Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let it Snow, let it snow...

DH and I had plans to go Christmas shopping in Des Moines today, but alas, I wake up to find heavy, wet snow falling silently on the ground. It's pretty, and it's decieving. The stuff is dangerous to drive in. So we'll wait. I'll make a pot of coffee and wait it out. We still have 3 more days to shop. lol We will be the last minute scramblers, buying only gift cards because nothing good is left on the shelves. And I'm good with that because our nieces and nephews won't have to go back and return what they hated for less money than we paid for it, to buy what they wanted in the first place. Ah, tis the season.

Now it's time for coffee, and some editing. Yes, I think I'll start writing again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

I'm thankful that I have a husband who doesn't always have the same interests I have but supports my endeavors 100%. He trudges to the hay auction and buys, loads, and unloads the hay, and never complains. He puts up horse fence, and buys farm equipment so I can have my expensive pasture ornaments. He listens to me talk about scriptchat, even though he doesn't read or write about anything unless it's got something financial in it. I love that he feeds and waters the dogs and cats every morning before I'm out of bed. He even lets my little dog out when he gets up, so I can sleep a little longer. He works extra hours at the restaurant so I can attend writing conferences. He agrees to take me to Sundance even though he really doesn't give a shit about movies. He does so much more, but I don't have room here.
I'm thankful that my older horse, 20 years old in January, is happy and healthy, because I don't know what I'd do if he got really sick again at this age.
I'm thankful for Gracie, my Maltese, because she's always there, no matter how mad I am at my husband, or the rest of the world. She's completely blind, but she can always find me. She cuddles in the chair, rests on my chest, and follows me like a shadow. Without her I'd likely not be where I am today.
I'm thankful for my mom, who never said no, even when she should have. Because of that I learned from my mistakes, and learned to be a better person.
I'm thankful to all of my ex-boyfriends who made me realize what a gem I found when I found my husband. And to all of the ex-boys who I'm still friends with, because we were always friends first.
I'm thankful for my sister and her family for being my family and welcoming us with open arms when we get a chance to visit.
I'm thankful to the wonderful employees we've had over the years at the restaurant, who've made me happy, sad, angry, and smarter. Without them I wouldn't even know how to text message, or know how to upload music to my iPod. They keep me young and make me feel old at the same time. I just wish the good ones wouldn't have to grow up and move on. And our day help, Kim, she's our SUPER KIM, and I hope she stays with us forever.
I'm thankful to the friends I've known all my life who I don't do a very good job of keeping in touch with, but still act like we just talked last week.
I'm thankful for places like FACEBOOK and TWITTER, for keeping in touch with friends, old and new.
I'm thankful to my TWITTER friends who let me live in a bigger world than the small town where I currently reside. For their comments, quips, and general support. I truly look forward to "seeing" them each day.
Oh, and thanks to my customers, at the A&W and the jewelry business, without you I'd have a lot less than I do. My sales rep is a gem and has grown my business with me. Thank you Beth. Even the customers who've made me want to yell and swear, thank you for being our customer and coming back regularly, so I can appreciate our nice, gentle customers.
I'm sure I've missed a lot of things and a lot of people who I will miraculously remember as soon as I publish this post. But all in all, I feel blessed to have had the chance to live the life I live, and the meet the people in it, and blessed to have a support group around me that lets me live my dreams.

Thanks to all of you!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Letting Your Baby (Screenplay/novel) Go

By letting go, I actually mean letting someone else read your work. This is a really scary thing for writers, as we are usually pretty insecure. Now I'm not insecure in any other parts of my life, but as I don't spend all of my time with other writers I'm pretty much alone in this endeavor. And putting my hard work out there for another to critique is difficult, if not downright humiliating.

I remember a recent partial response I got back from an agent. She said my writing was awkward. Ouch. It really hurt me, and I didn't write for more than a month. But I went back and read what I submitted and I had to agree with her. Now I read everything aloud before considering it complete. But also, the partial had been edited so many times that I didn't even like it anymore. Truth really hurts, and I'm also a better writer because of it.

Since that time I've only given my critique partner very little to read, and I've pretty much changed my genre. I'm concentrating on screenplays instead of novels now.

I've had my novels read and critiqued in the past, and I've been to umpteen writers' meetings and conferences, but I'm really new to the screenplay end of writing. I've studied the business for several years, considering dabbling. But I dipped my toe last year and decided to write a teen drama/coming of age screenplay. It's written, done, but is only in first draft. No one has ever seen a word of my screenwriting, not even so much as an outline. But I bit the bullet and asked a fellow screenwriter to read the first 10 pages. (Thank you screenwriter, you know who you are)

My fingers were shaking as I saved the Final Draft file into a PDF, so I could attach it to the email. Now I knew what I was getting myself into, because I knew she'd be brutally honest, and not feed me a line of bullshit, just like I'd expect from an agent or editor. I had no idea she was going to read it that very night.
Just before I jumped on the treadmill, I saw that she had finished reading, and was sending an email before she sent the pages back with notes. I almost puked. And I still had to run 3 miles. It was the longest 3 miles, because I wanted to get off the treadmill and see just how badly I'd missed the mark. Remember, I'd never written a screenplay before, and certainly I'd never shared it with anyone.

But I ran my 3 damn miles and waited. I longed to and dreaded opening the email. And bless her pea-picking heart, she let me know I was on the right track. I could breathe now. (Imagine running 3 miles without breathing, lol). So I'm jazzed to start rewrites (though I have no idea how to rewrite a screenplay), and get started on the RomCom that's been dancing in my head for 6 months.

Oh, and I'm so lucky to be a member of RWA, where I can mingle with my own kind, and to have found a group of screenwriters on Twitter who are so giving of their time and knowledge. We tweet about everything from work to doggy issues, but we reserve Sunday nights for tweeting about screenwriting. Being that I live in the middle of small town nowhere, this is truly the best blessing a writer can ask for.

And so I let my latest baby go forth into the world, knowing it needed work, but now knowing it's worth doing the extra work for.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keeping Up

Yeah, yeah, it's been over a month since I last posted. But in my defense, I've been finishing up the year at the restaurant, and gearing up for holiday season with my jewelry business. This used to be the time of year I sat around all day and read books, and wrote for hours on end. Not so much anymore.

Now if you count what I've posted on Twitter, I've written a novel's worth of Tweets. But we have Sunday night chats, so I don't count all of the Tweets as time I've wasted when I should have been doing something else. And just keeping up with the "friends" on Twitter is very time consuming. And worth every second spent on the darned sight.

So the restaurant is closed for the winter season, and the jewelry business is surpassing last year's numbers, and writing, well, I have plenty of time to write, but I've chosen to spend the first weeks off from the restaurant with my husband. Oh, that's right, just one more thing to keep up with, family and home. The house is the cleanest it's been all year, and the dogs are thrilled to have company all day.

The horses? What, horses too? Yup, I have a lot of things to keep me busy in my 24 hours a day. The horses have just been pasture ornaments, even though the weather has been in the 50's. Shame on me. Soon I'll be too old to enjoy them, and they'll be too old to enjoy the work.
On my gravestone (which I won't have, because I'm not going to be buried) it'd read, "She was always trying to keep up. And she milked every minute of life for what it's worth."
Hopefully those words won't be written for years and years. lol
And now I'm keeping a blog too.
Maybe I'll post a list of my things I do in the next post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Speaking your writing

I purchased a voice recognition system thinking would be easier to do my writing. And I'm actually doing this blog from a voice recognition system. I find that for some things it works, but for my fiction writing I tend to be a little wordy. The funny thing is it works best for my business, where I use it for numbers because on my laptop I don't have a 10 key.
I love typing, and I think my fingers on the keys make me feel like I'm doing something and when I'm dictating into the voice recognition system I feel like I'm cheating. This is a good kind of cheating, and I enjoy going back over and reading what I have said. I can use it for e-mail, Excel spreadsheets, blogging, and regular writing. The recognition is 100 times better than the old system I used. So far in dictating this blog post I've had one error. And I'm pretty sure that error was my problem.
I even use it to enter addresses what I'm making UPS labels. And believe it or not it makes label printing much faster.
I realize this is a really dry blog post, and I should be really excited about having the voice-recognition, and I am. I think it'll just take some getting used to. And I'm sure my husband wonders why I'm up in the office talking to myself. Imagine what he thinks when I'm writing a suspense novel. Ha ha.

Friday, October 2, 2009

About me

I've listed my favorite things on my blog and web sites, but here is some more:
I've been published in non-fiction: a contributing editor for a business magazine for 2 years, publishing articles every 2 months, author of a book on hiking Iowa.
I've written 3 novels, 2 of which are making the rounds. I'm currently working on a mystery, and outlining a thriller.
As of this post, I'm concurrently writing and outlining a drama screenplay, and a romantic comedy is brewing.
For those who don't know, I also own 2 businesses, a restaurant and a jewelry design business. There is a link to my design business at the top of the blog. And yes, I ride horses, and write too.
How do I find time? The question I'm most often asked. I don't watch TV. I do watch movies, but I don't get caught up in television. Not that I wouldn't like to, I just can afford that much time. Sometimes I allow the news stations to play in my studio while we are working, but not often, since it slows down production, and coming to holiday season, we need to be on top of things.
A little more coming soon...

October Outlines - Writing

As of October 2009, I will declare this month Outline Month. this is the month when I will outline the screenplays and novels that have been bobbing around in my head for months, and years. I skip days because I've been so obsessed with a few stories over the last few years that I don't want to think up new ideas.
And about those ideas. I think a true writer would never ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" because, as a writer, I have more ideas than I'll ever have time to write in this lifetime.
I also don't empathize with the phrase, "But I just don't have time to write." I work, on average, 13-16 hours a day, at least 6 days a week. I try to take a half day off at least once a week, but many times it doesn't happen. And guess what? I've written 2 novels, and 2 screenplays. These aren't polished works of art, but they are written. Getting the words on paper is the hardest part. Editing is hard labor too, but the relief of having the 80,000 words or 120 script pages makes editing seems like play time. And in a way, it is. It's time to rehash, kill your darlings, and shred your work before the agents, editors, and reviewers do. Not that I'd know any of this, because the editors I had while writing articles were pretty darned cool.
So after work is done, probably around 10pm, I'll break out my index cards, and pen and board, and finish outlining my screenplay. Next I'm hashing out a thriller novel I've been dying to write.
Happy Friday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

RWA ScriptScene President

As of November 1, 2009, I will be the President of the ScriptScene Chapter of the RWA for the next 2 years.
I'm really excited to be a part of this incredibly talented and diverse group of writers.
When it comes to writing, my passion (second only to my horses), I find that the basics of screenwriting work not only for scripts, but also for novels. I used to try to write my novels by sitting down and typing and then blurting it all onto the page, and then revise, revise, revise... Using the breakdown I've learned from Blake Snyder, Michael Hauge, Syd Field, and others, I've been able to save time in my writing, by knowing if my story is working before I type 300 pages that need to be scrapped.
I've been working on setting up some great people in the business of movies and TV to speak to our group, and I'm so excited to have set up speakers for the next 4 months.
I look forward to learning a lot in the next 2 years.
Over the next few posts, I should probably let the members of my chapter get to know me.
Okay, I'll cut a vein and let you have it. In another post. ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Get off the Phone -WARNING RANT COMING

This is a Sunday morning rant. I see this all the time at our restaurant, and to tell you the truth, it makes me so angry. It's bad enough that a person is so rude as to answer their phone while ordering at the counter or in the drive-thru, but when you sit down to eat with your family? GET OFF THE PHONE!!!
Seriously, it's so obvious that these kids are starved for attention. They seek the attention of the employees, by engaging them, or running around hoping the parent will notice them.
Please, they grow up fast, and lucky you, soon they will be teenagers and want nothing to do with you. Then you can spend all the time you want on your phone, because that's what they will be doing too.
Until then, can't you be a little less self-absorbed and get off the phone? You were the one who brought these kids into the world, so act responsible and give them attention, so they don't have to seek it from total strangers. Or worse, will your kids be the next cutters? Seriously, cutting is a cry for attention, "Something is wrong here, don't you see me?" You: "Nope, can't see you beyond the glare from my iPhone screen."
There is very little that is more important than your kids. So act like it. Don't really care? FAKE IT!
And please hang up the phone and engage your kids for a change.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New & Exciting

Feeling the need to simplify my life, I've deleted all of my blogs, and I'm starting over with this one. I feel it best describes my life. I'm a business owner, a jewelry designer, a barrel racer (on hiatis), a writer (published in non-fiction, with magazine articles and a book, and aspiring fictionista), and a former poker addict. Don't get me wrong, I still love poker, but I just can't fit the 4-5 hours a day of playing time that is required to be a good player. My profile pic is from a televised tourney I was in a few years ago.

I don't plan to update you on my life in a single post,but I promise to get up to date over the next few days. If you look at the top of my blog, you can see the links to my jewelry web site, and to my writing site. Though both need updating. Heck it took all afternoon to redo my blog.

I live in Iowa, which is slowly (after 14 years) becoming home sweet home. I update Twitter quite often, so keeping up with me there can be exhausting.

The picture in this post is of the restaurant my husband and I own. We bought it one month after we got married, so in a way it's our kid. It's from the office of this restaurant that I'm typing.

Until we meet again...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do Something Today

Remembering isn't enough. Go out and do something constructive today. Help someone cross the street, help build a home for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at a soup kitchen, be nice when you really want to rip someone's head off. Be proud to be an American, where we can argue and debate, yell and scream, be fools, show our faces in public, have equal rights, be racist (or not), and do it all because we have FREEDOM. 2970 people woke up on 9-11-01 and went to work or shopping, or whatever, planning to go home to their family at the end of the day. Take a moment to remember, pay respect, and say a prayer for their families.
This photo has been the background on my laptop for a very long time. We will never forget.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eight years ago today, my horse Sancho, was lucky enough to be leased by a young lady named Kaylee. He was 11 years old at the time, and she leased him for 5 years. They were a fabulous team and learned a lot from each other. I remember the date so well, because they picked Sancho up and took him to their home on a Sunday. That Tuesday the planes flew into the Twin Towers.
I've had Sancho back for a few years now, and he's been through a ruptured trachea, and EPM (a terrible parasite in his spinal cord), and he's fully recovered.
At 19, he's just a young as he was at 11. This is in no small part due to the wonderful care he received while in the capable hands of Kaylee and her dad. If I had the money, I swear I'd clone this little sucker, just so I can say I owned a two in a million horse.