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Where did the past few months go?

Been a long time since my last posting and I'm sure anyone who's stumbled on this thing must've been thinking "Two entries??? Nothing since February? Come on!" But, I promise I have more than a few good excuses.

Since February, I've barely had time to take a breath, I've been so busy and just GONE.

In March, I got an off-the-wall opportunity to fly to Sweden for free - Yes please! So, off I flew to LA to catch up with the group that was going to Sweden for a focus group on car designs. Was it crazy? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably not. Here's the thing, I didn't really factor in the 10+ hour plane ride, the jet lag and the less than 48 hours we'd have to explore Sweden, not counting the 4 hour focus group time. But, yeah, I made the best of the time I did have, met some incredible people and enjoyed the nightlife.

But, what was great about the Sweden trip is that it got me out to LA and when I flew back from Sweden, I stayed some extra days to catch up with old writer friends and meet in the flesh some writer friends I'd only met online. So, it was more whirlwind days of lunches, drinks and in the middle of it all, I actually got the majority of a new outline done. Win!

While in LA, I got the terrible news that my husband's aunt suddenly passed away so the day after getting back home, we took off for Florida to be with his family. Was a somber and reflective time.

After getting back from Florida, I prepared myself for a trip to Atlanta for the Atlanta Film Festival. That took place the first week in April. Had a great opening weekend hanging out with my husband, Chris, at all the parties and films, Friday and Saturday. But, by Sunday, April, 3rd, Chris had gone home and it was time to get down to business and partake in the writers retreat I'd won along with 2 other amazing writers, Erik Adolphson and John Pisano-Thomsen. The organizers set us up in the quirky and cool hotel, The Highland Inn, the ATLFF headquarters. Unfortunately I learned, even though it's old, the hotel is not haunted. Bummer.

The next day we met up with our mentors, Michael Lucker, Robin Henry and Don Woodard. We had dinner with them and ATLFF folks and had a wonderful time talking about screenwriting and our scripts. Good times. That night they whisked us away to the amazing, modern day Mayberry called Serenbe. We three writers got our own luxurious house, while our mentors each got their own cabins.

Tuesday is when the hard work started. First up I had Michael Lucker, who met me at our writer's house, while my fellow writers went to the other cabins with their mentors to pow wow on their scripts. Michael was brilliant. This guy knows story. His notes that were hard to swallow at first and I had a little boxing match in my head over his suggestion on the ending of the script, but eventually I came around and figured out how to salvage some crucial story elements but make the required edits that Michael suggested so the script is so much more solid and I'm really excited for it. That afternoon I met with Don Woodard who gave me excellent career advice and had a wealth of knowledge on the business and what my next steps should be. Just a wonderful, amazing day overall.

Also, during our entire time in Serenbe, we had all our meals with the mentors. What a fantastic time to talk shop and learn from these talented and accomplished writers. Also, bonus, the meals were all excellent. The next day (Wednesday) I had my final session with Robin Henry. Wow, this woman knows character and how to improve the story. She also had great notes on how to make the script better by doing a point of view sweep concentrating on my protagonist - are my scenes from her point of view? If not, fix them. Boy, were there many to fix. (I've since used the three mentors' notes and Black Sunday is even better than ever.)

More experiences we had during our time with ATLFF: we had 10 page readings by professional actors so we all got to see our scripts come alive. The little girl who got the part of my protagonist, Frankie, even showed up in coveralls. The experience was amazing for all. Then we had a Q&A out at Serenbe set up by Serenbe Film. Audience members got to hear about our scripts, the retreat experience and the experience of being a screenwriter. And then the founders of Serenbe Film hosted us with a wonderful party where we got to talk more with residents and film lovers.

Overall, our experience with the Atlanta Film Festival and their writers retreat was priceless. Talking together, me and the other writers, we couldn't put a price on it. It was that special. So, of course I highly recommend all screenwriters enter into their competition - totally worth the entry fee and then some!

And I know all these experiences deserve their own posts, but I just don't have the time to split them up, so bear with me and my stream of conscience writing!

Shortly after getting home from ATLFF, I drove up to attend the Nashville Film Festival and Writers Conference co-hosted by Screencraft. What a great time! Being the first year for the conference, it had some minor hiccups (where were the breaks between panels!?! Oh my painful bladder!), but overall, I felt it was an enriching, enlightening and highly entertaining time. The panelists were amazing: Andrea Berloff, Chad & Carey Hayes (my idols!) and so many more. The wealth of knowledge was staggering. And I was really stoked to meet, Phil Hay, the co-writer of The Invitation, one of the best horror/thrillers I've seen in years.

Then, of course the experience of meeting other aspiring screenwriters and hanging out with them is always a pleasure. If I could live in a village that consisted of only screenwriters, I'd be a happy girl - that's how much I love talking movies, scripts and the business. It never gets old. So, of course during the conference, the networking was insane! Good thing I remembered to bring extra business cards! Something I'd forgotten to do during ATLFF.

As if getting to hear these brilliant panelists during the day was enough, the parties where we could connect and engage with the panelists were even better. If Screencraft can keep delivering the blockbuster panels and the killer parties that they had at night, I can see this conference being a great addition or alternative to the long running screenwriting conferences put on by the Austin Film Festival each October. I'd like to see them really take off because it would be nice to get that jolt of inspiration not only in the Fall, but also in the Spring as well.

So, after I got back from Nashville, I again worked on Black Sunday like a maniac and then before I knew it, May had arrived. With it came our long awaited and long ago planned 2 week long wedding anniversary trip up to New England where we visited Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine before we headed to upstate New York to visit with my husband's family.

Smack in the middle of this vacation is when I got a phone call from Cameron Cubbison from Screencraft that I was one of three Screencraft Fellowship winners. I was shocked and totally ecstatic. It really was a wonderful surprise and honor. So, since then and since getting home a few weeks ago, I've been working on outlines, doing an interview for Screencraft and now preparing for my 2nd (of 5) summers at Hollins University as I go for my MFA in Screenwriting or as I like to call it, "Summer Camp for Film and Script Nerds." I leave in a week - eeeekkk!! So, now that I've got whoever looks at this updated on what's been going on all these months, back to the stories and outlines cause they ain't writing themselves. =)


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