Monday, August 31, 2009

American Girl...that pretty much sums it up!

It's been more than a week since my last real post and I apologize for that sincerely. As it seems my life was somewhat monopolized this week between trying to finish my novel and by Cloudya's agent. So looking back I am happy to report that Amidst the Fog has finally been completed and so much of me feels a great sense of accomplishment.
The most exciting news though came when we learned our daughter had an audition for the American Girl franchise. After several phone calls with her agent, who is out of Chicago, we learned that this audition would include a multitude of opportunities. Initially, it will be photo shoots for the magazine and Christmas catalog, but will stem the chance for them to use her in the actual movies and possibly creating a doll in her likeness. I personally thought that alone was pretty cool!

My beautiful red-haired nine year old is my biggest concern. As of late she tends to mope around the house seeming to be depressed. Nothing seems to get her out of it including appearances from her beloved Nick Jonas on television. Her main focus seems to have nothing to do with anything except playing outside which I understand is normal for her age. Of course, playing outside in our area consists of grabbing a video camera and shooting a movie until the sun sets or practicing their latest band moves in my garage.

Then of course there is always rejection, which unfortunately she has yet to learn to shake off with a grain of salt. It's a hard thing to do no matter what age you are and some never learn to do it. She's visited every agent in the Omaha area and walked away with no representation. Everyone of them unafraid to say in front of her that they didn't necessarily find her marketable. Okay, so each market is different and we've learned this from being so involved in theater all of our life. So, we decided to see what other areas would think about our Cloudya, who so much wanted to be an actress. We began to submit her dazzling smile to agents in Chicago. All it took was a month and she had obtained representation. The mom in fights the urge to rub it in our local agent's faces, but after all I am a professional.Since then she's auditioned for several movies. Recently, it seems like she is getting more and more attention from the agency which is a positive thing.

However, this trip is mainly for a photo shot which means of course they will ultimately be judging her appearance. I know it racks her little nerves and she is terrified that she will stand incorrectly or whatever. Today I've whipped out picture albums to remind her of where she's come from and no matter what they decide she is perfect in every way. In the world of entertainment which is loaded with criticism it is important to compliment and praise a person.

So tomorrow we will take off to the windy city and see what opportunity it lands her. Included today you will find various pictures of Cloudya attached to this and I hope they make you smile as they always do me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Daily Horoscope

This was my horoscope for today...maybe it knew I would be finishing my book today:

Continuing the high energy portion of the month, Capricorn, you may feel like you are in your element today. Recent successes give cause for celebration, or at the lease a sense of satisfaction that makes for a pleasant day. There also seems to be an ambitious streak in the day's musings or activities, that show you as either being engaged in a competitive activity, or planning for the next big task that you take on, at which you will be successful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Madison Croughlin

Did you know according to statistics four million women in the United States are currently married to a gay man? No...Elizabeth Reaser is not one of them, but the lead female character in my current novel was. Madison Croughlin is next in our line of characters from my almost finished novel Amidst the Fog. Most of you know this actress as the mother of a bunch of teen Twilight vampires. Esme, who in my opinion doesn't get the screen time she deserves is the matriarch of the Cullen Clan. Now all you people out there assume that I would chose Elizabeth, because she happens to be in Twilight are incorrect. Remember I started the project several years ago. While deciding who to visual base my lead female character, Elizabeth was a supporting role on the TV show Grey's Anatomy. Something about her calm and mild demeanor made her the perfect choice for Madison.

Its five years since her husband left her for another man and Madison finds herself going through the motions of life. She works because she has to and takes care of her kids the best a single mom can. When her mother in law pleads with her to help organize her annual charity masquerade she is unable to decline.

When her mother in law begins to weave her matchmaker spell the two find it hard to stay away from each other. Everyone from Madison’s kids to her employees get in on the mission. My novel will take Madison on an emotional battle with depression, angry, healing and finally forgiveness, but will she ever be able to love again?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet Darren Matthews

Meet Darren Matthews, okay, the pictures are really of actor Eric Bana. As most of you know I have been working on a new and old project entitled Amidst the Fog. Several years ago when I first began the character work on the project I needed to find someone who would help me visualize one of my characters.

One afternoon my daughter was watching the movie Troy. She has loved that movie forever and everytime she gets a chance watches it. Anyway, before Achilles comes to kill Hector, he shows his wife a secret way out of the city and it was in that moment that my character was truly born.

Growing up in a movie laden society has created monsters such as me that need something visually to relate to. There's nothing wrong with it at all. So yesterday, we get the new Men's Health magazine and who's on the cover? You guessed it. Eric Bana. Now that I'm reworking this project he proudly sits next to my computer. Maybe a little inspiration, but also a guilty pleasure since really he's not too rough on the eyes.

Truly meet Darren Matthews, a veteran NHL player who has been traded to a rookie-laden team. He's the typical tall dark and handsome type, but isn't afraid to let the stubble show through. His dad was a hard working FBI agent. On the night of his first NHL game his dad was gunned down in a sting that went bad. He watched as his once love-stricken mother wasted away to a cold and bitter human being. After that he swore off any kind of relationships at all. That is until he meets Madison Croughlin. To be Continued...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Amidst the Fog

As authors we've all fallen in love with one of our projects and treated like it was our baby. We take months to write it maybe even years, because it needs to be perfect. Then after a while we get bored with it and never finish. Rather your a new writer or old we've all done it. I'm not afraid to admit it I have. Maybe it wasn't boredom that caused you to set it aside or personal reasons. My favorite blaming spot is my job. Yes, I would love to write all day and never leave my computer, but until that day happens I have to work.
Several years ago I fell hard for a story between two potential characters. I took a month just to write the prologue. Absolutely no reason for doing that. Then after three years I put it away, because not only was it all over the place, so was I. In three years a human being goes through a lot of emotions and changes, I was taking me characters along for the ride. After only eleven chapters they were going nowhere and not very fast.
So I finished a project recently and was beginning to think about what I wanted to work on next when I stumbled across the above picture. It was one that I had posted above my workstation while writing my incomplete novel Amidst the Fog. It made me think about my life for a minute and all the situations that had occurred. Sometimes as a writer I get distracted and I let everything else going on fog it up. I was guilty of walking away from writing for so many years, because I was jaded about my situation. Then if I did try to write all anyone would have seen was the jade. They'd see my fog and as beautiful as it might be that's all they'd see; nothing underneath.
This year I got tired of own crap. The only thing keeping from doing what I loved was myself. Now I do a little of it everyday regardless of what's going on. Quite frankly I feel incomplete without it. Maybe in a day I write one paragraph or I write fifty pages at least I did it.
I pushed my own fog out, but brought back in my incomplete project. I looked at what worked and what didn't. These characters had a great story going it just needed to be finessed. So I've started over with it. I'm already at 200 pages, because I'm focused on them and so are they.
So when you find yourself amidst the fog take a step back and see what's causing your vision to be clouded and than get rid of it. In the end it will be worth it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reading, Writing and Arithmetics

If you read Thomas' post earlier this week you learned that our daughter begin the new school year, so our house has been absolutely crazy. Cloudya is our actress-aspiring oldest child. After meeting her new teacher she discovered that he is big on writing which she has been complaining about ever since. See she doesn't enjoy reading or writing either one. Thomas and I often wonder how she came from two people who do both rather fervently. After all it took me all of a week to read the Twilight series for the first time and Thomas can whip out a novel in a matter of months.
Many people believe that the love for these start at an early age by doing these activities with your children. It wasn't like we didn't do this with her. We still even read together quite a bit, but she only stays interested if I help read the things aloud. They took their first trip to the library this week and instead of finding books she could read and would read she picked three books about dinosaurs. Its a good subject science, but she's only going to look through it. In fact the last book she read cover to cover contained her three favorite subjects...The Jonas Brothers. Although she can tell you what kind of ice cream Nick, Joe, and Kevin eat I don't think there was a lot of viable material in it. Sorry boys.
Today we are going to make a list of things she likes for example dinosaurs, vampires, and witches. Then we'll head to the bookstore and find a series that not only fits her reading level, but also peaks her interest in something so important. In the long run both subjects not only make her a better reader and writer, but also influence her acting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Inge on the Brain

I've been thinking a lot about William Inge lately. What several of you readers are unaware of is that I hale from the same hometown as him. Having said that I will admit that I've harbored somewhat of a jealous obsession. When I was a much younger me interested in the limelight of theatre, he was an unavoidable subject. In the seventh grade I won an award for creative writing. When the principal handed it to me he made a comment comparing me to William Inge. Being on the younger side I really didn't know who he was, but I set out to find out pretty quick. The things I discovered still influence me to this day. However, I learned very quickly that his style was not anything I had in mind for myself.

When I hit the high school years I began to attend the William Inge Festival at the local college. Truly this has been one of the greatest impressions on my writing life. First, there is a playwright honoree. Writers/Directors/Actors are brought from all over the country to teach workshops and seminars. As I stepped into my college years I was able to participate in the festival more and more. My favorite year being the year A.R. Gurney was honored. Not only is a phenomenal writer, but with him came a great number of amazing guest. James Still, the young voice playwright, who was also a Kansas native taught us some amazing character aspects. Then of course there is the parade of excellent actors. George Grizzard who told my husband and I twenty times that week that he expected to see big things from us. Frances Sternhagen kept us all laughing with her wit. While putting the finishing touches on my makeup, my dressing room was raided by Holland Taylor. Because I was nine months pregnant with my daughter she had the urge to rub my belly like a hundred times throughout the week. Although we've attended the festival several times since we graduated it has been over eight years since we've been home.

As I begin to work on my next project I find myself wondering why Inge is haunting my brain. As my writing has matured my playwrighting background is in the past as I concentrate more and more on screenplays and novels. Maybe its a subconscious desire to head home for a visit. Or could it be as publication looms on our foreground I wonder what kind of influences I would like to be on a community that created the kind of artist I am today.

I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there, but until than enjoy the link I'm including with this post. It's a recent article about a group of Inge plays that they pulled out of the collection at the college.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back To School

As everyone knows it is that time of year again, school is about to start. With that comes more and more craziness and tonight was no different. The first actual back to school event happened with the Open House and Meet the Teachers all in one. As much as I love school I have to say things like this particular event are out to make me insane.

I know that not every PTO/PTA in the world is the same or as great as the last one we belonged to, but this one is far from comparison. The group is very small, which I have a feeling has to do with no need for commitment to the group. For example, tonight Veronica and I were in charge of the cookie table. Someone was supposed to relieve us from duty about 30 minutes into the night but about 5 minutes before the event was over Cloudya's teacher came down to meet us because we had not made it to him yet. As an organization there was not enough people to help relieve the 7 workers so that they could meet their children's teachers. The first meeting of the year which was last week had a total of 5 parents and two teachers - not a good showing, and I fear it will not be any better.

Now, onto better news. So the year is starting and things will be getting crazy. I can truly say I have loved not being a personal driver that needed to be somewhere every two hours. But, those days are over. I will back on the schedule - 8:30 Drop Cloudya off at school, 11:00 Kaiden to Ice Skating/Hockey Lessons, 12:30 Meet Veronica for Lunch, 3:00 pick up Cloudya, 4:00 or 5:00 be at Guitar/Dance/Karate Classes, 7:00 get everyone home and make dinner. Just thinking about all of it makes me tired. I know it is all for the best, and that in the long run everyone grows because of it I am just not sure I get to grow much.

There, is one major plus to Cloudya going back to school and it just being Kaiden and I at home - there will be time for me to focus on the next book. I pitched the idea to Veronica tonight and she seems to think that it could be a good one. I will get to use my main character for the last book, Alex Mitchellson, and also bring in another bit of my life to the book through the story of a very close friend of mine and Veronica's. We will see how long this one takes me to write, if I am lucky it will go as fast as the first one. Hopefully, I will have a second book ready to go when I head to the Writers Conference in San Fransisco.

So, I guess the key lesson to remember this school year is going to be "Keep focused, stay on the schedule, don't forsake the art I have, take deep breaths, and be sure to pack a snack." Take care everyone, and have a safe and happy start to the actual begining of the year.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Forcing Inspiration

As writers Thomas and I are often asked about how we are inspired. When asked I honestly try to keep my chuckle to a minimum. There is so much focus in the artistic community on such a simple thing. Allowing yourself to get bogged down because "the inspiration" isn't coming is silly. Running off to search for it in the hills of your favorite retreat although fun can also lead to just the makings of a good vacation. In other words don't be disappointed when the usual things don't work. Rather you are feeling the mojo or not you still need to hone your craft. Writers write, painters paint, and photographers take pictures. So while you are waiting for the next project to announce itself to your brain make sure you are practicing your skill.

Now as hypocritical as it may sound I am also a person that thrives on inspiration. Around my work station I have tons of pictures, sayings, and collectors items that help my area feel like a place I belong. It is my space, my zone and anyone who would trapse down our stairs to the basement would immediately see it. While working on a project it is not uncommon that I listen to the exact same music throughout the whole thing. I even did this while editing Thomas' novel this year. I'm guilty of dragging my laptop to the lake while everyone fishes just so I can feel it. When it comes down to it we all have those niches. The things that we do that often times work to pump out that next idea.

We also have those unique moments when it shows up and we are in the midst of doing something else. Last week at lunch my mother in law chuckled at me when I grabbed a napkin, jotted a few notes down and than shoved it in my pocket. A playwright friend of mine who often teaches at conferences always suggests to young writers that they put washable crayons in the shower. Case in point, today while spending time at the hockey rink with my son I was able to clear my head and vividly see a journey on which one of my characters would soon embark.

What answer do I give after my chuckle to that poor newbie writer. Inspiration can come from something as simple as a traffic light turning from yellow to green. The question shouldn't be where to find it, but rather when you do what do you do with it?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Query Letters...What...What?

Getting a novel published can be a curious thing. Once Thomas had completed his project at the beginning of this year we started on the long journey to get on a bookstore's shelves. We researched how the process worked and learned that a good resource for new authors is the book entitled Writer's Market. There are several editions of this particular book for the various types of things you may pen and a couple that contain all the information. They also have a website that is updated daily.
After purchasing it we discovered that one of the first steps is to write a query letter to literary agents. There are very detailed instructions on what to include in this note for example a word count, short author bio and a good book description. The purpose of this letter is to grab the agent's attention enough that they request to see your manuscript or additional pages.
They remind you in this book that the road to becoming a published author is a brutal one full of rejections. Shortly after we mailed the first round the rejection letters started rolling in. They came in all shapes and sizes, but all had two common factors the basic rejection and the encouragement to keep submitting to others. Several people requested pages although with the quality of the project not as many as I assumed. After a month letters came for them as well.
After this last one we took a hard look at our text book style query letter. Those of you who have read the project know how good it is and how much it draws you in. Most haven't read it and are probably wondering what this person who likes vampire literature would even know. For me to read anything I have to connect with its characters they have to attack me and hold my attention. The characters come alive shortly after you open the book. Most readers want to be captured by a story and this book will succeed in doing this to pretty much anyone. So I was the one that wrote the initial query letter and its decent, but the problem is as my husband says, "You're a pretty writer." Its true. Leaving out the grit, I turned Thomas' suspense filled novel into a lovey dovey sounding piece. People don't want mushy mystery novels, but clearly that's what I was trying to sell. So we're going to rework it and I'm making Thomas write it. One of the important pieces of a query letter is so the agent sees what style you write and in this case they didn't.
Every agents has ultimately been right. Just because one doesn't like the project doesn't mean another won't. We didn't give them the chance, but we will now. The new query letters will not only grab there attention, but will leave them only wanting more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer of Emotions

Before summer arrived I sat at my computer trying to decide how to organize my daughter's "homework" for her vacation. As an aspiring actress I knew that she would need to devote time to those skills as well. As a nine year old she only understands the emotions associated with Nick Jonas, playing outside and being in trouble. These very simple emotions would not get her far in the cut throat world of entertainment and thus our Summer of Emotions was born.
It was a perfect idea. Not only would it help with acting exercises, but it would benefit her writing and reading assignments as well. First, the two of us researched thirty different types of emotions that she wanted to learn about. Then because they are so multi-layered we decided that each month she would bring a different element to that emotion like body, face, and voice.
The first days of the project would include journaling what each emotion meant to her with an example. The word adore brought her to write the sentence, "I adore Nick Jonas." Then we moved on to the real fun stuff which included mirror work and mimicking other's emotions. Acting practice was no longer her sighing because she had to say her audition pieces again, but was full on fun.
At first I worried about what would happen when she made her trips to visit other family members for the summer, but before I knew it she had gotten them involved as well. There are stories of mimicking her aunt while driving through Kansas City or making her grandma stop a movie so she could talk about how the character felt.
At the end of it all you may ask what the purpose is when my nine year old shouts at an emotion she identifies on TV. The answer would be emotion number eighteen: Fascination. What people do and why they do it now intrigue her. Emotions are everywhere and she is no longer afraid to find the subtext.
As we wind down the summer in the Dean home we find Cloudya sitting at her guitar. She is composing a song about her beloved Nick Jonas. When she performs it for the family it is filled with all of the emotions she feels for him. It makes her previous statement of adoration something much more complex. Truly she has had an emotional journey!