October 27th, 2009

A Shot of Inspiration

As writers we take our shots where and when we can get them. A recent adventure to the Austin Film Festival proved to be just the inspiration I needed. If you are an aspiring screen writer, or writer in general, this was the place to be. First I must mention one of the classes I took was called A Shot of Inspiration, and as the class was in session, Daniel Petrie, Jr., writer of Beverly Hills Cop, The Big Easy, and Shoot to Kill, passed around  shots of whiskey. Liquid inspiration, he said. Of course we had our own cups. No swigging from the bottle. Being notorious for giving myself away with facial expression alone, I must have done an eye pop, combined with gape-jawed surprise, because the next day a fellow writer found me and said my expression at the mention of free whiskey was priceless. I really don’t drink much. And just so you know, that whiskey scorched all the way down.

Seriously though, the four day event was nothing short of amazing. Not only did I meet other splendid writers, but plenty of directors, producers, etc… Here’s a few I got to take panels with and also meet: Marcia Nasatir, Tom Skerritt, Herchel Weingrod, Pat Hazell, Cheryl Hines, Gayla Nethercott and Peter Hodges, author of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a personal favorite. Like I said, these were just a few.

Ron Howard was there, and I especially enjoyed his tennis shoe style. He is the original nice guy who just happens to be extremely talented and well known. Watching Apollo Thirteen, the movie he directed, with him and astronaut Jim Lovell in the audience was a real treat as well.

Classes, or panels ran from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then there were plenty of independent movie screenings to watch. And if you were still fired up, parties to attend. We saw Serious Moonlight, directed by Cheryl Hines, Precious, Apollo Thirteen and several others.

The best part for me though was spending time with my oldest daughter, a screenwriter, and watching her get such a kick out of the events and movies. If you haven’t attended this event, please put it on your must do list.

October 20th, 2009

Ride This Train

As writers we ride many trains over the course of careers. As Deanna, from across the holler at The Life of a Working Writer Mommy can attest, sometimes we just need to switch it up and try something fresh. She never believed she was suited for fiction, but here she is, writing great fiction. Go, Deanna! We never know exactly what we can do or what we’ll enjoy until we give it a shot. In writing there are so many different trains yet many times we end up taking the same one over and over, not knowing which might serve us better. And lets face it, learning something new can be exciting.

So…tomorrow I’m getting off the fictional novel train for four days and hopping on the screenwriting train. My oldest daughter, Candice, who writes screenplays, talked me into going to the Austin Film Festival where we’ll be learning much about screenwriting during the adventure. At night we’ll be screening some pretty cool independent films, starting off with Serious Moonlight, Cowtown Ballroom, Precious, The Ugly American and The Donner Party. Now I might skip the last one depending on what kind of mood I’m in.

Award winning filmmaker Ron Howard will be speaking about The art of Storytelling. Okay, I won’t lie, I’m pumped about that. From what I understand he is a great guy, and certainly a talented producer. And who could forget him as the charming little Opie Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show? And then on to Richie Cunningham in the TV series Happy Days.

I’ll be back around next week to share the adventure, but meanwhile, by all means, go take yourself a train ride!

October 15th, 2009

Your Imagination

Ohhh…this is what came to mind when I stumbled on this picture: Romance.  I mean, they are rose petals. Thousands of them.

But then I thought of ideas, strewn along life’s path, one by one by one. Kindnesses too, and how they soften our way through hard times.

What comes to your mind when you see this picture? I would love to know!

October 3rd, 2009

Fall In Bloom

A backyard fire pit, snappy sparks, red lit, flying. Moonlight whispering through trees, grass, skin, eyes, oh the eyes we love, sending silent messages bigger than a Texas sky. Leaves turned cinnamon and amber, quivering and curling on limbs like tiny, arthritic hands. More eyes, laser sharp, peering through woods, raccoons or possums or skunks, perhaps, noses rising in tribute to lowly hot-dogs, sizzling and blistering on sticks.  And a Cherokee fiddle. Might be all that’s missing, but no, night composes its own music.

Fall nights like these are a dozen a dime, but won’t last forever. Here in Texas we’ve only recently stepped out from hot summer shells. Four long months of broiling and we’re cooked. Ready for frosting, the frost on the pumpkin, fall frost. Time to snap out blankets, throw them on the ground, lie on backs, and wonder with dreamy eyes at the heavens, spitting out stars, swirling planets, strobe-like, suspended. I count each twinkle, never knowing how many, many, many stars, knowing never. Nights like these are a dozen a dime, but won’t last forever.

This time of year brings me back to long ago hay rides, fuzzy sweaters, snuggling, cutting through a black Mark Twain National Forest, dirt from roads settling in our hair, our smiles, carrying us right through the hard flinty winter when reflection sets in corners like mute guests.

Camp-outs too, dancing under a moon stuffed with promise, breeze in hair. And strolling beside a tinseled river with the girls, making up crap  that scares them silly. And then pulled from the tent later, dead asleep, they say, “Come on, mom, come and tell stories. Our friends haven’t heard them. Oh please! We want to hear them again.”

So I do. Spin tale after tale, sleepy-eyed yet happy that ears listen.

I remember barn dances, doing the two-step, feet moving like hot grease on the griddle of floor. Pumpkin carving too, cinnamon sprinkled under the lids, spicing up night. The kids and friends jammed into our house, costumed to high heaven, watching Charlie Brown, a blanket of candy on the floor, and still trick-or-treaters banging down the door. Wanting more.  And, yes, this yet goes on.

Fall in bloom.

What are your fall favorites?

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Eleven-year-old Marnie Evans longs to be precious. She wishes on stars for parents who adore her, even though her family is dysfunctional. She also believes that jack rabbits and a boot-wearing Texas angel show her mysterious signs of things to come. Continue Reading

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