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We are happy to have a place to share our writing, photography, and bits of wisdom on everything under the sun. We hope you enjoy walking with us for awhile on our journey, and don’t forget to send us ideas on what you would like to see us highlight. Our goal is happy, successful readers. As always, if you see something here that you love, please share it with others.

Quote of the Week: I could be just a writer very easily. I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker. … But it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.  —Paul Schrader

A Stroll Through the Park

It’s time. My current script is about done, and I’m in the last vestiges of testing the dialogue. I’m making sure my subtext and humor do their jobs, and my hooks and twists are ready to blow your socks off. Now starts the marketing, which is the scariest part of the process for most writers. I had a new writer ask me the other day how it feels to market your screenplay. Liberating? Torturous? Painful? All of the above?

Well, here’s my take on marketing, the only way that I can really describe it. Marketing a new screenplay is like having a newborn baby. Yep. Really.

Picture this: You have your newborn bundled up, in her best and cutest outfit, ready for her first outing to the park. Everyone’s interested in your bundle, and stops to see. Some people cannot stop telling you how beautiful she is, and some will want to pick her up and hold her. You just hope that when they do, she doesn’t spit up on them. Then there’s the judgers. They walk by your baby, and say what a handsome and robust little boy she is. You, in clipped words, correct them, by saying that the handsome boy is actually a beautiful, petite, baby girl. You now become protective of the baby, but start looking at her a bit more critically. Is she going to grow into that nose? Will she need surgery on that thing later? Better to dress her in pink so they know she’s a girl.

Marketing a screenplay is just like that. You need to get past the protective stage of the newborn, and realize that your work is changeable, and grows into something bigger than you hoped it would ever be. Words on paper, characters with subtext, and racy dialogue become production, actors, action, and comments of “Oh my God! I can’t believe they did that!”

Like that newborn, your initial script will be developed by everyone who puts a hand on it. Will there be critical words? Absolutely! No piece of work will ever appeal to everyone. And it shouldn’t. You will rewrite, and rework for the director, the producer, and for the actor who doesn’t like the way the dialogue is written. You will watch your baby grow into a beautiful, thoughtful piece of cinema, up there proudly for the world to see. It’s a matter of teamwork, and flexibility to do what it takes to get the screenplay produced.

That’s the goal, to share it with the world. It’s why you wrote it in the first place, right?

And you, the writer, will sit back, tearing up, remembering the newborn that she was. She’s now grown into a beautiful, confident woman, out there in front of everyone on that screen. Sometimes you just have to spring for that nose job to make it happen.

Sue’s Corner ~ Jersey Shore

www.aliandme.com

Jersey Shore, Credit-Photographer Sue Barcus

One of our dearest friends, Sue Barcus, recently traveled the East Coast with her husband Bill. Sue’s a professional photographer, and her art has held us enthralled for years. I’m excited to be highlighting some of her photography, in hopes that you will love it as much as we do. Incidentally, she is also Joe’s mentor, and teacher. You can see a lot of her influence throughout Joe’s photography.

A truer friend you will never find, and she’s also great company. She’s quick to smile, and has a terrific sense of humor.  Always active, sometimes you can’t blink, or you’ll have to run to keep up with her as she eyes the perfect shot.

So here’s what Sue wants you to know about her photograph:

This was taken on the Jersey shore in August 2014, around 9:30pm. Knowing Sue, she waited around for the scene to be perfect. Right about the time most photographers leave is when she gets her amazing shots. She used ISO 800 -f2.8 at 1 second, for those of you photo buffs out there.

What I see? In the vastness of the universe, an isolated moment of togetherness makes the world seem smaller, and more intimate. Beautiful.

Give her site a look through – You will be amazed by the quality of her work.

www.aliandme.com

 

Traveling Memory Lane

I recently upgraded my computer, and had to group my thousands of photos into some form of organization. I scrolled through photos from our wedding, of our kids when they were little, of places and people that I have not visited in years. One thing that stood out to me was what was involved in those photos. Travel, and lots of it.

We are a pretty tight-knit little family, and we do as much as possible together. I never quite understood the families that would send their children away to Grandma’s for their long school breaks. They are missing out on prime time! You have those beautiful, sassy kids 24/7 and will learn everything about them that you need to know, and in record time. The trick is to act busy. No one ever needs to talk to you if you look like you have the time!

We almost always travel by car, as we love a good, long road trip. Driving is perfect for catching up on all of the developments in their lives. Put down the phones, the iPads, laptops, and take out the headphones. Talk. About everything and anything. Don’t worry about whether it’s a subject that will interest them or not. They learn from listening, and they may surprise you with what they know. Sometimes they will just listen in on the conversation, sometimes they answer or comment. We talk about things we find interesting, and encourage them to add their views. I can’t tell you how often I have been floored by a comment one of the kids made into a seemingly adult conversation, that was so profound, so timely, that all conversation stopped to consider the new information. Talk about feeling important. Smiles all around.

My oldest are on their own now, and my husband asked one of them recently what they missed the most after leaving home. It was vacations. The go-go-go of travel, hiking, seeing everything we could in a short time. But, what was missed the most, was just experiencing it all, together. Being able to say, remember when?

Quote of the Week:  A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. ~Edward de Bono

 

 

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block. Just saying it brings a chill to those who make their living by the words they write. It’s painful, and mostly ignored by those who don’t consider it an actual affliction.

I’m just recovering from more of a writer’s cramp, than a block. The kind that the more you massage it, the more it hurts. Of course it could be that it’s trending into the holidays, and I have much more on my mind. Like can I regift that awful sweater I got last year to someone else and get away with it? Oh, and sales!

To release the hold the writer’s block has on you, here are several suggestions to try.

  • Walk away, or run away. Getting out and doing something else for a little while, like gardening, can sometimes bring on inspiration.
  • Take a long, hot bath or shower. This is my favorite, as the shower fairy and the idea fairy are good friends. They whisper ideas to me as the water flows. Just remember your water bill can hurt, too.
  • Go for a walk. Your dog probably misses you anyway. Can’t find the leash? Ask the dog. I’ll bet you that he’ll point right at it. That kind of excitement is contagious.
  • Talk to someone. Anyone. Ask them what’s new in their lives. Where have they visited recently? Inspiration is everywhere, and people say the funniest things.
  • Stop being so hard on yourself. Most blocks come from fear of being judged, and from looking for perfection. Put down the whip.
  • Just write down anything. They call them first drafts and rough drafts for a reason.

I write in stages. I look at my idea, type out a few things, then walk away and do something else. In this house it’s usually cleaning. I then go back, and type a little bit more. I do this several times until I have a bunch of ideas to work with. Then I do something I call programming. Right before I go to sleep, I allow all of my ideas to float around in my brain for about 5 minutes. I then open my Kindle and read for 15-20 minutes. When I wake up in the morning and grab my tea, most often I find that I have thoughts to add to the ideas I gave to my brain to work on the night before.

Your brain is a powerful computer. Put it to work and let yourself get some sleep for once!

Quote of the Week: “writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”  –Charles Bukowski

 

 

A Golden Opportunity

SSG Anton Kiren, the recruiter from the US Army, recently contacted Joe Urbaszewski at Rim of the World High School, asking him if he would tandem parachute jump with the US Army Golden Knights. He told Joe there was no pressure, but he needed to know in ten minutes. Joe of course said, “Yes!” He was thrilled to be offered the opportunity, as the Golden Knights are very well known for their thrilling acrobatics in air shows.

Joe Urbz, who teaches TV-Video Production, was excited to find out how much the US Army uses multimedia. A videographer jumps with each group to document the maneuvers, for training and competitions. Back on the ground, they use similar video editing software, and techniques that Joe teaches in his classroom. He learned about the individual jobs that each member was responsible for, how they began their careers, and career options that were available in multimedia. It was a great informational day to discuss jobs within the military that align with the ROP classes that Joe teaches.

The Knights Tandem team arrived at Skydive Perris to a foggy, drizzly day. They rounded up the educators, and bounced right into training mode. The educators were instructed in safety and procedures, and had a day filled with lively activities, interacting with the high-spirited Knight’s, and the recruiter group. Joe completed his tandem jump with SFC Brian Sealing, as the weather cleared to a bright and sunny day. Everyone was amazed to see a golden eagle soaring with the gold and black parachutes, as they glided downward through the sky.

As a recruiter, SSG Kiren loves to be able to offer these types of activities to teachers that have gone above and beyond for their students and communities.  Our ROP teachers offer real-world job experiences and knowledge to our students, and deserve recognition for the awesome jobs they do every day. Our interactions with SSG Kiren have shown us that he is not only dedicated to his job of recruiting for careers within the US Army, but works to make sure that our students are educated in the responsibilities of service, so they can make informed decisions. We applaud his honesty and genuine drive to help our students reach their career goals, and give our thanks for his service to our country.

Joe can now say he is part of the VIP group of tandem jumpers, which includes former President Bush, Bill Murray, Tiger Woods and Tony Stewart. Thank you SSG Kiren, and the US Army, for rewarding our ROP teacher, Joe Urbz, with one of the most exhilarating experiences of his life.

 

 

Building Relationships

The question I get asked the most is “How do I build my network?”

It’s one of those things that makes me sit back and sigh. You see, I don’t believe in networking for humans. Networking to me is cables and wires and routers, oh my!  I know what the term means, but humans haveNetworking servers and stations RELATIONSHIPS. You cannot hold a good, solid conversation with a server. So, my response to the question is always, “Let’s talk about building your relationships instead.”

Humans naturally navigate to other people that are just like them. It’s where we feel the most comfortable. We prefer to be around those that think like us, act like us, etc. But the true value in relationships is the differences that set us apart. There’s a reason why diversity in a workplace is so valued. Each person brings in different viewpoints, ideas, and procedures into the business, based on their background. A person’s background is as varied as a fingerprint. Everyone matters, all opinions have worth.

That said, who are the people you currently have relationships with? In order to add more contacts, I suggest you look at who you have in your circle right now. What are their skills, their jobs, their businesses? What types of personalities? Are they all conservative? Nothing makes more fun than throwing a liberal into a group of conservatives. Shark tank! Make a list. There is something visual about a list that makes you put two and two together easier.

Now that you have taken stock of who you have, and reviewed their list of skills and personalities, look closely for what’s missing. I recently took a look at my own circle, and found out that I had surrounded myself with people that agreed with me on almost all points, which does me no good whatsoever. I need people to argue with me, make me think of things I haven’t thought of before. People that stand their ground, and fight to the death over what they know and believe. People who don’t let me steamroller them. Hmm… Sounds like I need to find more people like my husband!

Your next step is to seek out the types people you need to add into your mix. Where do you find them? Have lunch with someone you normally wouldn’t. Introduce yourself to a different department, show interest in their jobs, find out why they’re valuable to the organization. People love to talk to others about what they do. Need a conversation starter? “So, what are you working on that’s really exciting to you?”  This question leads to either personal or professional answers, and can tell you a lot about a person. Remember to keep the focus of the conversation on them, and be an active listener. What you learn can make them a great addition to your circle, and you a great addition to theirs.

Quote of the Week:  “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”– Dale Carnegie