Monday, August 4, 2008

Great Northern Arts Festival

I recently returned from visiting my dad in Inuvik for the Great Northern Arts Festival. I experienced 24-hour sunlight for the first time... and I've decided that I prefer having a regular sunset. Not that I want to experience 24 hours of darkness, either. I just realized that I need that balance between light and dark (hmm... I think that works as a metaphor for my personality traits, too).

I had a chance to screen "Coda in G Minor" and "Persephone" alongside a couple of short films that my father had created and one that they made during their film workshop last year, and I went to one of the writing workshops offered (more about that in a later post). I also finally saw "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" and thought it was brilliant. Slow at times, but purposely slow. I think it makes the ending that much more powerful. And it ended up giving me the spark of an idea for my next feature length screenplay. (Though I must finish the second draft of the screenplay that I'm currently working on first.)

But the highlight of the festival had to be the visual art. My two favourite artists were Jennifer Walden (no website that I could find) and Gilad (Gadi) Katz. Unfortunately, the piece that I coveted by Jennifer was out of my price range and sold already anyway, but here's a photo:

The piece that was thankfully in my price range was a print by Gadi entitled "Cuts":

Call me crazy, but this print makes me think of my film "Persephone" so I just had to have it. And maybe someday I'll be able to afford one of Jennifer's paintings and hopefully, when that day comes, she'll have another one that leaps off of the wall at me the way this raven in flight did.

Another artist that caught my attention was Nicole Bauberger and her 100 dresses series. I contemplated buying some of her small paintings, but felt that it would be better to have a grouping of three rather than just a single painting for a series like this. But, again, most of the paintings that I was drawn to were already sold. I did ask her if she had thought about publishing a book of her 100 dresses series (of which she's done eight series so far and is scheduled to do two or three more, so that will be over 1000 dress paintings in all!). I hope she actually considers the book idea because I, for one, would love to buy it (or, better yet, work on designing it!). She hasn't posted the Inuvik 100 Dresses on her site yet, but here are a couple of examples of paintings from previous 100 dresses projects:

I also met basket maker Jennifer Bowen who turns out to be a filmmaker as well. I gather the filmmaking was put on hold while her children were young (she's married to filmmaker and musician Dennis Allen), but she seems to be putting a project together for the near future. I'll be very interested to find out what that project will be.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNo Prep - Plot Cards

Originally posted 9.23.2004 on Limes with Orange

I know I said that I would start on the character sheets today but, as often happens, I have been distracted by shiny objects. The shiny object in this case is Holly Lisle's Fast Plotting technique.

As part of my attempt to "plot the plot" I've broken down my book into 30 chapters, partly because that's the number of days in novel writing month (aka November) and partly because that's the approximate number of chapters in the thriller that I just finished reading (Acid Row by Minette Walters... a compelling read, two thumbs up). So I'm planning on writing a chapter a day. I generally aim to write 2000 words a day, rather than the 1667 words that satisfies the "50,000 words / 30 days" equation; I like the luxurious feeling of a few extra words. If I anticipate 2 or 3 scenes per chapter, we're talking about something in the neighborhood of 750 words per scene. (Keep in mind, 50,000 words is far shorter than a finished novel. A NaNoWriMo "novel" is really a "half-draft" or a well padded outline. So I can either approach my breakdown ... plot, not nervous ... as having certain scenes omitted or as containing brief sketches of every scene. I'm opting for the latter. Otherwise, my scenes would average closer to 1500 words each.)

Total number of scenes = 67.


Now, using Holly Lisle's notecarding technique, I am going to write one line descriptions of scenes that I would like to include in the book. To give myself the option of tossing some scenes, I should come up with something like 75 scenes in total. Starting with the obvious "candy bar" scenes (the ones I'm itching to write, like the first spellcasting or the heroine's confrontation with the killer) and going from there. Once I have my 75 notecards, I can start putting them into some kind of order. And voila... I'll have a plot outline! (Gee, I make it sound so easy... now come the endless days of torment while I attempt to make this outline a reality.)

So off I go to buy index cards. And maybe I'll stop by the coffee shop on my way home and do some writing practice. (I can't do it at home because Emma, my youngest cat, tends to chase my pen... not very conducive to the writing effort.)

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo Prep

Originally posted 9.22.2004 on Limes with Orange

I've started giving some thought to my NaNoWriMo goals. The book that I want to write this year is more ambitious than the one I wrote last year, so some preparation might not be amiss. (This year's Hollywood-style pitch is "Mary Higgins Clark meets Charmed"... it's a supernatural thriller with a hint of romance; last year I described "Being Zoe" as "Bridget Jones' Diary for the intelligent woman.") Anyway, I thought I'd start with a list of things I want to do before November 1:

1. Getting to Know You: Write character descriptions for (a) main character (name yet to be determined... thinking she'd be played by Sandra Bullock in the movie), (b) romantic interest (cop... don't know yet who'd play him... maybe Dylan McDermott?), and (c) serial killer (need to determine his MO, among other things... possibly a Billy Bob type character, but not sure yet). Not sure if I'll bother with descriptions for any other supporting characters. I found a character chart that I think I'll try out this time 'round. I won't try to completely fill them out right away, just do the bare bones and add the other stuff as I get to know the characters better. Maybe tomorrow's project?

2. Plot the Plot: I know how the story starts and I know how it ends, with only the sketchiest idea of what happens in-between. Would like more of a plan to get started with it, even if I end up deviating from it once I start writing. There are some good suggestions in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's article on Being a Storyteller. Other sites I'll be using for reference are: Holly Lisle's Forward Motion for Writers and the Tameri Guide for Writers. I may even break down and read a book or two on the subject of plotting, since I feel like it's the weakest aspect of my writing. The Writer's Bookshop has some reasonable suggestions.

3. Keep the Pen Moving: I used to do daily timed writing practices à la Writing Down the Bones, but I've been remiss in the past several months. If I'm going to expect to write 2000 words a day in November, I'd better get used to writing every day again. Not to mention the fact that it will help prime the creativity pump.


4. Supernatural Romantic Thriller: I know that I can't really read fiction during NaNoWriMo because I too easily lose my voice and start writing like whomever I'm reading. But if I read a few books before November in the genre that I plan to be writing, I think it'll put me in the right mindset. Dream Man by Linda Howard looks like it might work and possibly something by Connie Willis, though I think she's more sci-fi than I'm looking for. Anybody have any suggestions?

5. Shopping, Occult Style: Since my story starts with a visit to an occult shop, I thought it was high time that I popped into a real one myself. I found a list of Alberta Pagan Shopping & Services that should give me a good place to start.

6. Susie Homemaker: Don't need to worry about this stuff until closer to November, but I intend to have cupboards full of groceries and clean dishes, a freezer full of nukeable food and a closet full of clean clothes before November 1st rolls around. Because laundry, dishes, groceries and cooking might not will not be happening in November. (Oh yeah, must not forget to stock up on Scotch, too... mmm, liquid inspiration...)

Oops... almost forgot...

7. For Your Listening Pleasure: Must make songlists to suit the moods of various scenes: quiet moments, action, spellcasting, love scenes, etc. (I already know that I'll be listening to Heather Nova's "Sugar" for the first spell cast... that's kinda how this whole ball got rolling. And hey, while we're talking about it, check out this video clip of "Sugar.")

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


For those of you who think the title of this post is gobbledygook, I guess you haven't heard of National Novel Writing Month. Well, it starts on November 1st. Yep, as in the day after tomorrow. I've done it three times. The first time I literally found out about it the day before and I managed to write a full 50,000 word manuscript that I hated and which will never, ever see the light of day. The second time around I prepared thoroughly and also managed to write a full 50,000 word manuscript that I'm quite pleased with and would like to go back and turn into a screenplay someday. The third time around I dithered and couldn't settle on a plot or even a character and I think I was feeling restless with the novel format, already having an urge to write a screenplay but lacking the knowledge and tools. I didn't participate last year because I was just too busy and had thrown myself fully into film at that point. This year, I'm planning on doing it again... in a way.

I'm not writing a 50,000 word manuscript. I'll be completely up front about that. I'm using NaNoWriMo as motivation to complete a second draft of my feature length screenplay. (I really meant to write about my process while I wrote the first draft but I realized that writing about your writing process while you're trying to write is senseless... much like this tongue twister of this sentence.) So I will go back and talk about the first draft later on. During November, I'll try to post wee updates on my progress. I know this project would be more appropriate in National Novel Editing Month which happens in March, but I don't want to wait that long. Why bother with NaNoWriMo when I'm doing something so different? Because the support, the information and the opinions on the forums are so worth it. Resources and motivation, baby!

So here's my plan...


I figure that I have about 45 pages of writing still to do. At approximately 200 words per page for a screenplay, that leaves me with 9,000 words to write. Piece of cake, right? Except that I also have some substantial restructuring to do, so let's set aside 10 hours for that. Then there's some research required for some of the new writing, so let's set aside another 10 hours for that. So instead of striving to reach the 50,000 word mark, I will be striving for 20 hours of work and 9,000 words. Not your conventional approach, but I think I can make it work for me.

I'm also planning on posting some of my old NaNo posts from Limes with Orange, the personal blog I was writing while I participated in previous years. So check back.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

The 3-Day Novel Contest

I've participated in National Novel Writing Month twice and "won" once (i.e. met my 50,000 word count) but I don't know if I would have the nerve to try writing a novel in three days. But for those of you with nerves of steel (and a little time on your hands), you might be interested in this 3-Day Novel Contest over Labour Day weekend.

Grand Prize: Publication (summer 2008)
2nd Prize: $500 cash
3rd Prize: A great literary prize pack

You have to register for the contest by August 31, 2007 so if you're interested, you'd better hurry up and sign up. And be sure to check out their Survival Guide and the Community Forums... I would imagine that both of them are probably essential if you're to maintain some shred of sanity during this event.

For those of you who decide to do this: Good luck! And may whatever gods of writing you worship be with you during this period of temporary insanity.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Script Frenzy

For those of you familiar with NaNoWriMo, the same folks are bringing us Script Frenzy! For those unfortunate souls who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, that refers to National Novel Writing Month which happens every November, bringing writing communities around the world online together as each of them tries to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Phew!

I've participated twice and "won" once. I may not be thrilled with my completed manuscript but I'm thrilled to HAVE a completed manuscript and I certainly learned a lot about myself as a writer in the process. I highly recommend it to anyone who is having trouble committing themselves to a writing project and staying the course to the end. Or anyone who is struggling with finding their voice and their genre. It certainly taught me that I didn't want to write novels and I don't do light and fluffy!

So I've finally figured out that I am meant to write edgy screenplays. Hence the long format screenwriting workshop that I'm taking. And our summer "break," when we start to stare at blank pages or blank computer screens write, happens to correspond with Script Frenzy which will take place in June. The goal of Script Frenzy? To write a 20,000 screenplay or stage play. I figured I might as well sign up since I'm gonna be writing anyway and I could definitely use the moral support. Maybe I'll see you there!

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Film Screenings

Coda in G Minor

July 22, 2009
CSIF presents ImagineNATIVE
The Plaza Theatre
1133 Kensington Rd. NW
7:00 p.m.
Calgary, AB

Coda Blog Feed


Calgary, Canada

1 part shy intellectual, 1 part edgy chick, 1 part sophisticated woman, 1 part mental patient (after all, sanity is a type of conformity)... what's your mix?