Monday, October 17, 2011

My Literary Marathon--Screenplay is Kerplunk!

“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.”—Mark Twain

Two major events happened this past week. First, Alison and I—Guam Books and Beads, made our second appearance at the Jacob’s Center/Market Creek Plaza’s 6th Annual ARTS and CULTURE FEST. The second is something I didn’t quite advertise on Facebook.

I became obsessed with screenwriting and devoured books, blogs and websites on the subject. After five weeks of extreme focus, as much as a mother of two young ones can muster, I completed a 99-page screenplay. I explained the storyline to three people; I didn’t have it viewed by someone else due to time, so I spent hours editing, rewriting and obsessing. I was racing towards a writing competition, the Bluecat Screenplay Contest. The deadline was the day of the Festival-October 15th; so, for ease of mind, I submitted everything the day before. After tweaking the scenes and dialogue, I registered my “product” with the Writer’s Guild of America-West and submitted it electronically with the Copyright office. Major for me. Within minutes, I took the last step and uploaded my work to Bluecat. The major push to do so was to see if I had any iota of talent in this arena. People go to school for this, study for years—so, here I am faking it until I make it.

Screenwriting is an art form and the format is delicious and challenging. I have so much more to learn, but with my submittal, two experts will analyze my work and in three weeks or so, I will receive their assessment. I’ve grown a thick skin and an open-mind in regards to criticism of my writing, so I’m ready. Once I receive the critiques, I’ll have three days to resubmit for the contest—finalists announced in February 2012 and the sole winner in March.

So, now that my work is protected and my “baby” is out there independent, I will share.
The title: The Daddy Blog.
The gist: The story centers around Verona Gilroy, a talented writer, who comes from a tumultuous family past. After both parents die within five years of each other, Verona clings to her older brother, Jack who becomes in all senses of the word her guardian. Jack finds himself a single, young father with squashed dreams, when his girlfriend wants nothing to do with him or motherhood. This drama becomes the focus of Verona’s first blog, except Jack doesn’t realize that he and his daughter’s lives are in cyberspace until a tragedy brings this to light. In a time when blogs or zines were a new amalgamation of the internet, Verona realizes that with the power of technology and the magic of her written word she could forge change. In addition, the return of Garrett Sabre (her first kiss) into Verona’s life forces her to analyze her mediocre existence and metamorphose into something greater, into the woman she was meant to be.

So, there. There’s a layer of late night television mixed in and a sprinkling of my love for the music of Eddi Reader and the badassness of Bruce Lee, but that’s the screenplay.

I’m already knee deep with another screenplay that I’m adapting from 13 chapters of a book I started writing. I’ve had to force myself to stop thinking of my characters, or the crazed cycle begins again. So, I channeled my energy into rearranging my children’s room—cleaning, sorting, dusting. I really think they have a thousand toys. “Only Ben 10 toys in this box, do you understand?!”
So, as my son does math homework and my daughter runs around the house like a wild child, dancing to Maroon 5, I find myself blogging. I hope for the best, but expect a dose of reality regarding my first screenplay. Maybe one day my work will be optioned and eventually produced into a movie, and then you’ll see my name in the opening credits. A Chamorro girl can dream. And! Thank you to another Chamorro girl for digging into my screenplay and offering feedback....I heart you, Alison!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Now that the dust has settled...PIFA 2011

"Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your ROOTS."--Victor Hugo

I must say that my first time as a vendor at PIFA (Pacific Islander Festival Association) was rewarding. Now that the dust has settled, I reflect on last weekend and smile. As an author, pushing my two books and selling my words, it was financially the best event I have participated in. I was the “Featured Author” (along with Alison) of Guam Batik Gallery, with well-known artist from Guam, Judy Flores. It was an honor to be with her, Sandy and their family as well as Islander Registry’s John and Tina Cruz and family. It felt more like hanging out than work. Having my wonderful husband available and not on duty that weekend was a plus as he caught up with quality time with our children.

The business contacts and rewards were great, but the best part of the weekend was meeting cousins, old friends from high school and most important my former John F. Kennedy High School students. Not to mention my bold approach to movie star, Gilles Marini (Sex in the City-the movie, Dancing with the Stars and Brothers and Sisters).

He was gracious, looked at our booth, took a photo with me and made the Hollywood promise of returning to get books for his daughter, “who loves to read.” Note: I didn’t hold my breath that he would return—cough, cough.

I loved remembering names of high school Geckos from GWHS whom I hadn’t seen for almost 19 years. I was rusty with one other, but he remembered my name and forgave me, I hope. My former students who visited (all A students, interestingly) were awesome; some taking photos with me making me feel honored and silly, and others just happy to chat about updates. So, to Nathan, Christian, Ruby, Anita, Ailene, Chassidy, Sophia, Catherine, Lardner—Go Islanders! And to Penny, Richard and Jerry—Go Geckos!

I loved people watching. The Chamorro Chieftains with their gigantic biceps, tatted and ready to defend, whatever they needed to defend, nice! The dudus (show-off/confident) Chamorro ladies strutting their stuff, beautiful flowers behind their ears, lovely! Yes, I’m generalizing, but it was home for me. I’ve got that dudus girl tendency too, but being half-Korean, I’m my own worse critic…so when I strut, half of me says “HAJIMA!” settle down. Don't get me started on the Caucasian dude who asked me to verify what his Chamorro girlfriend already schooled him on...he asked, "What's be'be' juice?" In the booth full of Chamorro women, we warned him that he was being inappropriate as he repeatedly said it, trying to get the pronounciation just right....Anyway, I digress.

As an author, I’ve gotten used to critics of my work. Those who judge without really looking at my books.

“Is this in Chamorro?” No, but there are a few phrases and words.

“Is this book (Attitude 13) all the legends of Guam?” No, there are 13 short stories, fiction with Chamorro characters, but great idea!

“Are the Sirenas reuniting?” No, I was not in the singing group, The Sirenas.

“Did you know that Chamorros are just Filipinos who sailed to Guam.” Wow, really? I didn’t know that! (imagine my sarcastic tone here).

“Did you know Sirena is my ancestor?” Cool! (in my mind: “Then please buy my book.”)

Griping a bit? Why, yes. Yes, I am. But, I put on a brave face, smile at critics especially if upon seeing my not traditionally islander face, that I am a Chamorro writer, one who is proud and believes in her books. I love the people who take the time to pick up my book, flip through the pages, ask me questions. Even if they don’t purchase, they’ve taken the time to know what my purpose is. So, with that said, I’m looking forward to another festival in San Diego this month. I will smile, be gracious and promote literature.

One woman, who was not Chamorro but lived on Guam for many years and loved the island, read our Guam Books and Beads motto: “For Chamorros on the Islands, Chamorros Around the World and Chamorros at Heart!” She thanked me for including her with the last phrase and for creating the books. And to her and all the wonderful visitors last weekend, Si Yu’os Ma’ase!

Esta Later!

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. ...