Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's casting time!

So my all women's writers group is putting on an all-female writers showcase. There's nothing better than seeing real actors read the words you've put on the page. So last Sunday, in the pouring rain, we writers ventured out to a casting studio in Hollywood to await the actors that would audition to be in our showcase.

It was an all-day event with actors coming and going. The room was small and hot. I even had to leave at one point because couldn't take the sweltering room. But I have to give these actors kudos because as you can see from the picture below, there were a lot of us! So any actor that came into the room was surely surprised to see so many women staring back. Luckily we're friendly and I don't think we scared anyone! At least not too much! haha There were some no-shows. Because well, it's LA and most people don't leave their homes in drizzle let alone a real rainy day. But in the end, we got all our pieces cast.

Next, rehearsals and then the actual showcase that we have invited industry directors, producers, managers and agents. It's really exciting that we're making this happen. And I must give out kudos and thanks to Lily Mercer, the head of the Bechdel Babes writing group because she's done this before and has spearheaded the whole thing. Looking forward to the real event next!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It's a pretty important day

It's International Women's Day. And that's pretty cool. So what better time to take a moment out to be thankful for all the strong women in my life. 

I'm thankful to have an amazing all-female writing group that not only inspires me to write better but to keep wanting to see more women's stories told. 

I'm thankful to all the strong women in my life that inspire me to go after I want, because if it's my dream to be a writer, then why shouldn't I be? 

I'm thankful to the women in the film industry that are paving the way for other writers like me, today, to tell my stories and know that I too can do it if I want. 

I'm thankful to people like my mom, who even though she was afraid to go after her own dreams, she's always proud of me when I go after mine. 

I'm thankful to all my strong friends who even if they aren't writers or have no interest in the industry, they are going after their own dreams, no matter what they are. 

I'm even thankful for all the strong men in my life who aren't afraid to let strong women go after their dreams and don't feel threatened when they do. We need strong men too, that's for sure. 

So no matter what International Women's Day means to you, I hope you've found a way to honor yourself or the women in your life too. And if not today, it's never too late. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep in touch with those contacts

So you know how you meet people that work in the industry?  Maybe through a friend. Maybe at a networking event. Maybe you email them and hear from then once, or meet them again and then not much happens except an email back. So you think, well, this really isn't going anywhere. Well, guess what? Keep in touch with them! Let them know every little thing you're doing. Because you never know what will come of it. Here's why:

So I met this really big producer through my step-dad years ago. They played golf together, as big producers do. I asked my step-dad to ask him if someone in his office could read a script of mine. A guy this big, I'd never ask to read it. But he insisted he'd read it. OMG! Okay,  if you insist. So he read it, liked it, but nothing came of it. So that started a friendship/mentorship. We'd keep in touch, me doing the reaching out. Him always responding and happy to read stuff. He even offered to meet for breakfast one time when I was visiting my parents. He was super nice and we talked about our love of movies. But I thought okay, this guy is just a mentor of sorts and that's cool. But I always let him know new scripts I was working on, always let him know new producers I was working with. He pretty much always wrote back, but not even always.

So fast forward to a book I wanted to option. I wasn't sure if the price would be too steep for me. So a friend at ICM said, email producers and tell them what you want to do with the story and you want to partner with them to produce it. Okay sounds easy enough. So I reached out to this producer and told him that. He said yeah, send me the book. Hmmm...okay, still didn't think much about it since nothing really came of it over the years. But lo and behold, he starts emailing me several times a week saying how much he loves it! I couldn't believe it! And then he asks, can I bring in my Academy Award winning producer friend. Uh...gee, let me think about it! You know what my answer was! Uh, yes! So next thing I know, his producer friend is in town and he suggests we meet for lunch to discuss the project. Wow, is this really happening? So we set up a date and place to meet, and we do! It really happens! They ask me my take on this story and next thing I know, we've decided to produce this thing, together! I still can't believe it.

Of course there are many steps before this becomes a movie. But it just goes to show, keep in touch with your contacts! You just never know where it will lead. You just never know!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It's just a distraction

So as writers, writing is our focus. But as we know, things in life will get in the way to see if we're serious about our craft. I realized this in the morning today, as my dog, adorable dog, crawled into my lap for endless cuddles, just as I was about to workout. Cuddling him was so much more enticing than the thought of working out. But in the end, I know that this wouldn't get me the results I was looking for. As much as I'd like for cuddling a dog to burn calories and build muscles, it's just not going to have that effect. Same goes for writing.

We know that we need to get pages written, dialogue down, characters in good shape, all to move forward on the stories we wish to tell. But for some reason there are so many distractions to get in the way! So in order not to let something "unimportant" take over our lives, I think it's important to limit how many and how often we let these distractions take precedence. So here are some suggestions:

1. Social media like Facebook and Twitter - give yourself a set amount of time that you let yourself search or post on a given day. Or only let yourself browse and post ONCE you've finished your goal pages for the day.

2. Socializing - If you're an extroverted/introverted writer, like me, seeing friends can easily eat into your writing. I tend to lean on the introverted side a lot. But sometimes when I'm missing friends, they can seem to add up all on the same weekend. So limit how many per week you let interrupt your writing days. Or make time for other writers that you need to catch up with, so you can be doing some writing time and see friends at the same time. Or again, if you've had a productive week of writing, then maybe you can let it slide a little more than usual.

3. TV shows - We all know it's the era of TV and so it's easy to binge watch, constantly! This is an easy time-suck, especially if you're writing in the TV genre. So for me, I only try to watch shows that are in my genre and I also only watch TV when I'm falling asleep. That way it doesn't interrupt my writing time. It does mean I'm behind on most shows. But I think writing needs to come before watching shows. Maybe you disagree. But if you're not reaching your writing goals, then perhaps you need to revisit how you watch your TV shows too.

4. Family. This can be immediate family like spouses and kids, or extended family like siblings and in-laws. No matter what you consider family, it's important not to ignore them, but it's also important to make time for your writing. It can be a tricky balancing game. For me, this one takes precedence over all the others. But I'm also sure to try and balance my family and writing to be sure I give each one adequate time. At least I try! No one in the family's complained yet!

5. Writing goals - If you don't have them, then perhaps it's time to get some. I personally have very limited time to write, so instead of having a page count I write every day, mine is a time amount. Every night it can change, so I really don't stick to a set time, but when I know I have the time, then that's my writing time. I make time to write every night of the week. I used to have more free time on the weekend, but alas, that's not as consistent any more. But stick to what works for you. If page count gets your butt in the chair, so be it. If an amount of hours works for you, great. If getting up at 5 a.m. every day works, great. The important thing is to be sure you're writing on a consistent basis. If not, then it's time you reevaluate your life and distractions.

6. Working out - This is an important one that I almost forgot about. I workout every day. But I don't spend my life at the gym like many of my gym friends. When I used to workout at the gym, I'd go an hour, max. Now I even workout with intense video workouts every morning at 6 am and walk every day at lunch for an hour. But when friends want to hike for several hours on the weekends, that's precious writing time. An hour, sure, but more than that, all I can think about is how much writing I could be doing instead!

7. Etc There can be a lot of other distractions of course, and only you know what's sucking up your writing time. The important thing is there shouldn't be any excuses for not writing. So find out what's really important and try to limit time for the things that aren't as important. Happy writing! And now, done with this distraction for the day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

All women's writer group? Worth it or not?

Okay, first of all, this isn't for men who want to be in an all women's group! That's another post I think. So, we got that out of the way! But what if a woman wants to be in an all women's group. Is it really worth it? 

See, I've been in a few writing groups. I've learned something in all of them. Some I've outgrown and then had to find new ones, and others just fell apart. Well, lately I found myself in need of another writing group. So through an online social media writing group I was in, I found out about a new female writing group. I never really felt the need to be in an only female writing group. I've been in an all women's TV writer's group, but it never really felt different than any other writing group I was in. 

But this new one, something was different. Once I started talking to the founders of the group, I really got excited about it. They mentioned that in previous groups it had been men that had talked down to them, shut them up before they got to say what they wanted, and made them feel not listened to. I'd never realized it until we spoke, but in two separate writing groups, the only problems I'd ever had were both men that also treated me that way! These instances were years apart so it never even crossed my mind there was a connection. Of course, not all men are like that. In fact, I've had many amazing male writing group friends, male mentors, and many of my writing partners in TV and feature writing have been men. But it did start to seem that certain men, have lashed out at females in ways women don't. 

There have also been online writing groups where I've been verbally attacked, and when that's happened, it's been men. During the same time, it was a man that stood up for me and made me feel better about the whole negative situation. So by all means, I'm not suggesting men suck! Not in the least. But maybe in order for a woman to feel supported, it's okay to have other women who tend to be more nurturing, anyway. I can't say all women are like this and I'm sure there are some people who might have stories to share about not feeling supported by women. But maybe at least for me, and the women I've met in this group, maybe an all women's writing group just might be what we need. 

I made it to the first group and I really enjoyed all the women in the group. They all seem like very talented writers and I'm very excited to be a part of this new group. Will they always be my writing group? Who knows. But for now, I feel happy to call this my writing home. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lee Jessup: Get your career that boost it needs

So today I went to an event held at Blank Spaces, where all the Script Anatomy classes are held. Tawyna Bhattacharya, founder of Script Anatomy, holds events with special guest speakers there from time to time. Today, she had Lee Jessup, screenwriting career coach, come and speak.

I'd heard Lee speak on screenwriting podcasts many times. But today I learned even more in this kind of setting, seeing her in person. She even had some of her clients there who seemed very happy with her services. She says she helps all levels of writers, from ones starting out to ones with huge careers looking for even bigger careers. But she had some great insights about setting goals for yourself and being accountable for your career, and it seemed that she'd be able to help writers, who are probably not that great about doing those things on their own, to see their careers blossom.

Overall it was a great talk and I walked away feeling very inspired. And that's something we writers need to keep going on this writing journey.

I'm not sure if or when I'll hire Lee, although I'd really like to and can see the value in it. If you're interested in learning more, http://leejessup.com/

Monday, May 1, 2017

Being on Pilar Alessandra's podcast

So you might have already listened to me on Pilar Alessandra's podcast. If not, please feel free to. Here's the link, we're in episode 502, http://onthepage.libsyn.com/

A bit about the experience. First of all, I was nervous as heck leading up to it. So then I meet the other two writers right before we start taping, Aydrea Walden, and Mike Martin, and they're just as nervous as I am! So that's a relief knowing it's not just me!

Then, this is my second time to meet Pilar, and she was just as sweet as the first time. If you listen to her podcast, you already know she's super nice and really friendly. And guess what? Every time I meet her, she's like that in person! I really hope at some point in her life she gets mad at something or someone, but I have this awful feeling that just never happens and she's just the sweetest person on this planet!

So, as Pilar says in the podcast, she had some difficulty getting the recording to actually record. So it took about half an hour for her to figure it out. Poor thing was worried she'd have to reschedule. It took us a lot to find a day that worked for all of us, so that wouldn't be easy. Meanwhile, Mike and Aydrea and I started chatting about our backgrounds and what kind of things we had written. As Pilar mentions in the podcast, we easily made friends. They were super nice and I think when you meet other writers that are working towards making their dreams turn into reality, you're really just excited to meet other writers in the same boat and hear their stories. I don't know if it's always like that, but it was for us.

Finally Pilar got the recording to actually record, and we were off to start our podcast. We were still super nervous but all tried to act like, heck, no big deal! ha! It was! I got the feeling none of us were trying to talk over each other and be really respectful of what the others wanted to say so they could get in their info. Then before we knew it, it was over!

Every show, Pilar says this closing line, "And have a good writing week!" She looked at us to see if we wanted to join in with her to say that at the end of our show, and yes we did! I was really awesome to say that line! I'd been listening to hundreds of podcasts of hers at this point, and it was very cool to think that someday I might get to say that infamous line. And then, that day was finally here! So surreal. I know it's silly. It's not like it's like winning an Oscar or anything! haha But for me, it definitely was a moment.

So then we had to wait a couple weeks for the podcast to come out. Of course, while you wait, you think of all the things you could have said that might have been funnier. Or a great insight you missed out on saying. But oh well, that's the show everyone's going to hear. And so far, I've been getting really nice comments about it. So good! Phew! At least it's done! I've even had a writer friend listen to it on his own and realize, hey, my friend Denise is on Pilar's podcast! And he emailed to tell me he heard it. So that was kind of cool.

In the end, it was a great experience. Mike and Aydrea and I are keeping in touch and hope to meet up when we have time. But boy, writers are busy! haha

So here's the group. Everyone has the best smiles and look super nice. And that's because they were and are! If you listen to the podcast, let me know what you think!