Impatience + Monday Music

Aaaargh! (No, not in the pirate sense. Just in the general frustrated sense.)

We’ve been waiting to hear about the final results (read: winners) of the Creative World Awards. First we were told they would be announced on Saturday. Then it was pushed to Sunday. Then it was supposed to be today by 7:00 p.m. (Pacific). But now the site just says September 8th/9th. Whaaa?

I’ve written before about the problems I’ve noticed competitions and film festivals seem to have regarding deadlines. As in: never being able to meet their own. I understand, of course, it’s a huge undertaking to evaluate so many scripts—and the number of entrants swells each year, more and more people trying to become writers and screenwriters—but . . . It’s still pretty frustrating.

Meanwhile, I’m just an impatient person by nature. Now I’ve got lots of queries out, and partials, and even one full manuscript, and I’m finding it very difficult to wait. I get restless, and then I find it difficult to sit down and write. Even though I know the best thing to do at these times is to get to work on another project. Always. Be. Producing.

Well, I did write a little today. And I also went shopping. We’ll see how much of it I actually keep.

And of course I did my morning walk!

1. “Good Life” by OneRepublic
2. “Hard Candy” by Counting Crows
3. “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
4. “Save Me, San Francisco” by Train
5. “Exit Wounds” by The Script
6. “Here Comes Horses” by Tabitha’s Secret
7. “The Man Who Never Lied” by Maroon 5
8. “It Ends Tonight” by All-American Rejects
9. “Need” by Gavin DeGraw

I have a special love for “Save Me, San Francisco.” A few years ago when I knew I had to get out of the frigid Northeast, I was thinking about San Francisco. And then I started hearing this song on the radio and took it as a sign. I’ve lived in the area 2.5 years and just love it. (Still planning on a place in London at some point, though. I can deal with the cold and the rain, just not the snow. Would have to go somewhere else for part of the year.)

That jump from “Save Me, San Francisco” to “Exit Wounds” was a bit jarring. If I were using the songs to tell a story (like I sometimes do), I’d have to wonder what happened there.

And, yes, I realize “Here Comes Horses” is incorrect grammar. But hey, I didn’t name the song, nor did I write it. That’s all on Rob and Pookie and whoever else.

Back from Santa Cruz, and I’m sure Sherl will have plenty to say about it all at some point (in fact, he has a lot to say about a lot of things; he’s been busy but plans to update his blog soon). Meanwhile, feel it’s as good a time as any to say the romantic comedy script I’ve co-written made the preliminary cut in the Creative World Awards. They should announce Quarterfinalists next week, so . . . They gave us really good feedback on the script, but I know competition is fierce. A lot of good writers and good scripts out there. I hope ours is one!

20 August Sails On

My screenplay 20 August has just made Quarterfinals in the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. This was the one that also nominated it for Best Role Written for a Leading Man. I’m super pleased at all the positive feedback the script has received. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s nice to know it’s also not awful. One writeup even called it “perfect for the A-list indie scene.” That’s pretty nice to hear.

You can see the full list of Quarterfinalists here. At first I thought I hadn’t made it, but it turns out they’d spelled out “Twenty,” probably to keep their Excel from thinking it was a date. That’s my guess anyway. Note to self: Maybe don’t name things after calendar dates. Save everyone some trouble.

And Then Sometimes . . .

There’s a little good news to follow the bad. Though 20 August did not make the Top 15 in the RIFF, it has just been nominated for a Spotlight Award in the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. Category: Best Role Written for a Leading Man. I’m hugely flattered. The notes suggested Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Lucky and Seth Rogen for Dixon. I realize the characters mean nothing to you if you haven’t read the script, but it’s an amazing compliment to have someone think characters I’ve created would suit these fabulous actors.

Progress Report

Well, I’m sorry to have to say 20 August did not make the Top 15 in RIFF. Still, I know that being a Finalist is something to be proud of. And on the up side, I can say there is definite interest now in the script. I don’t want to jinx anything, so I won’t say more until things are signed and settled.

Adverse Possession is still in post-production. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished film, but of course I do want them to take whatever time they need to make it the best it can be.

I continue to hammer away at this thriller script, too. It’s become more complex than I originally planned. But maybe that’s a good thing.

In a week and a half I’ll be on a break in Vegas, so I’ve got to make progress now else I’ll feel like I don’t deserve the trip! And I have SFWC coming up in less than a month now, too. After that . . . Dunno. Lots of projects lined up, but I also hope to be able to get out and about. I do have both a high school and family reunion in June. That will mean trips to Texas and Louisiana respectively.

Alas, I do not see London in my future, and that makes me very sad. I’ll try to keep my head down and focus on my work, though. In work there is progress, in progress there is satisfaction.

‘Tis More Blessed Winners + Screenwriting News

Thanks everyone who entered the ‘Tis More Blessed Rafflecopter giveaway! The winners were Stephen R. (for the Peter Stoller novellas) and Kirsten F. (for the signed copy of The K-Pro). Congrats to the winners; e-mails have been sent to each of you!

In other news, two of my screenplays made Quarterfinals in the Richmond International Film Festival. I’m very excited! Semifinalists are announced next week, so please send up positive thoughts for me and my work!

And if you haven’t already, please take a look at the various covers for the upcoming Peter Stoller collection and either vote or leave a comment to let me know which you think is best.

Thanks, All, for your continued support of my work. My readers (hopefully soon to be viewers) mean the world to me!

It’s Happening Again

Remember when I fussed about writing competitions’ inability to meet their own deadlines? Yeah, well . . . Once again I find myself frustrated with such a situation. I mean, at least the competition/film festival in question has been very good about communicating. I’ve received e-mails and they’ve updated their Facebook status. But as of yesterday they had a countdown clock to notifications that were supposed to go out today. And then about seven hours ago the notice went up that notifications are expected “in the coming days.” Meanwhile the e-mail I received said “next week.” With the caveat that, if the decisions were finalized too close to Christmas, they’d post them after, on December 27.

So really what they’re saying is they have no fucking clue when the decisions will be made and notifications sent out. And people hoping to know in time for the holidays—either to celebrate or cry into their nog—may be left hanging until after the chief festivities are over (New Year’s notwithstanding).

Do we honestly believe these judges and/or readers are giving their all during one of the busiest times of the year? I’m not convinced the scripts and films will have all their attention. I feel like it’s very likely these people have other things on their minds.

Sigh.

There’s nothing I can do about it, and I can’t really be surprised (though I really thought these guys, of everyone, had it together) . . . But I can still be disappointed.

The Good News

I realize the year isn’t over, but already I find myself looking back over 2013. I get frustrated when, at the end of a year, I feel as if I’m pretty much in the same place as when the year started. But in an attempt to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude,” I’m going to list the good things that happened—have happened so far, really, since there could yet be more—in 2013. Because deep down I know I’ve made progress. It’s just not always easy to see.

I kept a calendar this year, a private one that listed all the good (and, yes, bad too, but I’m focusing on the good here) things that occurred, month by month and day by day. Now I will share those good things with you:

5 JanuarySt. Peter in Chains wins Grand Prize for short script in Table Read My Screenplay
25 JanuarySt. Peter in Chains receives a professional table read at Sundance Film Festival
5 February – have a Skype session with a director/producer in NYC who wants to turn 20 August into a feature
3 March – Creative World Awards gives strong coverage to my Sherlock spec and a score of 8.19/Consider
7 April – Contagion Films requests to read “Warm Bodies”
1 June – CWA gives 20 August glowing feedback and a score of 8.38/Consider
10 June – Contagion Films licenses “Warm Bodies” for a short film
13 August – CNN interviews me as part of a feature about women who have left the work force; the feature runs as a slideshow online on the 21st
14 August – all three of my scripts make Preliminary Finals in CWA; 20 August would go on to make Quarterfinals
5 September – Zero Gravity Management requests to read 20 August
11 September20 August is named a Semi-Finalist in the Silent River Film Festival
19 September – my Sherlock spec makes Quarterfinals in the Final Draft Big Break contest (that’s the top 10%)
4 October – Principato Young requests a screenwriting sample

Everything has sort of plateaued since October, and I never did hear back from Zero Gravity or Principato Young. But I’m trying to look at the positive! At least there has been interest. And positive feedback/coverage. I mean, all of last year I faced rejections and losses in pretty much everything I submitted. At least this year I’ve had a win and some gains. And my first film produced! (Well, it’s still in post-production, but one doesn’t want to rush these things.)

So . . . Yeah. Here’s hoping 2013 finishes out on an up note—or at the very least not on a down one—and that 2014 brings continued progress.

What We’ve Got Here Is . . .

For an aspiring screenwriter, one way to get some notice and buzz around your work is to enter screenwriting contests and submit to film festivals that have screenwriting awards. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have won one such contest and placed well in others, and to have been a semi-finalist in a film festival as well. But I’ve noticed one problem that seems to stretch across all these contests and festivals: A lack of communication.

Most places have you submit via Withoutabox. It’s awesomely easy. But it also feels like you’re dumping your script into a black hole. Although Withoutabox tells you when you should hear back from the contest or festival—that is, it gives a “notification date”—it has no power to ensure you do hear by then. If ever.

My general sense is that a lot of these contests and festivals are mismanaged, the festivals perhaps more than the contests. Maybe that’s because the festivals require a lot more work and are focused on the films more than the scripts. But please, don’t offer a screenwriting award if you aren’t prepared to have people read the work and decide by the deadline you chose. It is painful enough for any writer (or artist) to sit and wait and wonder and hope. I know we’re supposed to be working, and we do, but as a deadline for notification comes . . . then goes . . . our productivity grinds to a crawl.

And no news, we have all learned, is never good news.

As for the contests, some are very streamlined. Almost too much so in that they have armies of people reading and one can’t help wondering who is reading that first round and what qualifications they may have. Because when you get almost 10,000 scripts, you can no longer be picky about your readers. You just need to shovel them through. And the readers are tired and overworked, too. So it doesn’t help much to be a “big” contest.

And then again, smaller contests are often disorganized in their own rights. And so either way a writer is again left wondering and waiting. And a deadline is almost always passed without comment from the contest in question. Instead the writer ends up on some mailing list that sends out news of other contests but no word on the one to which they submitted. It is very frustrating.

As a writer, all I really ask is that (a) you keep me apprised of progress; (b) you have readers who are qualified to evaluate the work (and I know whether they like it will be subjective, but let them at least be from the industry) and also not so overwhelmed they cannot give every script due attention—and if that means putting a cap on your contest, do; and (c) you send out notifications when you say you will. I think, based on the entry fees for so many of these, that’s not so much to ask.

“A Society of Martlets” Makes Quarterfinals in Final Draft Big Break

So very excited to be able to say my Sherlock spec has made the Quarterfinals in the Final Draft Big Break Contest. The QFs represent the top 12% in each category (feature or television). Just utterly floored, utterly honored to be counted among their number.

Many people know I have a particular love of Sherlock Holmes stemming from my childhood, and my readers are still clamoring for more of my Holmes stories—they remain my best-selling books. (I’m actually formulating a new story, the possible sequel to “Last Line” now.) So this little boost is especially close to my heart, because Holmes is especially close to my heart. Thank you so much, Final Draft Readers and Judges, for this acknowledgement!