Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's a mad rush...Tending to all the details of the holidays while wrapping up the semester at both UNH (nearly done) and Goddard (fini!) I feel like a leaf caught in the rapids.

The much anticipated...uh, the sometimes thought about...or maybe just the never before occurred to anyone? At any rate, thanks to SNReview my story of my dance with the bat last summer is available for download; it's entitled "Bat! Duck!"

I also just learned this weekend that my short screenplay PLAYING HOUSE will be published in the next edition of the Pitkin Review, the literary magazine of Goddard College's MFA Program. No problem: I'll be happy to send you the link once it's available....

Happy Holidays!Photos of Gleason Falls (New Hampshire) taken by Jan Myskowski.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sometimes you just have to let Ninja drive....I should have let him drive last Saturday night. Took a wrong turn, adding almost a half hour and about a bazillion twists to my drive home after judging the fun filmstream short film festival at artstream in Rochester, New Hampshire. Congrats to all the filmmakers who screened at the event. And Bravo to the artist who designed the awards!

Bat! Duck!, my essay that chronicles my bizarre dance with the bat, was just accepted for publication. It will appear in the next issue of SNReview. I’ll let you know when you can read all the details of my crazy adventure.

This news just on the heels of the latest publication of the Alpha Chi Recorder,the Alumni Issue, Vol. 49, No. 3, 10-23-06 with my essay “Reflections on a Screenwriting Life.” I know, I know…what screenwriting life?! Read it if you care to and you’ll see I didn’t stretch the truth too much…I think.

And the biggest news of all: I just submitted my final packet of my G-2 semester at Goddard College! Two semesters down, two to go. For those of you still keeping track of such things, this packet contained 30 pages of my thriller screenplay TOPPLE, three annotations, and my process letter.

The three annotations tracked the emotions and psychological aspects of characters in the films BEFORE AND AFTER and THE DEEP END. I also wrote an annotation that identified some of the archetypes developing in my own Creative Work based on the writings of Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey, 2nd Edition.

We still have a few weeks to go in our semester at UNH-Manchester where I teach in the Communication Arts Department. This semester we’re finishing up another Introductory to Scriptwriting Course. Next Semester I’ll be teaching the Advanced Short Scriptwriting Course in which we will be penning Television Pilots as well as the TV Variety Show Omnium-Gatherum, which we will present to the public in a Noon Brown Bag Lunch gathering in the third floor auditorium on May 9, 2007.

I hear the pitter patter of Greyhound feet above my head signaling that it’s time for me to don my yellow don’t shoot me shirt as I take her for a walk and pray neither of us ends up in the sights of a hunter’s gun. For extra protection Ellory wears an orange don’t shoot me shirt, too. Think I’ll leave Ninja on sentinel duty just so I can be super extra certain we’ll be safe in this crazy Live Free or Die state we call home.

Happy Thanksgiving, All! Thanks for stopping by.

My hubby gets credit for the Ninja photo shoot. Our daughter's orthodontist has supplied us with plenty of Ninjas over the past several months of dental work. Those are some pretty pricey Ninjas I'm collecting!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Fountain of Youth is least in so far as it refers to the teen years, especially if you're the mom of those teens. Oy. Now twenty-seven...that was a good year. For those of you not yet there, enjoy it. I'm not the only one who looks back on it fondly.

That reminds me of an incident a few years ago. My husband's grandmother (God rest her) was tired from a day of visiting us and walking about Colonial Williamsburg. "Oh, to be 71 again," sighed the then 79-year-old. Age is all a matter of perspective, I guess.

For those of you keeping track of such things, last week I submitted my "hump" packet to my Goddard College advisor. (We have five packets to submit per semester, last week's was number three.) In this one I managed to squeeze in three annotations, a five-page critical paper, my process letter, and 21 pages of script. Here's the skinny:

Annotations: Somehow I managed to accidentally write three annotations on three films. I prefer to mix up the mediums, but have been ensconced in a novel and a book on craft; the two longer works will show up as annotations in packets number four and five. I actually wrote the annotation on the novel CHOKE by Chuck Palahniuk yesterday and will submit that next packet.

The three films I wrote about are: JAGGED EDGE, NUTS, and THE OTHERS. I viewed two other films, too, but chose not to annotate them, at least not yet. Those films are A MAP OF THE WORLD and REPULSION. The former bored me to tears, the latter was an incredible look at 1965 cinematography as only Roman Polanski could achieve. See it if you can. Especially if you aspire to direct. It'll leave an impression.

My critical paper argued that Beneatha represents the most likely to succeed in the Younger household in the play A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Lorraine Hansberry. If you haven't read many stage plays, and this is one that has so far escaped your list of must reads...grab a copy and read it next. Note the copyright date. You'll be inspired.

I'm still working on my thriller TOPPLE. This time I submitted 21 pages, which takes me to page 47 in my screenplay. I am officially off outline now, so the writing is a bit slower as I work on my next packet submission material. But I'm really enjoying traveling along with my characters and breaking open the mysterious past of my protagonist. (By the way, I am now working on about my seventh or eighth draft. Writing is rewriting, after all.)

I'll be out on the seacoast tomorrow--in Portsmouth, NH for the New Hampshire Film Expo. I'm presenting a Rewriting Workshop from 4 to 6 PM and I'll be attending a Creative Writing workshop in the morning. I'm hoping to squeeze in a few films in between. I also hope to see many of you there!

Thanks for dropping in. Be well.


(Photo above taken by my hubby of one of the sculpted fish in a fountain at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site located in Cornish, NH. I actually fell asleep on the bench next to it for about a half hour; I never do that sort of thing...well, except perhaps at the beach. I was recuperating after the summer residency at Goddard.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Why do I write?Or maybe I should be asking why do I set up a tiny toy Ninja in a forest of cut carrot root tips?

So I'm at work on yet another story. It's one that has been with me since I interviewed a plethora of scientists for the planetarium show on global warming I was hired to write a couple years ago. One scientist handed me a report on global warming in the Northeast that he and others were tapped to write by the former Clinton administration. They were instructed to publish books on the subject that most educated people, yet folks with little or no scientific background, could understand. It was to be a global warming research study for lay people.

Enter the Bush administration.

From the get go Global Warming was taboo and these wretched little comprehensible research studies were among the first things to be tossed out. One scientist called it a regular book burning. In fact, in giving me a copy of his book, he would only be left with a handful. He hoped that I could put it to good use.

Not a Bush supporter, I wasn't completely surprised by the account. But a book burning? That sounded about as legitimate as turning the White House into Hugh Hefner's estate. Wait, maybe I shouldn't go there.

Somewhat skeptical I contacted the other scientists who headed up similar studies in their regions throughout the United States and heard the same story again and again. I was able to get my hands on two other editions, but the other ten or so regions claimed they had so few copies left that they weren't willing to part with them. "You can visit anytime and read our copy here in our offices," one scientist offered.

Weren't these the books that were supposed to be made available to the public at large? No one went on record, but that's exactly the irony that met them.

This story is so incredible that it haunts me still.

I took all the facts and multiplied the stakes by about a hundred percent, wrote up a screenplay, and sent it to a studio reader friend of mine who loved it. In fact his story notes when we talked on the phone consisted of praise and glory, reveling in my characters. Then he ended by saying, "Now toss it out and rewrite it from scratch; send it to me when it's ready."

I have no doubt he can help me get these words to screen, if only I can clear my schedule of a few weeks and get the story re-told. But that's not been my problem. My real challenge has been in re-conceiving my story.

Remember that Three Day Novel competition I entered a couple weeks ago? That deadline helped me work through another story I had only begun to conceptualize since my dance with the bat. But the deadline was so successful in getting me to draft the copy, capture my story on paper (even if the judges don't care for my content), that two days ago when I learned of a short story competition with a due date this Friday, I couldn't help but to write.

So that's what I'm up to now. I'm nearly 3,000 words into the piece, and expect I'll wrap at 6,000 to 6,500 words. The competition is limited to stories of 7,000 words or fewer, recommending a cap of 3,000. Perhaps I'll be able to cut considerably once it's out of my system. We'll see what this week brings.

Then I'll have my treatment. My new direction for the screenplay that I've been encouraged to rewrite. Who knows, maybe I'll actually get to that, too. Just as soon as my Goddard semester is through in mid-November.

And that's what I've been up to lately. How 'bout you? Any new writings to report?

Thanks for dropping by.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will cut classes lead to home?

Two weeks into the year and already my son has had two detentions. In a school of about 950 students he has been alone for each of them. My husband pointed out to him that by cutting classes, he's actually spending more time at the school. You would think he'd have gotten that by now.

You'd also think he would have realized by now that I'd find out that he skipped three out of four math classes and most recently his English class. I swear the Vice Principal has me on speed dial. Our last conversation he pointed out the positive, "At least he attended math today." As my mom would say: "There's a pony in this sh*t somewhere."

A friend of mine--a fellow mom of an eighth grader who, along with my eighth grade daughter and another eighth grade student, attends advanced geometry at the high school (traditionally a sophomore level class) pointed out that my sophomore son is, if nothing else, "consistent."

Or stubborn.

He's bright. Too smart for his own good. But he's not putting what he knows to good use. So maybe home schooling is the answer. Not the traditional style, like when he was younger and he and I and his sister sat and worked on lessons together for a year when we decided we needed to free him of an institutionalized setting. This time we're looking at GED prep, so that at 16-plus he can attend community college or an art school that has already expressed some interest in him.

There's a magnet on my fridge that reads: "life does not put things in front of you that you are unable to handle." (-unknown) I often walk by and glare at it. But this evening as my Amazon order percolates with the latest GED prep book and a text about earning high school diplomas non-traditionally, I feel like this too shall pass, which is to say maybe I can handle this life challenge, too.

It would be interesting, us both at home studying. He as he begins his lifelong learning, me in my continuation of that goal as a low residency grad student.

Okay, that's enough contemplation for now. And airing of our family laundry on what's supposed to be my screenwriting blog.

On that note, Packet Number Two went off to my Goddard advisor today. In this one was the lengthy teaching Practicum write-up. It included a twenty-page essay, results of student surveys, my syllabus from the Advanced Feature Screenwriting course I taught last semester at UNH, samples of student work, a letter stating that I really did teach the course all the way to completion, my bibliography for the course, a report from a classroom observer, and sample handouts that I shared with the students during our time together. Whew.

Next packet I will be back to submitting script pages and annotations, plus my second five-page paper. So that's what I'm working on now, plus a magazine article I just penned on how to get started scriptwriting, and a short story that won't leave me alone until it's finished. I am also compiling my syllabi for next semester's UNH courses: Advanced Short Scriptwriting that focuses on writing pilot sitcoms and dramas for television, and Media Writing, an all new course for the university.

And I'll be talking with the high school vice principal. Or not, if I'm lucky and my son stays out of trouble. I wish I knew which path he was on: the road more or less traveled. Ambiguity intentional.


(Photo above of the path that leads from the "village" dorms to the library on the Plainfield, Vermont campus of Goddard College. Picture available at the college's website.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm a new fan...

...of Moviefone Shorts, especially the short this link should take you to, The Fan and the Flower. Haven't seen every short featured there yet, but I also enjoyed American Storage and Unfair. Check it out...and let me know what else I should surf over to watch.

Want to Welcome the fellow writers of the New Hampshire Writers' Project to the site. The list you seek of the last known approved screenwriting competitions as published by the former NY Screenwriter Monthly is located on one of my sister sites, Green Chair Lists, or you can search the archives on this blog; it appears in the July 17th post.

For news of courses I'll be teaching next semester at UNH-Manchester, of upcoming workshops, and more, please visit my website Green Chair Pictures. You'll also find a list of my services as well as additional frivolous information.

As you may realize from my heading on this blog, I believe short screenplays are the poetry of the scriptwriting and cinematic world. Like poems, short scripts have precious few words and lines in which to convey a message and evoke an image.

There's also the added benefit that the stories are short, so if you don't like one, at least it was brief. I believe the two old timers of the Muppets would agree with me. In A Muppet Christmas Carol they complain over how ridiculously abbreviated Fozzie Bear's speech is at his Rubber Chicken Factory's annual Christmas Party. But then they realize with delight, "It was short; we loved it!"

On that note, let me keep today's blog entry [relatively] short. Thanks for dropping by!

(Photo above taken by my husband; it features the Pamela J Lobsterboat on Cliff Island in Casco Bay, Maine. It's named for Lobsterboat Captain Anderson's wife. On a side note: when my fifteen-year-old son complained that we were going to be vacationing in the middle of nowhere, I countered with the fact that we'd be buying our lobsters from Pamela Anderson, even biking to her house to pick them up each day. It took him a moment. Finally his huge grin waned as he realized, "There's more than one Pamela Anderson, isn't there?")

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Buoy, am I tired!

How I spent my Labor Day Weekend: I wrote a novel!

Okay technically perhaps...a novella.

It was part of the 3-Day Novel Contest . I usually do not admit publicly when I've entered a competition since later when the winners are announced I too frequently have to say, "well, it was a good try."

But I feel completely different about this competition. I want to shout it from the rooftops of the world: "I WROTE A NOVEL IN THREE DAYS!!!"

Whether it's a great American novel (or Canadian, since the contest is out of Vancouver, BC) or it's a work of rubbish, I completed it. Finished at seven minutes before midnight. Sent it in the next morning.


And those of you who have followed my summer's bat stories will be happy to hear that I used that as my jumping off point. Write what you know, after all. Before I dove in at 4:00 Saturday morning, all I had thought up were three possible openings, and I decided that the antagonist would be someone from a terrorist organization.

I was thrilled with where the story went and how much my summer's research into bats and rabies ended up helping me pen my 101-page story.

That's all I'll say on the subject for now. I'll know the results of the contest in January; maybe I'll post them here.

Some up coming dates to consider:

Saturday, October 14, 2006, I will be presenting an "Art of Re-Writing Workshop" as part of the 3-day New Hampshire Film Expo in Portsmouth where we'll channel our inner hero & villain in a character study workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. Earlier that day join me as I sit in on a Creative Writing Warm-up Workshop led by screenwriter & filmmaker Bill Bourdon, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Check it out!

Saturday, November 18, 2006, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., I will be one of three judges for the Rochester (NH) Short Film Festival along with Mark Constance, a DGA Assistant Director, and Matthew Newton, of the NH Film Office. There's still time to enter your film of fifteen minutes or less.

Hope to see you soon. Thanks for stopping by!

(Photo above by, you guessed it: my hubby. At Cliff Island, Casco Bay, Maine. Buoy Sculpture Artist Unknown, but please feel free to identify yourself here!)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Okay, it's written...

I said I'd write up my batty rabies experience, and I have. Just submitted. You'll be the first to know if it's accepted. And what publication you can purchase in order to read my essay. My advice for now, though: forget about it (quick! Name the movie that made that line famous....) These things take time, don't you know.

Thanks for stopping by. It's past my bedtime. So if you don't mind, I think I'll call it a night.


(Photo above taken by my hubby at--you guessed it!--Cliff Island. "Moon Over Cliff." I don't know if that's what he wants to call this particular photo, but that's what I'm calling it on my blog. He'll just have to live with that. Grin, grin.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Remember those Staples ads promoting their store at back to school season? Always cracked me up. However, even though my teens give me a run for my money (one literally with some recent bone headed decisions), I absolutely despise back to school season. I love when my kids are home with me.

Speaking of back to school, the Goddard semester has officially begun. I'll be mailing out my first packet tomorrow. Looks like I'll have 30 pages of screenplay (we'll see if that number fluctuates as I revise again today) and two three-page annotations. I still have another annotation to write today, and I'll need to wrap up my process letter to my advisor. For those of you still keeping track of life as a low residency MFA in Creative Writing student at Goddard College, I'll post more details about this packet in a few days.

Many have asked when the rabies article is coming out, especially a surprising number of folks in the medical community: physicians, nurses, veterinarians, dentists. Okay. I said I'd write it, and I will. Just let me finish up this week's pages for my grad program and a few minor edits for an editor of a magazine that needs them and my mug shots by the first of September...and then I will dive into my necessary research on rabies and bats and the CDC vaccination recommendations.

In the meantime, if anyone can suggest a publication or two that I might consider contacting first about possible interest in the article, please post it here or send me an e-mail with the idea. I have a couple publications in mind, but need to research and see where best to first pitch the article. Yes, I have also considered writing different articles, from various angles, for a couple (or a few) publications.

Thanks. See you around!
(Photos of Cliff Island's ferry dock taken by my hubby. Cliff Island is located nine miles from Portland, Maine, in Casco Bay.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day 28: Last shot!

How I wish it came in a glass and not a needle. Wish me luck.


(Pink sky at night photo above taken by my husband in front of our beach rental house on Cliff Island in Casco Bay, Maine. Thanks to my rabies vaccine regimen I lost an entire day of savoring this view to a 101.7 degree fever and a body that craved sleep. My mom got to eat my lobster that night, proving every dark cloud has a silver [or pink] lining for someone.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Call Me Bat Girl
But beware if I start foaming at the mouth.

It's Day Zero Plus One into my Rabies Vaccination Regimen.

Yep, you read that right: last night I was at the local Emergency Room from 9:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. where I received the first six shots of a five visit program.

Painful? Not nearly as bad as the anticipation. Not even close to the pain of dental novacaine shots. Today I'm tired and sore, but that's to be expected. Three injections in one arm, two in the other, and one in the...uhh, backside. You'd have trouble reaching up and sitting, too.

What led to this wonderful new experience?

A bat flew into my arm. Outside my home. At dusk.

I'm not making this up.

My arm was bent, I turned to--I don't know--say something to my husband or son, perhaps? And just as I turned, I felt this slap like a small leather glove hitting my forearm. I looked and watched as this leathery-looking flapping thing (mostly undefined since the light was so limited) bounced off my not completely undefined bicep, back to the forearm, to the bicep, and to the forearm one last time before winging away groggily.

Have I mentioned that I'm scared to death of bats?

And shots?

I must have done something seriously wrong in a past life to win this sentence.

But the writer in me is taking notes. I plan to pitch a magazine article to a few editors, hoping my 28-day odyssey, along with interviews of physicians and specialists, will resonate with one of them...and eventually the readers. Perhaps I'll even manage to dispel a few myths along the way, while clearing up some confusion about bats and the possibility of rabies transmission.

Any sympathy welcomed, but not expected, of course. Please do feel free to think of me on days three, seven, fourteen and twenty-eight at about 6:30 a.m. when I'll be in the E.R. getting my next shots. And shutting my eyes tight. Maybe you should call me a baby, instead.

Be well. And if you must go out at dusk, take my advice: duck. (That's great advice considering ducks aren't known carriers of rabies.)


(Bat photos available at KidZone,

Monday, July 17, 2006

Call me what you will...just don't call me listless.

(Photo of me, my brothers, and my aunt on our family's green chair once upon a time. It's the inspiration behind my website's name: Green Chair Pictures. This is the first of many pictures taken on that indomitable green chair that connects the dots as we grew up and added to our own families over the years.)

New York Screenwriter Online once listed industry recognized competitions, until they were purchased by Creative Screenwriting. No word yet if CS plans to continue the tradition.

Therefore, by popular request, I have typed up my last known NY Screenwriter list. Use it as a guide when evaluating any competition. My students at the University of New Hampshire and I have counted on the list as a great place to start, but we have ventured off list when entering the occasional short script competition or a local contest…always referring to the criteria below as we evaluate whether or not the contest entry fee is a wise investment.

The following criteria were used in establishing the list:
1. Industry recognition (just that: people in the biz take notice when the winners are announced, or if your query arrives noting that you won the such-and-such competition, which obviously means you know your craft; these competitions can launch a career)
2. Verifiable winners (Not dead people or random names from the telephone book)
3. Industry recognized judges (agents, producers, development execs)
4. Substantial award or benefits (not just cash awards of $1000 or more, but publication of winners, workshops or writing labs, exposure to the industry, all of which leads to production--and distribution!--for at least some of the winners or runner-ups; all-expense paid trips to pitch to/meet with studio execs is deemed especially good)
5. Verifiable contact information (no PO boxes of hack-operations, phones and e-mail addresses that work…)
6. Sponsorship by an industry recognized organization (Joe’s Film Emporium* probably wouldn’t count, nor would Green Chair Pictures; however an established film festival, a studio, a large company is good. *JFE is supposed to be a fictitious example, no offense to Joe(s) if his(their) emporium(s) really exists….)
7. Reasonable entry fee (usually below $50, however if the contest includes script coverage—which can cost about $200 to $300—then a bit over $50 is acceptable)

The Approved contests were then rated based on how well they met the criteria:

**** - Premiere Competition – meets or exceeds all criteria
*** - Top Competition – meets all the criteria
** - Featured Competition – meets most of the criteria
* - Recommended Competition – meets enough of the criteria to qualify

Unfortunately, the ratings were embedded in the contest descriptions, which one would have to click to from the list. I printed a few of them to share with my students as examples, so I’ve noted those below. Each description also included due dates, prizes, entry fees, and...a website. For the list below, you’ll have to Google the ones you’re interested in learning about (sorry).

The list:

Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
American Cinema Foundation Screenwriting Competition
American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest
Asian American International Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Austin Heart of Film Screenplay Competition – 4 stars
Austin Film Festival Prime Time Television Competition
Chesterfield Film Company Writer’s Film Project – 4 stars
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Cinestory Screenwriting Awards
Cynosure Screenwriting Awards – 2 stars
Film in Arizona Screenwriting Competition
Gordon Parks Independent Film Awards
IFP/Chicago Production Fund
IFP/LA Screenwriters Lab
IFP Market – Emerging Narrative Section
IFP MSP/McKnight Artist Fellowship for Screenwriters
IFP Screenwriting Award
International Family Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Mania Fest Screenplay Competition
Monterey County Film Commission Screenplay Competition
Nantucket Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Nevada Film Office Screenwriting Competition
New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowships
Nickelodean Productions Fellowship Program – 4 stars
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting – 4 stars
Project Greenlight
Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Set in Philadelphia Screenwriting Competition
Slamdance Screenplay Competition
SLAM FI Sci Fi Screenplay Competition
Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab – 4 stars
Tribeca All Access
Tribeca/Sloan Film Program
Variety “Pitch Me” Competition
The Walt Disney Studios and ABC Entertainment Writing Fellowship Program – 4 stars
Warner Bros. Comedy Writers Workshop
Warner Bros. Drama Writers Workshop – 4 stars
Washington State Screenplay Competition

The list was always evolving. For example, at one time the Breckenridge Festival of Film was included, but it fell off the list soon after I won the Children/Family category. While the festival generously put us winning scribes up for the duration of the four-day festival and hosted a panel discussion, even if it was at the unsaintly hour of 9 a.m. (who watches films and parties all night, then gets up to listen to a panel of screenwriters the next morning? An arts high school class of aspiring filmmakers, bless their hearts!)…and they gave us each a nifty framed certificate announcing our achievement, plus an all access festival pass. But what we really needed--and did not receive--was industry promotion.

Fortunately for me, about the same time I became a First Prize winner of the Rhode Island International Film Festival, which launched my career. An listing was among the prizes. That listing led to my first Hollywood meetings, which led to my first option, that gained me my first agent, and resulted in one hell of a ride that fizzled when the money men pulled out, collapsing the small studio and dashing the dreams of the producers and the five writers they had signed.

But my script is now optioned with another studio where it sits in queue awaiting…you guessed it: production funds.

Becoming a second round finisher in Austin’s Heart of Film Screenplay Competition helped score me my adjunct position at UNH where the documentary/production professor, with his master’s from U Austin, recognized the kind of kudos that making it that far in the competition meant.

Anyone who has evidence of another competition that made a later NY Screenwriter listing, please feel free to post in remarks or e-mail it over to me. And anyone representing a competition who wants to get their appropriate star rating listed, please e-mail me evidence of the NY Screenwriter stars granted, and I will be happy to update the list.

Others, please feel free to add regional, smaller, or any other competitions that you have had success with over the years in the comments.

As for short script competitions, I can attest to the Bulldog Productions competition at Yale and the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s ScriptBiz Screenwriters’ Seminar Short Script Competition (which I happened to be somewhat involved with as its director; now my grad school schedule demands that I take on the less demanding role as consultant).

Good luck and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

This just in,
And kind of interesting:


Plainfield, VT…June 29, 2006...In 1963 at Goddard College, Evalyn Bates put her ideas and scholarship together and created the Adult Degree Program, the first program of its kind in the nation. Today, one can find similar programs offered at colleges throughout the world.

“The creation of the low residency model has had an enormous impact in higher education,” said Mark Schulman, president of Goddard, “Evalyn deserves credit for having pioneered this model, which is the only way most adults can return to college and experience the richness of a conference-like residency. The Board of Trustees and the entire college community would like to recognize her for her work and thank her on behalf of the thousands of adults who realized their dream of a college education because of her vision.”

In 1943, Evalyn became the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goddard College and she went on to the University of Chicago to complete a Master of Arts degree in 1957. She worked at Goddard for thirty-two years with President Tim Pitkin, as special assistant and director of adult education & community services. She continued to work with other colleges on special programs and traveled widely to promote adult education, including a year in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar.

Goddard College is a leader in low-residency education. Students from all over the United States come to the Goddard campus in Plainfield, Vermont to attend eight-day residencies and create plans for individualized learning experiences. When students return home, they remain in contact with their respective faculty advisor and work independently to complete a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree. More information can be found at [ ] or 1-800-906-8312.

I'm glad I chose Goddard. That's not just free publicity. I really am happy I'm studying there--with some of the best faculty in the country, and with an eclectic, uniquely gifted and talented student body. If you're considering this style program, I recommend you check out what Goddard has to offer.
{Photos of flowers from Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site taken by me and my hubby on our recent Independence Day visit.}

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Many Happy Returns

Another week-plus of a sweet, crazy, action-packed, information-filled Goddard residency is behind me. I returned inspired. Wrote new scene cards this morning to Act I as I revise my detailed scene by scene outline in preparation to begin writing the script soon. Monday at the latest, I hope.

Also inspired to weave words in any way possible. Below is the result of what I thought would be a simple search. An indulgence perhaps, but no greater than that of my local news provider.

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

(Photos of flowers in our yard by my hubby Jan.)

"Serious News"

I scan the website of my local news station
Looking for lists of firework shows by town.
After trying several categories
I stumble upon Entertainment
Where headlining the list of today’s news
Is the story proclaiming
“Hilary Duff Says She’s Still a Virgin.”

Is this news?
If so, have any reporters contacted her gynecologist?
Not that he or she can legally report on a client,
But for the right kind of dough
Perhaps the truth can be bought
From a records room clerk.

Glancing down the list
I learn Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson’s divorce has been finalized.
What a relief.

Further down I learn the box office takes
For Superman;
Someone’s getting rich.
It’s not me.

Did you know that Paul, Ringo AND Yoko
Attended the debut of the Beatles Cirque du Soleil Show?

In newscasts invariably replete with violence,
Blood letting, and torture,
It’s good to know
News like this,
Important to the American sub consciousness, I’m sure,
Is being reported.

I scan the rest of the list
Still hoping to find the schedule of local pyrotechnic extravaganzas
And learn that Movie Critic Roger Ebert is in serious condition.
I suppose it’s the screenwriter in me
But I find myself compelled
To click the link at once.

I hope it’s nothing too serious.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Goddard Sweet Goddard

Am heading back to Plainfield, Vermont next week for my second residency. Seems like just yesterday and yet a lifetime ago that I first stepped onto campus as a grad student. Looking forward to returning and reconnecting with old friends and to making new ones.

Over the past few weeks I have been compiling my teaching practicum folder and writing and rewriting my twenty page paper on my experience in the advanced feature scriptwriting classroom. I bought a half-inch binder to hold it all, and had to switch to a one inch binder. Amazing how much accumulates over the course of a semester, even though I only used excerpted materials.

Today I am finishing packing so that I can fly my kids out to California tomorrow to stay with my family while I'm at residency. I usually stay the two weeks with them, and had hoped to this year, too. I was asked to do a screenwriting workshop in LA, but will have to defer till my next trip. Hopefully that will come in July or August since I may be writing for a new drama TV series that one of the major studios picked up. Fingers crossed, but I'm not going to get too excited until contracts are offered...and signed.

Currently I'm backing up all my files to my brand new LaCie hard drive. I know I should have purchased the unit much sooner than now, but at least this trip I can travel without worrying over my laptop crashing. Though I imagine that would still be a pain. I won't ruminate on that....

Was up early writing my outline for my thriller. Am trying to keep it both real and yet taut at the same time. A big reveal is coming up in only a few scenes, and I can't wait to arrive in Act III for the even larger revelation. A cathartic exercise, this writing gig is.

Am two-thirds the way through my to-do list, and I am expecting a gaggle of giggling teen girls any moment: a half day to celebrate their final day of the school year. Oh, happy summer!

Thanks for stopping by. Hope I'll see some of you next week in Vermont. Cheers!

Friday, June 02, 2006

At least it's good writing weather...

...and it hasn't closed any roads in our town yet again. (Emphasis on "yet.")

So I am in transition once more. Between semesters, though I never really know how to answer the question: "Are you done with your semester?" The answer is yes...and no.

I am currently writing my 15 to 20 page paper on my teaching practicum, which is due when I attend residency at the end of the month. Along with that I will also include a number of samples including lesson plans, syllabus, proof that I actually taught Advanced Feature Length Scriptwriting this semester, a letter from an observer--a fly on the wall who was not only kind enough to visit my class for an hour early in the semester, but to also compliment my teaching abilities, oh, and there are the numerous samples of student work to include (wouldn't you students from my class like to know whose work I am featuring!).

And I am also supposedly rewriting my outline for my feature spec script. Those of you who know me well know that I do not believe in Writer's Block, and actually I haven't been suffering from that. More like Writer's Exhaustion. And yet the more days I go without writing creatively the more like the weather I become...dark and overcast. (My family physician says I am melodramatic; perhaps he has a point...but hey, I'm a writer!)

But those of you who also know the personal chaos that has been going on in my life know that I have been struggling to keep it all together. One chapter just ended this past Wednesday. The book won't conclude until the end of the year, but at least we successfully scaled the latest hurdle. (Those of you who are confused by my code speak...I'm not actually doing it to confuse or annoy you, it's just to protect all the parties involved.)

Anyway, that has led to a rejuvenation in my writing, which yesterday led me to complete all my notes for my paper and today helped me pen ten pages. Yahoo! Plus, I am excited to feel rejuvenated and ready to dive back into my creative work tomorrow morning. Onward and upward.

I still have a few other projects: a new client sent me a script that I will dive into this weekend; my nonfiction book proposal is almost complete and I will first send it to my summer intern for editing and then to my agent for submission; I am still in the running to be a writer for a new TV series that looks like it may be greenlit soon; my intern and I are copy editing the 13-episodes of the TV pilot that we wrote together as a class about a year ago and getting ready to pitch it to...well, that will be revealed if they pick it up; and, well, there are a few other hundred things I'm working on because that's just what I do, I guess. I've always done that--worked like crazy--only now it seems like I feel a stronger urgency. I hope that's not my age showing through, but I have a strong feeling that's what's driving me lately. Ah well, we can't all be 23 forever now can we? (Can we?!)

Okay, the pasta buzzer just sounded, meaning my mom dinner duties are kicking into high gear. I'll be back. Probably "reporting" from my next grad school residency.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay dry. Well, on the outside anyway.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

And that has made all the difference.

The wash-out is located a mile from our house, on the road that leads to ours. Quite something, huh?

As for us--we awoke to lake front property, complete with a pair of mallards. Very nice. Made for good, but simple, kayaking and canoeing.

My basement office: dry. Just as I like my work space and martinis.

The kiddos are back in school after enjoying a Monday "flood day." And Jan is back to work as of Noon Wednesday, when they finally permitted the anxious business tenants back into the old mill building that seemingly straddles the mighty Merrimack River in Manchester.

Crazy times, these are. Hmm, makes me want to thank some folks, now that I think of it.

[Clears her throat] I'd like to thank the oil companies, the politicians who have eschewed the numerous studies, including many thousands of years of evidence retrieved from the Vostok ice cores. I'd also like to thank the current administration for forging ahead as if their kids and grandkids are of no importance. And I'd like to personally thank our president for banishing the phrase "global warming" from EPA reports (or is that one just an ugly, nasty rumor?) and for gathering up and destroying as many (but not all, you dictator!) of the North American environmental reports that President Clinton supported. A modern day book burning of sorts. There's no place like Kyoto, there's no place like Kyoto, there's no place like....

But I digress. This was to be a happy blog. Sorry.

(For more information on what we CAN do to help correct the current shift in the global climate, take the kiddos to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, New Hampshire to see BREATHING SPACE.)

Think sunny and dry thoughts!


(Above photo from Henniker's town website; surf on over to view more flood water damage:

Friday, April 28, 2006

Happy End of the Semester!

No trumpets blaring, no big party, not even a high five...just one last trip to the post office to mail off my fifth and last packet of my first graduate semester at Goddard. Grin. [DRAGON picture above by my daughter, Abby, BTW]

And soon to sleep. I was up till midnight last night, writing only till about ten or so, but adrenaline kept me going far beyond my normal bedtime. This morning I was up by five and at only a few minutes after eleven I was at the post office and mailing off my forty pages.

Okay, so I'll confess that after cleaning the main living area in the house (you can't even imagine how dirty this place gets while I'm working, studying, writing, and taking care of my kids!) I did play hooky for the afternoon with my hubby. We drove to a nursery and day dreamed. It's too early to plant yet, so instead we spent about a half hour shooting the shit with the farmer who owns the small farm in Antrim. And then we drove a bit, walked the dog along the river, grilled out, and are now listening to the losing Sox. Oh well. Can't have everything perfect, can we?

So what was in my last packet? Three annotations, a process letter, and thirty pages of my latest outline.

The annotations:

1) Three pages on Cars as a Vehicle for Plot Movement in the novel "Mothers and Daughters" by Carolyn See.

2) Two pages on Taking a Break as an Answer to All Problems in the Film PRIMAL FEAR directed by Gregory Hoblit.

3) Two pages on Fences as the Visual Reminder of the Tenuous Barrier Between What's Remembered and Forgotten in the Film THE FORGOTTEN directed by Joseph Ruben.

The Process Letter was three pages long, and mostly addressed my changes to my outline, as well as the major beats.

The outline is my FOURTH this semester. I have written three forty-plus outlines and thrown every single one of them out. I even wrote 59 pages of script, confident my third outline was finally on track. Tossed those pages, too.

What began as a drama/fantasy has turned into a thriller. My new Protagonist, still "Cat Woods" in my outline, bears a few similarities to my original Cat Woods, but she lost eleven years in age, and gained a deep, dark, haunting, tragic secret that she MUST overcome to begin living her own life. Of course the Antagonist has completely changed, is a brand spanking new character who has EVERYTHING to lose if his secret is discovered. And there are two brand new Pivotal Characters that have not appeared in any of the first three outlines.

It was fun to write. And I can't wait to dive into the script. It was also extremely taxing. So I'm looking forward to reading the comments from my advisor.

I have to say that I have never worked so hard, nor grown so much as a writer. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity, and will be forever grateful to my advisor for pushing me harder than anyone's ever done before. I have had to dig deeper than I knew I could. And what I found astounded me, and impressed my advisor in my last packet.

What's next? I have a week to complete an end of the semester review. I still have two weeks left in my teaching residency (and my adjunct teaching job) at UNH-Manchester where I am teaching Feature Scriptwriting as part of my Goddard teaching requirement (and introductory short scriptwriting because I teach it almost every semester there). I'll have to write up my notes from that, and have an intern for the summer who will edit my portfolio before I turn it in.

I also have a couple major writing deals heating up. Looks like one will be greenlit in the next few weeks. Dream come true kind of stuff. But I'm signed to a confidentiality agreement, so I'll have to wait till the Producers choose to disclose news of the project.

And since my intern is an established editor (at a local newspaper group) I will rely upon her to help me edit my book proposal--which goes by the name of my blog. It's long overdue, and almost complete. I had one editor interested, though it looks like her company may not be publishing another scriptwriting book for a while. So I'll seek the advice of my agent before I send it out.

I will use my Advisor's notes and the notes from students seeking extra credit and from one of my grad school friends as I start penning the screenplay to my thriller outline that I just completed. That will be a fun project, even though I made myself jump out of my skin as I wrote Act III. I have to move upstairs - the basement office is no place to pen a thriller. Or maybe it's the perfect place....

And of course I'll still be taking care of my kiddos. The three of us jet off to California at the end of June. I'm dropping them off with my family and two days later flying back to New England so I can drive up to Vermont to attend the next Goddard Residency.

Well, that's waaaaaayyyyyy too many details. But, hey, you're the one who's still reading. And a couple people have actually let me know that they WANT to know some of this stuff. (You know who you are: will I see you in Plainfield in June? I hope so! It's fun. You'll love it.)

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


No catchy wording or phrasing. Just a quick note to replace the extremely outdated Irish holiday greeting.

And to point you to the Rhode Island Film Festival Website for updates on this year's plans and competitions (see the link in the sidebar: RIIFF/ScriptBiz). In particular - check out all things ScriptBiz. That's my former "baby." While I'm on hiatus from it as I take two years out of my life to attend graduate school (and still teach at UNH and raise my kiddos) the show is still going on. It's very gratifying to see one's hard work continuing on. Hopefully a couple summers from now I can step back in and lend a hand....

For now, I need sleep.

'Night. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ahh, sweet Patty's Day to ya, Love

(Above photo: Kylemore Abbey/Lake Connemara, Co. Galway, from the Ireland website,

I always feel like a fraud celebrating this holiday. I'm Italian. My hubby's part Irish, complete with the saintly middle name, so at least I feel a little less fraud-like. And let's face it, there's something fun about green beer. Well, if you can get past all that green. Maybe I'll just open a Guinness instead.

Oh--here's a Guinness aside for the masses: My father (God rest him) once toured the Guinness Plant when he was in Ireland on business. At the end of the tour he received his two complimentary pints. And oh, sweet sorrow...he didn't like the taste. "Too bitter," he proclaimed. His buddies were thrilled. I still mourn the thought. Obviously. He did bring me back a cool t-shirt, which I've had to hide recently since with teens in the house we can't be glorifying alcoholic beverages. Secretly salute them perhaps, but not openly praise them. Except in blogger world, of course.

Well, for those of you following my Goddard progress, today I posted Packet Three. Hallelujah! No trumpets sounded, no masses applauded, but I felt good walking in the 30+ degrees to the post office (my van's in the shop: brake job...ugh). Felt even better walking back. Like that proverbial weight had been lifted.

Packet Three officially represents "Hump Packet." Three down, two to go. I shouldn't be thinking of it that way, understand. After all, writing is a daily exercise, not a thing we do simply to complete an assignment.

Or is it?

I mean, I write everyday normally. Have since I was a young lass not growing up in Ireland. More like outside Cleveland. Then Oklahoma for a spell. Next spent three winters in one year in the Buffalo area. And landed in western Massachusetts. Since then, my adult journeys have seen me through Connecticut, Vermont, Virginia, and now New Hampshire.

Back on track:

When I write, I usually have some sort of goal in mind. Whether I'm writing purely for spec or for hire, I know where I will submit my pages once they're ready. So isn't that writing to complete an assignment, even if it is self-assigned?

I know...who cares?

So in this packet, for those of you still struggling to find a point to this post, I included:

--18 pages of script (yes--finally script pages!)
--11 pages of outline (I tossed my first outline completely and rewrote it, tossed that and rewrote it, and am reworking the third version now...oy!)
--one Annotation: three pages looking at surprise as a tool of the screenwriter in William Goldman's MARATHON MAN
--one five page paper. Okay this is where I confess that my advisor told me to toss my first five page paper and start from scratch. Also to do more research. The original paper covered some weak premise regarding the Female Version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" (see an earlier post; or preferably, please don't!). In this paper I compared that to the original version and discussed how the Feminist's Movement provided a more powerful setting for the original version--in which Simon packed some serious commentary on the times into his plethora of laughs. Consider that the original play opened in New York in the mid 60's, when the Feminist Movement was extremely active. The Female Version opened nearly twenty years later, after Roe V. Wade and more had already been settled. A little less powerful the message is all I'm saying. Anyway, I hope I proved it in five pages better than I've settled the matter here.
--And a three-page Process Letter to my advisor, in which I asked questions and answered his from my last packet.

So, that's where I'm at today. This weekend I'll write my next annotation on THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. And I'll continue to revise my outline and pick up on my script pages.

Plus I have a client's script to finish critiquing. And about ten more second draft short scripts to read and critique, written by my Intro Screenwriting students at UNH-Manchester.

Oh, and there's a party to plan, too. On Tuesday the Intro students will be pitching their ideas in a "PitchFiesta Mocktail" event at the university. It's designed to let the students practice pitching as they might at a film festival cocktail party. It's my fifth time throwing the party. Word's getting out. Our RSVPs are on the rise.

Well, off to tend to business. Thanks for stopping in. Leave a note if you feel like it: let me know what you did on this great green day.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ahh, sweet memories from last year's New Hampshire Writers' Day Conference.

For information on this year's event, scheduled for Saturday, March 25, 2006, surf over to the New Hampshire Writers' Project website:

Maybe I'll see you there....

Had to add the Cold Cuts flyer--on Monday, February 27, at 7 pm, at 229 W. 49th Street, NYC, the staged reading will feature pages from "Keep Your Distance" by playwright Lawrence Goodman, a fellow Goddard-ite and new friend. For more information, surf over to
Giggling God

I had to laugh myself when I read how "easy" packet number one came off (blog entry below). Best laid plans....

Not this one. Not because the content is any more difficult, it's simply that this is a rigorous program. Twenty-six hours a week, minimum, is what we've committed to our Goddard full-time, low-residency studies. Unfortunately, squeezing that kind of time into my schedule in the midst of a family crisis that erupted this past week has become a nearly unbearable, unachievable goal.

Yet, it is with the strength, encouragement, and support of my fellow Goddard-ites that I soldier on (thanks guys--I couldn't survive this without you!).

That much I had to share, lest anyone think this program is a cake walk. It's designed to challenge and to stimulate. It's doing both those things and more - helping me to reach the next level in my writing and critical reading abilities. I just have to accept that at times it may be more difficult than at others.

Family comes first. After that Goddard and my own students at UNH. If there's anything left, perhaps I'll take a jog. Or a nap.

Perhaps best laid plans would be best laid to rest. :)

Thanks for stopping in.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Grad School, Take Two

So, packet number one's off. I'm officially on my way to completing the first semester requirements. It wasn't that difficult, really. The hardest part is that I have found that I miss the camaraderie of the residency. But some of that has continued. A couple people and I have stayed in constant communication via e-mail as we write and procrastinate from writing.

What is a packet you non-Goddard-ites may wonder....

Basically our semester is broken into six segments. Segment one is the Residency Requirement. Nine days on campus. Great food (kudos to the chef and his staff!), excellent workshops (the professors are top notch!), and fun times with fellow classmates (let's not reveal just how much fun we had...yet!).

The next five parts are broken down by the five packets we mail off to our advisor every three weeks. Up to forty pages is sent off for critique, analysis, grading, and review. My first packet consisted of the following:

- A five-page Process Letter in which I spent the first four pages talking about the process I went through in studying and writing over the course of my first three weeks at home. I also brought up questions that I have about where I am going in my creative work; things I am seeking specific feed-back on from my advisor. The last page I used as a simple table of contents. I'm guessing it was unnecessary, but it made me feel better to include it. I'm anal about these things; what can I say?

- Two two-page Annotations. These are short critical papers analyzing a detailed item that I picked up on close-read of a novel and of a poem.

- One five-page critical paper. I was pretty critical of the lack of depth Neil Simon used in his female version of "The Odd Couple" play. Sorry, Mr. Simon. No disrespect meant. I simply needed a thesis, and I decided to explore the use of humor not as a method for dealing with the underlying pain, but of skirting the real issues. I think I proved my point. Perhaps someone else may have chosen to prove the opposite.

- One one-page plot line sketch that I used as a teaching tool in my Advanced Screenwriting Class that I am teaching at the University of New Hampshire as part of my teaching requirement.

- And twenty-five pages of Creative Work. Most of those pages are character breakdowns for my protagonist, antagonist, pivotal character, and for two minor pivotal characters in my new feature-length screenplay that I am writing for the program.

While it's off, I have begun working on Packet # 2 requirements. I began my scene cards for my screenplay today. I will type those up into outline fashion (script outline, not academic outline) for submission. I have also started an annotation on the movie "Gypsy" (the original movie from 1962 with Natalie Wood and Karl Malden, not the Bette Midler TV re-make). And, of course, I am still teaching.

And while I am blogging it may have occurred to folks that I am procrastinating from my other duties. In particular, I have about forty more pages of grading ahead of me--as my Advanced Screenwriting students begin their feature length scripts with me in another week or so....

Thanks for stopping in. And, hey, if you think of one, please leave a joke for me. I hardly come up for air these days, and when I do, I find I most need a good laugh. And no, it does not have to mask underlying pain; but if it does, let's simply skirt the issue rather than deal with it.


I just had to add this one little tid bit: I recently found Metallica's "Garage Inc." and am soooo excited to be loading the songs on my laptop now. I have been looking for this album forever. One of these days I'm going to have to dig out that free iPod that came with my iBook and load this stuff onto it. I wish I understood technology better. Okay, that's enough procrastination for one day....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

So this is Grad School...

Well, I'm here. Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. (I would put the handy dandy instant click to the website thing in, but my apple doesn't seem to like blogger dot com, and that option doesn't exist for me unless I return to PC world; guess you'll just have to Google it if you're curious. I know - and yet I can get a photo in...just weird.)

I arrived yesterday afternoon after driving two hours north on I-89, avoiding rocks and slow semis in my rented car. Moved furniture around my room, hung mini white post-holiday lights, reported my phone as dead, only to learn I'd plugged it into the wrong outlet. Met some great people at dinner and a reception last night, but that hasn't made me any less tense.... Anticipation. It's a killer.

Was up and ready to start my day at 4:30. Still almost an hour to go before breakfast. Not that I'm hungry. But waiting this long for my first cup of coffee may kill me by the end of the week.

An actor friend suggested I post blogs about my grad school here is installment one. I trust installments two through whatever will be more grounded in substance and education.

Thanks for stopping by.