Saturday, May 27, 2017

Auntie M’s Guide to Greaseless Self-Promotion


  • “Yeah, writing is great, but I tell you what I really love: constantly shilling my book to a crowd of indifferent strangers.” Said no writer, ever. But while marketing yourself is an unavoidable task, it doesn’t have to be an unbearable chore. If you’re disappointed, burned out, or just wondering where to start, this workshop is for you. 

    On June 6th at 6:30PM at the Old Church, we’ll work together to help you find your audience, harness your talents, and rekindle your enthusiasm – one step at a time.

    Arianne “Tex” Thompson is home-grown Texas success story. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in literature, she channeled her passion for exciting, innovative, and inclusive fiction into the Children of the Drought – an internationally-published epic fantasy Western series from Solaris.

    Now a professional speaker and creative writing instructor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex is blazing a trail through writers conferences, workshops, and fan conventions around the country – as an endlessly energetic, relentlessly enthusiastic one-woman stampede. 

    Find her online at www.TheTexFiles.com! http://www.TheTexFiles.com
     
    Details


    Willamette Writers Portland chapter meets on the first Tuesday of the month, 7:00-8:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) at the Historic Old Church in downtown Portland. No meetings August.

    The meeting is free to members of Willamette Writers and full time students under 25; guests, $5.

    Interested? Join us! All writers welcome.

    Click here to learn more about Willamette Writers Portland, http://www.willamettewriters.org.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Write Around Portland 52nd Book Release & Free Public Reading

                                 
Write Around Portland runs community-building creative writing workshops at hospitals, schools, homeless youth shelters, senior centers, low-income housing buildings, prisons, treatment facilities and social service agencies.
 


Write Around Portland releases its 52nd anthology—Illuminated by the Words / Iluminados por las palabras—of community writing by adult and youth participants from our spring 2017 workshops held throughout the Portland metro area. The anthology includes introductions by Putsata Reang, author and international journalist recently honored with an award that recognizes women writing for social change, and Linda Apperson, Write Around Portland volunteer facilitator, drama mentor at Cleveland High School and author of Stage Managing and Theatre Etiquette.
       

                                  
Write Around Portland invites you to attend one or both of our free community readings featuring powerful work written by participants in our spring 2017 writing workshops. Readers will include youth experiencing homelessness; middle school students; high school students in alternative school settings; youth and adults with developmental disabilities; members of low-income housing and assisted living communities and many others.
  



Reading
The Beaverton Round Executive Suites, 12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 300, Beaverton, OR 97005 located at the Beaverton Central MAX station.

Wednesday, May 24th, 6:30–8:00pm
  


Admission is FREE, but donations of any amount are accepted to support the work of Write Around Portland. We will also be collecting donations of new journals for writers in our fall 2017 workshops. ADA-accessible. Copies of Illuminated by the Words / Iluminados por las palabras will be available for purchase for $12.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Film/TV Offerings for the 2017 Willamette Writers Conference





The Film/TV offerings at this year’s 48th Annual Willamette Writers Conference represent an exciting mix of new faces and courses with conference favorites and opportunities to pitch scripts and books to Hollywood dealmakers. Top Screenwriting Instructors at Willamette Writers Conference With a new book coming out, local screenwriting champion Cynthia Whitcomb will teach “The Heart of the Story” in addition to a class on dialogue. For his first time participating in the conference, Doug Richardson, renowned educator and screenwriter of Hollywood blockbusters such as Die Hard 2, Bad Boys, Money Train, and Hostage will teach classes on “Turning Your Novel Into a 3-Act Structure” as well as how to navigate a career in Hollywood in his class “Swimming with Sharks.”
 
With a new book coming out, local screenwriting champion Cynthia Whitcomb will teach “The Heart of the Story” in addition to a class on dialogue.

Scott MyersWillamette Writers is also thrilled to welcome revered mentor, educator, and screenwriter Scott Myers (official blogger for Go Into The Story at The Black List) to the conference. Scott will be teaching three classes: “Create a Compelling Protagonist,” “Write a Worthy Nemesis,” and “Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling.” About Scott, Black List founder Franklin Leonard stated, “I honestly can’t say enough good things about Scott Myers and the heroic work he does as a resource for screenwriters, both aspiring and professional. If you’re trying to become a good writer and you’re not reading his blog on a regular basis (the volume alone impressive, but the quality that comes along with it is extraordinary), you’re not trying hard enough.”


For more information, visit  http://willamettewriters.org/2017/04/film-tv-offerings-for-the-2017-willamette-writers-conference/

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Writing Voice-Driven Narrative with Suzy Vitello



May 2 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

It happens in a coffee shop. Or at the gym. Or driving your car in traffic. If you’re a writer, you hear voices. So, how do you mold these voices into stories? What are the elements of a compelling voice on the page?
Join author Suzy Vitello at The Old Church in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, May 2nd to find out more.

About Suzy Vitello

As the long-time coordinator of a robust weekly writing workshop whose members include Chuck Palahniuk, Cheryl Strayed, Chelsea Cain, Lidia Yuknavitch, Monica Drake and others, Suzy is committed to writing about love in all of its guises, styles and languages. Suzy’s novels include THE MOMENT BEFORE, and THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES, and the second in the Empress Series, THE KEEPSAKE.

Details

Join us at The Old Church in downtown Portland, 1422 SW 11th Ave. on Tuesday, May 2nd to discover more about voice. Doors open at 6:30PM; event begins at 7PM. Willamette Writers members are always free, along with full-time students under the age of 25. Guests are $5.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bill Johnson's play The True Cost of Heavenly Birth Insurance is being performed in England http://www.thecliffhangercompany.com/mixed-doubles.html


We're back with a brand new
MIXED DOUBLES II
April 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
at 8pm at the Coach House, Rottingdean
Tickets at MadWax on the High St. or online at ticketsource.co.uk/mdr on sale from April 5

This set of five fabulous plays are:
THE CAR IS GONE... by Scott Mullen
THE TRUE COST OF HEAVENLY BIRTH INSURANCE
... by Bill Johnson
SCRIPTED... by Mark Harvey Levine
ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND SCIENCE... by CJ Ehrlich
JOY RIDE...by Christine Foster

 

 

 

 



Monday, March 13, 2017

Creating Mythic Characters, Notes on Guardians of the Galaxy


Creating large than life characters in part means giving characters larger than life goals. Guardians of the Galaxy became hugely successful in part because of the spectacle and humor, but also because it's a well told story with clearly dramatically defined characters.

The film starts with a boy, Peter Quill, in a hospital waiting room nervously holding a cassette player playing some early 70's music. His grandfather comes out and wants him to see his dying mother; he is clearly reluctant. When she asks him to take her hand, he refuses, and she dies.

This will haunt Peter for the rest of the film. The audience is allowed to share and experience this moment.

The scene shifts to 26 years later and the now young man sets down on a mysterious moon with a scanner that shows him the inhabitants in the past. He plays some music from his 70's mix tape. He tracks down an orb and manages to escape with it while being chased and fired on.

He tells his pursuers his name is Star Lord.

It's a visually exciting scene, but it comes after introducing Peter and his central issue.

Peter gets a call from his criminal boss who kidnapped him from earth as a boy, who now wants the orb.

This raises a question that plays out through the film, will the boss get the orb? And another question, why did the boss kidnap a young Peter from earth and protect him?

Ronan, a brutal, crazed religious leader of a race called the Kree, wants the orb and sends out Gamora to retrieve it; she's a green-skinned young woman assassin.

The scene shifts to a planet called Xander, where a bounty-hunting raccoon named Rocket and an intelligent tree-like character named Groot have spotted Peter and want to collect on his bounty. Peter tries to cash in the orb, but when he mentions it's going to Ronan, he's turned away.

What follows is everyone trying to get their hands on the orb and everyone finally being arrested and sent to prison.

The question now, who will survive (the assassin Gamora is hated by many prisoners), and how will they escape?

These questions give shape to the next section of the story.

When a muscle-bound brute named the Destroyer tries to kill Gamora, Peter intervenes and saves her life.

Ronan, in turn, seeks the orb for another brutal leader, Thantos.

The wise-cracking Rocket plans and kinda executes a prison escape with Groot's help.

Peter realizes his mix-tape is not with his belongings, so he prolongs the escape to retrieve it.

It turns out Peter still has the unopened present from his mother on his space ship.

This helps the audience to stay in touch with Peter's wound.

Ronan and his followers are on their trail.

Gamora asks Peter why he would risk his life for his mix tape. It turns out his mother gave it to him, and it has her favorite songs.

The group meets with the Collector. He explains that the orb contains an infinity stone, which can be used to destroy an entire world.

A slave girl tries to hold the stone, setting off an explosion. The group now needs to get the orb to some aliens who can contain its power and not allow it to be used by Ronan to destroy the planet Xander.

Now the film has another simple question, can they get this orb to a place of safe keeping?

Possibly, until the Destroyer has called Ronan to the scene just as Peter's boss arrives. The Destroyer wants to kill Ronan to avenge the death of his wife and child

Mayhem ensure.

Ronan gets the orb, and Peter allows himself to be captured by his old boss to save Gamora.

Once in captivity, Peter appeals to his group as losers, those who have all lost family and normal lives, to "not run away" as Peter did as a child and help others.

Again, the audience knows what Peter is speaking about.

Rocket states the obvious, that Peter is asking them to die to help others.

The question of whether they can regain the stone now gives structure to this part of the film.

The group come up with a plan to attack Ronan and regain the infinity stone. They gain access to Ronan's ship.

Someone finally refers to Peter as Star Lord.

The audience knows what this means for Peter. It's another small point carefully fulfilled.

On the ship, mayhem ensues.

The group reaches Ronan, but their main weapon fails to defeat Ronan as long as he holds the infinity stone.

Rocket, the seemingly self-centered raccoon, appears to sacrifice himself to defeat Ronan.

As Ronan's ship is crashing, Groot envelopes the others in a protective ball of limbs, but this will kill Groot.

All the movie, Groot has had one line, "I am Groot." Now he says, "We are Groot."

We hear music play from Peter's mix tape.

And it turns out that Ronan survives and if he touches the planet with the infinity stone, it will destroy this world.

Now the question becomes, can Ronan be stopped?

Note that every section of the film has a simple plot question that allows the audience to assign meaning to the action.

Peter gets his hand on the stone and as he is being destroyed, Gamora asks that he take her hand. Peter sees his mother holding out her hand. As Peter takes Gamora's hand they are joined by the Destroyer and Rocket, and by joining together they are able to destroy Ronan.

Peter's boss then shows up and demands the orb, and Peter gives him a fake orb.

Peter mentions to Gamora that the boss was the only family he had left, but she answers that is not true. He has a new family now.

The Destroyer sits with Rocket, who mourns over a small twig of Groot.

It turns out Peter could hold the infinity stone because he's only half human, that his father was not.

This raises a major question that can be resolved in a sequel.

Peter returns to his shop and the unopened present and card from his mother. She wrote  that he is the 'light of her life' and "my little Star Lord."

Which, considering who Peter's father might be, has a new meaning.

Her final gift to him was another mix tape, Awesome Songs volume 2, which he immediately plugs in and listens to with Gamora.

With Peter piloting his ship and Rocket with a newly coming to life baby Groot, the ship lifts off into the sky for a  new adventure.

For all the action and spectacle and humor, this is a heart-felt story about family. It was hugely successful for a reason.


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To learn about the craft of storytelling, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook. It includes a meditation technique that can be used to speak to story characters.