sort of breeze. I miss those days! Maybe I should move somewhere tropical. Where it’s hot all the time, there’s no snow, and it never gets below fifty degrees. I could deal with that, couldn’t you?

Where would you move, if you could move any place in the world?

Here's a picture of Torch Lake on one of those hot summer nights when the crickets are chirping and there's no breeze. Ahhh... It gives me something to hope for!


Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! Leave a comment and let me know if you could move anywhere in the world where would it be? I’m curious!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Done, done, done with Winter

I'm so sick of the never ending winter that's currently haunting the MidWest. Mother Nature has been teasing us (or perhaps she's just in earth-pause?) and going from warm to snow within 24 hours.

This winter, the snow in our backyard was so deep that I had to shovel myself out of a drift after sliding into while cleaning off the deck stairs so our dogs could get down to the yard. Even the dogs, our breed is built for snow, had a tough time getting around in the snow. they had packed down trails to their favorite relief spots. Luckily they didn't realize that the snow pack was high enough to allow them to go over the fence to visit the next door neighbor's puppy, otherwise we'd never have been able to get our dogs in.

To top it off, my still new, barely broken in Ford F150 got a huge stress facture across the windshield. While in the garage. Sitting next to our 12 year old Suburban, which didn't get a crack. Neither did Bubba, my 24 year old Ford Ranger, which has been garaged exactly 4 years of it's life (and those aren't consecutive years) and has been in a snow cocoon since November.

My F150 has since been renamed "Fluffy" as it is a pathetic excuse for what is basically a working truck. It was originally named Brutus, but Brutus don't wimp out and get cracks in windsheild over a little cold weather.

All of my ranting has kicked up one of my favorite characters again. She laughs and just reminds me that humans can't control the weather and to buck it up. I really hope the Farmer's Almanac is correct and that we'll have a hot, fairly dry summer. My characters have been napping all Winter, both of us need some sunshine to bring out the stories.

Does the weather impact your writing or help it?

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Books.

Confession. I am a book snob with a double standard. I love libraries. I love going there and sitting among the books. I like borrowing them. But they always want them back, which makes me sad. I want to keep them and give them a home with books so they'll be among friends. But I have to give them back. But, then at least someone else may take them home and enjoy them for a bit too. So, maybe they don't get to lonely. I'm doing this 40 bags in 40 days de-cluttering and de-crapifying your life thing with a friend of mine. Because a) it really needs to be done and b) I have to move in a couple of months. No clue where exactly, other than the next city over where my daughter currently goes to school. I'm also picky about schools. I think my kid should graduate from high school actually knowing how to read and do more math than adding and subtracting using her fingers. However, that's another story. But, in the process of this pre-de-clutter conversation that I had with my mom, she suggested that I get rid of books.  No. That is so not happening. I like my books right where they are. I re-read them.

I don't crack the spine. I don't buy new books from a bookstore that aren't in perfect or near condition. I don't lend them out (any more - the last ones never made it back home and the one before that came back without a cover). I don't write in them. Ever. Except I do. In school books all the time. Because, they're textbooks and not stories. I'm learning from them, so the same rules do not apply. Now, they do apply when I'm reading a book on mythology or comparative religion or some ancient civilization that people never talk about.

They also don't apply to writing craft books. I am in the middle of reading three books right now - The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell,  The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler, and The Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith. All in paperback, because I like holding a book and now that my daughter has discovered e-books and other assorted electronic devices, I usually can't find mine. I know that whatever missing electronic is probably in her room. I yell for her to bring it back. She does. Hours later. Physical books work (also less chance of electrocution if it's dropped in the tub). But in those books I have notes like: Need to check this out. Like this. Seriously? or yeah, that doesn't work for me. But I underline a lot of passages that I find interesting at the time.

From The Writer's Journey, which is the one that currently lives in my purse/bag and goes every where with me, I have a list of books I need to get. I'm curious to see how those books, more on psychology and mythology then on writing and story telling, will differ. But, from the beginning, whether I agree or disagree with something an author has said, I get something out of it. Even it you totally disagree with the author on a personal level, depending on the subject, there could still be something of value to learn.

I love exploring older book stores, but the same thing happens as when I'm in a fabric or cross stitch store - there is never enough money to buy everything I want. I love older books. Those I don't mind if they're a little worn, it means someone loved them before I got them. They have character.

I love reading. Even at my day job, I usually have a book with me to read during breaks and lunch. Sometimes it's a craft book, but some times it's just one for fun. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ash Wednesday and Divine Intervention

By W. S. Gager
Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and a day for many that signals the start of the Lenten season and a time of preparation. Ironic that for me, I finally figured out a way to end my book that has been plaguing me for months. 

Is there a correlation? Maybe. As a Catholic I decided that part of my preparation for Lent, I would give up distractions that keep me from my computer like all those little games that steal 30 minutes or 45 minutes when I think I don’t have time to do anything else. 

Was it the threat that I would be staring at the screen in frustration? I had been doing a lot of that when I wasn’t ignoring it all-together and playing the games on my phone! Lucky for me it also coincided with my critic group. We brainstormed what could happen from my partial chapter. Just their suggestions helped me develop a plan to end the book that would work with a little rewriting in other chapters. The exhilaration and hope has stayed with me and it has been nearly 24 hours.

Now I can have the rough draft done by Easter or sooner. I was in the home stretch with lots of twist and turns and now this part usually goes fast, once I have a direction. What goals will you set for yourself for Lent and after to finish your writing goals? What do you need to give up so you have more time to write? It makes all the difference.

W.S. Gager Bio
Award winning mystery author W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him. Her third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS is the latest in the Mitch series.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writers' Residency Program on Amtrak

by Andrea Dickinson just read about a fascinating new program being piloted by Amtrak...yes, the trains. They are starting a brand new program that gives writers a free long-distance ride on one of their rail lines, so the writer can work...presumably without interruptions.

The Amtrak program appears to be a new piece to the publicity/marketing plan of a company trying to stay relevant in today's world of instant communication. The writer in residence of the first test run was asked by Amtrak to tweet about her experience en route and to be interviewed for the company's blog when she returned.

The program currently doesn't have an official application process. As stated in an article by Ben Cosman at The Wire, "with the program in its infancy, writing residencies are set up by Amtrak primarily on social media."

So what do you think? Would riding a train for 48 hours give you the quiet time you need to complete some writing? Or do you agree with a fellow GRRWG member, "the thought of being on a train that long makes me want to claw my face off"?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Goals and Incentives

by Patricia Kiyono

I’ve always been enticed by external incentives - whether it’s a BOGO sale on shoes or an offer of a free ice cream cone if I buy a certain burger. When it comes to writing, the incentives help me to come up with ideas for new stories. Several of my books, both published and partially done, have been the result of challenges put out by GRRWG as well as MMRWA and one of my publishers. There’s just something about the fact that you’re going into this along with other writers that makes the process more fun! 

For the past three weeks, GRRWG members have been slaving away at our annual Winter Nano challenge. I signed up, but chances are I won’t finish. Why? Because I was busy completing other projects. Basically, trying to finish other goals I had set for myself. I wanted to finish a novella for an anthology I’d been invited to submit to, and I did - several weeks after it should have been completed. Of course, that put me off schedule for planning my Winter Nano project. 

Am I upset? No. It would have been nice to have another project done by now, but all is not lost. I’m still writing every day, learning new things all the time, and even though I didn’t write 32,000 words, several projects now have new scenes. I’m still going to write the book I’d planned to write during Winter Nano, but it will take a bit longer than I’d hoped. It will get done, I’m sure. Because I’ve been handed a new incentive: another writing group I belong to is having their Nano during the entire month of March. And I have spring break this week. 

Wish me luck.