2018: The Year of No School Work

Early last year, fed up with doing school work, I decided to speed things up a bit so that I could finish before Christmas and declared 2018 as, the year of no school work. And I succeeded in that goal, graduating in August (with honors) the proud owner of a bachelors degree in history.

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Little did I know then that 2018 would also be the year of hardly no husband. And Murphy’s Law of Deployment (essentially means trouble waits for your husband to be gone) hit us hard this time y’all. Car trouble, frozen pipes, broken microwave, stomach flu, endless snow shoveling, and a broken door latch on my husband’s car. The last one involved me having to drive 5 miles to the VW dealership while pulling on the door so it wouldn’t fly open. This all happened in the last two weeks.

**sigh**

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Thankfully we were able to ring in the new year as a family, and soaked in the joy of being together before facing the pain of being separated. This certainly changed how I viewed the new year, the hopes and the expectations, were quite different from last year. And I thought that I would share them with you, in honor of those whose new years celebration had a dark cloud hanging over it for whatever reason.

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Here we stand in front of a fresh new year, and I am reminded today about how circumstances can effect ones outlook. Today begins a 7 month long deployment/training. A chunk of time where our family will not be together, and everything we do until he gets back will be bittersweet. It is a burden that we must bear as a military family, and honestly no amount of patriotic statements or mentions of military benefits makes it any easier.

So our word for this year is connection. To dig deep and stay connected to each other. To stay connected to family and friends who can help and fill in gaps. To connect with personal improvement. To connect with hopes and dreams, and the powers that be who can, help, make them come true. Connect to what will make us stronger and better when this is all over.

And this years statement is, and that’s okay. When one thinks about hopes for the new year, they can be lofty and ambitious. But once you’re down in the trenches of every day life things change, and that’s okay.

You’ll have days when all you feel doing is watching TV. You’ll get sick on a weekend or holiday. Messes will be made, and mistakes too. You’ll be sad, frustrated, or angry at some point in the next 365 days and that’s okay. It really is.

So this year do whatever you need to that will help you feel better, make you better, help you smile, or help you cry if you need to. Ignore all those pre made “10 steps to a happier you” lists and make your own. Because personal well being is not one size fits all.

So we will strife for connections and if we miss an opportunity to do so here and there, that’s okay. The goal here is remain committed to becoming better humans, the road there may be uncertain but it’s the destination that’s important.

Happy New Year! May you be happy and healthy in 2018. And if you have days when you’re not, just remember, that’s okay.

Until next time,

The Texan

Writing Woes

Writing is difficult because it is never easy to create something from nothing, all while having only one tool at your disposal to do that with; your brain. However, once you finish a screenplay/novel/short story, you have to figure out what is the best way to get your work to the masses.

Which does indeed open up a whole new bucket of madness and frustration.  I am realizing that writing the darn screenplays will be the easiest part of this whole endeavor. Because while writing produces seeds of doubt, preparing a marketing plan opens up way more. Allow me to walk you through some my own thought processes in just the last couple of hours.

The journey began by reading selling strategy advice in The Screenwriters Bible by David Trottier. I will summarize.

Be persistent, but not pushy; be original but familiar. You need an epic hook, sell your story with awesomeness, be exciting, be captivating, showcase your work on a stage made of gold and dreams. Have your ducks (not regular ducks mind you, the best looking ducks you can find) all lined up in the perfect row, follow the rules, do your research, and don’t forget to shoot for total perfection.

Yep, I knew it everyone in Hollywood is Lord Business

***after stewing in self doubt for several minutes***

I’m not a genius okay, I’m just a writer. Your average human writer. Where do they expect to find people who can do all this crap. And speaking of crap, Hollywood, you got some ‘splanin to do.

I can’t do it. Nope. Can’t handle the pressure. This is madness. What kind of sick person would put themselves through this torture on a daily basis.

**sit and ponder for a moment**

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Yep completely craz — Wait! I’ve got it, the perfect logline/hook! **write it down**

Oh and this is a nice thought, maybe could be included in a pitch or query letter! **write it down** And this too! **write, write, write, writey, write, write**

Awe look it the little ducks finding there way to the row. Isn’t just…

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So what kind of person would put themselves through this?

A writer. And that is what I am.

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

 

 

No

So yesterday I received my first unfavorable response to the statement, “I’m going to write screenplays.”

She simply said, “No.”

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No? What’s that supposed to mean?

No, you shouldn’t do that.

No, you can’t do that.

I wouldn’t touch that career with a ten foot pole so, No, I don’t want to hear why.

She said absolutely nothing else just, no. Then she gathered her kids off the bus, and walked away.

And I was like…

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Then I said to myself, I’m going to keep writing those screenplays, they’re going to get made into movies, and it’s going to be…

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**photo credit: knowyourmeme.com**

Now if you’ll excuse me, that screenplay ain’t gonna write itself.

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

77 Pages

So I finished putting “Cambridge” into screenplay format. I got the spacing just right, deleted scenes I didn’t like anymore, added new ones, and made sure it was in the correct font. Then I sat back to marvel at my accomplishment only to notice that it was 77 pages long, which is, you guessed it, too short. At least 15 pages too short to be exact, I might even need 20 more. So I was like..

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Well I guess that was a decent effort. I suppose I could just work at Target, or something.

No.

I don’t like red.

Or khakis.

But it’s too short. Why is it too short? How can I come up with 20 more pages??

And the confident side of my personality was like..

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Uh, you’re going to read back through your screenplay, and find places where you can expand, and we’ll get to 95 pages. Boom! Just like that.

Yeah. Yeah! ‘Cause I’m a screenplay writer, not a quitter! I got this.badass

I got this!

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

Advice Hunting

This week I have been working on going over the highlighted sections of screenplay writing books that I read, and also searching the “interwebs” for other sources of sound advice. In Screenplay by Syd Field, he emphasizes knowing the characters, and making sure the lead is active, as in causes things to happen rather than just lets things happen to them. Last night I read an article on a website called http://www.scriptmag.com which had some quality advice of its own for unknown writers; like me:

*comedies should be about 98 pages long….got it

*short narrative, dialogue, and description 4 lines or less….okay

*paint story with words….I have a pallet full of words!

*no “we see”, “we hear”, or “beat”…’kay, but I’ve seen that in screenplays that I’ve read….oh that’s just for “established” writers

*if the scene or piece of dialogue doesn’t move the story forward-get rid of it…right

*get The Screenwriters Bible…oh-kay

*be a secure writer…uh oh, I mean, of course secure writer, I can or might be able to do that….it’s not like I’m an insecure human or anything

*create a script that is fun for you to write, and easy for the reader (aka the “gate keeper”) to read and recommend…..I can do that

I also read an article in which the guy suggested that one should watch their 5 favorite movies while reading through the screenplay. Now this is tricky because finding the final, what the actor had in their hand, draft of a screenplay is quite difficult. It’s either an early draft or some guy/gal who watched the movie a bunch of times and just wrote down the dialogue; not in screenplay format, and not helpful. Plus my 5 favorite movies are…varied, in style, genre, and mood; and they are as follows:

*The Young Victoria

*Captain America: The Winter Solider

*Pride and Prejudice (2005)

*My Fellow Americans

*It Happened One Night (the granddaddy of romantic comedies, winner of 5 academy awards, it is movie perfection)

As my husband said, “Those are…different.” Yeah. Although last night I did watch Leap Year (I know its not awesome, but its not bad either) while reading through a revised draft of the screenplay, which was little different from what appeared on screen, but it did give me an idea of how a scene looks on paper. At this point it helps enormously that I have characters, a story line, and an ending for both “Cambridge” and “Brooklyn”, I just need to put them in the right format. So today I thought I would practice proper screenplay format using one of the scenes from “Cambridge”. Back in May, I think it was, I introduced Mae Forester, history major, from Kansas, and is attending Cambridge University over the summer. She meets Evan O’Brady, English guy, who leads tour groups around Cambridge over the summer. They first meet right after she gets off the bus, this scene is a couple of day later.

***********************************************

EXT. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY-MORNING

Mae going for a jog, she stops to stretch a lot, dancing a little bit to the music that is coming through her head phones. Evan is with his friend Jeff, further up the street.

EVAN
(sees Mae jogging)
Jeff, there she is.

JEFF
There who is?

EVAN
You know the girl from 2 days ago. Remember I told she was dragging her suitcase.

JEFF
That’s “Jayhawks”?

Mae starts running their way, in the zone.

EVAN
Come on mate, she was cute. She was just tir-

Mae runs into him.

MAE
Oh…I’m so sorry.

EVAN
No no really Miss it was my fault.

Jeff rolls his eyes.

MAE
I guess I was in the “zone”. Music helps me when I run because, I don’t really like running. Just trying to get over some jet-lag. (smiles at Evan) I feel like I’ve seen you before… (realizes) You’re the guy…the one who helped me with my suitcase.

EVAN
Yes, yes that was me.

MAE
I’m sorry if I seemed rude or anything. I just don’t travel very well. Those couple days were just a blur.

EVAN
No its okay. You seem to be doing better.

MAE
Getting adjusted. I’m Mae by the way, Mae Forester.

Mae puts out her hand for a handshake.

EVAN
Evan O’Brady.

They share a really long handshake, Jeff’s eyes widen.

JEFF
Um, Evan..

EVAN
Right. So what brings you to Cambridge?

Jeff rolls his eyes again.

MAE
I got accepted into a 3 month program here at the university.

JEFF
That’s nice. Lovely to meet you Mae, but we must be going.

MAE
(looks at watch)
I have to get ready for class. I guess I’ll see y’all around.

EVAN
We’ll be around.

MAE
Bye.

EVAN
Bye.

Evan smiles as he watches Mae jog away, until Jeff comes into his line of vision.

EVAN
What?

JEFF
She just said she’s leaving in 3 months, get that look off your face.

*********************************************************

Okay the margins are trickier than I was expecting, I might need a screenplay formatting program…type thing. But still not too bad for my first time. By the way, today I got to physically do this…

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…with my Bachelor of Arts degree, AND they sent me a cool alumni decal to put on my car! I know, awesome!

Until next time,

The Texan

Whoa that post went a little long, please accept this bit of humor as my way of saying…sorry the post was so long.

 

 

It’s Degree Day!!

The day has finally come friends! I can do this with my bachelors degree!

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Yay!! Woohoo!! And alright!! I mean I can’t physically do that with my degree just yet because it hasn’t…uh…come in the mail yet. But! I can, and am, wearing my epic t-shirt of victory! To other people it just says, hey she must have gone to American Public University. To me however, it says, I wrote my butt off for this degree, and it was hard, I had my doubts, and I almost cried a few times; but I decided to overcome myself, and achieve something awesome. Now I can do historian type things, you know, should the screenplay writing plan not pan out. Because, you know, I need be realistic. I can’t get to far ahead of myself. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a part of me that is 115% confident that one fine day a movie written by me that will be coming to a theater near you, I just need to keep her in check; and stay focused on/respect the process. And wait for school to start so I can actually hear my own thoughts, and not be interrupted with questions about batteries, snacks, or the classic “what’s for dinner tonight?”.

Anyway. It has been quite the long road, an eleven year long road to be exact, and much has changed since I began my first class back in June of 2006. I have moved 4 times, gone from active duty Air Force member to veteran, had 2 babies, adopted 2 cats and 1 dog, traveled to 11 European countries, taken classes at 3 different schools, started 2 blogs, honed my cooking skills, gone from married for 1 month to married for 11 years, gotten into fitness, discovered and loved Once Upon a Time, The Young Victoria, and James Buchanan Barnes. The student me is no more. She is in the past like, Air Force me, and mom who changes diapers..uh me. This transition has been more difficult than I had expected, each phase becomes apart of ones identity, and moving to the next is more challenging than most people care to admit.

The next phase is screenplay writer me, and it won’t be easy, I know that. But I can use this time to build my confidence, branch out, and not give up on a dream; and of course meet this guy.

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I’m just kidding.

No I’m not.

For now, I can enjoy the fact that I am a member of the American Public University’s….

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Yippee!!

Until next time,

The Texan

A Certain Amount of Magic

I am a writer. I have to remind myself of that quite often, mainly because before anyone else can see me as one, I need see me as one. It can difficult because while I am a writer, I’m also a wife, a mother, and a pet parent. The summer especially can challenging due to kids being home, and the lack of quiet time. But Rome was not built in a day and I need to let things take the time that they will take, good things usually do….you know..uh…take time. Anyway. I, of course, have my day dreams and my lofty hopes, I think everybody does. One involves the People’s Choice Awards and my husband is holding one hand, while Sebastian Stan holds the other as we wait to hear if my story, my screenplay, my movie, will win the the best comedy movie award.

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I then remind myself to be patient, and realistic, and stay focused on the present, which is tricky for me because I am very future oriented. I know that writing anything takes a certain amount of magic, mixed with talent, determination, luck, and just a touch of crazy. I know that the movie business might just chew me up and spit me out, and I’ll limp home proud of myself for trying, and try to devise a different plan for meeting Sebastian Stan…I kid, I kid. To loosely quote a song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, “If I’m going to put my heart out on the line, then I need to let the magic in my heart stay true.” If I do that, then the right person will find me at the right time.

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Today I thought I would share with you a little scene from one of my movie ideas currently under the working title of “Brooklyn”. The main character is a writer who having a hard time getting published, her name is Samantha (Sam) York. In the meantime, to pay rent and such, she works part time for an event planning company that does charity events and things like that all over New York City. The scene is one of the first in the movie, as it opens Sam is talking with her brother and sister-in-law about a “Feed America” event she is going to that evening, in attendance will be some celebrities who live in New York. It is there that she will meet the male lead, a young actor named Carter Logan, but that’s for a later post. Sam’s brother, is a character I wrote with a certain actor in mind, I know that’s a big no-no but hey, you never know. His name is Stanley (Stan) York, and he is 12 years older than Sam. Stan seems to think that he looks like well…Sebastian Stan, but Sam and his wife Katy don’t see it.

Sam: “Sebastian Stan might be there too.” (trying to hide her smile)

Katy gives Sam a “why did you say that” look.

Stan: “Sebastian Stan? I love that guy!”

Katy rolls her eyes like she knows what he’s thinking.

Stan: (looking at Katy) “What?”

Katy gives Stan a be serious face and Sam starts to laugh.

Stan: “Come on, it’s true and both of you know it.”

Katy: “Oh my goodness Stan, you don’t look like him.”

Stan: “What?! Same eyes. Same hair. We’re like brothers from another mother.”

Katy and Sam look at each other trying not to laugh.

Stan: “You can’t deny that there are striking similarities.”

Katy: “Stan, I love you but honey, you don’t look like Sebastian Stan.”

Stan looks at Sam.

Sam: (puts her hands up) “Leave me out of this one.”

Stan: “Okay. Here’s what we’ll do. When you see him tonight, show him a picture of me and see what he thinks.”

Sam: “He’ll think I’m a crazy person.”

Katy: “No, he’ll think Stan’s the crazy person.”

Stan: (looks at Katy) “Alright hot shot. You say I don’t look like Sebastian Stan. I say that I do. We’ll let Mr. Stan decide who is right. And who ever loses has to…(thinks for a moment)…organize that closet upstairs.”

Katy: “Ugh, that closet is a disaster.”

Stan: “Are you scared you might lose?”

Katy: “Never. (sticks her hand out) Deal.”

Stan and Katy shake hands then bump fists.

Stan: (to Sam) “Just pick out a good one.”

Sam: “I will.”

Later on at the event Mr. Stan believes that they both right, because while he thinks they do favor each other, its not a straight up look-a-like situation. I figured he would be a good choice because A: he is nice enough to take something like that seriously and B: depending on his hair length, whether or not he has facial hair, or if he’s carrying a little extra weight, he can look quite different. Observe..

Maybe next week I’ll share more of “Brooklyn” with you, the Sam and Carter relationship has been a fun one to work out. I kind of modeled them after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. I know that sounds weird but, I heard in interview that was included in the special features of The Young Victoria, that Albert and Victoria where far better together than they ever could have been apart. They could be good on their own, but needed each other to be great. Sam and Carter are the same in that, they are each other’s missing piece.

Thank you to all my readers and followers! You all help to give me a little more confidence in myself, and help to make my lofty dreams feel more possible! Thank you for reading!!

Until next time,

The Texan