Thursday, July 26, 2012

Screenplay Threat iPad Cover

While writing a blog for my Your Weird Dreams blog, I came across this ad for an iPad cover made especially for screenwriters. As a result of my fascination with this little iPad cover, I couldn't resist telling other screenwriters about it in this blog.

I consider myself to be, not only a threat, but also a double threat, because the warning tells readers to be careful or they'll end up in one of my screenplays. Friends and family, however, must beware that in addition to ending up in one of my screenplays, they may also end up in one of my blogs. AH HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Sadly, I am not allowed to click on my own ads, so this iPad cover will have to wait until I either get enough funds to pay somebody else to get it for me, or find it through some other means (I wonder if they accept PayPal), but let this be known – I WILL PURCHASE this iPad cover for myself. It is soooo fitting, don't you agree?

Never mind! When I tested the link, up popped a 35% off coupon, AND they allow PayPal payment, so I'll be getting it after all! WHOOPI! 

AFTERWORD: I purchased the Screenplay Threat iPad cover, and it didn't fit my iPad. Hopefully all new covers will be adjusted to fit the iPad. CafePress graciously returned my money.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Glamourous Image of Cigarette Addiction

Picture the successful writer. You may see her differently than I do. I see her sitting on a screened-in porch overlooking a pristine lake as she sips iced water with sliced lemons. Her fingers glide across the keyboard as ideas flow from her brain to the screen in an unending stream of brilliance. Yes, even at my age, I continue to hold the image of myself as a successful writer sitting in full view of that beautiful lake.

Sadly (for me) so many people my age are already successful in their chosen field. Some of them have already retired. Late to the party, I'm not quite "there" (successful) yet, though I hope to make it to the success line sometime before I die (postmortem recognition wouldn't be bad either, though). 

My lungs, however, are in poor shape, and I sometimes wonder how much longer I have to live. I also know I contributed to this disease that threatens to end my life.

Though I'd like to say I never smoked – quite stupidly – I did. My image of a writer when I was a young adult was that of a woman sitting at her desk with a typewriter in front of her (at the time), smoking a cigarette, and drinking a cup of coffee. That portrait somehow looked glamourous to me. 

The fact that I have had asthma since I was 5-years-old didn't prevent me from smoking when I was 19. The only thing that halted my smoking was a nearly 3-week stay in the hospital where I almost died – twice – from an asthma attack and severe upper respiratory infection. For my mother, it took a diagnosis of borderline emphysema to stop smoking. Apparently, some of us need the incentive of our own potential deaths to quit sucking on what my dad used to call, "cancer sticks."

Why do we wait until our health is in jeopardy before we CHOOSE to quit?

As the years pass between that hospital stay in 1977 and now, my lungs continue to get worse. Today I have nodules all over my lungs, hopefully due only to past infections, but I have so many nodules, my pulmonary doctor wants to wait until September to see if they grow; they could be scars from previous respiratory infections; they could be something worse. 

My lungs are so sensitive that all I have to do is pass by somebody who is smoking or be within 25 feet of a smoker, and I feel my lungs shut down. My breathing becomes labored. My fear level rises. Unless you've experienced what it feels like to gasp for breath, you will never know how frightening the inability to breathe can be. 

People who reek of smoke also cause my lungs to tighten. When I breathe in their exhaled smoke, my lungs feel as if they are filled with burnt charcoal and every breath I take feels as if all of the air around me has been replaced with ash. 

You might think, possibly because of the tone of this blog, that I despise cigarette smokers. I don't. I love many of them because they are family members and/or friends. I feel compassion for them, because I know they would love to quit, not only for medical reasons but also for financial reasons. Their addiction, however, is too strong. They fail every time. Cigarette addiction can be an insurmountable burden to overcome.

I remember a man once, the father of a boyfriend of mine, who was dying from emphysema. He looked like the image of death, lying on the couch day after day, smoking one cigarette after another, gasping for air. I could barely breathe just looking at him while my boyfriend and I puffed on our own cigarettes. It might have been a black comedy, had it not been so tragic.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 million children currently suffer from asthma and every day 9 people die from the disease. Every year, the incidence of asthma increases, and nobody understands why. The CDC tells asthmatics to avoid triggers, but when smoke is in the air – inside and outside – how does a child – or an asthmatic – escape?

What frightens me is that so many young people will begin smoking today. I can't help but wonder if I had been born today, would I have understood the repercussions of an asthmatic who decides to smoke? At some point, before a smoker becomes a smoker, he or she makes the choice to – or not to – smoke. I was one of the ones who made the stupid choice and who quit only because I was forced into it by my own health.

With all the research available today, WHY would somebody choose to smoke? Forget the asthma, which is bad enough, because asthma alone can kill you – why isn't the possibility of emphysema or lung cancer enough to prevent these young men and women from smoking? 

They feel invincible. That's why. They see Grandma Moses smoking at the age of 100 and she's still alive, so they use that "reasoning" to give themselves permission to continue. As they age, they smoke around their children or grandchildren at home or in their cars. When their children develop asthma, they tell themselves their children would have developed it anyway, because the problem is genetic. They become experts at denying their problem and excusing their behavior.

Until it's too late. Until the day they DECIDE it's time to quit. 

What works though? Some places are conducting studies on what works and what doesn't work to help smokers quit their cigarette addiction. What works for one person does not work for another. For my mother and me it was a diagnosis of death.

I sincerely hope I haven't hurt my chances of finding myself on that lake some day with at least one successful screenplay in production and more awaiting their debut on the screen. I sincerely hope those nodules on my lungs are just remnants of previous lung infections. It took a near-death experience for me to quit. What will it take for you or for one of your loved ones?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pitch Your Screenplay On Video!

What I found in my email on July 4th is so EXCITING, I can barely contain myself! Fireworks are exploding in my brain. Why? Well, if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I write screenplays and that I have entered two screenplays and one teleplay in a couple of contests (results not until October, 2012). 
I enter contests rather than pitchfests because I am not at all comfortable in a pitch session environment. I think. I don't know. I've never been to one. But if I had to explain to potential buyers the advantages of producing my movies or television shows, I would stumble over my words, lose my concentration, and get so distracted by the ramblings in my own mind, I would lose whatever credibility I might have had before I sat down.

Obviously, I don't know that for sure, but what I do know is that public speaking is not my forte. Standing or even sitting in front of a complete stranger who holds my heart in his or her hands is terrifying to me. Yes, pitching in person would scare me, but pitching on camera, while less frightening, would be nerve wracking too. What if I screw up? What if I forget what I want to say? What if I forget to reveal a pivotal scene?
"That’s the beauty of igottapitch. You can practice a dozen times and upload when you feel you are ready. You can’t do that in a face-to-face meeting with a producer." (from IGottaPitch)

IGottaPitch allows people like me to sit before our computers and pitch to an invisible somebody who will see – eventually (hopefully) – our pitch from the other side of a computer screen. 
No getting distracted by the shape of his beautiful eyes, or the style of her hair, or the myriad other distractions that would temp me to blurt out, "What cologne are you wearing?" or "It's really hot in here, isn't it?" while every word in my memory bank escaped through the back door of my mind.

Nope! IGottaPitch would be just me and my laptop pitching away. I could write what I want to say before I say it, try it out loud before I pitch it, videotape it, review it, revise it, and then let it go! IGottaPitch even offers tips on HOW to pitch (click the link) and provides a short pitching To-Do List
Probably the best part about pitching in person is that you get immediate feedback, but if I've learned nothing else throughout my life, I have learned (and am still learning) patience. Waiting for responses will be another exercise in patience.

The best part about sending my ideas to IGottaPitch is that I would actually be DOING SOMETHING to promote my screenplays and teleplays instead of leafing through old copies of The Hollywood Creative Directory (which isn't published anymore) to locate an agent or producer who MAY be interested in my work.

IGottaPitch makes my pitch available to producers on the IGottaPitch website. The only downside is the $29 a month fee, but it's an expense I'm willing to incur if my screenplays don't win the competitions I entered. 
On second thought, all three screenplay contest entries were placed in the Scriptapalooza Screenwriting/Television Writing Competition (one was also entered in the TVWriter Competition) – Scriptapalooza is the brain behind IGottaPitch, so maybe I'll start working on my pitches now.

Do YOU have a screenplay you want to pitch? Check out IGottaPitch by clicking any of the links.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Navigating Through the Financial Aid Process

Educating ourselves or our children is important, but the cost of education is exorbitant. Many of us have to depend on financial aid, and navigating through all of the financial sources available can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Southern New Hampshire University offers help in navigating through the financial aid process. Take a look at this amazing infographic:

Brought to You by SNHU.EDU Online College Programs

Monday, July 2, 2012

ONE THING Will Dramatically Improve Your Writing

Want loyal readers? Of course you do!

Difficult goal, though, isn't it? Even if you write only because you want to express your opinion, share secret family recipes, or keep your family updated on genealogy findings, whatever your reason for writing, you have to understand that some people may actually read your work. And by engaging them with insightful, entertaining, or instructive (and well written) material, you inspire them to return again and again.

But if your readers have to stagger through poorly constructed sentences filled with vague or ambiguous meanings, they will become irritated by the constant interruptions caused by having to reread what they just read. You want your readers to enjoy your writing, not to suffer through it, right? If you agree, you owe it to them (and to yourself) to provide writing that flows effortlessly. 

If you've read through even a portion of the millions of blogs that are scattered throughout the Internet, you will notice that some of them are captivating, while others are so poorly written you cannot make it past the first sentence. Even if the topic is informative or entertaining, your patience wears thin. Many readers won't tolerate a poorly written blog – unless of course Mom wrote the blog and they feel obligated to read it.

So what's that one thing that will dramatically improve your writing and give you the best advantage in captivating an audience? Strong verbs! 

To understand the importance of strong verbs, imagine that your blog (book or article) is a stream and that sentences are logs your must cross to get to the other side (the end). Now imagine your reader skimming from log to log across a mild stream. If your logs are smooth and tightly linked together, your readers will cross the stream effortlessly. If the path is mixed in with rocks and debris, if the logs are loosely woven, or if crashing waves send your readers into stormy weather, your readers will fall. Worse – they may never return.

Passive voice and extraneous words causes your readers to stumble over your words, whereas strong verbs anchor your sentences and permit readers to move through your work without falling off the b(log). Readers journey from one side of the stream to the other without losing a step, without having to backtrack, and without losing interest.

Strong verbs also polish your sentences and provide a slick read so readers don't have to wade through misconceptions to arrive at the point you are attempting to make. Strong verbs tell readers precisely what you want to convey. With precise verbs you don't have to decorate your sentences with lots of adjectives or adverbs – explicit verbs explain the action without equivocation. 

Strong verbs also prevent passive voice from plaguing your work. Remember all those English classes that taught you to use Active Voice instead of Passive Voice? Those instructors were right. Active voice rids your sentences of extraneous words. Active voice takes your subject directly into action and allows readers to transition smoothly from sentence to sentence. Readers understand what you've written without having to wonder what you "meant" to say (unless the blog is humorous, in which case you might want to be ambiguous or vague).

To get a sense of the difference between active voice and passive voice (in case high school English class didn't pound the difference into your brain), look at the examples provided by the Writing Center at the University of Houston. Notice how much easier active voice reads compared to passive voice.

Another resource for precise verbs is Rice University (click this link). 

And for more help in selecting that perfect verb (or any other word that sits on the tip of your tongue but that escapes your grasp), click MasterWriter – an Unbiased Review for "The most powerful suite of writing tools ever assembled in one program." (from MasterWriter

Verbs Be Strong! 

Want to read more from this author? Click the links in the upper right hand side of this blog.

Thank you for visiting. 



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