My dream cast for a #PROVECTUS movie

When I write characters (main characters at least), I like to visualize their appearance in my head. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to imagine an actor that looks like them. And then you just write for them. Not for them as in, “Tom Cruise would probably want to say or do this or that,” but use the image of them in your head to describe their look or mannerisms.

Unlike some novels, I have quite a few characters in my book. I have five major characters and a rather large contingent of supporting characters. Here are the ones I put up on my storyboard when I was writing PROVECTUS: Survival of the Fittest.

David Mariani – Our Hero

david-giuntolif
David is a mild-mannered pediatrician who is handsome, but doesn’t know it. When I first started thinking about my main character, I was infatuated with the TV show Grimm. Immediately, David Giuntoli, the actor who plays  the main character Nick Burkhardt just rang true for me as my own David. He’s so handsome, but seems so unassuming. I mean, just look at that face! Those eyes? What’s not to love? But he can also be intimidating when he has to be.

Image from https://www.imdb.com

Randall Thomas Stainer – The Villain

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Randall Thomas Stainer is a “crusader” bad guy. The scariest thing about him is that he really believes what he’s doing is right. When I first imagined him, the image of Max Zorin from the Bond movie “View to a Kill” came to mind. Seriously creepy-looking bad guy, right?

Of course Christopher Walken (much as I love him) isn’t the right age for this role anymore.

In the absence of a working time machine, two of my favorite “bad guy” actors would do quite fabulously, I think. Let me know in the comments which one you’d choose and I’ll let them know they’ve got the job. (Ha ha! Wouldn’t that be fun?)

Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch? (Images from https://www.imdb.com)

Tom Hiddleston         cumberbatch

Kate Evans – More Than Just a Love Interest

Kate - cropped
Kate Evans is a very special woman. Not only is she David’s love interest, she’s something even more important to the story. But you’ll just have to read the book to find out just how important she is. The woman I had in mind from the very start is one of my favorite actresses from Smallville and Beauty and the Beast, Kristin Kreuk.

What a gorgeous woman. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her? Especially when you find out that she’s . . . well, again, you’ll just have to read the book.

 

Jemimah Jackson – Kick-Ass Leading Lady

bonang-matheba

Once again, the person who inspired this character is not quite the right age to play the character, but I’ll bet she could pull it off anyway. This is Bonang Matheba.

They broke the mold when they made this beauty.

 

 

Marcus Greene – Best Friend

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Marcus is another key player in this story. He is the best friend. The comedy relief. The man who steals Jem’s heart. Which is no small task, let me tell you. She fights the attraction as long as she can.

Marcus exudes confidence, charisma and sex appeal. His personality is larger than life. To me, THIS man is Marcus.

This is Michael B. Jordan.

 

 

Molly Evans – Kate’s 10-Year-Old Daughter

original

Molly is Kate’s 10-year old daughter. Mackenzie Foy is all grown up now, but her eyes are what really captured me. She exudes “old soul.”

In this photo, she’s actually a bit younger than 10, but I still saw it in her.

Image from https://www.imdb.com

 

 

Vukas/Damir – The Muscle

croation guy

 

Vukas and Damir are twins from Croatia. They’re dangerous men with dangerous jobs.

For this role, I pictured Goran Visnjic as Vukas. He could, of course, play both rolls, but it would be more fun to have some other actor to play off of. They have some pretty heart-wrenching scenes together. Might be weird if Goran is playing both parts.

 

Liana – Also the Muscle! (But with Girl Parts)

nice-gina-carano-feet_1361900679

Oh boy did I have fun writing Liana!

Maybe Gina Carano isn’t Italian, but she looks it and more importantly, she could kick your ass in a dark alley if you cross her.

Image from totaldamage.blog.hu

Garret – The Brains

Garret

 

Garret is a smart, sweet man. And they couldn’t pull off the mission without him. He’s also British.

At least David Oyelowo really is British and he gets to play one in the movie too. (Unlike my two villain choices who would be playing an American).

 

Benjamin – The Guardian

Dennis Haysbert - Benjamin

I never found a good actor to imagine when writing this important character. But Dennis Haysbert conveys the general idea. Intelligent, kind, strong.

I’d just need him to be a bit more “confident military man” and less, “Mr. Nice Guy.”

This picture makes him look like he has half of a Mickey Mouse ears on, but it’s the closest I could find to my character’s look.

 

Julian – The “Professor”

patrick-bauchau

 

You may not even remember this character. He has a relatively small part in my novel. You’ll find him for the first time on page 206 (don’t jump ahead though!).

I know it’s odd to have a face in mind for such a minor character, but Patrick Bauchau really was the inspiration for this guy, ever since I saw him in The Pretender. He even has the right the soft-spoken accent.

 

Interestingly, he was in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill with my original villain choice, Zorin!

So there you have it. Read the book, then let me know who you’d pick for these characters.

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Writing the screenplay for #PROVECTUS, Take Four

scene boardSo . . . a few months ago I decided to adapt my own novel, PROVECTUS: Survival of the Fittest, for the big screen.

It has been a lot harder to do than I expected.

My first approach was the wrong one. Up until now, the screenplays I have written have been from scratch. Stories straight out of the ol’ noggin.

This was the first time (and perhaps the last!) that I’ve tried to adapt a book. So I looked in the mirror and asked myself if I could option the rights to the story. I thought about it for a few minutes, then said yes. Ha ha!

Take 1: I’d spent years writing the novel and wanted to save as much of the dialogue (over which I’d spilled much blood, sweat and tears) as possible. Not only that, but my oh my! The scenery! The drama! The love story! Yep. Let’s cram it all in there.

So I took a PDF of the book, copied the text into Final Draft and proceeded to add scene headings, remove any internal thoughts and other “novel-y” things, and voila! I had a screenplay . . .

. . .that was approximately 250 pages long.

As I am no Aaron Sorkin (yet), I knew this wasn’t going to work.

Take 2: My next attempt was to write the story out from memory. That started out well, but  I would get to a spot in the story where I’d think, Hmm… I did this pretty well in the novel. If I just copy this little, tiny bit of dialogue and description, and, and, and . . . Nope. No go.

Take 3: So I went back to the 250 page version and tried to delete big chunks of stuff I thought I could do without. Talk about killing your darlings! I spent days doing this and ended up with a gutted story that was still a whopping 170 pages. And after I read it through, I found it was missing too many sequences that are important to the main story and theme.

Take Four.

I finally thought, this is harder than I thought it would be. After all, who knows my story better than I do? Who better to write the screenplay? And that, in the end, was the problem I think. I was essentially trying to write the book all over again, but in screenplay format.

Finally I realized that I needed to learn the right way to adapt a novel. No matter who wrote the novel (whether it be me or someone else), there is a right way to go about it. I finally found that way by reading The Art of Adaptation: Turning Fact and Fiction into Film.

This is the book that finally gave me the know-how I needed to do this right. You’ll have to read Seger’s book to get all the juicy details (and great examples from some classic adaptations), but it boils down to the following:

  • Pick out the main story line(s),
  • Choose your characters. You may need to remove or merge some. You may even need to create entirely new characters!
  • Figure out what the theme is (if it’s not obvious, or if there are too many, pick one),
  • Know that you might have to move scenes around, or delete/add scenes or entire story lines.

Crazy stuff, that.

And so I made a list of key plot points that tied into the “A” story and theme. I merged a few sequences. I merged two supporting characters into one. Whenever I came to a scene where I asked myself if I should include it, the main story and theme were my guides. Does the main story (or theme) still work without that scene/character/dialogue? Then cut it. You’ll end up with a lean, mean screenplay.

Now we’re cooking with gas, my friends!

A Fresh Start in 2017

Happy New Year folks!

The past few weeks have brought rain to my little town in Southern California. This cleared the air and made for an amazing first day of 2017. Everything is fresh and clean as a new year should be!

Yesterday the universe blessed me with a double rainbow:

double-rainbow

What better omen for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year could one ask for? Speaking of omens, why does that word carry such negative connotations? (Thanks Hollywood!)

Let’s instead say it offers the promise of a fabulous year.

This year I hope to finish book two of my PROVECTUS series (and the screenplay for book one). It has been difficult to write this second book. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t know if anyone really cares if there will actually be a book two or not? Or if it’s because now that I’ve done it once, I know how much work still stands ahead of me? LOL!

As for the first question, I do know a few people that have asked for a sequel. They are loyal fans and by god they deserve a second book if they want one! So for you – my wonderful readers – I will continue writing the second book (the name of which I will reveal later in the year).

As for the second question, well YEAH writing is hard. But it’s also fun and rewarding, right? That’s why we do it! That’s why I do it anyway. If all it was was hard, there are things I’d rather be doing with my time.

So I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year of doing whatever it is you most enjoy!

Happy New Year

 

The Journey of Writing a Screenplay

My novel, PROVECTUS, Survival of the Fittest, was “born” on October 4, 2016.

As someone who has always loved movies and TV, it was only natural that the next step in my author’s journey would be writing a screenplay. Those who have read my novel tell me, “This would make a great movie!” And you know what? I agree! It’s certainly a movie that I myself would like to see, if that’s any indication.

So as fitting with my personality, I immediately bought a bunch of books on writing screenplays (including How NOT to Write a Screenplay, by Denny Martin Flinn and The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trotter). I spent weeks re-watching my favorite movies, this time with a copy of the screenplay on my lap. What a blast!

Then I set about transcribing my novel to screenplay format. Whew! What a chore. It took me longer than I thought it would. Longer than it probably should have. And now I have to edit it with ruthless abandon. Still, I consider it a good sign that I enjoyed reading it once again (I can’t even guess how many times I’ve had to read my manuscript over the years).

When you write a novel, you include all kinds of stuff that you don’t generally want in a screenplay.

For example, internal thoughts (unless you’re doing a narrated type of thing). You also don’t want a lot of description of the scenery, or what people are wearing, or what they’re doing when they’re talking (much of that is left to the director and/or the actors) unless it’s relevant to the story.

So keeping that in mind, I’ll tell you that my novel is approximately 80,000 words. The paperback version of the book is 372 pages.

My screenplay (admittedly just a draft) is 240 pages. Screenplays should be 100-120 pages long. Especially debuts. If you’re Aaron Sorkin, you can write a 300 page screenplay and the director will work with you on cutting it down (“The American President” screenplay’s extras turned into West Wing material). Needless to say, I am not Aaron Sorkin.

So the questions I’m asking myself are:

  • How do I convey so many important internal thoughts without the stereotypical info dump dialogue (e.g., “Well Joe, as you know, Mary can’t have children since that horrible accident at the clown rodeo last summer.”) or having a guy talk to his cat all the time?
  • Which scenes can I cut? Are there scenes which may have filled out a novel nicely, but are not really necessary to convey the story in movie format?
  • Is there any content that can’t be SEEN by a camera that should be re-written or removed? (E.g., “Joe was an avid reader.” How do we know this? Is he surrounded by dogeared books and sits reading one as we watch? Are there days’ worth of fast food containers strewn about the room?)

I loved writing my novel, but I really think I’ve found my passion in screenwriting. I’m not a verbose person. I’m not one of those writers that spew out 300,000 words and have to “kill my darlings.” No. For me, it was an effort to come up with a full-length novel (I don’t know what he’s wearing! Who cares what he’s doing while he’s talking? Do we really need to know what the restaurant they’re eating in looks like?)

It is down-right liberating to write a screenplay and let the director and actors worry about things that were a struggle for me to describe. With screenplays I get to focus on the MEAT of the story.

Yes, I have to give context, but with a screenplay it’s what happened, when, and to whom.

BAM. Done.

Love it.

October – #PROVECTUS Birth Month

October is my favorite month.

It’s the month of my birthday, my anniversary, and my favorite holiday – Halloween! Fall is officially here. The leaves change (yes, we do have seasons in California). The weather gets cooler (mostly).

And now October is also the “birthday” of my debut novel, PROVECTUS, Survival of the Fittest. Officially, the release date is October 4, 2016. Though they tell us not to focus too much on the actual release date, but rather the weeks before and after that date.

But how can I not focus on that date for my very first novel? After years of hard work, it will finally venture out into the world. That’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.

So keep an eye on my blog for book signings in the Ventura County area!

And please get yourself a copy from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm. Don’t be afraid to ask a bookstore to carry my book if they don’t already have it! It’s available for them to order through Ingram Publishing Services.

I hope the world enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

#PROVECTUS has gone to press!

The other day I reviewed the final draft of my new thriller novel, PROVECTUS, Survival of the Fittest.

It looks amazing!

Fellow writers, I must warn you . . . you will NEVER find EVERY typo. So at some point you just need to let it go. I have a very keen eye. And I continue to find things even after scouring every sentence, word,  and punctuation mark.

I did, however, find a timeline issue very late in the game! It was something I didn’t see until I had the ARC in my hands. I just never noticed it on the digital versions I was using to proof it. Thankfully, it was a relatively easy fix. But wow. Next time I will pay to print a physical copy just for proofing. And I don’t mean an 8.5 x 11 printed version. I mean an ARC- sized version.

Maybe that’s just me.

So part of going to press with a hybrid publisher means I had to pay for the copies now even though my release date isn’t until the first week of October. Ouch!

However, I did get some orders from Barnes & Noble as well as a handful of independent bookstores. Yay! That’s one way She Writes Press really stands out. Their books are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services. Their sales force takes meetings with retailers and gets those retailers to stock/carry their titles. You don’t get THAT with self publishing!

My ARCs have arrived!

When I got home from work Thursday night, there was a box on my front porch. I didn’t think much of it. My husband likes to shop, so I thought, “Wonder what he got this time?”

To my surprise, he started to open it then stopped. “Hey!” he said. “This has your name on it!”

I told him I didn’t remember ordering anything and asked him to open the box.

To my utter surprise and pleasure, the advanced reader copies of my novel (aka, ARC) were inside!

MY ARCS!!

What beauties! To finally hold my book in my hands literally gave me chills of excitement. To open the smooth cover and see my own words on the cream-colored pages inside was unreal.

With these ARCs I will solicit “blurbs” from other authors. Authors already famous. Authors I admire.

I will ask bookstores to carry my book. I will ask bloggers to review my book. Eventually, when I get the final version (not just the ARCs), I will ask readers to read my book. And hope that they enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It takes courage . . . and no small amount of arrogance to be a writer I think. I have to present this work to the world and say, “Hey! Read this! It will be worth your time, I promise you.”

Hello world. I present to you my novel. My baby. My blood, sweat and tears.

My novel, PROVECTUS, Survival of the Fittest, has arrived.

PROVECTUS_final cover (draft) - trim