Writing Update May/June/July 2021

Lucky me! In July, I got to write a guest post for Shuffle Synchronicities – the music/memoir newsletter on Substack, and was interviewed on a super-interesting podcast called Pivot Point with Joseph Debeasi. If you enjoy reading about anxious dads, pressure and songs that inspire you to lose your virginity—or listening to how cancer and living in Australia can lead to a career in writing, check ’em out!

WRITING

My front burner projects for May/June/July were :

THE INFLUENCER (spec feature) When the manager / best friend of a struggling social media influencer cuts a deal for her client to beta-test some new tech in order to get more followers, the results are more than she bargained for.  The first “feedback draft” is out to my manager for notes—plus two 20-somethings, and an actual bona-fide influencer for authenticity testing!

CONSENSUS (original pilot / series) Two detectives living in different worlds — one where Earth’s wealthiest people have abandoned it, the other a constructed utopia where no one remembers their past — unknowingly work a case that will lead their lives and worlds to collide. Yeah, it’s a hard one to pitch in one sentence! Which is why, after finishing the rewrite in May, I submitted it to a couple competitions where it has moved through the early stages—we’ll see where it’s at in a few months. 

GIRL, WOLF, WOODSMAN (short fiction) A contemporary retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” that imagines Little Red’s life after the woodsman dispenses with that pesky wolf.  Destined for submissions to a half-dozen lit journals, it will eventually be part of Season 2 of my fiction podcast

WATCHING and READING

Have you discovered anything you’ve loved as much as I loved PIG, the film starring Nicolas Cage as a reclusive truffle hunter who has to face his past when he returns to the city in search of his abducted truffle pig?

TV: The West Wing, This is Us, Good Trouble, (Season 3) Deep Space 9 (re-watch, final season), Couples Therapy,  Hacks, Grace & Frankie, Solos, Loki. 

MOVIES: Tenet, Alive (Korean Horror), The Ritual, Scream, The Half of It, The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, Imagine I’m Beautiful, Inez & Doug & Kira, The Sounding, A Quiet Place Part II, Cruella, Zola, Black Widow, Snake Eyes, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, The Donut King, Old, Pig.

BOOKS: Blood Child and Other Stories, Octavia Butler; The Collected Stories, Elizabeth Bowen; The Tools, Phil Stutz; Beacon 23, Hugh Howey; Performing Under Pressure, Dr. Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pauliw-fry,  Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Robin D.G. Kelley,  Short Stories by George Saunders; Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home, Natalie Goldberg; The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We’re Falling Apart, Alicia Garza; Thrill Me, Benjamin Percy; The Dead Lands, Benjamin Percy, The (Other) You, Joyce Carol Oates

Writing Update March / April 2021

Here are my top 3 writing projects for Mar/April plus some assorted stuff I’ve been feeding my brain.

3 THINGS I’VE BEEN WRITING:

THE INFLUENCER (spec feature)
Zero draft ⅔ done in April. Continues on the front burner in May.
When the manager / best friend of a struggling social media influencer cuts a deal for her client to beta-test an implantable self-improvement chip, the results are more than they bargained for. 

SHELL (feature take of short story)
This short story won the Grand Prize in the Screencraft Cinematic Short Fiction Contest at the end of March.  Created a mini-treatment for feature idea in April.
To revive her flagging marriage and career, an aging woman goes to a high-end spa for a mysterious treatment.

CONSENSUS (pilot script)
Rewrote in March.
When a woman begins working with a secret task force to protect her idyllic world from enemy agents, she learns that reality is not what she’s been told. Now she needs to find the truth about who she is, while protecting the lie that allows her world to exist.

OTHER WRITING: 
For clients: I finished reworking / editing a bible for a metaphysical fantasy TV series, ghost-wrote eight researched blog articles on mental health / wellness topics.

I’VE BEEN WATCHING
MOVIES: Bad Hair; Judas and the Black Messiah; This is Paris (documentary); Just Friends; The Faculty; Jennifer’s Body; Mom and Dad; Lars and the Real Girl; Strip Down, Rise Up; Synchronic; Limitless 

TV: WandaVision; The West Wing; Debris (pilot); Dickenson (pilot); Call me Kat; The Mayor; This is Us; Falcon and the Winter Soldier; The Good Fight; Star Trek Lower Decks; Numb3rs (pilot); For All Mankind; Deep Space 9 (re-watch) 

I’VE BEEN READING 
The One That Got Away Horror Anthology; Neverworld, Neil Gaiman; The Fact of a Body, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich; Assata, Assata Shakur; Kindred, Octavia Butler; Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Beverly Daniel Tatum; Shift, Hugh Howey; Blood Child and Other Stories, Octavia Butler; The Collected Stories, Elizabeth Bowen

Update Jan / Feb 2021

Wow, remember January? What a clusterf*ck…

…and yet we persevered. Here’s where some of the hours went. 😉

WRITING

SHELL (short story /spec fiction /world building for possible feature)
To revive her flagging marriage and career, an aging woman goes to a high-end spa for a mysterious treatment.  Published in February, in The One That Got AWay, Women of Horror Anthology, Vol. 3.

SOUL SISTER  (short story / spec fiction) After a girl’s sister pays to smuggle her across the border, the girl gradually discovers the nature of the debt her sister took on to do it.
Reworked the outline, did a restructured draft — currently changing to a first person POV.

CYBER JOEY (short story/ spec fiction / horror)
An frustrated unemployed cybernetics designer resorts to unconventional methods to create a DIY cyborg to get the attention of recruiters at her dream company, The Cyborg Collective.
First draft.

JACK 9 (pilot script and bible)
An ambitious college student goes to sleep in 1997 and wakes in 2021 to a changed world inhabited by an older version of himself.  
Team conducted writer search. I met with top choice. Negotiations now in progress.

CONSENSUS (pilot script and bible)
A woman begins working with a secret task force to protect her idyllic world from invading enemy agents only to discover that her reality is not what she’s been told. Now she needs to find the truth about who she is, while protecting the lie that allows her world to exist.
Inspired by WandaVision, embarked on rewrite.  Almost complete. 

THE INFLUENCER (horror feature)
An ambitious young woman seeks to improve her career as a social media influencer by beta-testing an injectable performance-enhancing technology.
A complete washout writing-wise, but applied and was accepted to a March-May workshop group to get it moving.

OTHER WRITING: 
For clients: Notes / analysis for a feature, reworking / editing bible for fantasy TV series, 4 academic fellowship essays on the arts and city planning, 8 ghost written blog /articles on mental health / wellness.
3 written interviews to be for PR for the launch of the anthology
Long form essay on the best speculative fiction podcasts. 

I’VE BEEN WATCHING
TV: WandaVision, I May Destroy You, The 4400, The Crown Seasons 2-4, Call me Kat, The Mayor, This is Us, Bling Empire, old infomercials on Adult Swim, Snowpiercer Season 1, MOVIES: Instant Family, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Mank, Promising Young Woman, The West Wing

I’VE BEEN READING 
The One That Got Away Horror Anthology; Tor.com Anthology; Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements; many speculative short stories via Clarkesworld, Apex, Levar Burton Reads, Podcastle, Metaphorosis, Escape Pod and others; The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert; The Paris Seamstress, Natasha Lester. 

Writing Update Preview

For awhile I’ve been grappling with the fact that I lack awareness of where my time — as in the collection of hours that makes up my life — goes. I know I work and write, and read stuff and watch things on screens (as well as eat, sleep and do dishes) but—perhaps especially when I’m working from home—the hours and days become one amorphous blob. At this moment, I might be able to tell you what I did yesterday, but two days ago is vanished from my memory. Also, as someone who slips in and out of “flow” in which, by definition, one doesn’t feel time, I lack an awareness of how much time things take. For instance, I have no idea what time it was when I started this paragraph.

In an attempt to mitigate this very floaty, unmoored existence, I’ve started trying — quasi-successfully — to clock in and out of my work sessions for various projects (I’m pretty good at clocking in, and pretty terrible at remembering to clock out). I then try to clump the hours together to make a summary I can use to figure out what has happened with all my “missing” time, as well as what to charge people for jobs when they ask for estimates, and how to answer questions like “whatcha been up to?” or “why haven’t you called for five months?”

When I start things, I’m definitely writing for myself, but, then, at some point in the process, I start thinking, wait, this might be interesting to an audience, and that often changes the shape of what I write. At a certain point, with these “productivity summaries” I thought – oh, maybe I could make a little newsletter/ update that I could send to people, like my reps and executives who have told me to keep in touch and to let them know what I’m working on. With an audience in mind, I’ve started thinking, okay, I need to pare this down, so I just named my top three projects instead of listing everything I worked on, and added in some loglines to provide context. But so far, when it comes to actually sending the updates to the execs, I’ve mostly chickened out. In addition to the fact I haven’t seen them for over a year, and they may not remember me at all, asking someone to sift through list of books I’m reading is kind of presumptuous!

Which is all only to say, I’m about to post some updates that are really of interest only to myself, which could be said most of this blog I guess, so maybe no explanations are in order in any case.

If you are one of the few who get these posts to your inbox, apologies for the heavy influx as I catch up by posting everything from this year — I’m sure I’ll be returning to my bi-monthly posting schedule soon!

Me on Pivot Point podcast

This past week, I was the guest on PIVOT POINTS with JOSEPH DEBEASI, a podcast that talks about the ups, downs and “pivots” of living the creative life.

A little insider information is that, although I had a great time talking with Joseph, my feeling after we recorded our session was, that was a complete trainwreck. I even called him the next day to tell him that he didn’t need to use it, and I totally understood if he didn’t want to damage the reputation of his podcast with a guest whose contribution was an incoherent jumble of words. And of course, I was worried about what anyone who listened would think of me—who wants to hire a writer or editor who is unable to get to the end of a sentence!

Joseph, who is an amazing music composer with a deep background in sound editing, told me not to worry—that it would come out in the edit. True to his word, he did an amazing job of paring away my rambling digressions in order to make this a coherent and — dare I say it — even compelling interview.

You can check it out wherever you listen to your podcasts (I’m episode 58), or here: