Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Round Up, part 1 (creative output)

'Tis the time for looking back at the year, and for me it's a great excuse to add up lots of numbers and count things, which just makes me happy. And to make lists for 2009, which is just more bliss. (Everyone has his quirks.)

I wanted to look at my creative output first, the actual writing that I put out. The business side lends itself to stats and year-end sums, but putting down words on paper is what the writing life is really supposed to be about.

2008 was an especially productive year for me, writing-wise. I was especially diligent about making sure I got up early to write (not so much in December, but the rest of the year, I was very good) and trying to make sure that when the kids were in school, I didn't give away too much writing time to meetings and errands.

What I wrote in 2008:
Four new ten-minute plays. Two of which may never see the light of day, but at least they were written. Two of which, Confirmed Sighting and Recognition, turned out pretty well. Recognition was part of the T Plays festival produced here in Boston, and Confirmed Sighting just won the UMBC international playwriting competition and will be produced in Baltimore in March.

I also rewrote my ten-minute play, Stick Up for Mars, which turned out well and was produced this summer.

I completely rewrote my new novel, enough that it was almost like writing an entirely new one. Then I revised it again. It runs about 84,000 words right now. This kept me busy all year. I think it's pretty close now, finally (I started the first draft in December 2005), and I hope to be sending it out in February.

I wrote a new full-length play, Constant State of Panic, using a bunch of scenes (half of a first act) that I'd never been able to finish. This play still has a ways to go, but it's almost ready to start looking for a few staged readings and workshops. I'm so glad to finally have a complete draft of this play after it's been haunting me for so many years.

I helped write a short film script, as part of the 48 hour film project.

I wrote a bunch of blog posts. (Hey, those are writing, too, you know.)

That's it. I'd be happy to write that much in 2009. And especially if I manage to keep writing stuff that I like and can find an audience.

Monday, December 22, 2008

glad they still like me

It's always a good thing when people say nice things about you, especially if they happen to publish your books. Lynn Price said some very nice things about Tornado Siren over at her Behler Blog. (She even posted the first two chapters, so folks can get a sneak preview.) The book's been out for a while now, so it's not just the standard PR, book plug sort of thing. As I try to put the last few chunks of work into the new manuscript, it's reassuring to be reminded that people liked the first one.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Money 101 for screenwriters from John August

Over on John August's blog, he's posted a great explanation of how (and how much) screenwriters get paid. Definitely a must for anyone who dreams of screenwriting for a living someday. (His entire blog is a "must read" for all aspiring screenwriters, actually.

Okay, time to start thinking about shoveling some snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sad State of Publishing: Snowman wisdom

Art mentioned this blog in his comment to my previous post, but I thought I'd put up a link:

Bob Eckstein's got a great sense of humor and some very interesting numbers about his book, The History of the Snowman.

I can definitely relate to how hard it is to get people into the stores to hear you talk about your book. And he's been chatting on Good Morning America and had photo shoots with People Magazine. Must be nice. (I aspire to have his level of problems and disappointments.) And even then, it's hard to get people to come into the store and get them to buy your book.

The post is definitely a good reminder of how much work it is to publish and sell a book. (And even then, it's not going to keep me from trying to publish and sell my next one.)

He has a good web site, too. If you're an author with a book coming out soon, it's definitely worth taking a look:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

joining the StageSource board

I've been officially added to the board of StageSource as of this week. StageSource is a pretty amazing organization that serves theatre practitioners throughout New England (and especially in Boston). They currently have more than 2,000 individual members and 250 theatres and theatre organizations. They sponsor a theatre conference every two years and various other projects. I've already been working with them on a playwright event scheduled for April (Playwriting in 3D--conversations with designers and playwrights) of 2009.

Even though it means more work and more meetings (which is a little scary, I confess), I'm excited to be a part of the board. Their setup is a little unusual--the board is comprised of a wide range of theatre folk (I'm one of the playwright representatives) as well as civilians, who work together with a paid staff and executive director. For me, it's a chance to get to know many theatre artists in Bostom whom I truly admire. Hopefully I'll be a useful addition to the group. One thing I want to do is to continue to find ways to make sure that StageSource becomes even more useful to its playwright members, so that any playwright in Boston/New England would be a fool not to join.

I've lived in a lot of different cities, and I feel like Boston is served remarkably well by StageSource, much more so than most people here realize. I'm glad to have a chance to contribute to keeping it strong.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good News: Confirmed Sighting wins UMBC In10 Competition

Just found out some very good news: my newest ten-minute play, Confirmed Sighting, has won the UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore College) In10 International Playwriting Competition. It'll be produced in early March, and I'll make a point of going down and seeing it. The play is about two young women from very different backgrounds who see an ivory-billed woodpecker (once thought extinct).

This is a pretty well-regarded competition (I've heard very good things from past winners) and lots of people enter, so it feels particularly satisfying to win. Plus it comes with a $1,000 prize! Not bad at all (this a huge prize, in the world of playwriting competitions). I'm also particularly pleased that this newest play has found some traction--it's easy to lose confidence and wonder if my work will continue to have appeal (especially as I struggle my way through rewrites of my newest full-length play). This provides a nice surge of confidence.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Points Off The Board

On the down side, I heard last week from Smith & Kraus that they've selected too many plays for their Best Ten-Minute Plays 2009 anthology, in which I was supposed to have two plays included: Den of Iniquity and Measuring Matthew. They've decided to cut back, so Den will not be included. On the bright side, Measuring Matthew will be still be in there, but I hate to see productions or publications go away.

On the plus side, I got a very nice, unexpected note from the director of Christmas Breaks in Wisconsin. Receiving a nice appreciation out of the blue is definitely a good pick-me-up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Didn't trip on my feet (Tornado Siren reading report)

The reading last night from Tornado Siren at Brookline Booksmith. I'm especially grateful to half a dozen friends who showed up on a weeknight and squirmed through the First Light crowds on the sidewalks to find us down in the basement. Counting all the bodies in the room, there were more than a dozen people on hand to listen to me ramble about the book and read a few of the most exciting pages (where Victoria sees Ben for the first time and manages to get herself swept up in a tornado). It felt like it went pretty well, and I even sold a book.

I stayed to provide support to my fellow writers, who lined up at the podium every fifteen minutes for a couple hours. We had quite a variety--historical fiction, a book on eating disorders, Boston political geography, the history of daylight savings time (more interesting that you might think), spirituality and religion in the classroom, a story about a Japanese brothel. Though the crowds were pretty active up on the street level, not many folks managed to filter their way downstairs to us. Never easy to drag folks to a book reading, especially if you're not already famous, I'm afraid. (I just want to be Nick Hornby, is that too much to ask?) Still, we had fun, and sold a couple books here and there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Reading from Tornado Siren at Brookline Booksmith on 12/4/08

Tomorrow, as part of Brookline's First Light Celebration, I'll read from Tornado Siren at Brookline Booksmith. Local authors will be reading from their books from 5pm - 8pm. I'm on stage (in the basement) at 6:30pm, if all goes as planned. I'll have fifteen minutes to make people fall madly in love with the novel. No sweat.

If you're in the area, please stop by. There are lots of good books being highlighted. (And we don't want to feel lonely down there, with just a bunch of us writers.) This set of readings is organized by the Brookline Authors Group, which has been meeting for about a year now, and has put together a cable video series on books, as well as other events.