Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tanya University, I am a River Phoenix….

Well, not really, but you can find just about anything on-line. I am self-teaching on the subject of SCREENWRITING. I have grand dreams of writing a novel that will be adapted to a screenplay to be made into a movie.

So, my thinking, and with my impatience….why not just write a screenplay? The format and rules can be found on-line and I’ve ordered recommended books too. The entire screenplay for Thelma and Louise is in the mail; I purchased it on Amazon for 14 cents. Yes, 14 pennies.

So, I’m going to study and try paving my storylines on a screenplay template. I’ve downloaded and read memorable scenes from my favorite flicks. For example, My Best Friend’s Wedding, my favorite scene is when hunky Dermot Mulroney is singing to Julia on the ferry, he takes her in his arms and sings The Way You Look Tonight. So, I’ve read the scene in screenwriting format, then Youtubed the scene and watched it applied….since my revelation, I’ve been watching every movie with new eyes.

In novel writing, I have to be wordy, paint a clear picture, choose my words carefully. In screenwriting, it’s blunt, still making lovely pictures, but with less constraint.

Now, I am well-aware that film students spend years learning the trade, paying big money for courses. I don’t have that luxury, so I’ll make due and try my best.

<---"Domestic Goddess",influenced by multi-armed Indian goddess Kali and the madcap, mid-century artwork of Jim Flora and Joan Miro

I have my eyes on some competitions and the steps needed to garnering attention. But, step one, write the darn thing. So, with that said, I’m off to create a world, made of scenes from my cluttered brain.

INT. Tanya’s Kitchen-Day


TANYA, 30s, mother of 2, domestic goddess, smiles as she types away on her laptop, her children are O.S. giggling. Tanya gulps the last of her coffee, cracks her knuckles, and . . .

Wish me luck!


Esta Later!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short Stories vs. Novels

When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”
Creighton Abrams

For me, writing short stories is very fulfilling. But as a mom of two little duendes and a wife of a wonderful taotaomona, I have small slices of time and focus for writing at any given time—typically late at night when the house is quiet. I can visualize a storyline, start to finish easy, but slapping down creative words to help the story flow is difficult.

So, since self-publishing my first collection of 13 short stories* and having two others in Storyboard 11, I am now focused on my romantic comedy novel. I have a trustworthy team of Beta Readers (explained in my previous blog entry). The manuscript is in its second incarnation. I wrote the first draft in about four weeks, three hours a night like a mad-woman. And, like many novice writers, I thought it was print ready. After several initial readers and a very expensive writer’s conference at SDSU, and a handful of rejection letters from agents (yes, I went that far); I learned otherwise. I met a great agent, NT, who liked my “hook”. She said, Guam/Chamorros had never been a focal point of a novel, so I was excited to get to redrafting. That was January of 2010. I am recommitted to submitting three chapters to agent NT before the end of the year, but only if the manuscript is ready.

Short stories are nice, neat packages that hold a lot of meaning, metaphor, emotion. It’s like telling a short knock, knock joke. Poetry is great one-liners. Some say that poetry is much harder to craft than short stories or novels and I believe it. I’m wordy. I’ve tried my hand at poetry and it’s tough. Spurts of success, so I’ll stick to reading great poetry.

So, moving to a novel with about 250 pages or 80,000 words, I feel like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice character, David (Jay Baruchel is sexy to me by the way) trying to wield my powers to shape sentences, choose the right words and drive my story forward. At times, I send a blast of power that amazes me (this is very seldom) and other times I spurt small fart-like bursts of power that probably won’t see the light of day (this is very often).

My toddler daughter is beyond daily naps, so there goes a one hour window to write; she won’t be in preschool either until fall of next year. My son doesn’t start school for three weeks, so his full attention is on me, mostly telling me how bored he is if he isn’t playing a video game. I can’t leave my kids in front of the television just so I can write, and I don’t send them off to childcare to be alone, so this is my dilemma. A mild one, yes, so my manuscript is in a long gestational period. Still growing, still thriving, just longer than usual, much like a baby elephant, no?

Well, I’m hiding in the kitchen while my children play so I can write, something, anything aside from fun Facebook posts. Blogging keeps me sane, helps me vent. So, with this written, I know I’ll be reviewing several pages of my manuscript today. Wish me focus!

*Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories (Authorhouse, 2010)

Monday, August 1, 2011

July, Full of Life

The busy-ness of my weekends in July made this a memorable summer thus far. Comic Con lived up to my expectations. I was exhausted after each day. I did fulfill the goal of seeing Robert Pattinson in person for the Twilight: Breaking Dawn panel, to include the other major players such as Kristen Stewart & Taylor Lautner. I switched to survival mode, limiting sleep, water and food to endure the seven hour wait in line. Crazy? Yes. Rewarding? Definitely. Has my life magically changed since “seeing” Robert P. from 500 feet away? Not really.

Saturday was great as well at Comic Con, sitting in the Activision panel, listening to Stan Lee, Val Kilmer. Seeing Korean beauty, Jamie Chung and the dude who played Rex Racer in Speedracer wasn’t so terrible either. I got a strong craving to watch Sucker Punch after seeing Jamie C., fulfilled yesterday.

Random celebrity sightings on the exhibition floor was cool too(i.e., the back of Ginnifer Goodwin, "Something Borrowed").

My son got to meet two of the creators of Ben 10. I think I was more excited than he. My cousins stumbled upon and met and chatted with Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. My daughter wasn’t as afraid of the villains in costume or giant robots. And my hubby got to sit in the Castle panel and laugh at Nathan Fillion.

Two days ago, I was fortunate enough to attend L.A. Rising at the Los Angeles Coliseum. We missed the first two acts (on purpose), but planned our arrival to hear Lauryn Hill (who I found out just had her sixth child last week), Muse (my second concert in a year—I’ve met my quota), and Rage Against the Machine (these 40-somethings still have the fire). Watching Tom Morello work his magic on the guitar was, well, magical! I thought all the screechy DJ like scratch sounds I used to rock to were from a DJ, but realized as I watched the big screens focused on Morello’s hands that he was the Mastermind of all strange and wonderful sounds. To be a part of what I'm guessing to be 80, 000 plus fans (including Val Kilmer)….was AWESOME.

<=Matt Bellamy of MUSE is the Taki! (♥ his voice).
July was hyped up and played out great. I’m looking forward to a nice, warm August with my family as we gear up for more Navy living and school days. It feels great to be exhausted at the end of the day. Exhaustion from exhilaration is never a bad thing.

So, August, focusing on my novels, well one and a half, really. One completed draft is in the hands of two able and willing BETA READERS*, and I'm raking over my hardcopy before handing it over to a wonderful Navy wife who has agreed to check it out. I needed another BETA READER* who was not Chamorro or not familiar with Guam to read with fresh eyes. Goal: Get this novel to the lone agent who agreed to read my first 3 chapters almost 2 years ago…hope she hasn’t forgotten me. If she has…I will do my best to refresh her memory. I reluctantly call myself a Romance writer, but I guess I am, although my books would fall under Women's Lit, comfortably. I'm no harlequin style writer, more chic lit (which has been called derogatory)...I don't like to share story lines (much like an inventor wouldn't post blue prints of works not completed)...but a phoenix is a common theme and another Beta Reader (my best friend) said the first book was "very Bridget Jones's Diary--but with a Chamorro Chick."

I’m also excited because I’ve given two chapters of my new project (half way written) to Carlene Rae Dater, who was my writing mentor two years ago. She helped light a fire under my butt to right (write) until I was done….So, as if I’ve given my work to a professor for editing and a grade, I nervously await her reaction.

Esta Later!

*BETA READER: A beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described[1] as "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public." The author or writer, who can be referred to as the alpha reader, may use several "betas" prior to publication. (Source: Wikipedia, because we all know what’s written there is FAKT. )

A Story of a Stolen Mermaid--(and the Infringement of an Artist)

Fact: I wrote Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam in 2010. Fact: My brother, Sonny Chargualaf is the talented artist behind the imagery. ...