2013 So Far (in Writing)

We’re sliding ever more quickly toward the end of the year. It’s been an extremely busy time for me, but I wanted to pause and take stock of all that has happened thus far, sort of position myself, orient myself.

In January, I won my first ever screenwriting competition when St. Peter in Chains (the short form) took Grand Prize for short screenplay in Table Read My Screenplay. What a confidence booster! It also opened a couple doors for me so that I’ve since found someone interested in potentially making a feature-length movie of St. Peter in Chains + St. Peter at the Gate. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of St. Peter at the Gate, it was published in July. Because of all the screenwriting work I’ve been doing, I’ve not been writing as much prose. But I have published St. Peter at the Gate and The K-Pro this year.

The screenwriting side of things has just exploded for me. Three of my scripts made Preliminary Finals in the Creative World Awards: Sherlock: “A Society of Martlets”, St. Peter in Chains, and 20 August. (20 August actually made Quarterfinals, too.) 20 August is also a nominee for the Silent River Film Festival River Scroll Award. The script has had some interest from various studios and producers, and I know of at least one director/producer who is serious about maybe taking it on as a project. Fingers on the other hand crossed!

Also, I’ve been asked to help rewrite a romantic comedy script and to pen a psychological thriller. So yeah, lots of screenwriting going on.

It hasn’t all been glory. I’ve been rejected a few times, lost more competitions than I’ve won. But if I look at where I am now versus last year, there has definitely been progress.

Of course, if I go back and look at the goals I set for myself at the start of the year:

  1. Edit & publish The K-Pro
  2. Finish writing & publish “St. Peter at the Gate”
  3. Draft at least one new novel (either Pretend You Love Me or An Astral Affair)
  4. Finish my Henry II play
  5. Write at least two more Sherlock Holmes stories
  6. Finish my zombie television pilot spec script

I’ve done the first two. The rest have been back-burnered while other, new projects take priority. Well, it’s good to be in demand . . .

20 August Makes Silent River Film Festival Short List

My screenplay 20 August has been shortlisted for the River Scroll Award at the Silent River Film Festival, one of twelve films to make the cut. The full list is available on their Facebook page here.

I’m really honored and excited to be included on this list. I don’t think I ever truly understood the whole “honor just to be nominated” schtick until now. I always thought it was just a line. But no, it really does feel like an honor just to have made it to this stage. And I hope that, regardless of final outcome, 20 August has a future beyond this. It’s received such good feedback, it would be a shame to see that potential wasted. So my fingers are crossed not just for a win at SRFF, but more so for progress to be made, for this vision to come to fruition.

The Good and the Bad

The good news I got this week: Three of my scripts made it through the preliminary round of the Creative World Awards. 20 August under Drama, St. Peter in Chains under Short Screenplays, and Sherlock: “A Society of Martlets” under Television (Existing 1 Hour Drama, even though Sherlock is 90 minutes). These are all the scripts I submitted, and I sent them at different times, which is why two are under one name and the other under another. Ugh. I can’t keep track of myself any more.

There are lots of hurdles yet to jump in this competition, however: quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals. Only after all those will winners be announced. But I’m happy to have made at least one cut—and with all three scripts no less, when I honestly only hoped at least one might get through. Still, I’d be pretty happy to continue advancing . . . Quarterfinalists will be listed next week.

Also, there’s a chance a major producer might be interested in the St. Peter in Chains script, once I’ve finished doing the full-length draft. The one drawback being they think it’s a little slow and “needs more action.” Oh dear. I’ve stumbled into the Hollywood machinery. I’m willing to compromise to some extent, but I don’t know if I’m much of an action writer. Haven’t really tried it yet. Anyway, I need to focus on finishing the draft before going back to tinker with action and pacing.

And now the bad news. I was supposed to hear from Sundance about whether 20 August had made the second round of their Screenwriters Lab “no later than August 16.” But I didn’t. And then someone at AFF mentioned that an e-mail they’d tried to send me had bounced back to them. Huh. So I began to worry that the Sundance e-mail might have bounced, too. I e-mailed Sundance to ask them, but didn’t hear back. So this morning I called my e-mail and web hosting service, and sure enough, they found the Sundance e-mail in the spam filter.

Now let me explain the backward way this hosting service works. (By which I mean it doesn’t work at all.) Instead of giving ME access to my spam, so that I can see if/when stuff accidentally gets filtered when it shouldn’t, they have a net THEY create that catches spam and automatically deletes it, ostensibly saving me the hassle and saving their servers from any malicious intent. So while they were able to see that an e-mail had come from Sundance (which they had marked with a “high spam content score” even though I’d never blocked them), it had been immediately deleted when the server/program decided it was spam. It could not be retrieved. “You’ll have to e-mail the sender and ask them to re-send,” I was told. “And we’ll put them on the list of safe senders for you.”

Really, Assholes? YOU decide what I can and can’t receive? And then, when YOU fuck up, there is no recourse for me except to go begging the sender for a redo? I am livid. And will be changing my site host and e-mail service. So if this site goes down for a little while, please be patient while we relocate it. And use my gmail for any correspondence until I have new mailboxes set up. Thanks.

Meanwhile, I wait on Sundance to hopefully re-send the e-mail. Good news or bad, I just want to know.

BBF: Lauren Grimley & Keep the Votes Coming!

It’s Day 2 of the Blogger Book Fair, and I hope everyone is already discovering great books, authors, and blogs! Today I have Lauren Grimley visiting my site. Lauren has one series of adult urban fantasy books (Alex Crocker Seer) and is now working on a YA novel. She gamely answered some questions I had about her work.

MPL: Are there more books coming in your adult series or are you finished with that?

LG: I’m still working on the Alex Crocker series. The second book Unveiled was just released in June, so I’ve been busy promoting that, but I hope to get back to writing book three, which is slowly but surely coming along, later this summer. I also have a collection of short stories from the series, Unbridled, almost ready to release. As much fun as I’ve had with these characters, I’m hoping to wrap up the series soon. Maybe just one more book to see it through . . .

MPL: Tell us a little bit about the Alex Crocker series.

LG: The series is an urban fantasy series set in the fictional town of Bristol, MA. It’s got vampires, but I like to think it’s a little different from what people come to expect of vampire or paranormal romance books. For one, the heroine isn’t a vampire. She’s a twenty-five year woman who quite suddenly learns she’s a Seer, someone who can sense and manipulate others’ emotions. Because of that she’s desirable to both covens of vampires in my world, but wisely sides with those who don’t make it a habit of snacking on humans. The stories are as much about her journey of learning who she is, dealing with the strength of her gift, and trying to balance her old world and the new and often terrifying one she’s stumbled into.

The romance is also a bit different from many of these series. Often paranormal romance series focus on a different couple each book, or the hero or heroine has a new love interest in each new novel. I stuck with Alex and Markus and throughout. New relationships, especially those between two species as interesting as vampires and Seers have plenty of challenges to keep the romantic subplots fresh.

As I mentioned earlier, though, I do explore the other couples in the series in my upcoming release, Unbridled. Just because they didn’t work into the series proper, didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in developing and sharing them. Unbridled is a novella length piece that tells the tales of three other couples from the novels through a series of connected short stories. It’s a unique format, which was incredibly fun to write. I hope to release it early this fall. Since I’m donating some of the proceeds to women’s charities, I’m self-publishing this one, though, so I’m still working through all the logistics of that!

MLP: Is your YA novel also paranormal romance? Or are you trying something completely new and different?

LG: My YA novel, All That Glitters, is more of a twisted myth fantasy. It’s about a teenager, Zoe, who has the Midas touch with boys. Only, like Midas, she discovers her ‘gift’ is more of a curse when one of her exes goes missing after breaking her heart. She has to set out to discover how the curse works and more importantly how to break it before she hurts the next boy she falls for.

So, that said, there’s plenty of romance and certainly some fantasy elements, but it’s not exactly paranormal romance.

For the full teaser and first chapter readers can check out the Other Projects page on my website: http://www.laurengrimley.com/Other_Projects.html

MPL: What made you switch to YA?

LG: Well, I teach middle school, so September through June my world is YA. I read their books, watch their television shows (yup, Pretty Little Liars fan here), and listen to their stories. It was inevitable that I wrote about kids their age.

Also, ever since finishing Unforeseen I’ve regretted that it wasn’t quite appropriate to share with my students. It’s hard to tell them I’m a writer and in the same breath have to tell them they can’t read what I’ve written. I love and appreciate their excitement when they learn their teacher is an author and hate squelching that by having to tell them, “You can read it when you’re older.” So I’m excited to be starting a YA novel that they will hopefully be able to read and enjoy sooner, rather than later. I’m looking forward to sharing my writing process next year as I draft, revise, and edit alongside my new students.

Lauren_Grimley Lauren Grimley lives in central Massachusetts where she grew up, but her heart is on the beaches of Cape Cod where she spends as much of her time as possible. After graduating from Boston University she became a middle school English teacher. She now balances writing, reading, and correcting, all with a cat on her lap and a glass of red wine close by.

Unforeseen, the first novel in the Alex Crocker Seer series, was Lauren’s debut novel, and she’s thrilled to be continuing the series with Unveiled. To learn more about her or her writing or to connect with her online visit her website at www.laurengrimley.com

Blog: http://blog.laurengrimley.com
Twitter: @legrimley https://twitter.com/legrimley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurenGrimley
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5825387.Lauren_Grimley

Enter to Win Digital Copies of both Alex Crocker Seer Books!
. . . by clicking the link below . . .
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And also . . . Don’t forget to vote for The K-Pro and St. Peter in Chains in the Readers’ Choice Awards! K-Pro is under Fantasy–Mature (2) and Peter can be found under LGBT.

Vote! BBF Reader’s Choice Awards

As part of the Blogger Book Fair there is a Reader’s Choice Award for various genres. I’m hoping (if you’ve read my work, and I’m also hoping you have read my work) you’ll consider voting for me. The K-Pro is listed under Fantasy–Mature (2) and St. Peter in Chains is under LGBT. Thanks, as ever, for your support!

More Good Feedback for My Writing!

So my feature script 20 August just received really great feedback from the Creative World Awards. They scored the script an 8.38/Consider. (They gave my dialogue an 8.88!)

From the feedback: “The author has done a good job of creating a cast of characters whose interactions seem believable and organic . . . The author has presented an original concept unlike many other products on the market at the moment . . . The skills of the author are clear and the efforts of this creative mind should be continually encouraged. Good job!”

Today, I’m glowing just a little bit!

May Day

We’re one third of the way through the year. Have we accomplished anything? Well . . .

Yesterday did see me cross over the 20k mark in sales and downloads of my books! Not bad for 10 months.

And I’ve finished one screenplay. That two independent producers have shown interest in.

Other things that have happened since the start of the year include my having won Table Read My Screenplay (with St. Peter in Chains), having attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (where I learned a lot, even if I didn’t get an agent), and having published The K-Pro.

So what’s next? Well, finishing St. Peter at the Gate tops my list. And I’ve got a list of other projects besides, but I’m trying to take things one at a time.

Plus, travel in June and July. Really looking forward to seeing London again.

AND . . . Blogger Book Fair in July as well! I’ve never done it before, but I think it will be fun. I’ll be doing a couple giveaways of The K-Pro and St. Peter in Chains the week of July 15th, too. Want to join in? The sign-up forms for BBF are here. Deadline is June 15.

I hope everyone has a lovely Beltane. I hope your year has started well, and that it only continues to get better as we go along.

Blessings,
~M

The Subjectivity of Screenplay Scorecards

As many of you may know from previous posts, my short screenplay St. Peter in Chains won Table Read My Screenplay last month. And yet yesterday I received a scorecard for it from another competition that gave it only a 7.5 out of 10. Though the judge felt it had great marketability, he didn’t like (of all things) the dialogue. His final verdict was “undecided.”

Just goes to show you how important it is to find the right reader and audience for these things.

And today I got a similar scorecard for my Sherlock script. This poor script hasn’t been able to find a foothold anywhere, and yet! This judge really liked it! Rated it a “consider.” His reservation? That it was too long. Because, as he notes, “an hour-long drama is about 54 pages, so trim 30 pages.” Um . . . Has he seen an episode of Sherlock? It’s a 90-minute show. My script is 85 pages.

On the plus side: “There is definitely good commercial potential in this episode.” And, “Overall the writer has done a wonderful job of capturing the basic Sherlock style . . . We feel like we are watching Sherlock.” They liked my characterization and felt the dialogue was good, too. They just wanted more of a mystery to the plot. I can see their reasoning. It was actually very helpful feedback. And I’m pleased, on the whole, that they liked it. (Curious parties can find the script posted as a writing sample on my Stage 32 page.)

But again, it does come down to who reads it, doesn’t it? Same as when submitting to agents or producers . . . It’s like archery. Except you can’t see the target, just have to hope the arrow lands somewhere in the vicinity of your goal. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my aim.

Table Read for “St. Peter in Chains”

It will take place during the Sundance Film Festival and has been tentatively set for Friday, January 25th. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend. But they’ll be sending me an audio file to listen to afterward. I’m both excited and nervous, but I’m always that way when people are performing my work. You’d think we playwrights and screenwriters would get used to it, but we don’t, or at least I haven’t. If it ever becomes so commonplace a happening that I do get used to it and am no longer nervous or excited, well, that might just take the fun out of it.

By the way, I’ve had a few hits on my sites (this one and spooklights) looking for the script. If you want to read the story, you can pick up the novella on Amazon. Or you can click Contact at the top of this page and drop me a note introducing yourself and requesting the actual screenplay, if that’s what you’re after.