Women Like Reese

A lot has been made recently of Reese Witherspoon's current forays into film, starring in Wild and producing Gone Girl. Both feature strong female characters who drive the action and, better still, ask viewers to look closely at their beliefs about grief or marriage. It's a model I use for my own work, whether I'm adapting or creating something new. In Hollywood we need more women like Reese—powerful in front of and behind the camera. Whether or not my writing ever hits the right desk, I know that strong female characters will live in every piece, as they live in me.

Download an Adaptation

If you're an industry professional and you'd like to see a film adaptation I've written, THE LEISURE SEEKER is available at The Black List.

Going into Breakdown

On Monday my feature film adaptation of The Leisure Seeker is going into Breakdown Services for casting. Director John Terlesky, producer J.P. Pettinato, and I have been working diligently to get this project into production. It's from a great novel by Michael Zadoorian, and we look forward to pulling together a terrific cast to help bring Michael's story to a theater near you.

MERCY TRAIN in 2015

It's official. Microscopic Opera Company is producing Mercy Train as part of their 2014-15 season. MOC does beautiful productions of chamber operas and new operatic works. Here's the link to their fabulous website. If you'll be in Pittsburgh in June of 2015, composer Doug Levine and I hope to see you there.

One Hundred Years

In May Carnegie Mellon University will hold their Centennial Celebration event for alumni in LA. So many School of Drama graduates have impacted my career by offering advice, reading my work, and helping me navigate my individual path to a livelihood in the arts. I have offered the same help when asked, because it's a Carnegie Mellon tradition. If you are a graduate, I hope we get a chance to say hi and drink a toast to a fine, fine school.

10,000 Hours

I listened to a podcast recently about Malcolm Gladwell's assertion that 10,000 hours of work in a field leads to mastery. While I'm not sure anyone ever masters the art of writing, I've worked toward that goal for the last few years, with over 90 treatment and screenplay adaptations, the opera, revisions on a play, and the hours spent creating then disemboweling my own screenplays. At this rate I'm close to the magic number but far from being done with learning. For the podcast about all things screenwriting, check out Scriptnotes.

Advancing Creative Freedom

I was recently accepted for membership into the Independent Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America, West. The IWC works to advance and promote the creative freedom of all screenwriters. It's a good way to get in some rooms with other writers and an excellent chance to see what the Guild offers. Plus, it was a lovely honor to be selected for admission.

The Power of Art

Check out this feature on Arts & Power in Riviera Magazine. Click the digital edition of the magazine. You'll find me on page 127, very honored to be there. Or, you can go directly to the article. The picture was done by LA photographer Angela Marklew. You can see her work here.

Working Title

Recently, composer Douglas Levine and I discovered that the title of our opera was also the name of a new musical. This prompted reconsideration of the name and a look at what we are really trying to convey in this piece. For now, we've retitled Orphan Train to Mercy Train in reference to another name for those trains and to the compassion needed by both our past and present characters to get from point A to point B. As I finish the libretto, we'll see if this change sticks. Look for a firm decision when the opera is produced in 2015.

October's Tricks and Treats

October turned into a month of creative possibilities. I had dinner with a former collaborator in which future work was moved to a burner closer to the front of the stove. We write music together, so we'll see what that brings. I also did a photo shoot and interview for a magazine article featuring artists in my area. More on that later. The screen stuff is always hush-hush, so I can't say anything much at the moment except that all good things move forward. Let's see if November can bring it as well.

The Reviews are In

Perhaps I shouldn't believe them.  Reviews are opinions, after all; but this one is the first I have read since I had my own band in Pittsburgh.  The author, Jordan Young, writes an interesting blog in the OC Examiner, and I feel honored to be included.

OC-Centric New Play Fest

Opening night for Skirt is this Saturday.  I'm so impressed with the hard work of all involved and hope to see you there.  Tickets are available here.

SKIRT on the Boards in SoCal

Skirt has been selected for production in the OC-Centric New Play Fest in August.  Details here.

In Case You Were Checking...

I finished the screenplay, as did most of my Accountability Workshop friends.  Thanks, Ruth McKee, for pushing us and supporting new work!

Accountability Workshop

I belong to a writing group in LA.  Great group of people and interesting discussions every time we get together.  The accountability portion comes with the fee.  Each of us pledge to complete a certain project over a given time frame.  If we do it, all the talk and insight is free along with that finished script.  If not, ka-ching!  The money goes to the instructor (who deserves it, really, but who will gladly give it up for those of us who write).  It's crunch time, folks.  Wish me luck as I get this baby on the page!

The Two-Year Mark

I'm approaching the end of my second year doing work for hire for a publishing company.  In that time I've completed 31 treatments and 10 screenplays for them, all adaptations of the books they publish.  While graduate school may have taught me how to tell stories in script form, the discipline required to create all of this work and to mine the beauty or ugly reality in each assignment has made me a writer.  Thanks, publishing company!

A Month in the Wild

In September I finished up a month's visit with the excellent people of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.  I was honored with this residency by the San Francisco Film Society, who sent me to do a rewrite on Program Rose.  I also got to dig into the draft of The Leisure Seeker.  The latter is now done and ready for a read.  Djerassi calls their residencies a gift of time.  When I think about the new friends, memorable meals, hikes alone with the deer, and new drafts in my computer folders, I know I got so much more.

Samuel French and Me

My children's and TYA plays have been available through Baker's Plays for some time.  Recently, Samuel French, owner of the company, folded the Baker's Play authors into its catalog, so now that's where you'll find me.  I'm thrilled to be part of the Samuel French family, which you can find here.  This is like getting these works published twice!

The Leisure Seeker

I'm excited to announce that I recently optioned the film rights to do an adaptation of Michael Zadoorian's novel The Leisure Seeker. It's the poignant tale of aging couple John and Ella's last road trip to Disneyland before their medical crises or their children can catch up with them.  Just the thing to keep me busy during my Djerassi Residency this summer!

Ovations

I have almost finished a year as an Ovation Voter for the LA Stage Alliance.  It's been a great opportunity to see Los Angeles area theater, both large and small in venue and scope.  I've learned a lot about the work going on in SoCal and seen some really terrific acting, directing, and production design.  My favorites?  After the year is over in August, ask me!

Adaptation

I don't talk a lot about what I do in Hollywood, largely because I sign confidentiality agreements, but my main activity is adaptation.  In the last year I've completed more projects than I have fingers and toes, mostly adapting published books for the screen.  It's a fun challenge making someone's literary opus a visual feast, and it keeps the dog and me in new shoes.

Opera (should be made) for Young Audiences

And it's happening right now.  Take a ride on the Orphan Train when composer Doug Levine and I share a reading of this developing work in support of The Microscopic Opera Company.  March 18, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA.  Tickets are available here.

If You're in Michigan...

"Orphan Train" will be performed this evening as part of Northern Michigan University's Ten-Minute Play Festival.  If you're in town, be sure to check it out.

Djerassi update

Next fall I look forward to spending a month in the Bay area for the 2011 Djerassi Residency Award/San Francisco Film Society Screenwriting Fellowship.  Learn more about the residency here.

Microscopic Opera on the Orphan Train

Good news!  Composer Doug Levine and I will be having our second workshop of Orphan Train, our opera for young audiences, with the Microscopic Opera Company.  We look forward to an invigorating collaboration with Erica Olden and Andres Cladera in March.  Check out their cool website here.

Finalist with Djerassi/SFFS

I recently got word that Program Rose is a finalist for the Djerassi Residency Award/San Francisco Screenwriting Fellowship.  You can check out the link to last year's winner here.  I've been rewriting this screenplay, trying to get the journey right for my old man hero who falls in love with his caretaker robot.  It's terrific to see this work pay off, and I wouldn't mind spending a month in the bay area next fall reworking the piece further.

SKIRT at The Playwrights' Center

Next week I'm off to The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis for a workshop of Skirt with director Suzy Messerole, dramaturg Michael Elyanow, and actors Anna Sundberg, Peter Christian Hansen, Sam Bardwell, and Nathan Christopher.  I'm excited by the changes already made in the play and seeing it in action with a new terrific team.  All hail, PW Center!

Playwrights Union Reading Festival

If you are in LA, please check out the Playwrights Union Reading Festival with new plays by Jennie Webb, Deron Bos, Larry Pontius, Marek Glinski, and Lisa Kenner.  I'm honored to be a part of this group, and I hope you'll join me in June to see what's cooking with LA new plays.

DG Friday Night Footlights

After a tragic accident, Bethany Galagher's disabled brother is all her teachers can talk about, so she wears a short skirt to school to change the subject.  It works.

Join me May 13th at 7pm for a reading of Skirt, directed by Jeanette D. Farr and featuring Claire Benoist, Sean Wolflick, Jeremiah Munsey, Julianne Homokay, and Jeff Hohimer.  Dramatists Guild Friday Night Footlights are free and held at the Academy for New Musical Theatre at 5628 Vineland in North Hollywood.  Hope to see you there!

Women in Film Mentorship

Last week I met my new screenwriting mentor from Women in Film.  Michele Gendelman is an experienced writer with credits from PBS to Newhart.  Michele will be guiding me over the next year as I deepen my knowledge about screenwriting and continue to explore opportunities.  I'm honored to be a part of the Women In Film Mentoring Program and look forward to a great year working with Michele.

Social Not-working

Or, Why I Quit Facebook.  First of all, you can't quit.  You can 'deactivate,' which means they have you stored in there somewhere.  All due respect to its innovation, I've always had a problem with the privacy issues; but what it came down to was a desire for personal human interaction, the kind that Facebook can't provide.  So, I'm gonna cowboy it for awhile and see if I can maintain my friendships with a measly old email account, a cell phone, and this website.

Writers Boot Camp

I was recently selected as a Diversity/Inspired Fellow at Writers Boot Camp, an organization committed to discovering, training and launching new screenwriting, television writing, diverse and inspired talent.  My fellowship includes a year of training and support.  What a great way to get some writing done!

Playwrights Union

Yesterday I was invited to join the union, the Playwrights Union to be exact.  It's a network of thirty LA theatre artists who write for stage, TV, and film.  I'm looking forward to the camaraderie and their writers' challenge in February!

KCACTF Region II

I'm thrilled to announce that my ten-minute play "Shrouds" has been selected for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region II Festival at Towson University in January.  I recently rewrote this piece to share with my fellow writers at Sewanee Writers' Conference and feel honored to see it recognized for further development.

Writing is Rewriting

Just finished my first LA job rewriting a screenplay for an independent producer.  Of course, the title of the project must remain under lock and key for now; but the story is full of heart and, hopefully, will get that much deserved look by the right people.

City of Angels

After a year of traveling with my plays, I've landed in LA to pursue some opportunities in screenwriting.  Los Angeles is a great city for playwrights, too!  More on that later...

'Orphan Train' Opera

Composer Douglas Levine and I held the first developmental workshop for our new family opera, Orphan Train.  Under the illuminating direction of Kellee Van Aken, actors Gabby McClinton, Sheridan Singleton, Alex Noble, and Lisa Ann Goldsmith showed where the piece sang, literally.  Special thanks to Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama for the space and time!

Playwrights' Ctr. Core Apprentice

The Playwrights' Center of Minneapolis honored me with a 2010-2011 Core Apprenticeship.  This includes a developmental workshop and a yearlong mentorship with playwright Stephanie Fleischmann.

To learn more about this program, check here.

Sewanee Writers' Conference

I will be attending the 2010 Sewanee Writers Conference as a Walter E. Dakin Playwriting Fellow.

For more information on the conference, click here.