Category Archives: Uncategorized

Healthy notes for doing Sundance

For all my peeps heading to or landing in Park City to do Sundance, here are some healthy notes based on my amazing trip there in 2016.
1. Take your vitamins. Emergen-C, Elderberry. Zinc.
2. Drink more water than booze. That may sound difficult but dehydration at those levels are no joke. Don’t ignore the headaches or write off dizziness as the fun side effect of whatever free booze you can score.
2. Watch what’s in the air. Whatever line you find yourself in and you will be in lines, chatting up the person next to you is a great idea. Be CURIOUS about them and not just sell yourself. And while you’re doing this are-we-gonna-be-film-friends thang be vigilant of sneezing, coughing and laughing up germs on their drinks and what’s being sprayed back on yours.
3. Carry hand sanitizer for when you have to stand and hold a rail in a packed shuttle bus which is actually a large petri dish on wheels.
4. Eat healthy food. There are some amazing restaurants in Park City.  Make reservations and be patient but enjoy.
5. Layer up against the cold. Big boots, faux fur hats, thick scarves and Smart Wool are the fashion.
6. And try to get some sleep. Again, like the more water than booze note, this one may be hard to do but try.
These first notes are what I learned the last two nights in 2016 when illness came hard at me, Peter and our daughter. At the last screening of our film, Peter got sick. And then later, Bird woke us in the middle night like she was still five and not 24 to tell us she was ill, too. I tended to her and slept in a chair by the pull-out in the living room until the grocery store opened. I bundled up and made the trip on the icy roads for soup, tea, ginger ale and crackers. I remember walking through the store when my hands began to hurt pushing the cart. From deep where a fever brews in the bones up through my skin. Then within minutes a chill tore through my body before I heated up. I was full-on sweating at the register and my voice was gone. I made it back to the condo. Made sure my sick family ate and then crashed. We were hit so hard by this fast moving Sundance illness, we missed the final awards dinner where First Girl I Loved, the beautiful film Kerem Sanga wrote and directed and we were executive producers on, won the NEXT Audience Award.
Peter woke me from a fever induced sleep to tell me about the win. I think I mumbled “cool”, shoved more cough drops in my cheeks and went back to sleep. The next day, we put our sick child on a plane in Salt Lake City to New York City and drove back to LA with Peter having the flu and me with one of the worst throat infections ever. We didn’t speak as he drove except for when he asked if I wanted to stop for food. I said “soup.” and he nodded.
Once home we were wiped the F out! For days! I left only to go to the doctor to get a major dose of antibiotics and reup on cough drops.
So, these first five notes are valuable so you can do the next five ones:
6. Check out the innovations in filmmaking. There are some incredibly smart and exciting things being developed.
7. Screen films with the awe and respect that they deserve. Making a movie is no joke! It’s takes hard work, dedication, and more people than audience realize.  You don’t have to like everything and you probably won’t, but take the time to give credit to all the work it took to get the film from idea to screen.
8. Support the cinematic storytelling of women and POC’s, of LGBTQ filmmakers, of voices, faces and visions that serve the robust canons of independent film but are not often seen. Theres’s beautiful, funky and mind-blowing stories being told and you all need to see them!
9. BE RESPECTFUL TO THE RESIDENTS OF PARK CITY! Remember you’re a guest.
10. But most of all, have a blast!
I hope to see you all next year.
Peace

Too pissed to write…

I just may be. Yes, I’m writing this to get some of these feelings, these big emotions out, but I’m well aware of how I can’t actually get to the page to write creatively. To work on the stories, give voice to the characters I’ve committed to but now I have to ask them to wait. Stand by.

I’m pissed. Life can be truly shitty. For so many of us. For so many.  For the people who are oppressed, those hated because of gender, race, religion and who they love.  I’m pissed for those who fear the world outside their windows and those who fear the monsters in their homes. I am pissed that this country is a shit storm of powerful men exerting their hate on others through legislature or lack thereof.

I’m pissed that the ebb and flow of feeling helpless and rising to the fight is thrashing my poor mind and body around so much so, I’m close to losing my way on the waves.

I’m pissed that the emotion of anger has its root in fear and pain. And that maybe I’m pissed first because I can’t bare to feel the pain down below the surface of my brown skin and I know that’s a false belief because I can still feel it. Saying it isn’t so isn’t truth.

I’m pissed that grief is a mutherfucker. I’m pissed that my mother is dead. And my dear friend died this week. And children are scared. And women are crying. And I can’t eat chocolate the way my heart craves because my full and ill body system is exhausted from just trying to carry me through the day, through the dark times.

I’m pissed that my anger is keeping me from the page because real life is raging so much louder than their stories and try as I might, I can’t find my way out of this world into the other.

I’m pissed that I’m still pissed. And feel like I have been for years. For centuries.

Loving True Crime…?

I put a question mark on that because it’s weird. I know. I don’t ‘lovelove’ true crime, like it’s a good thing. Not at all.  I ‘love’ writing stories about crime, though.  In them I can make the women the victor. I can take down the bad guy. I can create suspense that’s entertaining. I hope. Above all else, don’t bore, right?

It’s difficult to write good crime stories.  But that’s my goal.  I often joke that I wish I could write a romcom because they’re light and about love. Ya know, a woman who doesn’t believe in love anymore or thinks they missed theirs but then the very cute and maybe annoying dude they work with, or are forced to work with, or sells them bagels by day but works as a God-sent guardian for runaway youth or has a dream of opening a diner and she just happen to be the inspiration for him, ya know, with all her quirky but sexy ways… If I was to write this story they’d stumble across a dead body on their first date, he’d be implicated somehow and she would have to solve the crime but quickly because there’s another dead body. And this time it’s a child. There’d be an amazing show of gunshots and racing through dank and dirty alleys that smell like old piss and dying dreams. And there’d be blood splatter when the chick would catch the guy, who happens to run that same organization for runaway youth but does heinous shit to kids cuz he’s working out his own ish. But our lead could give a fuck. She’s taking him down and if that same cute guy still wants to screw then she’d be down for that, too, when she says so.  And then… And then… our lead would get a commendation for bravery which she’s too humble to accept. She goes for street tacos and a cold beer instead.

Hmm…not a romcom, huh?

When I started writing I used to keep a folder of true crime stories that could be inspiration at some point. This made for some interesting looks and conversations if anyone caught what I was printing at the office. I work from home now where I can wrap myself in my mother’s blanket before I read the crime news.

These days I save articles online. Interesting enough, I don’t watch a lot of true crime shows or documentaries.  Hmmm…I’m gonna change that. That’s a creative writing goal I’m adding to 2019.

So, if you love true crime, too…what are you favorites?  Which ones are unique and well-told stories.

Hit me up with your suggestions.

And Write On!

 

 

A Storyteller’s Lazy Susan

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You know what a lazy susan is, right? Aside from this nagging question of why do folks think Susan is so lazy, I find myself coming back to a visual of one when I think about the stories I’m telling. The stories I’m writing. The ones that have space in my head. Some of them.

Years ago I had the pleasure of hearing the brilliant, award-winning playwright, Susan-Lori Parks, speak at a bookstore in St. Paul, MN.  She was so great. I’m just gonna take a second and sigh here.

I was a very new playwright working in theatre administration but filling my days with plays and workshops and soaking up everything I could from the more successful than I.  Which was pretty much everyone in my theatre world!  lol!  But to hear her speak was a thrill.

She told us that her plays, the projects she’s writing at any one time are kept on a lazy susan of sorts in her mind. I am completely paraphrasing this so there is no direct quote from her. She explained, though, how she would spin that lazy susan when she got ready to write and where it stopped, there would be the story she worked on. I think this was the part of her talk where she was sharing process. Some writers take one story and only one at a time, while others, like me and Susan, have multiple ones. (notice how that reads like we’re friends, me and Susan. We’re not but ya know… )

Since then I have learned the value of following the sage advice of having more than one story, one project, one script, one book, at a time because if the question from some producer, agent, publisher, director, investor is “What else you got?” then you have to give them something.  Shrugging and saying “Can I get back to you in a month…” doesn’t fly.

So some mornings, it’s the lazy susan that comes to mind when I sit down at the page. Which story is calling for me to “come on in, the water’s warm” or which character is demanding to be heard, to be seen.  Or which story is a murky fog on the page aching for some light to cut through.

This the curiosity of being storyteller.

Of course, this means there’s a lot of voices in my head and sometimes I look and feel a bit dizzy but it’s a good kind. A writer’s kind.  So, don’t worry about me. I’m really okay.

What I’ve Learned In 53 Years of Living

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That sounds pretty grand, right? Like you should sit down and ready yourself for me to drop some wisdom on you, right? Well, we’ll see. I’ll ask at the end of this what you think.

Some of these things have cultivated over the years. Some I’m still trying to fully grasp and work on them, daily or weekly or whenever I remember I need to. Some are so new I feel all fluttery in my belly even sharing them.

  1. Eat Chocolate as much as you can. Now, you have to define how much that is, how often, milk or dark, with nuts or not, in bars or cookies or off spoons standing in your kitchen. Just get some if you need it. I’m no longer of the “DON’T EAT [INSERT THE YUMMY FOOD HERE]”
  2. Same goes for sugar. Yes, this shit can wreck havoc on you so take that into consideration. If you can and like and want sweetness, get it. I can’t. I try with such might but I can’t. I’m officially in a mourning period about that. Fall of 2016 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. I had ulcers and all these not-so-lovely symptoms that could fall under TMI for this blog. After a year of diet change, supplements, herbs and therapy for trauma and grief (my mom died Feb of 2016), my scopes revealed no more active Crohn’s. But I do have IBS. Yeah…chronic pain is bitch. And eating sugar or specifically dark chocolate drenched caramel popcorn is not a good idea for me. I hate being a fragile fuckin flower but there it is.
  3. Dance when you can. How you can. Where you can. Chair dance. Wave your hands in the air like you JUST DON’T CARE! Or car dance. I LOVE to car dance. Sometimes my back and joints hurt or I’m battling nausea so throwing down like I’m a MC Hammer back-up dancer like I used it isn’t always possible. BUT I’m still a proud member of the Rhythm Nation so you just know that I’m dancing when I can.
  4. Get cool about your gray hair. This is one that I’m really working on. I go back and forth about when to go gray. Or let the world see I’m gray underneath my black curls. I spend hours on Pinterest and Instagram looking at BEAUTIFUL gray haired women who share their journeys. It’s not easy. It takes time. And it means something. Of course, it does. Even those who say they don’t give a fuck what others say, THAT is a sentiment that has had to been developed, cultivated, honed and now honored. That means something. For me, I go a couple months and even declare I’m no longer dying my hair and then after spraying my roots to go out, which indicates that I’m not ready, I dye my roots and to be honest, feel like I’m letting some part of me down. Like I just did something to my own value as a woman. BUT THEN I tell myself to knock that shit off, focus my dramatic thoughts to the page and just get on with the day. There are just as many amazing women who don’t have gray hair, now or won’t ever. The point is, I’m learning to get cool with mine.
  5. Come to an understanding about “give no fucks”. This one I’ve been thinking A TON about. For a few years now. I have post-its on my desk and in my office reminding me of this. But there’s also a note by one that says “except for those who deserve all the fucks” cuz there are those. Like family, friends, sisterhood, brotherhood, those who are suffering, those lost in pain, those who have less, those who need more. There’s a list that deserve and have my fucks. I think the give none goes to those who hate me for my skin color, my race, my gender. Those who want to step on my neck and nail me to the ground. Those who don’t like me. Or won’t love me. I won’t ask for them to. I sure as shit won’t beg. I want to be seen, though. I want to be heard. But that’s not possible with some folks. Bigots are not going to be down with me. Trump lovers will hate me. Mansplainers, white folks coming at me with their privilege don’t dig me, either. I can’t make them feel any different [INSERT SERENITY PRAYER HERE] so those folks I don’t give a fuck about. BUT BUT…they are suffering, too. So, how do I remedy this? My need to cultivate kindness and promote peace and give them no fucks? What I’m learning is that it’s possible to give none to their opinions and be aware of their power in the fight, because we are in a fight. A fight for our lives.
  6. Be a warrior. And define that however you need to and want to. And know that being a warrior means protecting yourself so if that means taking breaks from social media, turning off the news, working out, or binge watching Netflix, sleeping in, or whatever you feel needs to happen for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health- then you’re fighting.
  7. And cry. Cleanse your soul. Honor the life you’ve lived when you’re pain because of the losses in it, the hard and lonely times. It’s okay to feel.
  8. Soak in some children’s laughter. If you can’t get in real life then find some online and play it loudly until you laugh, too.
  9. Do something creative. Every day. That doesn’t mean you have to write or paint. Or sew. Or anything you may define as ‘art’. Being creative is about using your mind to create something. Cooking, gardening. Singing. Caring for your children. Creating anything with your imagination- DAY DREAM! I was a big daydreamer as a kid and teachers would snap me back to class by calling on me to pay attention. Kinda hated them for that. Sure, I understand that I needed to focus on the lessons but the value of my imagination is immense. Yours is, too.
  10. Give hugs. Friends. Lovers. Pets. Pillows. When you give hugs you usually get one back.
  11. Pray.  

Okay, so that’s the 11 that are on my mind this morning of my birthday. I don’t think I’ve shook up your world with my thoughts. But thank you for reading. Thank you.

Peace and love

New Years Resolutions Can Suck It

Yup. I said it. They can suck it.

A couple days ago I sat down with my new bullet journal. Yes, I have one. Started it last January. And it was an ordeal that fed my procrastination monster (hmmm…I just realized that I may have to change that for the new year. IS procrastination REALLY a bad thing? What if I labeled it to Brewing Monster…or dropped the monster altogether and gave it the personification of … me. I’m not a monster. Maybe I like to take my time and during that time ENJOY Pinterest and deep dives into books and binge watching TV shows. Maybe all of these activities are when my work steeps, ya know, like a big mug of tea? How can steeped tea be bad?)

Anyway- back to the resolutions. I looked at the Resolutions I made last January. Two beautiful pages with elaborate borders of different shapes and color-coded lists. I realized that my box of stencils and colored pens is still under my desk where it’s been since February. And I didn’t look at the lists since I wrote them.

Reviewing them now? Well, they can suck it.

There are some that I see now were not just about me or what I could do. Things like “Sell Shipside”, which is a feature script that’s still in development. The selling of that script didn’t and doesn’t just depend on my writing. I need others involved to make this resolution come true.

Same goes for “Sell Mayberry Circle Club”, another script. This one is a TV limited series. Again- not just on me. Just like “getting an Agent and a Manager”. These resolutions require others to show up, too. So there.

The few I did accomplish were “Write Stands Alone”, the novel I did write. Sure, I still have revisions to do after hearing from my beta readers but I did write it. Book one of an epic trilogy. And I’m proud AF for that! I met other writing resolutions. Plus more. I have short stories now and drafts of Coasting On E and a new feature, Floating Girl, a suspense mystery about Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I wrote more than I thought I would, so maybe that’s what I need to list in my new journal. Begin with what I DID do last year .

BUT…what about manifestation? If I don’t say “I’m going to SELL THE SCRIPT” then how can I put that out there to make it come true?

I don’t want to start saying “I’m gonna try to…” cuz yes, I’m trying to. I can continue trying to but doesn’t stating the resolution like that weaken it a bit? I should be stronger in my resolve, right?

And now, of course, the answers to those questions I’m getting in my head is “Chill, Stace. Resolutions can suck it”

Maybe the difference is that some of these are Goals. And Resolutions are things I have full control of, like…I resolve “To kick my own ass less”. No explanation needed on that one. “To tend to my health more often” which actually means no sugar or gluten, write my food diary and take my supplements for the Crohns and IBS, etc… BUT instead of “resolving” to not ever eat sugar again which is ridiculous and I just hurt myself rolling my eyes, “tending” to my health is about making healthy choices, which includes the supplements and diary, working out when I can, meditating and finally trying yoga. It’s also about my therapy and breathing. Yeah, breathing. None of these feel like hard MUST DO OR ELSE like resolutions can feel like. Except the breathing, of course. “Tending” just feels more gentle.

Another resolution could be about kindness and peace. Something the world needs so much more of and things I don’t have a lot of sometimes. I’m tired. And pissed. In this hard world with so much oppression, racism, attacks, violence against women, POC’s and children, immigrants, the queer community, led by the orange madman in the White House, I often find myself with not a lot of kindness. My righteous anger, my sadness, my outrage can often be the leading volcano of emotions I’m throwing up and out to the Universe. It’s often all I’m adding to the world, to the day. I can’t resolve to be kind to a bigot. I would be lying to say I’ll try. That’s not on the list but I can offset some of that hate thrown at us by generating more kindness when and how I can.

So, I’ll list my Accomplishments because I did have some. I’ll list Goals, things to work towards. And then I’ll list Resolutions which are about what I and I alone can make happen. And yes, I’ll try to erase the big “GO SUCK IT” that I etched across the two pages of 2018 Resolutions in my journal.

It’s a new day.

The love of a story prompt

I gave myself a goal this holiday. For the month that I am spending in MN with my family. That goal was to continue honing my prose writing chops by writing short stories.

I have a novel in works out to beta-readers so I’m sitting on starting revisions or the second book of that trilogy. (I CAN’T WAIT!!! And yes, imagine that in my best Oprah-esque voice) And I have all these characters sorta milling around in my head.

Okay, some of them are more demanding of their stories than others. They’re mostly cops. Female cops in gritty cities or small towns. Badass chicks who have to hunt down some evil POS and do right by the badge they hold dearly. Some are women fighting for their families, for their lives. For the world that may be kicking them in their asses but it’s the world they’re committed to save. So, I guess the image of them milling around, sipping tea and watching holiday baking shows in the afternoon doesn’t really fit them. (actually that’s me when the work is done…lol!)

I needed a way to get these stories to the page so I put the word out to my online writing friends- incredibly talented women who are so far ahead of me in the prose fiction journey, accomplished novelists and authors who have had stories published online in the top journals and in beautiful collections, just all around inspiring, talented storytellers. I found some sites that have prompts to jumpstart a story. And I’ve started popping in on an incredible writing session with book mentor, Ericka Lutz http://erickalutz.com. 

In her sessions, writers would gather in zoom room for a timed writing session. She’d give us prompts if we wanted them or needed them. Set a timer and we’d go. Aside from seeing these other writers at their computer, intense looks on their faces, sipping tea or staring off, however they were creating their magic on the page, I was seeing that they were doing it like me. One word at a time.

These prompts, though! They were like lightening in a bottle. BOOM! I had a line of dialogue that gave me a direction to take my undercover Native cop, Carla Killingbear, to the alley to confirm the dead girl was the missing girl. She and her partners disagree on how swiftly they had to move on a suspect she developing a relationship with but had no concrete evidence. Yet. This story, Skye Isles, will be a longer work of fiction. O MY GOD!! Another novel??! YUP YUP! I’m excited and so is Carla Killingbear. I didn’t even know she was waiting to tell her story until I got the prompt. Joy. Joy. Joy!

The next prompt I used in another session was a place. Ericka said country store and I immediately saw Becky’s. A dusty place Off The Highway in New Mexico. And I saw Stella, a young Native girl, in old guy Coozer’s truck as he raved about how much he loved Becky and that she would be able to help Stella get her car fixed that died on the highway. Stella was on her way to California, on a grief healing journey after her mother’s death. What they didn’t know was who else was in that country store and the murder that was going to happen. BOOM! I WAS SO HAPPY! That prompt opened up a whole new story world with these incredible characters! A short story that moves with intrigue and suspense. More Joy, Joy, Joy!

If you’d like to connect with Ericka, you can find her on Facebook at Spark the Second Fire https://www.facebook.com/groups/sparkfire/.

If you have other links to writing prompts, let me know!

Write On!