Moving On

OldVegasThis week I returned to my old stomping grounds – It’s an odd feeling to find that you no longer miss something.  I remember having this sense of nostalgia and an almost relief at driving over the hill and seeing the lights of the city I once called home…but upon my last visit, I discovered those feelings were gone.  I haven’t been too personal on this blog (so far).  My goals when starting it were to document my career path, and hopefully, help other writers, but here’s a little background.  I grew up in Las Vegas; the former Las Vegas when the mob still had an active role, not this current garish nightmare.  Now it’s all lights-advertisements-high rises-bottle service-day clubs aka the pool-more lights-revamping/reinventing/let’s go retro-ferris wheel-find the new “it thing”-bring your kids even though it’s not kid friendly-ridiculousness.  Yes, I’ve grown a little cynical.

Driving around town, I could only find traces of what once made the city unique.  Any history the town had has been torn down to make way for a building 10x bigger and looks exactly like the one next door.  Residents had to protest when the city thought about removing the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  Have you seen Casino?  It was filmed nearly 20 years ago, based on the events of the 70s, and the ending rings more true than ever.  What would any of those men have to say about the current state of the town they built?  Or Hunter S. Thompson?  I realize that things must evolve but look at these before (when I was growing up) and after photos —  ModernVegas

I always wanted to escape, feeling like a fish out of water in that town, and for years after moving away, it still remained “home”.  After moving to Los Angeles, I was unable to get back for about three years.  When I finally did have the chance to return, I still felt excited by the lights over the hill, but it had dramatically lessened.  Now, it’s nonexistent.  I’m not sure what changes within us, when we realize home is no longer home.  There’s that scene in Garden State where Zach Braff’s character is talking to Natalie Portman and he says —

You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.

My family doesn’t live there anymore either, so maybe it has something to do with that.  I wouldn’t even visit again if two of my best friends didn’t still live there.  And the sad thing is, that when I return to Los Angeles after being away, I don’t have that sense of “home” either (except that I am happy to return to my space).  So maybe we are all missing some imaginary place?

This has nothing to do with writing, just merely an observation as I continue this journey called Life.  I felt a sort of melancholy at this discovery, and thought that writing about it might help a bit.  I guess realizing this in some way unifies all of us who have lost our “homes”.  I am thankful that since I decided to get myself out more (joining my writer’s group) I’ve made some new friends that have made the transition easier – we create new families, develop new relationships, become adults…I’m not sure if this could be used in reference to our characters and their development, but it’s something to consider.

Thanks for letting me getting this off my chest.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wishing you all the best!

A Few Things…

A long weekend with my sister off from work led to very little progress on the writing front.  We did finally watch some movies on the ever-growing Netflix queue, so a little progress made on the personal to do list, as well as getting the living space more organized.  Yay.  And I’m finally making some headway in the novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It takes a little effort, because his writing style is very particular, but a definite read for any writer.  Quick overview – it’s about the future and how books are banned.  One of my goals (not to be completed in a year) is to read all the “best” books.  I grew up in a state that ranks at the bottom of education, so I’ve taken it upon myself to read those things I should have years ago.  I alternate a must-read with a pleasure-read, but have been doing rather poorly the last year or so, so, it’s on the list!  Here’s a link to the 100 Best Novels, if you’re up for the challenge.  I was recently asked why I’m doing this, and my response, “I’m a writer.  I should be educated in those that are considered great in my field”.

I wanted to do more with my dot.com (I love saying that), so I’ve started to add “Excerpts” of my work for a little insight into the types of stories I’ve written (all part of the “branding” I’m trying to achieve), a “Calendar of Events” for contests and writing opportunities (there are links for you to explore), and a Pinterest link to see the types of things that inspire me; people, places, castles, clothes, art, etc.  Take a gander if you want to waste a little time –

Hiddles(rugged)

(in adding that link, I still had Tom Hiddleston on the page, so that was a nice, welcome sight…So this is for my fellow Hiddles’ swooners!  Yes, those are both words.  Or will be.)  All of these are a work in progress.  And I’d love if you’d share any writing items (contests, meetings, conventions, classes, etc) of note as well.  I’ll put them up on the calendar.

Today’s post is a little random, as I am, at the moment…LitReactor shared The 10 Weirdest and Most Wonderful Libraries in the World.  I think I could be happy working in a library.  I’ve always wanted to open a little coffee/tea shop and have loads of books that people could take, swap, share.  That’ll be later.

And then not to forget about the writer’s struggle, The Write Life shared the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing.  This would be a monetary investment, but sometimes, it’s necessary.  I have a couple of those to make in order to move forward.  This would be one of those catch-22 scenarios where you need a little money to make a little money.

So it’s Thursday and this is my first post of the week.  Shameful.  I hope you’re all doing better than I!

Continued success!

Damsel in Distress? No Thank You.

All I wanted to do was write up a nice, little blog about this article I read on LitReactorDystropia: How the Damsel in Distress Has Evolved, but it started becoming this rant on feminism, and how men objectify women, and how women cut each other down.  Not exactly the direction I intended.  As a modern-day woman, I do find the exploitation of women in this day and age infuriating, and I do not care for stories or movies where the woman’s sole purpose is to be rescued, to cause the ensuing chaos, or to serve no purpose other than to be eye candy — we’re more complex than that, we offer more than that, and it’s time to stop putting us in those boxes.  I’m tired of terms like “bitch” or “slut”.  Just because a woman is strong, vocal, not ashamed of who she is, and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in does not make her any of these labels.  Let’s just get rid of the labels all together.

Sydney2Buffy w:stakeNikita2

I read somewhere that writer Damon Lindehof, co-writer of Star Trek Into Darkness, regretted writing the scene where actress Alice Eve, aka Dr. Carol Marcus, flashes her underwear for no reason other than to flash her goodies.  She’s a scientist, a weapons expert, and yet we have to show her practically naked for what reason?  C’mon.  Fanboys weren’t the only people in the audience.  This is why finding writers that actually create complex female characters is so refreshing.  Some of my favorite shows ever host a female lead; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, La Femme Nikita, and Alias.  All these women, besides being kick-ass, were great characters.  Game of Thrones is wonderful for this reason as well.  Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, has had a wonderful character arc from frail, young girl to the leader of an army.  Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, has said in interviews that people have called her a bitch to her face, as if she is her character.  If the actions of her character were done by a man, no one would have anything to say.  I’m also a fan of Lost Girl, that not only has a wonderful lead, but interesting side characters as well.  I like the direction TV is going with women, creating strong characters without cliché.

I love the show, Sherlock and its lead, Benedict Cumberbatch, but I have to wonder what sort of reviews  it would get if they had made Sherlock a woman.  Why is it so shocking when a female character is an alcoholic or has some eccentricities?  Why is it absurd to vocalize that not all women want to be mothers or somebody’s wife?  Why do women have to be pigeonholed into a certain category where men feel secure?  What year is it?

Then I found this article by the New York Film Academy about Gender Inequality in Film.  It’s kind of shocking, considering we make up half the population.  As a woman writer, I write about female protagonists with a strong, supportive female cohort.  Two of my scripts are almost entirely made up of women.  I’m not trying to make a statement, I just think that the number of women represented in literature and film is dismal, and when a strong female character makes her way on the scene, she is usually met with resistance.  Have we not, as a society, moved past this point?  I may have been raised by Disney princesses, and believe me when I say they made a huge impact on me, that doesn’t mean those are the types of stereotypical women (maybe just variations) I want to continue to go out into the world.  Little girls deserve more realistic diversity.  They need role models, but they also need to know that whoever they turn out to be is okay.  And the only way they can know this is if we, as writers, make those types of characters available.  Don’t take the easy way out — write interesting characters!

Okay.  I’m going to stop right there, because this did turn into a rant.  Ah, well.  Hopefully, it was enlightening.

Have a great week everyone!

*Images: Sarah Michelle Gellar of BVS, Peta Wilson of LFN, and Jennifer Garner of Alias.

A Big Thank You and A Little Insight: Fate(s)

Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden

Today I hit 50 followers and I’d like to say Thank You!  So I thought today might be a good day to share a little bit about myself and my writing, starting with my first script, Fate(s).  The first draft, which was horrible by the way, was written in one of the first screenwriting classes I took when I returned to college.  I’m not really sure how it all began, but over time, it has morphed, inspired by actual events and a few outside sources.  Here’s a little backstory.

Ares

I know a little of the inspiration came from a few sources like the Greek Mythology class I took in 8th grade, where I first became fascinated by mythology, Hercules: The Legendary Journey tv show (I based my Ares, god of war, on the actor who portrayed him on the show, Kevin Smith), and Disney’s Hercules.  But the major influence came by way of real life.  A little over six years ago, my sister and I had moved to Phoenix, and I was working in this little bistro.  One day, a man walked in and I was overcome with a feeling unlike anything I had ever felt before (or since).  I became so nervous.  It wasn’t just that he was good looking, there was something else about him.  I remember using the word “twitterpated”.  Three times he came in, and three times I let him go — an enormous regret that I allowed fear to say or do anything more than take his order be all that stood between me and ever seeing him again.  So I put my angst into my script.  His name is Nicholas, and so I renamed my hero.  *Nicholas, if you’re out there…I’m in LA now…sigh.

Lovers Meet on the Castle Stairs

Fate(s) is about a young couple, who meet three times in three different lifetimes, thwarted of their happily ever after by the intervention of the Greek gods for their own amusement, which leads the world onto its present course.  It is the lack of destiny fulfillment, which the Fates have set forth, that causes disruption in the natural order of things; i.e. The Fall of Rome, The Black Plague, and the subsequent wars and devastation.  According to The Fates, some are necessary, but others will progress because of these interferences.  As there is a three strikes rule, my couple and The Fates have to take some drastic measures, align with an unlikely ally, and overcome mythological obstacles to find true love and restore balance or all might be lost.Theberge-Women in Love II

So there’s a little about me and how life can inspire your work.  It isn’t a stretch to imagine what my heroine is feeling when she says “she longs for someone”.  This is the story I have referred to recently in my rewriting posts.  It was this third act that continued to give me problems, and it is this one that I want to go out into the world and do great things.

Have a great weekend everyone and Thank You again!

*Images: 1. Waterhouse’s Psyche Entering Cupid’s Garden which I consider my touchstone piece; the image I hold dear while I write. 2. Kevin Smith as Ares.  3. I do not know the artist or the title.  If you do, please let me know.  4. Theberge’s Women in Love II, which is a bit small and hard to find, but I love it!  All of these images are inspiration for this particular script.

Welcome to LA

HollywoodSignI drove all over this city this weekend and found myself in awe, again.  It is vast and interesting.  Remembering how I had wanted to give a little advice to my fellow writers about this town, here are a few things to know if you are planning on moving here, are new to the city, or even if you’re just planning a visit:

1) It’s expensive to live here.  Seriously.  Housing, gas prices, state tax, the added recycling fee on all your beverages, movie tickets, and depending on where you live there are toll roads, just to name a few.  It’s odd that after some time the novelty of this wears off and just becomes part of your daily life.  $2,000 for an apartment just doesn’t sound that crazy anymore…that’s the crazy part.

2) The weather really is fantastic all year round.  It’s Nov. 11 and it was 70 degrees.

3) The traffic is truly awful.  When you hear people complain about it, they are not just idly and without merit shooting off.  Most people plan there whole day around what roads and freeways they’ll have to take.  GPS has never been more effective in helping us poor sods find alternate routes to make a 15 mile journey less than an hour and half anywhere after 3pm.  FYI, if you live or are just going over the hill (Van Nuys, Encino, Studio City area) there are really only two or three streets you can take.  And everyone else is taking them too. Side note, the 405 freeway is always under construction.  Beware.AboveLA

4) Parking fees.  You will quickly learn there is very little free parking.  I recently had to pay $4 to park at the hospital when I was only there 30 mins.  Really.  There are meters everywhere and those prices vary depending on which city you’re in.  Also, there are usually 3-4 parking  permissible signs on every post that are designed to confuse you; you can’t park on Tuesdays between 10-12, 1-hr parking only until 4, and permit parking only after 6…this is a bad example, but you get the gist.  Also, remember to ask anytime you go anywhere if the company/restaurant/theater “validates”.  Memorize this.  It’s extremely important and beneficial.

5) Parking tickets.  Without fail, you will receive at least 2-3 within the first six months.  There is this thing called “street sweeping” that evidently happens every week, one side one day, the other side the next, and you must be aware of this anywhere and everywhere you go.  If you don’t move your car within the first few seconds after the appointed time, you’re probably getting a ticket.  If you park on a hill and do not turn your wheels, if it’s specified, you’re getting a ticket.  Use your bluetooth or you’re getting a ticket.

6) You MUST know how to parallel park.  If you’re not any good at it, get good!  It’s shocking how often you will have to parallel here.  I suggest buying a small car.

Disneyland@Halloween

7) Disneyland.  It’s only a short drive away.

8) Try to find a job before moving here.  The job market is rough.  One trick, find a job where you currently live that has a location or office in LA and try to transfer.

9) Try not to move alone.  The buddy system is important here; someone you can call in a jam and share that astronomical rent with.  This town is big and can leave you lonely.  Besides, everyone’s trying to be an actor or something related to the entertainment industry and we’re notoriously flakey.  It’s good to have back-up and someone who will be flakey with you.

10) A short drive can take you somewhere new for a quick getaway; Malibu, Santa Barbara, Ojai, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Big Bear are all just a little ways away.

Despite the negatives, Los Angeles is an interesting and opportunistic town to take advantage of.  If you enjoy celebrity sightings, you’re never far from one anywhere you go.  If you love the beach, there are miles of it.  The town is extremely pet friendly.  Your fur kids are allowed at most restaurants (with patios) and most stores.  I’ve taken my babies into Bloomys and Saks.  Some of the outdoor malls, like the one in Century City, have water bowls outside most of their stores, offer treats, and have small play/rest areas.  There is plenty to do; restaurants, museums, shows, outdoor concerts, outdoor movies, events in the Hollywood Cemetery, art walks, farmers markets, landmarks (movie & historical), hiking, sightseeing…There’s something for everyone.  And for writers, this is where the proverbial “opportunity knocks”.

My big advice for a hopeful transplant is Be Prepared!  Do your research and have a savings account.  This is just off the top of my head, so if you ever have a question, feel free to send me a message.GriffithObservatory3

Have a great week!

It’s Halloween!

SharonNeedlesonWitchBroom

I love Halloween, not for the scare factor but for everything else.  I’m a total wuss.  I don’t watch scary movies, I don’t like haunted houses, except for the one at Disneyland, and I could never do the Universal Halloween Horror Nights as someone would have to hold my hand the entire time.  But I do like the dressing up bit, and every year I plan some grandiose costume idea that never comes to fruition…a constant source of disappointment.  I don’t live in a neighborhood where kids come screaming to the door begging for handouts, dressed up so cute I have an inkling to have children of my own.  And I don’t have a stoop to put out a pumpkin in the hopes that some rebellious teenagers will stomp it to bits (huh, well this year sucks).  But, oh Halloween…

Jackhead

As this is the start of the holiday season, there may be many excuses or other obligations that keep you from writing, but as writers, our brains are never turned off.  We watch all that happens around us, we take note, and store it all away in “the vault” for future use.  So don’t stress…

Buffy

Take the day off.  Watch a scary movie.  Eat buckets full of candy. And have a frightfully wonderful night!  Who knows what might come of the day and inspire you!

VampyKermie

Here are just a few images for your All Hallows’ Eve viewing pleasure — some of my favorite things (Buffy, Jack, Coraline, a vampy Kermie, a villain, and the amazing queen of Halloween, Sharon Needles).  *I do not own any of these imagesFrightNightAwkwardMoment-CatsBuffy staked Edward

CoralineWicked Queen-Spellbound
Dark Lady in Cemetary

Taking the Weekend

CastleGardensI’m not sure if all writers are like this, but I find that being an artist (yes, that is what we are no matter how snooty that may sound) can sometimes be all consuming;  I’m always thinking about my writing, that I should be writing, that something random might work well in my writing, etc. and that can lead to burnout.  There are two given days at the end of the work week that are meant to be taken and enjoyed.  I, myself, have found this very hard to do, but gave it a try this weekend by undertaking two big projects that would be too distracting and exhausting to leave me creative.  Side note: what I’ve learned about most writers is that we all have a little crazy about us.  I am borderline OCD when it comes to being organized, so I decided to reorganize the garage and this storage/crawl space in my apartment (and my body is thanking me for it).  Another side note, I still felt guilty that I hadn’t done anything with my writing for two days…baby steps.

Wizard'sHat, OR

So here is my tip: Take the weekend!  Recharge your creative battery.  A little distance from your work might actually be good for both of you.

*These pictures are just reminders that I don’t live near either of these places, but need to get outside more.

Good luck and have a good week!

Romantically Challenged

Pride&PrejudiceI know it’s a phase, but I’m in a rut.  I’m in the middle of a major rewrite and I find myself lacking emotionally as I’ve had a lot of negative things weighing on me recently, my romantic sensibilities have been sapped.  As I write love stories (in part), the lack of emotion is a bit of an impediment, so I’ve been looking pretty much everywhere in order to be inspired; music, movies, video games, pictures/artwork, and yes, quotes.  I thought I’d share a few things and hopefully, in a few days, I’ll get the love back.Theberge-Romance

I’ve read so many times that as a writer you should write every day, and I agree, to an extent.  Depending on what you’re working on, your emotional state could have either a positive or negative influence.  In my current frame of mind I should be writing something angry, sarcastic, and dark.  And I don’t write that kind of stuff.  So, until this mood passes, I will continue the rewrite from a technical stand point, and continue to stare at these in an effort to lighten the mood — maybe I just need a hug…as writers we spend a lot of time alone, so maybe I just need to be around some people.  I will test this theory and get back to you.

“I love it when I catch you looking at me, then you smile and look away.”

“Kiss me as if it were the last time.”

Mermaidw:Man

And a few of my favorite book quotes —

“Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan.”   Persuasion by Jane Austen

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad!  Only do not leave me in this abyss where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!”  —  Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you – especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.”  — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 

BlueCouplew:Diamonds*First image is Romance by Claude Theberge.  Second image is of Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen of Pride & Prejudice.  The others I came across while searching the internet.  I do not own these works.