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What an amazing weekend I had. On Saturday, Audley End House hosted the Greatest Eighties Concert Ever! And it didn’t disappoint.

What I found funny was the age of the spectators. I mean, they were OLD! Then I realised. So was I. No longer was I that young teenager with her back-combed hair, Madonna style clothes, and white stiletto shoes. Instead, it dawned on me… Heck, I’m middle-aged.

When did that happen? I haven’t turned grey… or not that my hair dye won’t cover-up. I don’t have many wrinkles that L’Oreal eye cream can’t cope with. My bum hasn’t sagged that much… has it?

So, I thought it would be fun to do a ‘Then and Now’ blog.

Right, I’ll be brave and start with me.

   
                                Me, back in the 80’s                        … and, me now

Notice the hair and the shoulder pads? The only good thing about the first picture is that the car is KITT from Knight Rider.

So, back to Saturday night.

Recognise this singer? This is Nik Kershaw way back in the eighties.

Here he is some twenty years later playing one of his most famous songs.

How about this man?

The gorgeous Rick Astley. Remember that wiggle dance. Oh boy, did I love this guy back then. Actually, I still love him now. Here’s why…

Here are some more…

Anthony Michael Hall, that guy from the Breakfast Club and Weird Science.

  

Teen heartthrob, Emilio Estevez, from St. Elmo’s Fire.

   

How about Star Wars hero, Mark Hamill.

   

We all remember the beautiful Kelly McGillis.

   

What about the people we love now?

Take the sexy Mark Harmon from NCIS fame.

   

And ever wondered if the hunky Paul Walker was really always that cute?

   

Ahh, wasn’t he just adorable!

So, which childhood crush or hero do you think has changed the most with age?… For the better, and (cough cough) for the worse. Shannon Doherty is doing okay, and so is Demi Moore for that matter. Who do you think hasn’t aged at all?

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Someone over on my WanaTribe recently asked what the difference was between Who’s and Whose, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to all those common and annoying little grammar mistakes that spell-check isn’t so good at spotting.

Like with all my posts, I like to make these explanations as simple a possible without resorting to the use of crayons and picture books, which I regularly use 🙂

So, without further ado, lets start with the one that brought us here…

Who’s vs Whose:

Who’s is an abbreviate and used in place of ‘who is’, or ‘who has’.  Example – Who’s going to the party? Who’s this? It would also work at Who is going to the party? and Who is this?

Whose is the possessive of who.  Example – Whose book is this? Whose side are you on?

Basically, if ‘who is or who has’ does not fit the sentence, then use ‘whose’.

Who vs Whom:

Who, like I, he, or she, is a subject and is the person performing the action. Example – This is who gave it to me.  Is Paul the one who wants to know?

Whom, like me, him, and her, is an object. It is the person to whom the action is being done. Example – To whom do I send this letter? This is the man whom I told you about.

Basically, who and whom is the same difference as I and me. Try re-writing the sentence and change who or whom with another pronoun. So,

This is who gave it to me — He/she gave it to me – OR –  Him/her gave it to me? She how he/she sounds correct, so ‘who’ would be used.
This is the man whom I told you about. — I told you about him/her – OR – I told you about she/he. In this instance him/her is correct so whom would be used.
To whom do I send this letter? – Do I send this letter to he/she? – OR – Do I send this letter to him/her? Again, the latter him/her is correct and whom is used.

Which vs That:

That is used in a restrictive sentence. Example – “Cars that are red are more sexy”. You are restricting the sentence by saying that only red cars are sexy.

Which is used in a non-restrictive sentence. Example – The red cars, which went on sale yesterday, are now half price. If you omitted which went on sale yesterday it wouldn’t actually change what you want to say, which is that red cars are now half price.

All Right vs Alright:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, alright is a frequent spelling of all right. Now, although the dictionary lists the word ‘alright’, you be hard pushed to find somewhere that agrees with the spelling ‘alright’.

What should you do? Although the ‘alright’ usage is growing, it’s probably best to stick to ‘all right’.

Like vs Such As:

Like is used when you are comparing. For example – Can you take me somewhere nice like Paris or Rome? Here, the person is not asking to go to Paris or Rome, but somewhere like it.

Such As is used when you are including. For example – Can you take me somewhere nice such as Paris or Rome? Now they are making it clear they want to go to either Paris or Rome.

One vs You:

Using either one or you is classed as grammatically correct.

One, however, is often used when one is being more formal. It gives the impression of a higher standing. For example – One has to conduct oneself in a certain manner. However, you would not use ‘one’ when you are the object. For example – The maid lay the blanket over one’s lap, and one thanked her. This just sounds awkward.

You is much more relaxed. For example – You have to conduct yourself in a certain manner. See how the same sentence holds a different weight? It’s not as formal. Basically, using you is more acceptable in the world today.

So, what version of words do you get stuck with? What are your pet hates. Let me know…. Don’t be shy 🙂

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

TV quiz shows have always been big business for those who want to win some quick cash, a holiday, or a badly made crystal decanter set (remember back to the shows in the 70’s and 80’s?)

Most contestants are people like you and me. Good common sense, can find the UK on a map, and know that oranges grow on trees.

But then, somewhere from the depths of the Amazon jungle, TV producers dig up people who give answers like these…

 

Q: What kind of dozen is 13?

A: Half a dozen.

Q: Who was the Prime Minister before Tony Blair?

A: George Bush.

Q: Of all Beatrix Potter’s books, which is the only one to feature a human in the title?

A: Peter Rabbit.

Q: Who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?

A: Leonardo Di Caprio.

Q: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which jungle-swinging character, clad only in a loincloth, did he play?

A: Jesus

Q: How long did the Six Day War between Egypt and Israel last?

A: (long pause) 14 days.

Q: What happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963?

A: I don’t know, I wasn’t watching it then.

Some of these contestants can’t even ‘get’ the answer with the presenter helping them a little, or in most cases, a hell of a lot:

Presenter: What is another name for “cherrypickers” and “cheesemongers”?

Contestant: Homosexuals.

Presenter: No. They’re regiments in the British Army who will be very upset with you.

 

Presenter: What’s 11 squared?

Contestant: I don’t know.

Presenter: I’ll give you a clue. It’s two ones with a two in the middle.

Contestant: Is it five?

Answer: 121

 

Presenter: On which street did Sherlock Holmes live?

Contestant: Er…

Presenter: He makes bread.

Contestant: Er…

Presenter: He makes cakes.

Contestant: Kipling Street?

Answer: Baker Street

 

Presenter: Where is Cambridge University?

Contestant: Geography isn’t my strong point

Presenter: There’s a clue in the title

Contestant: Leicester?

Answer: Cambridge

 

Presenter: What ‘K’ could be described as the Islamic Bible?

Contestant: Er…

Presenter: It’s got two sylla-bles… Kor…

Contestant: Blimey?

Presenter: Ha ha ha, no. The past participle of run…

Contestant: Silence

Presenter: Okay, try it another way. Today I run, yesterday I…

Contestant: Walked?

Answers: Koran & ran

 

Then, there are the presenters that just give up, knowing their contestant is a lost cause:

 

Presenter: What religion was Guy Fawkes?

Contestant: Jewish.

Presenter: That’s close enough.

Answer: Roman Catholic

 

…. And lastly, there is this person…

 

 

So, what is the best Q and A combo you’ve every heard?

 

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This weeks competitions that have caught my eye:

FICTION:

Writer’s Digest Thriller Competition

The Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Thriller Category is now open.
Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Thriller competition

Writer’s Digest Science Fiction Competition

We are now accepting entries in the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Science Fiction Category. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Science Fiction competition

Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Competition

The Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Young Adult Fiction Category is now open. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Young Adult Fiction competition

Writer’s Digest Romance Competition

We are now accepting entries in the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Romance Category. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Romance competition

Writer’s Digest Crime Competition

The Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Crime Category is now open. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Crime writing competition 

Writer’s Digest Horror Competition

The Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Horror Competition is now accepting entries. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Learn more about the Horror writing competition

Short Short Story Writing Competition

We are now accepting entries for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Writing Competition. The top winner will receive over $3,000 in cash and prizes and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City.  The top 10 winners will also be featured the July/August 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Entry Deadline: November 15, 2012

Click here to enter the short short story competition

ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA Via RWA

 *Open to published authors
**Open to published and unpublished authors

**Romance is Hotter in Las Vegas Writing ContestSponsor: Las Vegas Chapter

Fee: $10 LVRWA members; $15 RWA members; $20 non members
Deadline: July 31, 2012
Eligibility: Non-published short story
Entry: All electronic, 4,500 words maximum.
Categories: Romance or Romantic Elements.
Judges; Published/Unpublished.
Final Judge: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency.
Top Prize: $100.
FMI, visit www.LasVegasRWA.org or contact us at LasVegasRomanceWriters@hotmail.com.

**The 2012 Golden Rose Contest

Sponsor: Rose City Romance Writers
Fee: RCRW members $30, RWA members $35, others $50
Deadline: August 1, 2012
Eligibility: Open to all non-contracted authors of romantic fiction (RWA and non-RWA members) unpublished in book-length (40,000 words or more) in the last three (3) years and any member of RWA who is not eligible to join RWA-PAN. Please see the RWA website regarding PAN eligibility rules.
Entry: Accepting entries up to a maximum of fifty (50) pages including prologue (if any). Your entry may include an optional non-judged two-page synopsis. The synopsis does not count toward the 50-page maximum for the manuscript, however the synopsis cannot exceed two pages even if the manuscript is shorter than 50 pages.
Judges: First round judges are romance writers (trained in judging) with at least one being a published author or RWA-PRO member.
Categories and Final Judges: Contemporary Series Romance – Roberta Brown, Roberta Brown Literary Agency; Contemporary Single Title – Alex Logan, Grand Central Publishing; Historical – Chelsey Emmelhainz, Avon/HarperCollins; Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements – Sarah E. Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency; Paranormal – Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency ; Romantic Suspense – Aubrey Poole, Sourcebooks; Young Adult – Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency.
Top Prize: The first place winner in each category will receive the Golden Rose Award. All other finalists will receive suitable recognition. Results will be published in the RWR.
FMI, visit http://rosecityromancewriters.com/contest-home  or email contestcoordinator@rosecityromancewriters.com.

7th Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Contest

Sponsor: (SOLA) Southern Louisiana RWA
Fee: $15.00
Deadline: August 1, 2012 *deadline extended*
Eligibility: Entrants do not need to be members of RWA to enter.
Entry: First 5 double-spaced pages. Also, one-page, single-spaced synopsis (not judged). No electronic submissions. See website for more information. No staples please, paper clips only.
Categories and Final Readers: Short/Long Series Contemporary, Stacy Holmes, Senior Editor, Yellow Rose Line; Single Title Contemporary, Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief, The Wild Rose Press; Historical Romance, Allison Byers, Editor, Historical Line; Paranormal, CallieLynn Wolfe, Senior Editor, Black Rose Line; Inspirational, Nicola Martinez, Editor in Chief, Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing; Novel w/ Strong Romantic Elements, Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief, The Wild Rose Press; Romantic Suspense, Lori Graham, Senior Editor, Crimson Rose; Erotic Romance, Diana Carlile, Senior Editor, Scarlet Rose Line.
Judges: experienced, trained, published/nonpublished.
Final Readers: First place winners in each category receive a guaranteed read by an editor of The Wild Rose Press who will send you a request for a full or partial manuscript, or a rejection.
Top Prize: $50 cash with tiebreaker and special certificate for the overall highest score in all categories. Also, certificates and signature button for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and honorable mention.
FMI, http://solawriters.org/ or email contest coordinator at ngenovese@gmail.com.

**Show Me the Spark 2012 Contest

Sponsor: Heartland Romance Authors

Fee: $20 RWA Members / $25 Non-RWA Members
Entry Deadline: August 1, 2012
Eligibility requirements: The annual Show Me the Spark! Contest is open to unpublished and published authors of novel-length fiction. The entry must be the author’s original work, unpublished and uncontracted as of the time of the contest deadline. No entry can have been previously published in any format. (on author’s website visible to the public, self-published, ebook, mass market, etc.).
Entry: All electronic. First chapter up to 3,500 words max (actual word count), including prologue, if applicable. *Word count will be verified. No part of a second or any additional chapters will be judged. End your entry on a hook, leaving your judges breathless with no more pages left to turn. Optional 5-page synopsis can be provided, but will not be judged.
Judges: trained/experienced, published.
Final Round Judges: TBA (updated on website).
Categories: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Inspirational, Young Adult, and Erotic Romance. Each category will advance finalists to final round judging.
Top prize: First prize: Engraved Show Me the Spark memento. Second and third prize: certificates.
FMI, www.heartlandromanceauthors.com or email contest@heartlandromanceauthors.com.

**Heartbeat

Sponsor: Heart of Louisiana
Fee: $10.00 for all entrants
Deadline: August 3, 2012 *deadline extended*
Eligibility: Unpublished authors or published authors not contracted for the entry.
Entry: First chapter (up to 4,000 words) and a synopsis (up to 5 pages) of your unpublished romance novel.
Categories: Contemporary (long, short, single title), Inspirational, Historical, Paranormal, Erotic
Judges: Each entry will be read by at least one published author in the preliminary round.
Final Judge: Adam Wilson, Editor, Gallery and Pocket Books.
Top Prize: Manuscript reading by Adam Wilson, Editor, Gallery and Pocket Books.
FMI, www.heartla.com/contest.htm.

**Fiction from the Heartland Contest

Sponsor: Mid-America Romance Authors (MARA)
Fee: $30.00
Deadline: August 10, 2012
Eligibility: unpublished in book-length fiction in the past five years from deadline.
Entry: Prologue/First Chapter/Synopsis (max. 35 pages).
Judges: at least one published author and experienced critiquers.
Final Judges: Final-round judges two publishing professionals.
Top Prize: $50.00 and plaque.
FMI, www.mararwa.com.

2012 Golden Palm Contest

Sponsor: Florida Romance Writers
Fee: $20 for FRW Members, $30 for all others. Contest fee payable by PayPal or check.
Deadline: Midnight, August 15, 2012
Entry: Maximum first 25 pages. Electronic Submission only.
Final judges: Editors/Agents.
FMI, www.frwriters.org.

The Golden Pen

Sponsor: The Golden Network
Fee: $35 per entry received on or before July 15; $40 per entry received on or before August 15; $5 judging discount.
Deadline: Opens June 1, 2012. Early-bird deadline July 15, 2012. All others deadline August 15, 2012.
Eligibility requirements: The Golden Pen Contest is open to writers who have not accepted a publishing offer for a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more by August 15, 2012. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party prior to or by August 15, 2012.
Entry: All-electronic. Entry shall include a synopsis (not to exceed fifteen pages) plus the first consecutive pages of the manuscript in one document, together totaling not more than 55 pages. Categories: Series Contemporary, Single Title, Historical, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Inspirational, Young Adult, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.
Judges: In the preliminary round, each entry will be judged by three judges, including at least one Golden Heart finalist and one published author (Golden Heart finalist may also be the published author).
Final Judges: Top editors; details TBD.
Top Prize: $30, certificate, and a golden pen.
FMI, visit http://thegoldennetwork.com or email goldenpencontest@gmail.com.

**2012 Heart to Heart

Sponsor: San Francisco Area RWA
Fee: $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers
Deadline: August 31, 2012
Eligibility: Open to all writers unpublished by an RWA-approved publisher as of the entry deadline. Prospective entrants may be published with a non RWA-recognized publisher. However, they may not enter books/manuscripts that have been professionally edited or have ISBN numbers.
Entry: Enter the scene(s) in which the hero and heroine meet for the first time or for the first time in the book, if previously acquainted, up to a maximum of 15 pages. Each entry may only be entered in one category. However, you may submit as many different entries as you wish. Each new entry must have a contest entry form and payment.
Categories: Contemporary, Erotic, Paranormal, Young Adult, Historical.
Judges: TBA.
Final Judges: TBA.
FMI, http://www.sfarwa.net/contests/heart-to-heart-contest.

*Laurel Wreath Contest for Published Authors

Sponsor: Volusia County Romance Writers
Fee: $20.00
Deadline: August 31, 2012
Eligibility: Books with 2011 copyright
Entry: 3 print copies of book
Categories: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Young Adult, Erotic Romance, Inspirational.
Judges: Booksellers & librarians.
Top Prize: Laurel Wreath engraved pendant.
FMI, contact lauralitak66@gmail.com for more information, or visithttp://www.vcrw.net/index.php/contests.

**Unpublished Beacon Contest

Sponsor: First Coast Romance Writers
Fee: $25 FCRW Member, $30 RWA Member (non-FCRW), $35 Non-RWA Member
Contest opens: August 1, 2012
Deadline: August 31, 2012
Eligibility: Open to all authors of romantic fiction, not contracted/published in book length fiction (40,000+) in the last 3 years.
Entry: All electronic. First 25 pages (including prologue, if applicable), plus up to five-page synopsis (unjudged), in .rtf format. (Combined total not to exceed 30 pages.)
First Round Judges: Trained and published authors
Categories & Final Round Judges:
Historical – Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, & Holly Blanck, St. Martin’s Press.
Single Title – Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates, & Esi Sogah, Harper Collins.
Contemporary Series – Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency, & Susan Litman, Harlequin.
Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal – Beth Miller, Writers House, & Jhanteigh Kupihea, NAL.
Romantic Suspense – Weronika Janczuk, Franklin Siegal Associates, & Shana Smith, Harlequin.
Young Adult – Laura Bradford, The Bradford Literary Agency, & Audrey Poole, Sourcebooks.
Erotic Romance – Leis Pederson, Berkley, & Meghan Conrad, Ellora’s Cave.
Inspirational – Mary Sue Seymour, The Seymour Agency, & Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing.
Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction/Mainstream – Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency, & Rachel Burkot, Harlequin.
Prizes: First place winners receive lapel pin, all finalists receive certificate.
FMI, http://firstcoastromancewriters.com or contact contest chair atbeaconunpub@firstcoastromancewriters.com.

SCRIPT WRITING OPPORTUNITIES Via ISA:

(N.B. Only contact the companies listed below between 24th July – 5th August 2012)

SEEKING SCRIPT WRITER FOR FEATURE FILM IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH
Seeking a script writer for a feature film in Spanish and English. You must be fluently bilingual in both and have samples of work in each. This project has a completed treatment and is under a SAG ultra low budget contract. The writer will convert the treatment into a feature film script. There is pay for the project and pay will be made in draws. Serious inquiries only to playworldpictures@gmail.com

LOOKING FOR EMOTIONALLY CHALLENGING SHORT FILM SCRIPT
I’m looking for a SHORT FILM screenplay which features a YOUNG CAST. We’re looking to produce the film in the next few months as a showreel piece to illustrate my work directing teenage actors. We’ll also be submitting the film to festivals. The screenplay should be a short film of under 10 minutes w/ dialogue, feature actors between 13-15 years old, and be emotionally challenging for the cast. I’m an award-winning director of features and commercials. The short film will be produced to the highest possible standards. Casting will be performed by a top casting director. You can see my work at http://www.philm.co.uk/ Be brave. I’d like a script that is challenging and powerful of any genre. Please submit your screenplay or an initial synopsis to the link below or e-mail to phil*at*philmcompany.com. You will obviously be fully credited on the finished film and be involved in the development and production of the film. I look forward to reading them.

LOOKING FOR COMMERCIAL COMEDY WRITERS FOR SPEC SPOT
Hello. I am looking for a comedy writer who is familiar with the 30 sec spot format. I am looking to freshen up my directorial reel and would love some new energy and ideas. I have no budget to pay you from, but this is a great way to see your idea put into a film format. It will make a great portfolio piece for you. Interested parties contact me at lbarcojo1@me.com Thanks!

DOC DIRECTOR/PRODUCER SEEKING SCREENWRITER
Documentary Director/Producer is seeking a writer to help with outline and script for a feature length documentary about the lives of folks with spinal cord injuries. You will be working very closely with the director so being a collaborator and team player is important. Requirements: Must have experience with writing scripts and an interest in the subject and documentary genre; Must be available to get together at least once a week to meet. Please submit to email a cover letter and resume to scidocumentary@gmail.com Those I am interested in will also have to submit samples of their work. Screen credit, IMDb credit, copy, festival exposure, backend points, along with the possibility of getting paid if we get funding. Thanks!

SCREENWRITER WANTED TO COLLABORATE ON NOVEL ADAPTATION
Novelist looking for a screenwriting partner to collaborate on a novel adaptation. The novel, DELIVERED, is available as an eBook on Amazon and iBookstore. In terms of genre, DELIVERED is supernatural fiction, with elements of crime, romance, and self-discovery. Applicants should be interested in one, or more, of these genres. The interested and serious writer should send current résumé and a writing sample in PDF format. The only writing sample accepted will be a screenplay draft adapted from “Warning,” the first chapter of DELIVERED. The text of the chapter can be found through a link on novel’s homepage http://www.delivered-novel.com, or the following link: http://www.delivered-novel.com/DELIVERED/The_Warning_Chapter.html. This an opportunity for a serious, talented, and committed screenwriter looking both to build a body of work and to lend his/her vision to a story with considerable independent/commercial market appeal. Candidates should send résumé and specific writing sample, in PDF format only, to CliffordEvan@delivered-novel.com. Please write NOVEL ADAPTATION in the subject line of the email. For the right collaborator, author will sign a contract giving co-writer second credit, as well as 30-40% of the screenplay rights, upon option or sale. Terms are flexible and subject to negotiation, depending on the work performed.

RICHARD LAMPONE
NY based production company is seeking a short film to produce.
Looking for a family drama under 20 pages with simple locations. and 3-5 characters.
Some Locations available ( Home with numerous bedrooms, bathroom) Yards/outdoor pool/park, ..etc
Send scripts or log lines to OneLastdayproductions@gmail.com
Thank you

LOOKING FOR SITCOM WRITERS
Renaissance Entertainment is a brand new production company that specializes in and promotes the progression of the human spirit through media, specifically through TV and Film production. Formed by a, currently enrolled, student at Columbia College Hollywood we don’t think or act like students. We are looking for sitcom/web series writers for a new show we are currently developing. You must be able and willing to write for an urban sitcom with authentic voices without being stereotypical (think THE GAME and NOAH’S ARC) on a team, as well as, individually and able to understand and translate both creative ideas and notes while also able to give notes and creative ideas. You must also be professional, on-time to meetings and deadline, reliable, able to operate in excellence, and you must live in L.A or surrounding areas and have a reliable car or familiar with public transportation. Please send the following to RenaissancEntertainment@gmail.com: one completed spec script for an already existing sitcom; one original completed (copyrighted &/or WGA registered) script; headshot (pic) and resume. This is NOT a paid gig however when show is picked up compensation will follow. Great opportunity for those wanting to get in on the ground floor of a new sitcom. Apply to Ly Smith

CONFERENCES AND CLASSES:

San Francisco Writers Conference

10th Anniversary in 2013
Join us February 14th – 17th, 2013 and help us celebrate at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, Mason & California, San Francisco!
We are proud to announce bestselling author
R.L. Stine will be our keynote speaker for 2013

 

Please remember to check out legitimacy of all contests, classes, and conferences before you enter, and to copyright all your work before you submit.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

If you want more of me, you can also find me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,GoodreadsKloutand Linkedin

As you’ll see, I haven’t used a picture at the top of this blog. I’m actually thinking about going through ALL my posts and deleting/changing any photos that aren’t mine.

Why?

I read a post today about copyright and photographs via the wonderful, Roni Loren… And it was scary! According to Roni’s recent, and horrifying experience, Fair Use doesn’t seem to exist. It doesn’t matter….

  • if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
  • if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
  • if you did it innocently
  • if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
  • if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
  • if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
  • if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
  • if you have a disclaimer on your site.
  • if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)

It really made me think, and I commented so.

My question?

If you are looking for an image to use for your blog, as many of us do, and type, say, “desert” into Google images – you are likely to find that same image, only from different websites. How are you supposed to know who it originated or belongs too?

I deleted my Pinterest account a long time ago when rumours of lawsuits began washing over the internet. Some photos I use on my blog and Facebook (especially my banners), are my own personal pictures that I have ‘shot’ myself. I would not expect anyone, after a year on the internet, to know they originated from me.

So, what about you? Have you used Google images to find photos? Would you sue someone for using one of your personal pictures? Have you ever been asked to remove a photograph? Or, have you had your own lawsuit to fight?

If you want more of me, try checking out FacebookTwitterGoogle+GoodreadsKloutBranchOut and Linkedin

 

In May, I wrote a post  giving you guys two pictures and asked you to write me a scary short story… and you guys didn’t disappoint.

Last week, you read Nigel Blackwell‘s brilliant story, Eye of Death. This week, we have Ewelina Rymsza with ‘Unreality’.

UNREALITY

My bare feet tapped on the cold cement out of a blinding excitement. Root had found this place, slobbered over with a thick, white fog, but alive with unending riches. My hands pounded on the old bench, and I wished he’d come sooner. After the End, our ancestors emerged from stone walls into a field of desolation. Places like these were less than rumors, more untrue than myths. The monuments here towered and crumbled with their epitaphs weeping over earth-hair.
“Root,” I murmured now heatedly but still quiet, “Root, would you get over here? I’m cold!”
Nothing.
I finally got up and decided he would steal what he found anyway. I was told brothers are supposed to lie and cheat, but I never understood it.
I walked slowly into the earth-hair. I’d never walked in it before, and it felt strange beneath my feet. I could feel some between my toes. It wasn’t hard like the cement I was used to; but it was chilling, too, and numbing even moreso.
“Root.” I had to be quiet. We were stealing artifacts. Root said he saw this place in a dream, and that’s how we could find it. He told me all of the artifacts would be underground, and I agreed to going despite not believing him at first.
“You shouldn’t be here, little girl!”
I heard a voice cut the fog, chiseling away the air like a saw. The music to it was jarring but undaunted. A disfigured darkness formed ahead of me.
“You shouldn’t be here, little girl. You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.” And on that last word, it became to scream. I saw its knees buckle, and the belt of its body collapse. It kept screaming: “You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t. You shouldn’t.”
Chills shot into my veins and burst and kept bursting, and I felt compelled to weep but stood my ground to this anonymous shadow. It stopped abruptly and climbed the fog back up. It beckoned me closer then with its four gnarled hands. I shook the fear from its earlier plead and followed deeper into the white, changing sea.
The image became fainter and fainter, and I ran to catch it. My legs sprung in a furious dance while I hurdled over monuments and rocks. The curiosity in my bones grew its own marrow, birthed a life more invincible than mine. No fear any longer. No fear.
The shadow then stopped and vanished. I knelt into the earth-hair, and I began to cry. Where had the shadow gone? Root hadn’t even crossed my mind until then, and I mustered up the strength to wander in search. The fog thickened as if to mock my venture, and I lost myself further in this foreign place.
   You shouldn’t be here kept seeping more deeply into my thoughts, and I again began to feel the fear burdening my gut. You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.
I called for Root again but walked onto a ribbon of unbroken tar instead. I was used to crushed tar, tar with alien growth between its cracks. This was smooth and paved. And then I saw me.
I saw myself curled into knots; and although I saw only my back, the clothing was mine. The hair was mine. The way she cried was my own. I stumbled back slightly with my eyes almost instantly tearing up.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she screamed in a voice unfamiliar to me. But it was me. It was me. I was sure.
I walked very gently towards her, and her sobbing started more strongly now.
“It’s okay,” I whispered, attempting to console what was a strange kind of ghost it seemed. A whisper of myself. I knelt down a foot beside her to give her room. That’s what I would’ve wanted. But instead, she snapped over to me, and I screamed.
What I knew as plants were growing from our insides, spun branches that hung out of us like desperate, dying trees.
   “You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.”
And in that moment, we became one: Watching with the same knolls and our stomach swallowed by “trees.” We retched the same and bled the same, and I knew this was not my dream. This was not my dream. I shouldn’t have been here.

THE END

Next week, I’ll post another one.

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21st July: From Idea To Story

You’ve been itching to begin writing, and are so nearly there. But, what is a story without characters? Not a very good one, I can tell you in an instant.

Now, you could be forgiven if you believe a good idea is all that’s needed to write a successful novel. After all, you may be writing an action story. What do you need character’s for? Aren’t they just well toned guys flexing their muscles while shooting up the place? Well, without believable and interesting characters, you’ll have nothing but a lifeless story. Although, if muscles are you’re thing, you may not care if there’s not story 🙂

Okay. For those that aren’t quite sure, I’ll quickly explain the difference between a plot driven story and a character driven story.

Character vs Plot

Plot Driven Story: Usually action-based. The action is what’s classed as driving the story forward. For example, Transporter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park.

Character Driven Story: Character based. The characters drive the story forward. For instance, Rocky, Cast Away, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Now, you may be a little confused. After all, the Rocky films have a lot of action in them. Well, if you look at the original ‘Rocky’ film, the story is about a fighter and his struggle to become a world-class boxer. That is character-driven.

Why do we need to know our characters?

Imagine Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I think we can all relax in the comfort of knowing this is a character-driven love story. But, if Austen hadn’t ‘known’ Mr Darcy inside out when writing him, would we, as love-struck, female fans, still be romancing over him today?

We like and love him (some even dream of him), because we feel we know him. And that is what makes a good character. Someone your reader can identify with and relate to.

So, how do we get character’s like this?

First, you need to create them.

Antagonists, Protagonists, and Supporting Cast (aka Minions)

NOTE: Let me just make this little snippet clear. The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. The antagonist is whatever hampers the protagonist (hero) from reaching his or her goal. 

However, as this post is about creating characters, our antagonist is going to be human.

So, where do I start?

Always with the antagonist, aka the baddie. They are the reason you have a story. Without one, your protagonist will easily reach their goal – leaving you with a dreary story and no plot.

First you have to decide the kind of character you want to create and make sure they get the correct label. A what? A Label. I made a mistake with the first story I wrote. My antag was a hitman who worked for the mob. But, as it was pointed out to me, the Mob Boss was the real antag. He was the guy giving the orders for the hit. Without him, my hitman would have been out of work. Thus, although my hitman was the main baddie, he was in fact a Minion. Confused? Good. Then, I wasn’t alone 🙂

To explain this a little better, I am going to use a well-know subject.

Jason Bourne. Girls love him and boys want to be him.

In the Bourne films, Jason is a killer. A hitman. Does that make him the antag? No. He is the hero. And this is because he’s trying to reach a goal, which is to remember who the hell he is.

Although it’s a variety of assassins who try to kill Bourne, it’s a CIA group called ‘Treadstone’ who initially orders the hits. This makes ‘Treadstone’ the antagonist. The assassins are mere minions.

And let’s not forget Marie, Jason’s love interest and the girl who helps him attain his goal.

Creating Your Characters

If I were to ask you to tell me about yourself, where would you start?

Five years ago? Ten? How about from the moment you were born?

That is where I want you to start with your characters… From the moment they were born. Write down who their parents were. What kind of upbringing did they have. Create family and loved ones they may have lost along the way. This exercise will run into pages if you do it right. It will round your

characters’ journey and define how they got to be the person in your story. Their likes and dislikes. Their flaws.

Use props – for instance, do they have a limp, or a squint? If so, how did they get it? Remember, Indiana Jones had a fear of snakes. We found out through a (long) flash back in the third film because he fell into a circus snake pit. Makes you wonder if George Lucas had already written it into his background, doesn’t it?

Research your character. If they attended boarding school. Research it. If they were in the army. Research it.

Basically, you are writing a biography. It has to be accurate.

Giving a Character Qualities and Flaws

If you are like me, they you would have rooted for Jason Bourne. Why? Because we liked him. But why would we feel like this? Remember, Jason Bourne is a killer. Does that now make us a hitman loving sociopath?

No. It means the writer has done their job. You want your audience to love your protagonist and cheer them on every inch of the way. If you make your characters too nice, your reader will tire of them and become bored. Likewise, if you make your characters hard-nosed and arrogant. They become unlikable because your readers cannot get close enough to start caring.

Jason Bourne is a man on a mission. He is a killer. And yet every now and then, a slither of emotion escapes and we see a man who cares about right and wrong. That is a character quality. He cares about the well-being of Marie, and this shows Jason’s softer side. Again, another quality, if not also a flaw. His ability to kill so easily, although it constantly saves his life, is a flaw. Having to suppress emotion in order to survive is a flaw. And flaws are what make us human. It’s these flaws that allow your readers to relate to your characters.

Steer clear of stereotypes. Make your character unique. A skin head with pink spiked hair and wearing Doc Martins is stereo-typical. Give him a unique quality that makes him stand out from the rest of the skin heads.

I’ll tell you a quick story I know my co-writer, Natalie Duggan, won’t mind. When I first paired up with Natalie to write the TV pilot ‘Legend’, I mentioned character backgrounds. Natalie thought I was nuts and that it was all a waste of time. She wanted to get to the story. So, I banged my head against the desk, argued until I was blue in the face, then just went ahead and wrote out the backgrounds anyway. I emailed them across and Natalie loved them. Her exact words? “Oh, wow. These are awesome. I really feel I know Roman and Nate (two of the MC’s).” Natalie now writes backgrounds on ALL her characters.  🙂

Okay, that should be enough to start you off.

So, do you create characters before you begin writing? What kind of techniques do you use when creating your characters? Do you make your characters too perfect? Are you plot-driven or character-driven?

If you want more of me, try checking out FacebookTwitterGoogle+GoodreadsKloutBranchOut and Linkedin

Upcoming classes: via Webinar, where we can interact and you ask questions.

14th July: Getting To Know Your Characters

21st July: From Idea To Story

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