Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The People Behind My Characters!

The current project that I am working on involves two characters whose "back story" is based very closely on some close friends of mine. In fact, so close that their pictures hang above my workstation. As each of the character's arcs have been created and researched they have transitioned into their very own person.

However, the last several weeks I have found it difficult to write. Quite frankly, it hasn't been all that enjoyable. A couple days ago as I lay in bed, attempting to work out my own frustrations I realized what my hang up had been.

The female character is based off of my best friend since childhood. The male is a former boyfriend of hers who remains closely knit with our family. I realized subconsciously that I was trying to protect them. I was having issues going on, because some of the dark things from my characters past have nothing to do with my friends. With that I was trying to protect them from people putting two and two together and realizing who the story is based on.


Other than a couple close friends and family, no one will have any idea. As it stands the story is most diffently loosely based on their lives. The characters stand on their own and have made desicions leading them down a completely different path than those of my friends. They were simply the base as they were meant to be, so I could build a whole different story. As writers each of us could take the same beginning and build multiple stories from it. It's what we do! We create!

Why bear it all today? First, so I can move on and second, so new writers know that even those of us who have been writing a while still make rookie mistakes!

Monday, August 30, 2010

People Watching

People watching is one of my favorite activities! There is so much that an author can create from people they don't even know. There stories flow through us and liven our projects. Do you like to people watch? If so what kind of things have you learned from it? This week take the time to sit back and watch human behavior!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Sayings Series

Life isn't about sitting out the storm; its about dancing in the rain!

For those of us who need the motivation this week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Sayings Series

Anyone who says they only have one life to live has never read a book!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hometown Heroes: William Inge

This summer as promised we have spent many hours in my house researching some of our hometown heroes. The kids are a little skeptical about posting all their findings as of yet, so I told them I would go first. I from the southeast corner of Kansas. I lived in Cherryvale, but born in Independence. There will be several people I will introduce to you from that neck of the woods. Of course with my heroes I had to also have a group of villains; people that will ultimately be the subject of my next big project!

Anyway on to heroes for now! One of the most influential heroes to come out of Independence was the playwright, William Inge. He wrote a number of scripts that were set in the background of our Midwest home. He wrote such great works as Picnic, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Bus Stop(starring Marilyn Monroe) and Splendor in the Grass(starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty). Not to mention winning an Academy Award for which I will eternally be jealous of. He is who every young writer is compared to in a 30 mile radius. Years ago I wrote a research paper about him and I would like to share pieces of it with you. Feel free to google some of the highlights as it will give you an even more in depth look at myself. But first here is the introduction that I wrote for the piece itself.

Excerpt from The Son of Independence:

A Note About the Author:

I grew up near the town of Independence, Kansas. An experience that has left me with three strong remembrances: Neewollah, theater, and William Inge. As a young person interested in the lime light of theatre, William Inge was an unavoidable subject. His impressions on the theatrical life remains there still influencing generations of today.

In the beginning of this project, I felt as if I had taken on the spirit of Independence itself and in some way I believed that by writing about Inge in some way I was preserving it. Throughout the progress of this paper, I have found it hard not to insert my own opinions or beliefs. It is difficult not to add a "I know what he is talking about," when Mr. Inge describes the atmosphere of our home. And most of all it is so hard for me to refer to him as Mr. Inge instead of his hometown reference of Billy.

It's not odd that Inge's theatrical influence is still thick in Independence. It is not unlikely for actors preparing for the evening show at Independence Community College to go and rub the bust of Inge for luck. There are a select group of actors that even spend the afternoon talking to it. Maybe, what they are trying to do is capture a little of that Inge magic. It's not uncommon for a successful student writer to be referred to as the next William Inge. He's everywhere...and as a theatrical student, I'll admit jealousy has struck me more than once. He's left big shoes for us to fill. I only hope that in my work with the theater and writing that I strive to capture the essence of people the way that Billy did and if something big happens, I hope that I remain as humble.

Big people come from small towns.-William Inge

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Sayings Series

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled, "This could change your life."

Friday, June 4, 2010

A blog buddy of mine is hosting a blog fest. The theme is dream sequences, so I thought I'd throw one of mine out there from the beginning of my novel, Amidst the Fog.

Madison drew in a deep breath. As she exhaled, she watched an eerie frost roll from her lips. The light from the moon was enough that she could see the path. The ground beneath her sounded as if it would shatter beneath her step. The field was full of small mounds that in the summer months would become tall cornstalks.
After she had been walking for what seemed like forever she spotted it. In the middle of the corn field, was the rink her grandfather had built to teach her how to play hockey. She solemnly scanned the sheet of ice in front of her. Silence was all around.
This place, this small rink was home.
Although it was no where near regulation size, many games had been played on it. The boards around the rink were nothing but plywood that her grandfather would spend the summer replacing. The team boxes were made of chain link fences. The most elaborate thing about the rink was the nine foot tall scarecrow that was staked into the ground at the end of the rink. Haywire, as her grandfather had called him, was the object of many stories during her childhood.
Madison manipulated her way to the center of the rink. The fog from the ice rolled all around her. Her arms lifted from her side to form the shape of a cross. She imagined that she was floating in the clouds. She spun in circles on the ice until she thought she would fall. This was the meditation she performed morning after morning.
Madison could hear the giggling of a little girl coming her way. She spun towards the noise just as the rink’s light flashed to the on position. Walking towards her, she saw her grandfather, John and a smaller version of herself. She felt a sharp shiver go up her spine as she began to realize that she was dreaming. The solace she had found in the fog drifted out with it.
Madison’s gaze was fixed on the ghostly figures in front of her. Her grandfather had always towered over her in height even as she got older. His years in the Navy had left him broad shouldered. Madison had believed that back in the day he had been somewhat of a ladies man. She imagined him dancing to jazz music in the local bar with women swooning all around. She saw the years of hard work in his face and hands. Something she should have appreciated more.
She watched as her grandfather slowly bent down and one by one put skates on the tiny girl’s feet. He had trouble with her staying still. The smile on her face went from ear to ear. Her shoulder length brown hair was braided in two pigtails. As a child her nose had been covered with freckles. He finished tying her bright pink laces.
Madison mouthed the words as her grandfather spoke to the girl. “Wouldn’t want the prettiest girl in town to have a bruise, because her skates weren’t tight enough.” The ghostly girl reached down and grabbed her grandfather’s head. She kissed his forehead. The kiss was part of their morning ritual as well; it possessed all of the love and feelings she had for him in one simple gesture. Then with love and care he put her helmet on her head and gave it the all finished pat.
“Go get warmed up and by warm I mean starting slow.” He touched her cheek like he had so many other mornings. Madison closed her eyes and tried with all her might to feel his warm hand pass through the younger version of herself to her.
“I only know one speed…fast! Whoa!” Madison stood tall on her skates and sprinted hard on to the ice. The blades slicing the ice were like a soothing melody. The older Madison smiled at the excitement the spirit of herself showed for their morning activities. It had been along time since Madison had felt that free.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her grandpa trying to get up off the ground. It would be many years before his death, but age had already began to cripple his bones. He reached almost helplessly for his cane. As he slowly rose, she felt a multitude of regrets start to haunt her.
“Excellent…Madison! Keep you head up and you will go even faster.” He blew his whistle and reached in to his right coat pocket for his stopwatch.
Madison studied her grandfather’s expression. Beneath his big green eyes, she could see all the love and admiration he had for her.
She wondered how he felt raising another child after her mom had gone down such a dark path. She thought about all the things he had done to make sure she didn’t do the same. He had cared for her as if she was his own and looking at him now, she wished that she would have done the same for him. Reminding herself that she was dreaming, she had to fight the urge to go embrace him.
The tears began to burn a path down her cheek. The wind howled taking her breathe away. Her throat started to tighten and then a small cough escaped. She felt her body turn over.
Madison was waking up.
The memory in front of her vanished slowly, like the ending to a tragic movie. Madison slowly opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. She waited for it to collapse on her like every thing else in her life.
Her mind drifted back to her grandfather. She pondered if he would still be able to look at her with those proud eyes. Not a day had gone by that she hadn’t asked herself that question. Her life had changed courses after his death. Would he even recognize who she had become?
The alarm clock started its morning blast. Madison reached over and unplugged it. Madison sled into a sitting position and then one by one put her feet on the floor. It was time to go back to the life she had not planned.

Hometown Heroes

The Dean family summer theme is Hometown Heroes. As we explore our heritage and learn about different famous people who pique the kids interest. Planned events are summer film fests, trips to the museums and libraries, and city exploration. The summer will culminate with a short film Cloudya and Kaiden want to prepare about their personal favorite heroes and why they are important to each of them. Be prepared as we share our adventures! Happy summer blogsters!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Congratulations to Thomas who got a request today to submit a partial manuscript. Thanks to everyone that helped critique his query letter!

If you haven't been reading agent's blogs recently, several of them have said they are taking new projects again! Are we finally out of the publishing slump?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coming in June...

Coming in June...my favorite vampires of course. Is anyone else planning to or in the process of rereading Eclipse? How about watching all of the episodes from last season's True Blood? Let's just say in my house, June will be a busy month trying to catch up on those crazy vamps.

Why is that vamps are so appealing to all of us anyway?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sweet Summer

So, I'm on lunch right now and for my first night back from vacation I thought I would spend it out in lawn and garden. What a beautiful night for it! Sure it is humid in Nebraska already, but its not bothering me a bit! I've been thinking the last several days about my year so far...time does that to you when I'm about to round my foot reinjury milestone. Its got me thinking about everything that I've made myself go back to doing and how much happier I am because of it. This time last year I wasn't listening to my doctor properly and broke the 5 inch titanium pin in my right ankle. How does one do that? Well my mom will tell you that is because I was wasting my talent and as soon as we found out another surgery was in the works she reminded me of it.

Well she was right. I was wasting it and as the anniversary rolls around I am thankful for being able to do so many things that I couldn't accomplish last year. I finished a long going project that inspired something very new fresh and quite frankly is probably the best thing I've ever written. It allowed me to share things with others out there and to learn I am not alone in the publishing process. It may sound silly to most, but I absolutely LOVE that I can finally ice skate again!!! I look weird and my old control isn't there, but to a person who has played hockey since they were four, this milestone is important.

Thank you everyone who has supported me past and present as for the reminder of this year and many years to come I will work to become the best author I know how to be!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taking mobile blogging for a test spin!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strange Breed

These are my children...my beautiful talented children. They are the product of a strange breed of people. See I started playing the sport of hockey when I was only four years old. This was directly a result of my grandfather's influence. However, he made sure I was a well rounded young lady and made me spend time in the dance world as well. Let me add to this list as I majored in theater in college and choose to write novels and screenplays. So I'm a strange breed and what happens I have two children who are exactly the same way!

Kaiden is the best five year old hockey trash talker you will ever meet. This kid knows all the crowd cheers and when to say them. he can tell you what team to root for and why he does it. On the other hand he is also the best behaved young man at the ballet studio on Saturday. He has crashed many of his sister's classes by flashing his baby blues at the teacher. They respond by letting him take the class with her. In fact this Saturday, the school's accompianist brought donuts for the girls and made sure she brought him one as well.

Than of course there's Cloudya. My acting and modeling ten year old. She's an active dancer, plays guitar and loves to film her own movies. During this last round of Kaiden's hockey classes she decides she wants to learn as well. Mind you I tried this with her when she was the same age as Kaiden and she hated it. So off to the hockey shop we went to buy her equipment as well. When this set was over my little prima donna has decided she wants to join a team.

My children have grown up around hockey and hockey players, but they've also spent just as much time in a theater and on a stage. My grandpa had it right when he said I'd be well rounded:)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finish Strong

My absence in the blogsphere has been directly related to my mad obsession to finish my latest WIP. As its characters continue to haunt me, I'm forced to push them continously to their pages where they belong.

I was doing perfectly fine until this week. For example, tonight I sit here attempting to write a portion of the great reveal, but instead find my brain feeling like mush. That's a simile I know and I would get busted for it in writing school. Nothing seems to work right now to get me out of this funk. I've looked through my research. I've glanced through the pictures of the two goaltenders that inspired the story to begin with. Maybe my subconsious doesn't want me to finish, because I'm too attached to the characters. Whatever the reason, I sat at my work space frustrated with myself.

My son's hockey stick and puck sat beside me, so I picked it up for a bit of frustration relief. My grandfather taught me how to play hockey when I was only four years old. I'm a proud mother of five year old that likes to be on the ice as much as I did. Today at the rink I found myself saying the very words that my granddad had said to me so many years ago, "Finish strong." At my young age I didn't understand the words and I'm sure my son doesn't either, but in a moment like this I comprehend them completely.

As a writer I need to push through this mental block and finish my story strong. My question is what helps all of you as your winding down with your piece, but get stuck?

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Act of Kindness

On this blog I quite often refer to my "job" as a member of management for Wal-mart. However, it is usually more in the comical sense. After my days off I reported to work last night only to discover that one of my associates was killed in an accident. After leaving work around one in the morning he stopped to help someone on the side of the road. As the two were changing the stranded person's tire, a car sped by clipping both of them. Regretful both my associate and the other person were killed instantly. As of this morning they still hadn't caught the people who did it.

After nine years in management and supervising a number of people now well into the thousands, this kind of thing never gets easier. Standing in front of my overnight crew and announcing that one of their own wouldn't be reporting to work that night. Listening to the group of unloaders that he spent so much time getting to know talk about their feelings. Even the simple things of seeing his name on our assignment system and having to leave his name unassigned.

As an artist I've always claimed that we are deeply impacted by people around us rather they know it or not. This young man's presence could light up the room. You couldn't walk by him without an attempt for him to make you laugh. He would do anything for anyone who asked, so when they told me how the accident happened it did not surprise me that he had been helping someone even in the end. This artist will never forget him nor will the Wal-mart manager inside of me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Put a Little Character in Your Characters

In your mind your characters do not look like the ones in the picture. They are colorful with dreams and ambitions. They also have unique interests and talents. However, sometimes we translate them differently from our mind to the page and they end up sounding like the picture: flat, colorless and see-through.

When that happens I challenge people to think about what they know about their characters. My husband consistently teases me about obsessing over my characters. I research them, know about their daily lives, and understand the past they came from. Why am I like this? Because I don't want my characters looking like the picture. I want vibrant characters who reach out and grab the reader with everything they are. When I know and understand them they write the story all on their on and I'm just the vessel they use.

So I ask you today to think about your characters. Can you see through them? How much do you truly know about them? And lastly who's writing your story?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Find Your Voice

I would like to apologize for the delayed blogging. I had a bit of technical difficulties with my laptop, but now I'm back. I started working on this blog post before the issue and am now posting it for your reading pleasure.

My daughter is going to film camp this summer. Might I add as the proud mom here it's to a highly distinguished invite only type of thing. A couple weeks ago her scholarship information arrived. She has to choose from a list of questions and write an essay about it. One of the questions immediately drew me in: What movie or movie moment inspired you to become what you are? Now if it were me having to write the questions it wouldn't be a problem as my own answer came to me immediately. It would be a 1980's movie starring Christian Slater entitled Pump Up the Volume. It's about this pirate radio DJ who brings relief to a group of drone high school students. In the climax of the movie he tells his listeners, "Find your voice and use it. Be the voice in the darkness."

Find your voice and use it! I love that thought. As writers we struggle with finding our voice and maintaining it throughout our story. I personally struggled with finding the genre I wanted to write and than find myself after years settling into my niche. My question today is do you find yourself writing in the voice/genre that you enjoy reading or something completely different? Are you trying to be the unique voice in the darkness?

Do What You Are

As I wondered through the bookstore this week I came across a book on one of the tables. It's title was Do What You Are. The thought that ran though my head brought a slight grin to my face. What an interesting challenge for all of us to do what we are. It was a timely thing to see when just last week I talked about my return to writing.

Discovering who we are isn't the easiest thing in the world. But dive in deep; allow your emotions to show you. Then put it on paper. Do what you are furiously!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who I Am

As we settle back into the normal routine in the Dean house, one thing I had to do was arrange the new semester's schedule for my daughter. Her day is typically packed between ballet, guitar and her extracurriculars at school, but we attempt to make time for other things as well. For example her daily schedule involves reading, writing in her journal, and taking time to practice her acting.

We spent the summer exploring expressions and emotions. During the fall we focused on movement. As we were deciding how we would spend our winter I thought about the little rules that we've made for her concerning her acting. They are very simple, but manage to keep her in line. One night while she was still at her grandma's house she called me and decided we should rename them. To her the idea of calling them rules meant that she couldn't have fun! You see Cloudya is a firm believer that acting is FUN and the reason she does it is to make people SMILE! I got her point immediately, so we are looking for a new name that doesn't sound so commitment orientated.

After the conversation I thought about what she said. One of her "rules" is be yourself and you'll always shine! The real question though is who are we really. As artists we are known to go "searching for ourselves." Maybe at this crucial time in her development its important to focus on that now. If you ask her why she likes Nick Jonas, she will give you a simple answer, but if you dig deeper its much more than that.

My nine year old knows who she is! She really does. This winter we are going to spend our time highlighting it. Rather we are actors or writers diving into our own personality can open up a world of opportunity and we invite you to go on that adventure with us!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Writer's Block or Should I Say Unblock

Yes, it' me! Once again this Wal-mart manager survived the holiday season in usual fashion! I apologize for not being around, but since Thanksgiving all I've done is eat, sleep and work. Well on to more important things like writing!
I've made it no secret that for years I took a break from my craft. Years that I look back on now as wasted time. I'm sad for all of the projects that I could have completed and for all the characters I could have met along the way. Up until college, I spent many hours working on my writing and truly honing in my skills. I didn't care what people thought about me or what I wrote about! One professor...one professor is all it took and what I thought were my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me. It happened at such a vulnerable time in my life that I simply turned my back on everything I loved and walked away! I enrolled in management training with Wal-mart and off I went into a completely different career.
Looking back now I know this wasn't their fault. In fact every bit of it was mine. As a writer we should have thick skin for the criticism that we will ultimately endure. So much other stuff was going on in my life that I allowed one sneak comment to destroy the one thing that made me who I am. For five years I lived with the what ifs. Every time I attempted to even pen a sentence the only thing I saw was jade. So I didn't do!
This last May came with shocking news as I learned the foot surgery I had the previous year didn't hold and I would have to have another one. The second one was much more evasive and now I proudly carry a card that states I'm not a terrorist due to the amount of metal in my body! A close family member chatted with me on the phone after I learned the news and was feeling completely sorry for myself. Basically she asked me how long it had been since I'd written anything and than told me I was wasting my talent. Ultimately she wondered if this wasn't God's way of coercing me back into what I once loved so much.
The next day I sat at my computer attempting to lay something down; anything just to say I had. Two days later I finished a short screenplay. Shortly after that I created this blog.
I'd like to think my time at Wally World hasn't been a complete waste. I've learned a lot about human behavior and needs. I can see how much the maturity of my characters has changed over the years. One thing I do know is working with 500 people your life is an open book! You hear things about yourself all the time and it truly builds thick skin. So as I progress in the writing world this time I won't be so easily scared away.
Since that first day at the computer writing that short screenplay, its like a dam has broke inside my brain. I'm unable to stop the ideas from flowing so freely. All those years of keeping it so bottled up has caught up to me. Currently I have a list going of projects I want to tackle. At this rate I won't be caught up until sometime in 2012. I love this though...feeling as if I've finally comeback alive. My one wish in 2010 is to keep up with it all!