Sunday, December 12, 2010

Introducing: The Deliver Me book cover

You've waited long enough. I can finally post the front cover of the book! Here it is. What do you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010

168 Project's "Write of Passage" contest

As you know, I was a finalist with my short script, "A Cowboy's Faith."

When they announced the winner, and the two runner ups, I was not one of them. But I'm still a winner! I got farther in this competition than I ever dreamed I would going in. (As a first timer, I was just hoping to write a coherent enough script to be a semi-finalist.) Also, as a finalist, there's a real possibility my script will be produced and made into a real short film. And since it's based on a story in the Deliver Me book, how cool would that be?!

The 168 Project has posted all the finalists scripts to their web site, so if you'd like to read my script, you can find it here: "A Cowboy's Faith."


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Editing, book trailer, and more for the Deliver Me book

I have been so stinkin' busy I haven't updated you on the book in quite awhile! So much exciting stuff is going on. Here's a rundown:

Editing: The book has been with the editor, and I just got it back from her yesterday! So now I must go through her edits and fix what needs fixin'. She assured me there isn't that much, which pleases me. :-)

Front cover: We finalized the front cover and I love it. Hope you do, too.

Back cover: I hired a friend I met at a writer's conference to write the back cover copy for me. She does the same for some major traditional publishers, so I was thrilled to meet her and have her do this for me. She has a great mind for marketing, and had a lot of input for me, and next time I will know how to use her in many more ways. It was wonderful to have someone else write the back cover copy instead of everything sounding the same coming from me. It's cool to hear how someone else would describe the book, and it was also a great learning experience for me.

Purchased ISBNs: Had to buy my ISBNs to open the account with Lightning Source, who will be printing and shipping the book. If you don't know what an ISBN is, it's the International Standard Book Number and it is embedded in the bar code on the back of the book (as well as printed on the copyright page). It is 13 digits, and identifies my book from all others. It is required by bookstores, so if you're planning to self-publish your own book, your book will need one. If you go through a self-publishing company, they may supply you one (at a price, of course). You can't buy just one. They come in blocks of at least ten, so now I have my ISBNs for future books also. Buy your ISBNs from Bowker at account: It has taken a while to walk through everything needed to get this account open. I had to get a new credit card (since I had cancelled my business card some time ago when they raised the interest rate to an ungodly amount!). Took awhile for the card to come. Had to also buy my ISBN and had some other hoops to jump through. Finally: Mission accomplished.

Book Trailer: I booked the production of a book trailer for Deliver Me several weeks ago and that is now in the works. Looking forward to that! When complete, it should run around two minutes. I'll give you more details in coming posts. I've been asked what I'll do with my trailer. I can show it whenever I speak, loop it to play continuously on my laptop when I have a book table, post it on my blog and web site, point visitors to it on U-tube. I can burn it to CDs and give it out. Lots of possibilities.

Business Insurance: When I worked with my attorney to create the Publishing Agreement for each contributor to sign, she also strongly suggested I look into business insurance. I would never have thought of that on my own. Now the time has come and I've been looking into that and I think I have it arranged. What do I need business insureance for, you ask? Liability (someone trips at my booksigning), legal fees, stuff like that.

Registered Connections Press: I am publishing this book, Deliver Me, under the name of my brand new publishing company, Connections Press. So I also needed to register my publishing company (my dba - "doing business as") name with the Colorado Secretary of State. This means if someone comes looking for Connections Press, they can find me. I can also accept payments and do other business using that name. So I got that name registered.

Yep. Been busy. I'm telling you all of this because I hope it will help you to learn, possibly help you self-publish your book, or maybe even open that possibility to you.

I'm now the proud owner of Connections Press, a Lightning Source account, and ten ISBNs! It's exciting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now I'm a finalist!

Well what do you know? Last Friday the 168 Project announced its list of finalists. The semi-finalist list was whittled down to 11. (They said they just couldn't get it down to ten!)

And guess who's on the list!

I'm especially excited since my story in my script was inspired by the Deliver Me book.

As a finalist, do you think someone might want to actually produce my script into a short film?

There will be one winner with a cash prize and a meeting with Hollywood producer Ralph Winter, and two runner ups. Those will be announced tomorrow evening, Wednesday, November 17th.

If you want to tune in and watch it live, go to You will have to set up a free account. The announcement should be around 7:30 PST. If you tune in, use the chat to let me know you're there. My user name is DianneWrites. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Whoo-Hoo! I'm a semi-finalists!

I participated in the 168 Project "Write of Passage" speed-screenwriting contest last week, and tonight I listened to the reading of the semi-finalists live-streaming from California. And they called my name!

Here's the list of semi-finalists:

Two other Act Oners are on the list: Lisa England was my roommate at Act One, and Mirachelle Canada is on staff.

Finallists announce November 9th.

And here's the kicker:  The story I wrote? It was inspired by a story in the Deliver Me book!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Third time's a charm? - Deliver Me cover photo

Well, it seems as though no one can see the photo (except me). Let's try this another way. This link should take you to my Lightbox at where you will (hopefully) see two versions of the same photo. I'm using the farther away version:

Deliver Me cover Photo

Good luck!

Trying this again

Some people have told me they can't see the picture. Here's trying it again...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Would you like to see the book's cover photo?

This week I purchased the photo I will use for the cover of the book. Here it is. What do you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vote for which title you like best for my book!

One drawback to self-publishing is not having a team of professionals to help you with important decisions. I've been undecided on the best subtitle for my book. I have two possibilities. Would you let me know which you like best by voting in the poll at the top right of this blog? Other input can go in the comment section below.

Here are the two possibilities:

Deliver Me: Hope, Help, and Options When You're Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

Deliver Me: Hope, Help, and Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy

(If you are receiving this by e-mail, you'll have to go to the actual blog to vote. Click on the link at the top of the e-mail and you'll be there. Dittos for leaving comments.)

I need to decide soon so we can start on the book's cover, so you only have ten days left to vote!

Thank you so much! I'll look forward to seeing what you think.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cover Story

Yesterday I talked with my "cover lady." That is, the friend who will be doing the cover of the Deliver Me book.

Looks like we're going to get started on the book's cover next week.

How exciting is that?!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Uh oh. Suddenly I have a deadline!

Since I'm nearing the completion of my manuscript, I talked with my editor Friday to see what her schedule looked like. She has an opening when she could edit my book starting Monday, October 18th.

I have to have my manuscript completed and to her by October 18?! Suddenly I have a deadline. Why do I find that so frightening?!

When you self-publish a book, it's up to you when you get it done. I suppose some self-publishers might have deadlines if they need a book by a certain event or opportunity. But up until now, I haven't had to worry about meeting any actual deadlines. Once I decided to self-publish this book, it was just a matter of getting it done as soon as I could while doing the best job I'm capable of.

But now, suddenly, other people are involved and I need to work with their schedules and...I have a real deadline!

I'd better quit blogging and get back to work on finishing my manuscript!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Amazing Stories

I'm not sure I've talked much about the stories I have collected for this book.

The book is almost entirely a collection of true stories of unplanned pregnancy. There is very little commentary from me--just introductions of the chapters and some of the stories. There is so much power in the stories, there isn't much more that I could add.

As I reviewed the entire manuscript, I was reminded again just how special every story is. I absolutely love every story in this book! I can't read a single one without being moved. I hope every story will move every reader as much as they move me.

Many of the stories are from women, of course, but I also have a whole chapter of stories from men. There are stories of how an unplanned pregnancy affected whole families. There are stories about adoption. And we hear from women who chose abortion as well as women who considered abortion then chose to give birth. There are stories of heartbreak and triumph and I believe every story will reach readers with hope and help and healing--whether the reader is in an unplanned pregnancy right now and are facing decisions or had an unplanned pregnancy in their near or distant past.

Every story in the book is amazing in it's own unique way. I'm incredibly grateful to every person who lived these stories and were willing to share them with all of us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What's Next...

Now that I have all the paperwork I need to publish the book, what's next? I still have some work to do on the manuscript. While I was waiting for the Publishing Agreements to come in, I went over the entire manuscript. Because I lost a few stories and added some, I had to make some changes to chapter introductions and story introductions. I got that done on Wednesday.

On Thursday, while waiting for that final PA to come in, I went over the bios at the back of the book. I still need a few of those, so I e-mailed the writers. Some have already responded. Hopefully I'll hear from the rest soon.

Then I have two more things to do:

1.) Next I need to check the statistics I've gathered that I want to include in the book. The reports I printed off are a couple years old, due to several delays with this book. So I need to see if there are new statistics out and if so, make those updates.

2.) Finally, I want to include resources at the end of each chapter. I've gathered a bunch of those, but I need to divide them among the chapters and insert them into the manuscript.

I don't believe the rest of this work will take long, but I'm not sure I'll get it done next week. I have a short work week, plus I have a few deadlines before the end of the month that will need my attention. Nevertheless, we're getting excitingly close to finishing this book!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's a milestone! We're There!

The last time I posted, on Wednesday the 15th, I needed four Publishing Agreements. One was from a writer who had already contributed a story and she sent me another one after she signed her PA for the first. I liked the story and wanted to use it, but hadn't heard from her. I gave her a call on Thursday and she faxed it to me. One down.

I took Friday off, but then worked Saturday morning on the final story that needed finalized. The writer and I talked several times and we finally got her story down on paper. It took several rewrites, but I really like it now. She approved it. She promised to send the PA this week and she faxed it to me yesterday. Two down!

I also needed written permission from a subject in a story I already had a PA for. They said they would mail the permission last Wednesday, but I still hadn't received it by Monday so I called. They had a few questions, but once we addressed those they faxed it to me. Three down!!

On Monday I also called the fourth and final writer that I needed a Publishing Agreement from. Sure glad I called. Turns out she had e-mailed me her story with some changes she wanted, but I never received it. It's lost in cyberspace. She tried again and I got it this time. Meanwhile she put the PA in the mail to me last Saturday. So while I waited for her PA to arrive, I made the requested changes.

I took Tuesday off to attend a funeral. (The second Tuesday in a row I took off for a funeral.)

Yesterday, Wednesday, I waited for the mail, but when it came, the PA still was not there. So today I called her again. She was gracious and printed out the PA again, signed it, and faxed it to me. That's it! Number four!!

(I joked with this final writer that her PA would probably appear in my mailbox today. Nope. She mailed it Saturday. It's Thursday. It's still not here. So glad she faxed it.)

It's a milestone! It's official! I now have all the legal paperwork I need to do this book! Hooray!
What's next? I'll tell you next post. For now... Whoo-hoo! Time to celebrate.

Total Contributors: 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 40

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 0!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Check off another one

Whoo-hoo! It's a big deal when I get to move a writer's legal paperwork out of the "need this" notebook and into the "DONE!" notebook. I just did that with one more contributor. I already had one Publishing Agreement from her, but needed an additional one for a new story we added to the book.

That means I'm now only waiting for:
-- one Publishing Agreement from one contributor who said she would send it (hear my fingers drumming on my desk?). I will call her today.
-- the Permissions Form from an organization that goes with the Publishing Agreement I already received from the writer/contributor. Someone at that office is supposed to be checking on that today.
-- the final story-polishing edits from a writer. I'm scheduled to have a phone meeting with this writer this evening, so I'm hoping to get the final changes tonight.
-- And an additional Publishing Agreement from an already-contributor for another story that was added. I e-mailed her last week. Haven't heard from her. I should try calling her today.

Total Contributors: 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 37

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 3 + 1 for new story

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting Closer All the Time!

I've added three stories to the book. All of these are by writers who have already contributed to the book, so the contributors number doesn't change, but the Publication Agreements Needed number has increased.

I received one Publication Agreement last week, but now I need another one from the same author for a second story we've written and added to the book.
I received two Publication Agreements over the weekend. One for one of the three stories I added.

For the other PA recieved, I can't check it off my "needed" list yet because it's dependent on someone who is named in the story returning a Permission Form and I haven't got that yet.

I have one more story to polish with the author. We tried to get together this weekend but she had a family emergency, so we didn't get it done. Hopefully I'll be able to get with her soon.

I'm working hard to get the remaining PAs and the last story. Meanwhile, I'm revising the manuscript to make the necessary changes for stories that have been lost or added.

We're getting there, but still have a ways to go.

Total Contributors: 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 37
Still need Publishing Agreements from: 3 + 2 for new stories

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Latest Update

Looking for an update? I don't have much to report. I'm still working to get the four outstanding Publishing Agreements, plus I've added one. Over the weekend a writer who has already contributed to the book sent me another story to help fill in for one story that I lost. (Bless her!) Since she is already counted as a contributor, I didn't add one to the "total contributors" number below. However since I need her PA for this story, I've added one to the "still need PA" category. That one should be in the mail to me this week.

Of the other four PAs still outstanding:
  1.  I contacted one writer and learned her computer had gone down. She had no way to print the Publishing Agreement or even retrieve my contact information to let me know what had happened. Glad I followed up with her! I put a hard copy in the mail to her last Tuesday. With the Labor Day holiday mail delay, I hope her PA will arrive this week.
  2. I got a verbal okay from one organization last week to tell their story, so that written form should arrive this week as well. I contacted the writer of this story only yesterday letting her know they've okayed her story and requesting her PA. Got an e-mail last evening saying she would send it.
  3. I received an additional story from another writer whose is already a contributor. We're still working together to polish this latest story. I'm hoping to talk with her by phone today to iron out the details. I called this morning, but she was busy. I'm currently waiting for a return call. When we get the details polished on her second story, she'll send one PA for both of her stories.
  4. I worked on the final story I've been writing yesterday. (Yes, I worked the holiday. Writers often end up working evenings, weekends, and holidays to get projects done. If you're a writer, you know what I'm saying!) I finished the changes and the polishing I wanted to do and e-mailed it to her to review yesterday afternoon. I heard from her last night that she received it and will go over it today. I'm guessing we'll still need to go back and forth once or twice to polish details, but I'm confident we'll get her story to the point where she's pleased with how it's written and then she will send the PA.
I put in a request for two more stories. I'm not sure if I'll get them or not. We'll see. Whether I do or not, I will trust that I've received the stories the Lord wants in the book (which has been my prayer all along), and I will close the opportunity to submit. Can I possibly do that by the end of this week? I hope so.

What's next? Because I've had to delete stories that were withdrawn and have added a couple stories, I have some holes to fill in in the manuscript, introductions to chapters that need updated, and transitions and introductions to stories that need changed. So the next thing I'll do (starting today, as I wait for the writer to return my call) is to start at the beginning of the manuscript and go through it, smoothing out all introductions and transitions, and inserting the new stories into their proper places. When I'm finished with that I'll also need to correct and update the Table of Contents.

After that, because the manuscript was on hold for two years while my agent shopped it to traditional publishers, I want to re-check my sources where I got my statistics that are scattered throughout the book and see if there are updated stats. If there are, then I'll need to update all of those. Either way, I have lots of statistics that I haven't yet inserted into the manuscript so I'll have to do that.

Finally, at the end of each chapter I have a section of Resources. I have a ton of resources, but haven't yet distributed some of them among the chapters or inserted that info into the manuscript, so I'll need to do all that.

I believe I still have a few writers who haven't sent me a bio for the back of the book--and I know they want one--so I'll need to follow up with them.

Those are the steps I foresee before sending it to the professional editor I've hired. Do you think I can get all that done in the next few weeks? That's my goal.

Total Contributors: 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 36

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 4 + 1

Friday, August 27, 2010

3 More In!

I received one more Publishing Agreement in the mail last Saturday.

I saw a friend and contributor in church on Sunday and she handed me hers.

And then I got one by FAX on Monday!

You know what that means? I think I can see the light at the end of this tunnel!!! I'm starting to get excited. We're getting close--really, really close.

Total Contributors: 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 36

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 4

Monday, August 23, 2010

Made Contact with the Last Organization Needed

Last Thursday I made contact with the last place I needed to make contact with. I was working with the writer to see if we could get permission from the place her story involves, but she hadn't contacted them yet. Why? Turns out her work hours prevented her from calling them. Ohhh! Duh. Sometimes what's happening with another person is so simple, possibly obvious, and yet we just don't realize...

Well it was easy enough for me to make the call. And the lady at the other end seemed quite excited about having a story about their organization in the book!

What a relief. I've often been met with skepticism and mistrust, which has cause me to become somewhat gun-shy. I'm always so grateful for those who see my vision for this book and become excited about it. What an encouragement!

So...of course she needs to run it by whoever she needs to run it by to see if they will grant permission for the story to be in the book. BUT, at least it's in the works. And that is the last place I needed to make contact with. Another milestone!

Have a little ways to go yet, but we're getting there.

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 7

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Lost Some Stories

I've been working with one person who was responsible for several stories to get the permissions and agreements needed and on Friday received her final answer: no, I may not use the stories.

That's okay. All along I have prayed that God would get me the stories He wants in this book, so I am trusting He is doing just that.

I'm not as disappointed as you might think. In the past few days I had begun to think about what I might do if the answer was no (I was sure even at the time it was the Lord's prompting to do so), so when this answer came I was already in a mind to make the book work without these stories. Not having these stories means some of my current chapters will no longer work (too short or whatever). But I could combine some chapters. Or I might rearrange and revise what chapters I currently have the remaining stories placed in. I'll definitely find a way to make the book work, it's just a matter of how to do it.

In the mean time, in the last two days I've had two people asking if I could use more stories! God is providing. I'm praying He will provide me with even better stories to replace these that I loved but cannot use.

On the flip side, this means that I now have only SEVEN writers that I need Publishing Agreements from! I don't want to count my chicks before they hatch, but now having this one case resolved, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to get all of those that remain. Another whoo-hoo!

And the count continues...

Total Contributors (one deleted at her request): 40

Publishing Agreements received from: 33

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 7

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Publication Agreement received - Another chapter completed

Yesterday I received another Publishing Agreement in the mail. Hooray! This one completes the second chapter in the book to be completed.

It's chapter 5: "For, By, and About Men"

Would you like a glimpse his story? Read about Scotty Vaughn here. You can see his photo here. Read more about Scotty here. And don't miss the scroll-down bar on the left -- there's more than just what you see on the screen.

I'm very pleased to have Pastor Scotty's story in my book. Can't wait for you to read it!

Here's today's updated count:

Total Contributors: 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 33

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 8

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Complete Chapter!

You know how it always is when you're trying to build something and it has several different separate parts and it always happens that you're missing one thing for each part so you just can't complete anything? Well that's how this book has been. I've gotten a lot of the Publishing Agreements back. The majority, as a matter of fact. And yet I didn't have one complete chapter yet. In every single chapter I had at least one missing Publishing Agreement.

That is, until Friday! I just realized that the Publishing Agreement that came in on Friday was the final one I needed to complete Chapter 9! Hooray! Hey, it's a milestone. I'm celebrating every milestone that I can find.

If you're wondering, there are nine chapters in the book.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any Publishing Agreements in my mailbox today. But yesterday I did work with a writer on her story until she was satisfied with it, and so that P.A. should be coming soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One More In!

Yesterday I received another Publishing Agreement in the mail. This means that the "still needed" number is now in the single digits! Whoo-hoo!

Here's today's updated count:

Total Contributors: 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 32

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 9

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad News / Good News

I heard from one writer today. She said she wouldn't be signing the Publishing Agreement. Makes me sad, but I have removed her story from my manuscript.

That's the bad news. The good news? I guess that's one fewer Publishing Agreement I need to collect.

So here is today's count:

Total Contributors (Today, one asked to be deleted.): 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 31

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 10

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Contributor...Another Pub Agreement in

I had the privilege yesterday morning of talking with a lady whose story I wanted to include in the book and I'm getting her story! Hooray!

Because I didn't yet have her story, I wasn't counting her as a contributor. So now that I officially have her story (although we're still writing and revising it), I've now added her as a contributor. So if you've been following the countdown, that's why the total contributors has increased by one and also why the number of contributors I still need Publishing Agreements from didn't go down even though I received another one yesterday.

And by the way...I'm  grateful that I did receive another Publishing Agreement yesterday!

So here is today's count:

Total Contributors (Just added one more!): 42

Publishing Agreements received from (Got one more yesterday!): 31

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 11

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Publishing Agreement came in!

If you're new to this blog, I'm working hard to self-publish my new book of true stories of unplanned pregnancy. The title (unless I change my mind!) is Deliver Me: Hope, Help, and Options when You're Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy.

I've been working on this book for a very long time, collecting stories, working out details... Now it's time to wrap it up and finish it off! And I'm working hard toward that end.

One thing I need is for everyone who has contributed a story to give me permission to use it in writing. That's what the Publishing Agreement is. I've been working hard to get a Publishing Agreement signed by all the writers who contributed stories. Some have been more challenging than others--for a variety of reasons. But I'm getting close! This is the big countdown to getting the final Publishing Agreements in.

I had another Publishing Agreement arrive in my mailbox yesterday, so here is where we stand today:

Total Contributors: 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 30

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 11

This blog is also about publishing and self-publishing. I've been a published writer for about twenty years now, so I've learned a thing or two that I want to share with other wannabe authors. For instance, if you're writing a book that has other people contributing material, I highly recommend that you put some kind of agreement on paper and ask them to sign it. I'm no attorney, but I think it should include any compensation the writer will be getting (are you paying them? how much? will they get a copy of the book when it comes out?) and state that they are granting you permission to use their story.

Speaking of attorney's, because the nature of my book is very sensitive with many stories having concerns for privacy, I had my attorney help me create my Publishing Agreement in order to make sure I'm covered. You may not need to hire an attorney, but if your topic is sensitive with potential to have privacy issues like mine, you might want to consider it.

Whoo-hoo! One more P.A. in!  Eleven to go.

Latest article #8 posted in "God on the Spot" series

The latest article in my series posted August 6th in the "Faith" column at

This article, "God on the Spot – Part 8: Protecting the Bloodline, Preserving His Word," finishes our recap of the story of the Old Testament.

I'd love it if you'd stop by and leave a comment or rate the article. Thanks!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three more Publishing Agreements in!

Whoo-hoo! I got three more Publishing Agreements in today! Here's the new numbers as we count down to the book's completion:

Total Contributors: 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 29

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 12

A dozen more to go. Do you think we'll get them all? Every story I hand-picked for this book. I feel each one is so good and powerful, I'm hoping YES!, that I'll get to use them all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to the Book: The Big Push!

Well now that I'm home from Act One, and now that I've unburied my writing desk (sort of) from all the work that piled up while I was gone and that had absolutely must-do deadlines, it's time to push to finish this book, Deliver Me.

If you want to draw a connection between pushing and the book being about unplanned pregnancy, I can say pun intended!

All last week I spent working with, contacting, and trying to contact writers who have contributed stories to the book who I haven't received Publishing Agreements from. Since last week, I've already received two more signed agreements. Whoo-hoo!

I'm pleased that several others promised to send their agreements soon.

I've had to delete two contributors from the book. One because so much time has elapsed I couldn't get the permission to use the story anymore because the person has moved on with no way to contact her. The other, I've tried everything I know to contact her and I can't get a hold of her. So here are the new numbers:

Total Contributors that I need Publishing Agreements from (originally 43 less the two deleted): 41

Publishing Agreements received from: 26

Still need Publishing Agreements from: 15

Still have a ways to go, but we're getting there!

I'm aware that the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is beginning today. My editor, Margie Vawter, who will be editing my manuscript for me is there. So is at least one of my contributors to the book: Emily Parke Chase. Hope they're having a great time!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 13 - The last day of Act One Writing Seminar - It's a Wrap!

Day 13: July 3, 2010

9:00 – 10:00 Wrap up
We heard from faculty members Vicki Peterson and Terrance Berry and PEEP classmate Caleb Brown—about his attempt to run a marathon on his own, and how he got into trouble doing so. This business is a marathon, not a sprint, and we need help getting there.

10:00 – 12:00 Alumni Panel: If I Knew Then What I Know Now
  • Scott Teems, writer/director of That Evening Sun starring Hal Holbrook, releasing on DVD September 7th. Based on the short story by William Gay. (I recommend this movie. Enjoyed it very much. It will release with two covers. Scott says buy the one with the night-time cover (it's better!).
  • Jimmy Hornbeak, production and marketing company.
  • Gillian Fritzche
  • Nate Scoggins, writer/director of The Least of These showing on Starz, available through NetFlix.
  • Cheryl McKay, wrote the screenplay for The Ultimate Gift.
  • Clare Sera
  • Sam Curphey, entertainment attorney
A wonderful wrap up and good information and encouragement!

In answer to the question, How do we balance serving our church and others who want us to use our time and skill for free? (I know you writers reading this can relate.)

From Gillian: If it begins to be an obligation or I start to feel resentful, that’s a sign I need to say to the staff, “I need to step back a little.” If it is given freely and joyfully, that’s a good thing.

12:00 – 3:00 Alumni Barbecue in Griffith Park.
Met lots of past alums and got to mingle and talk and laugh and get to know writers and directors and producers and more. For us newbies, this was our graduation party.

I was only able to do the 2-week writing seminar this go-round. Six of us writers are 2-weekers. The rest of our classmates are staying either for the next 8 weeks or 14 months. The 8-weekers will attend class/mentoring sessions from 9:00 – 5:00 for the next 8 Saturdays, plus homework assignments and internships at Hollywood companies. The rest are doing the entire 14-month certificate program.

Hard to believe. It’s a wrap!

Day 12 - Act One Writing Seminar

Oops! I so totally forgot to blog last night! And I was doing so well!!! Here’s the thing… My beloved, Hal, drove in yesterday. Plus, since it was our almost last day, we got out at 5:00. So Hal and I went out to dinner, enjoyed each other’s company (since we haven’t seen each other in a dozen days)… And I was so happy being with him that I never thought of blogging until the next morning! Drat. Broke my perfect record. So here is the blog post about yesterday’s Act One that I should have posted last night.

Day 12: July 2, 2010

9:00 – 9:30 M: Devotion and Prayer
Devotions / Credo presentation by Mirachelle Canada on the armor of God. She sang The Climb (Miley Sirus).

Presentation of assigned Credo stories. (Our Credo story assignment was to make of list completing this statement: “This I know to be true…” Then we were to chose one credo and write a story (or poem, or a medium of our choice) to express that credo. This morning credo presentations were made by: Dianne Butts (short story), Lisa England (short story), Monica Romano (poem).

9:30 – 12:30 Andrea Nasfell: Independent Film & the Business of Hollywood
She wrote the screenplay for Christmas with a Capital C due to release in November 2010 (I think!). We got to see the movie trailer for this movie by Pure Flix. It finished shooting in Alaska last week and stars Daniel Baldwin. It’s about a happy little town that loves Christmas until someone comes to town that doesn’t want the nativity on public land, in the public schools, etc., and the uproar that ensues. Looks like a fun movie.

My goodness this lady knows the business. She made a wonderful game board, based on the game of Life™, that she gave each of us a copy of and we played the game of Hollywood. We each flipped a coin to see if we would move to Representation Swamp (got an agent to represent our screenplays in Hollywood) or Do-I-Yourself Mountain (the way Andrea Nasfell has done it. From there a flip of the coin determined whether we would go to the Studio or Independent film industry. Those who were lucky enough to get the right flip of the coin then ended up in Development Hell. From there some made it to Production, post-production, and finally distribution. At every step Andrea had a wealth of information to tell about every step in the film making industry. Wow. So much information!
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 3:00 Kris Young: Writing from the Gospels
Before we arrived at Act One, we were sent Kris’ devotional for discouraged screenwriters titled Writing the First Draft of Your Life. Kris didn’t write this to publish, but to give away. Cool, huh? Kris said, “I it to keep you going once you have exhausted yourself.”

Kris talked to us about the Bible and applying it to our careers as screenwriters in Hollywood.

From my notes: "If you graph a screenplay [I guess they do this in film school], it has lots of ups and downs, like you’re cutting out the teeth of a key. These keys can fit into hearts and open them up.""

3:00 – 5:00 Panel: Business of New Media
(Jim Bell was scheduled to talk to us about Dialog but at the last minute he had an emergency and wasn’t able to make it. Please keep Jim in your prayers.)

Have I mentioned that there are actually two classes going on simultaneously? I’m in the class for writers. The other class is Producing & Entertainment Executives Program (PEEPs). We’ve had many classes with all of us together; some separately. Since Jim Bell couldn’t make it, we writers got to sit in on the PEEPs class, which was really, really interesting! Here’s the line up for the panel:

  • Moderator: Chuck Slocum, Assistant Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, West.
  • Jim Brandon, Dorm Life (Attention Span Media)’s most popular web series
  • Brady Brim-DeForest, CEO and co-founder of, the leading authority in the web television industry. (If you’re interested in online TV, they said this is a great thing to keep your eye on to keep up.)
  • Rajeev Sigamoney – Among other things, he shot the web series, Jesus People, viewed by half a million YouTube viewers, which spawned Jesus People: The Movie.
  • Rob Kirbyson – Wrote and directed CTRL for NBC Universal, the first stand-alone web series produced by a major network.
The new media is web content, meaning online TV series. These are very short, often only 5 minutes per episode. They often make 10 episodes per season (50 minutes), and if they get to go two season, then they have 100 minutes which they can string together for a movie. Can you imagine writing 10 or 20 5-minute episodes that all have a complete story including a twist at the end, but that all have an over-arching story line that works when they’re all strung together? Wow.

We got to screen [that means “see”!] an episode of each, plus some clips from the Streamy Awards. You should take a little time and google some of these and watch an episode or two. These are comedies. Another genre that is doing well as online TV is horror.

Brands often want to attached to web shows, for example NesTea sponsored CTRL. So they say you can make a living by making online content.

Check out and

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 11 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 11: July 1, 2010

9:00 – 9:30 Genevieve Parker: Devotion and Prayer
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

9:30 – 12:00 Phil Nemy: Networking
Author of Get a Reel Job. Awesome information. Everything this guy said was gold! On how to network, how to build relationships, coaching meetings, business relationships, resumes. I have to get his book!

1:00 – 5:00 Dick Lyles: Introduction to Self Leadership Take charge of your career and your development. (Is with Origin Entertainment.) How to take charge of myself and guide my own career to where I want to be. Very informative. Very helpful.

5:00 – 7:00 Dinner: Burgers and In & Out
We discussed log lines and pitches. Producers were talking with Writers about possibly doing some projects together. It was very cool.

7:00 – 9:00 Chris Easterly: Unnatural History
Screened an episode of this a show for Cartoon Network. I liked the show. “If you were 12, that would have blown your mind.” – Chris Easterly

Looks like a short day, but pretty long sessions. I'm learning so much. It's really great.

My husband left this morning to drive out and get me. He's half way here. I'll get to see him tomorrow!

Day 10 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 10: June 30, 2010

Seriously? It’s day ten?! Here are the events of the day plus a few of my notes from the classes. At the bottom there is a special note, prayer request, and a link I hope you will take a moment to read and pray over. Thanks.

9:30 – 10:30 Ben Lobato
Read: Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. You guys are the scribes who tell the stories of our time that need to be told.

10:00 – 12:00 Panel: Agents, Managers, Attorneys & Guilds
Travis Mann (lawyer), Chuck Slocum (WGA), Brant Rose (agency) and Toochis Morin (agent, actress)

Toochis: If you’re a writer, then have the value of writing. Can’t tell you how many writers you give them notes and they latch on and won’t listen. The market has shrunk. The people who make it are entrepreneurs. Have the work ethic to actually write. I won’t work with writers who write only one script a year. Just can’t do it.

Chuck: The feature / studio market has kind of dried up. So it has become this whole freelance thing that you [we] are all a part of.

1:00 – 2:30 TV Panel: Coleman (Cole) Luck III and Kara Lee Burk
Talked about their experiences working on TV shows, including The Unit and Romantically Challenged respectively.
2:30 – 5:00 Jack Gilbert: The Sitcom Writers Room
Many sitcoms are three-camera shows. Others are one-camera, like The Office.

We watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory and brainstormed how it might go. Then watched how the episode really went and why the writers might have done what they did.

7:00 – 9:00 Leverage screening: Melissa Glenn and Jessica Reider

We watched an episode and then heard how these two writers got on the show and discussed how they work together on episodes. Very fun!

SPECIAL NOTE AND PRAYER REQUEST: My heart is breaking for the California Highway Patrol. The CHP has lost four (FOUR!) patrolmen in the last three weeks. All of them were killed during traffic stops, or attempting traffic stops. All of them left behind wives. Three of them left behind children. One of them left behind an expectant wife. At least one had a partner who rendered aid, which means he probably witnessed everything. Would you please keep each of these families, the co-workers, and the entire CHP family in your prayers? Thank you.

More info here:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 9 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 9: June 29, 2010

9:00 – 9:15 Jack Gilbert: Prayer
Three ways to pray:
1. List (Specific names rather than “Act One Summer class.”)
2. Sequential (What do I need to do to get this project done?)
3. Spatial. (Mind mapping)

9:15 – 12:00 Tom Provost: Introducing Your Character
Lots of film clips. It was fun.

1:00 – 2:45 Clare Sera: Fresh is as Fresh Does
Did many exercises to ignite our imagination. It was fun!
From my notes: Cover up the names of all characters and read the dialog and see if it’s different—all should be unique, even if it’s one character that speaks in long sentences and another one in short sentences.

3:00 – 5:00 Ron Austin, Author of the book Into The Light
Was born in Hollywood and a child actor. His first director was Charlie Chaplin, who was in his sixties at the time. Two cute girls were around: Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Became a Christian in his forties.

5:30 – 7:45 Terrance Berry’s That Evening Sun screening
Starring Hal Holbrook.

8:00 – 9:00 Discussion of the movie with Act One faculty Terrance Berry and Act One alum and Director of the movie, Scott Teems
Based on the short story by William Gay (published in his collection of short stories). This team also made another William Gay story into a short film called “A Death in the Woods.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 8 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 8: June 28, 2010

Whew. We had a full day today. Here are the folks who took time out of their schedules and lives to talk to us today, to teach us, and to invest in us, along with a few notes. What a privilege.

9:00 – 9:30 Fr. Willy Raymond on Prayer
If we are not in prayer from the heart, in touch with the living God, we are in danger of forgetting why we are doing this.

9:30 – 12:00 Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon: Does It Sound Like a Movie?
Chuck and Cary are a writing team who have been writing and pitching movies in Hollywood for fifteen years. They wrote the supernatural thriller Tokyo Ghost Story. In 2008 they began to pursue Christian-themed projects, completing their first, What If?, slated for a 2010 release.

From Chuck and Cary when talking about all the challenges of working in Hollywood: "Prayer is the only thing that will save us. In one hour of prayer we’ll get farther than in ten years of work."

1:00 – 2:45 Bill Marsilii: From Premise to Plot: Breaking Your Story
Bill Marsilii is the writer of the movie Déjà Vu starring Denzel Washington.

3:00 – 5:15 Bill Marsilii: Déjà Vu and the Mechanics of Theme
Part 1: Writing the Christian Screenplay
You can write a Christian screenplay. Or you can write a faith-based movie that people will come to, people who wouldn’t be caught dead talking about God.

Part 2: Being a Christian screenwriter in Hollywood.
There is a secret hunger for Christian themes among many filmmakers

5:15 – 7:00 Dinner (We went to Rosco’s for chicken and waffles. Yum!)

7:00 – 9:00 Grant Nieporte: Discussion: Seven Pounds
Grant Nieporte is the writer of the movie Seven Pounds starring Will Smith. We got to hear a lot about his adventure as his screenplay came into being.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 7 - Act One Writing Seminar

I enjoyed this day off. I attended church at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, which was the home church of Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Jimmy Stewart. It's an easy two-block walk from where I'm staying. The church is one of those wonderful old buildings with dark wood pews and balcony. It has beautiful stained glass windows depicting Bible stories, and I really wish I would have had more time to study every one of them, as I had planned to do after church.

But, as it turns out, a couple sat down next to me and welcomed me as a visitor. We got to talking and I told them why I was there--that I was taking the Act One class which will be held at the Mears Center in their church next week. They invited me to go to Sunday school with them after church, and the Sunday school class meets in the Mears Center, so I got to see where I'll be this coming week.

They are without their usual Sunday school teacher right now, so are having guests come in. She was telling me the teacher that was there today is wonderful. Knowledgeable, down to earth... When he began to speak, he told them that this series of five classes will be his last. You could hear the disappointment in the audience and I sensed this was a really big deal.

Then he announced that the first book he wrote, back in 1958 (published in 1961), didn't sell well at that time. But he has republished it and just yesterday, he received a box of books from his publisher. After 50 years, his book is back in print! (And, of course, I snatched a copy!) It is titled The Significance of the Synoptic Miracles: Taking the Worldview of Jesus Seriously and the author is James Kallas. He was on the founding faculty of the California Lutheran College (now University), was the President of Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, and played for the Chicago Bears. (He doesn't look like a big enough man to do that!)

He taught a wonderful class about so much church history. Here are some tidbits from my notes:
Greek is based on nouns. (What is it?)
In Hebrew, verbs are the building blocks.
This result is understanding God in different ways. Greeks think, "What is God?" Hebrews think, "In the beginning God created..."
This man also talked about Constantine and Alexander the Great. It was an interesting class!

After the class, my new friend and her husband (who are from Sweden, by the way. Have I mentioned my paternal grandmother was from Sweden?), decided I needed to meet Barbara, since she is a film producer. Barbara is currently producing her first feature-length film, Three Times a Lady. It looks like a fun time!

After all that, I took a walk down Hollywood Boulevard, which is only another two blocks away, looking for some lunch. That's about the time my roomy, Lisa, called and we met up and walked down the Boulevard to the Kodak Theatre where the Academy Awards are held. We saw street performers and lots and lots of stars in the sidewalk with names we recognized. It was a lot of fun.

Got postcards. Had lunch.

Tomorrow we start classes again at 9:00am until at least 9:00 pm for the week. Can't wait!

Day 6 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 6: June 26, 2010

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast

9:00 – 9:30 Rebecca Ver Straten McSparren: Devotion
From Luke: the story of Jesus’ encounter with the bleeding woman and Jairus’ daughter
Suggested Prayers for Others:
God, bridge the gap between ____’s love for him/herself and Your love.
Heal all of ____’s memories.
Place Your Healing hands around ____’s lovely and hurting brain and heart, and heal him/her.
Turn ____’s heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
Free ____ to love You with all of his/her heart, soul, and mind so that ____ is free to become all that You meant him/her to be

(9:30) 10:00 – 12:15 David McFadzean: The Writer’s Point of View (POV)
The Bible is a story, a series of weddings up to a wedding feast.
Character is only interesting within an interesting plot. Character itself does not drive the story.
The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but the inward appearance of things.

12:15 – 1:15 Lunch

1:00 – 12:00 Panel: What is an Act One Film?
Chuck Slocum: Assistant Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, West.
John Shepherd: President of Act One, President of Mpower Pictures, produced Bella and The Ultimate Gift
Barbara (Nicolosi) Harrington: founding Director of Act One, Chair of the Board of Directors. She wrote Mary, Mother of the Christ, with Ben Fitzgerald (The Passion of the Christ) for a 2010 wide-release by MGM, staring Al Pacino and Peter O'Toole, directed by James Foley.
David McFadzean: writers, producer, and partner in Wind Dancer films.Created and executive produced Home Improvement.

Chuck Slocum
How can you show a character is a person of faith?
Watched some scenes from Friday Night Lights.

Barbara Harrington
Mastery of craft united to an unusual quality of depth.
If we can pump 50 of you into the business each year…it is a small business. Some of you will make a difference.

Instead of Christian movies vs. non-Christian movies, I prefer to call them sacred vs. non-sacred. Overtly Christian are sacred as opposed to not overtly, but I hope all are Christian.

John Shepherd
Three circles with a tiny intersection: Commercial, Mission, Art. And an Act One film aims at that tiny point of intersection.
The script itself: If you’re trying to scrape up the money, maybe it’s not a good script. Good scripts are attractive and people want to produce them. So if you’re having trouble, maybe it’s not a good script.
Act One operates on a shoe-string budget and really needs Christians and churches to support us with donations and prayer.

Quotes from today:

“Why are we here at Act One? Why is Act One even needed? Because Protestant Evangelicalism has decided not to embrace Hollywood but only to complain about it.” – David McFadzean

“I came out here [to Hollywood] thinking Christians were getting martyred. But they’re committing suicide.” – Barbara Harrington (because Christians didn’t know the craft and were doing many things wrong, like font and format, yet were getting angry that their scripts weren’t getting accepted. That's why she helped start this training seminar for Christian screenwriters.).

“Theater is the place where people go to sit in the darkness and let people in the light tell them what it is to be human.” – Barbara Harrington

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 5 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 5: June 25, 2010

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast
It was Ethics day at Act One. Here are some tidbits from my notes:

9:00 – 10:30 Chuck Slocum: Theology of Entertainment
The Assistant Executive Director of the Writer’s Guild of America, West, asked questions like, “What knowledge, thoughtfulness, preparation do I expect from my Pastor? How similar do I expect my Pastor’s sermons to be to the Bible? How much will I hold him accountable?”

We’re not making toaster ovens. We’re making movies that reaching inside a person. There’s a higher responsibility. We have the same moral and ethical responsibility that Teacher/Preachers have.

Do a Theological rewrite (last). Don’t start with a Scripture, but with story. Write dangerously. Let the story go where it needs to go. But then ask what theological issues does my story bring up and how am I treating them? Do I agree with the position I’m representing?

10:30 – 12:00 Barbara (Nicolosi) Harrington: The Ethics of Artistry, Professionalism, Meaning & Spirituality
Discussion on not violating our contracts with our viewers, collaborators, and more.

1:00 – 4:30 Vicki Peterson: Film and Discussion: The Audience of One
Film: The Audience of One (Made by a nonbeliever? I think that's what was said, though I'm not positive.)

A documentary about a San Francisco Pentecostal church that started to make a movie. WYSIWYG Productions. Michael Jacobs, film maker. Oh my gosh. They stepped out in faith to make a movie, but they had no idea what they were doing. It was a disaster. As a Christian, it's embarrassing. (This documentary is available at NetFlix and Amazon.)

Then we discussed what happened. And why. Both sides of what happened. Faith. Wisdom. Doing what God says. Discerning what God says. Accountability... And more.

Here’s something crazy: We’re watching this film and I think, “Gee whiz, that looks like ___ sitting over there across the room.” After the film, sure enough. It was her. She answered an ad and went to find out about this project, but she felt something was wrong and didn’t go back. That was in 2002. Another one in our class worked with WYSIWYG Productions one summer while in college. Small world.

4:30 – 6:00 Social/Spiritual Reflection time
I had a computer video conference with my beloved husband. That was fun!
Then spent time working on my story assignment: Make a list from my own life experiences that finishes: “This I know to be true…” Then write a story on one of those.

6:00 – 7:00 Dinner

7:00 – 9:00 Discussion Panel: Ethics: Karen Covell, Bryan Belknap, Charlie Carner
Talking about being careful with words when people are not nice, and not “selling yourself” in a town where everybody is selling themselves.

Quotes from today:

“Every big sin has the mark of Judas on it. His biggest sin was disloyalty to Christ and every sin is that.” – Barbara (Nicolosi) Harrington

“If you want to affirm your faith in the Lord, do something really crappy. You’ll feel so bad that it will confirm, ‘Yeah, I am a child of His!’” - Bryan Belknap

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 4 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 4: June 24, 2010

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast – With the “Breakfast Club” Felecia, Monica, Vicki, Lisa, and Me

9:00 – 9:30 Kevin McCloskey: Devotions in Galatians
What can I point to in my life that says, “Yes, God has appointed me to be a writer”?
How does the process of storytelling draw me closer to Jesus?
Where is God opening doors for me that I might not want to have open, but where is He leading me?
Am I willing to let go of my timing and my plans and follow God in this journey?
Who is going to go with me, or who is with me on this journey?

9:30 – 11:30 Sibyl Gardner: Structure: Is There a Formula for a Good Script?
Analyzed: Forty Year Old Virgin according to the book Story
Analyzed: Lars and the Real Girl according to the book Save the Cat

11:30 – 12:00 Jack: Eight Essential Story Points

3:30 – 6:00 Jack Gilbert: Format and Writing Direction
For the Writers: Talked/learned about the actual formatting of the script on the page. I’ve read the book, but still to see examples of how writers did it is really informative and helpful.

For the Producers: went away and had a discussion with Howard Kazanjian, producer of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, and Dan Lin, producer of Sherlock Holmes, Terminator Salvation and more.

7:00 – 9:00 Sean Gaffney: The Genre Game
Wow, what a great workshop from someone who works as a Story Administrator for Warner Brothers. Oh my goodness this was so good.

Quote from today: “We have to choose between what is right and what is easy…”
- Albus Dumbledore (in Sean Gaffney’s talk)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 3: June 23, 2010

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast

9:00 – 10:00 Barbara E. Miner, Psy. D.: The Lovers, The Dreamers, And Me
This was wonderfully helpful, with an exercise to write down all the things you've been called because you're an artist (weird, odd, eccentric, etc.--if it's too painful, you don't have to write it down). Then make a list of all your gifts that make you a good artist (insightful, good communicator). Now, in the first list cross off all the ones that you know are not true about you and circle the ones you accept. In the second list, circle the one that is easiest for you to "own" and the one that is hardest for you to own.

At the end of this workshop we sang along with Kermit the Frog his “The Rainbow Connection” (which for someone who never heard this song was a real treat!).

10:00 – 12:00 Vicki Peterson: Movies and Meaning

A sample of the discussion: Bella vs. Juno
Bella was embraced by Christians as a great pro-life movie.
Juno was embraced by the world.
Bella set out to make a movie with an agenda. Critics says they actually did the opposite. (she didn’t get an abortion).


1:00 – 3:00 Tom Provost: Screen Art Form
This workshop was filled with so much good stuff about directing. (Right now the writers and producers are all together in these classes, so I'm getting to learn just a bit of the business side. Which is really interesting and will help me be a better writer. It's like in publishing where writers really need to know the publishing business if we are to write a book that sells. I'm learning screenwriters need to know some about how things work on the set so we can know what will work in our scripts and what simply won't work.) Tom Provost talked about lighting and color and sound and all those things I didn't even know they worked so hard on in movies. We saw lots of clips.

3:00 – 5:00 Nancy Miller: Screening and Discussion: Saving Grace
We watched the season 3 (last year) finale of Saving Grace (which just had the series finale last Monday). Hear a lot about how Nancy Miller created this TV show, what other shows she has worked on and how she got started.
Hour for spiritual reflection

7:00 – 9:00 Discussion with Scott Derrickson, co-author and director of the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Wow. Such a lot of good information and interesting stories.

A great day loaded with awesome information. I'm learning so much! Making great contacts. Asking a lot of questions and getting a lot of answers. Today I felt great--finally am getting caught up on my sleep I think (which is weird with getting six hours of sleep or less each night. I have to think it's all your prayers giving me energy and stamina).

Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 2: June 22, 2010

Things just keep rolling right along here at Act One. So far the students for both classes have been together. There are twenty of us in the Writer's Class and I think about fifteen in the Producing Class. It has been very helpful to for this little writer to mingle with Producers. That's a side of the business I don't know a lot about yet, but I need to learn (just like a writer of books or magazine articles needs to learn about the publishing industry).

Here's the recap of the day I promised, though it's very brief:

8:00 - Breakfast

9:00 – 10:00 Barbara Nicolosi Harrington: Prayer and “Writing Your Credo”

10:00 – 12:00 Barbara Nicolosi Harrington: Spirituality for Hollywood Storytellers

12:15 – (Lunch in the middle) – 2:00 Dick Lyles: How to Optimize Your Learning in the Midst of Chaos

2:00 – 5:00 Dick Lyles: How to be a Star Collaborator in a Collaborative Industry

5:00 – 6:00 much needed break


7:00 – 9:00 Karen and Jim Covell Sex, Lies, and Relationships
                   Shun Lee Fong: Hollywood Entertainment

Dianne’s Favorite quote of the day: “You will do as much good as holy you are.” (Old Italian Nun told Barbara Nicolosi Harrington that.)

Now it's time to sleep fast! And then do it again tomorrow.

Day 1 - Act One Writing Seminar

Day 1: June 21, 2010

Whew! What a day! Got up at 5:00am, left home at 6:00am. Got to Denver International Airport around 8:00. Checked my bag, got through security, and was at my gate by 8:20. Took off 9:05 and got to LA 10:50 am (local time). Shuttle got me to the retreat center by about 1:00. Ate lunch. Wrote my Mom.

3:00 – checked in at Act One

4:00 – 6:00 Opening and ice breakers with Jack Gilbert.

6:00 – 7:00 Dinner

7:00 – 9:00 Barbara Nicolosi Harrington: Act One History, Values, Philosophy, & Keynotes. Barbara is a founder of Act One and the Chair of the Board. She gave a historical overview of Act One, core values, mission. (And she was wonderfully encouraging and inspiring.)

9:00 – 10:00 Writing exercises with Vicki Peterson

Today’s best quote: Barbara Nicolosi Harrington spoke about “What is a “Christian movie”?

Barbara says foundational to this course is Flannery O’Conner’s thought (now…this is Dianne’s paraphrase!) that a “redemptive story” is not one in which the character is redeemed; it’s one in which the audience is redeemed. That’s a Christian film.

Now. Me. To bed. Waaay tired.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heading off to my Act One adventure!

This blog normally is about the adventure of self-publishing, freelance writing, and the progress I'm making on my self-published book Deliver Me.

But I need to take a temporary turn for another adventure. I'm going to be gone for the next few weeks because back in April, I applied to a screenwriting class in Hollywood and guess what? I got accepted!

I first heard of the Act One program about ten years ago when a representative came to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Barbara Nicolosi talked about how she and some of her Christian friends working in Hollywood felt increasing concern about what they saw coming out of Hollywood and they wanted to figure out what they could do about it. Their answer: train Christians to write for and work in Hollywood. And so they opened Act One. Although writing moral, decent content for Hollywood to produce is part of their vision, Act One also is training Christians to become excellent producers, directors, assistants, and more to work in Hollywood right alongside those in Hollywood who don't share our faith. In this way, Act One hopes to shine a light to others about what Christianity really is (since Hollywood seems to have a pretty skewed view of us Christians) and affect what comes out of Hollywood for the good.

What is produced in Hollywood is seen in countries other than the United States -- in fact our entertainment is seen around the world. That's why two veteran Hollywood professionals who have been on faculty at Act One, Jim and Karen Covell, challenge the church to see Hollywood as "the world's most influential mission field."
Ten years ago I never thought I'd be going to Act One. But over these past ten years, I have studied screenwriting, attended screenwriting workshops and seminars, and practiced through opportunities like A year ago, for my birthday, my beloved husband took me to Hollywood for my birthday! We stopped in to visit at Act One, and I was encouraged to apply for the writer's program.

Viola. Here I am. Done applied. Got accepted. And...I fly out Monday morning and classes start Monday afternoon! So...for the next few weeks, instead of writing about my book-in-progress, I'm going to chronicle my adventure at Act One.

I'm hoping to blog daily and let you know what happened in class each day, but that promises to be challenging since Act One has told us classes will run from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm! Nevertheless, I'm hoping to post a daily update (although it might be late at night before I get it done!).

If you're the praying sort, I'd appreciate your prayers for God's guidance (and stamina!) through this adventure. I'd also appreciate your prayers for all my classmates. There is a writing class going on, and an executive's class simultaneously. I believe we'll be together at least some of the time. I have challenged my class to be the "best Act One class ever," meaning the most fruitful for God's kingdom. You can be a part of that by upholding us in prayer.

And whether you're a visitor to this blog, a classmate at Act One, a Christian writer from CWFI, or a dear friend, please feel free to leave a comment of encouragement or a prayer to let us know you stopped by and you're thinking of us.

(And please continue to pray for the book, Deliver Me. Perhaps it's a good time for me to take a break from that project because I am terribly frustrated with it. could go on, but... Time for a break.)

My thanks in advance to each of you. Another God-directed adventure! Here I go!
Next post: Hopefully on Monday and from Hollywood!

If you're interested, here is more information about Act One :

The class I'm heading out to:

What Act One past classes are already doing in Hollywood:

Act One's mission statement:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Updated Count on Contributors

Can you believe that letter I sent out on Monday, June 7th, already found that writer and she has already contacted me?! Another Hurray! She is working on her Publishing Agreement, too. So I'll update the count:

Contributors (Need Publishing Agreements from): 43

Publishing Agreements received from: 22

Haven't received Publishing Agreements from: 19 (Got a call from a writer yesterday with some questions. Now that he has the answers, he'll be sending me his P.A.)

So far can't locate: 2

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Updated Count on Contributors

Last Friday I heard from a writer I hadn't been able to contact! Hurray! (I found a newer e-mail address for her.)

Yesterday I was able to contact by phone one more writer that I hadn't heard from! Hurray!

Plus, I received another Publishing Agreement yesterday in the mail. Another Hurray!

Updated count:

Contributors: 43

(Wondering why the change? I had previously counted "families" instead of contributors. I have 41 families, but two contributed two stories, one from the wife, one from the husband. So add two for a total of 43 contributors.)

Publishing Agreements received from: 22 (Whoo-hoo!)

Haven't received Publishing Agreements from: 18 (Many are supposed to be sending me theirs. I'm waiting... )

So far can't locate: 3 (Still trying. I sent a letter to the last known address of one yesterday. May have leads on the other two.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

I'm still running to catch up with the Publishing Agreements that are coming in! What's taking so long? you ask.

I was at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for almost a week in May. Had a great time with doors opening possibilities for other book projects, including a novel, a non-fiction book about living married but childless, and a Bible study. Then, of course, in the aftermath I'm scrambling to get material to the people who requested it.

Also, my really big news is that I've been accepted to attend Act One Program's "Writing for Film and Television" two-week seminar in Hollywood, California, later this month! So I've been scrambling to read the "required reading" books, view the "required viewing" movies, and read the "required reading" screenplays. It's all fun! And they call this homework?

But I've been working on processing the Publishing Agreements all along. It just takes way longer than I ever anticipated. This is me trying to make sure I'm not missing anything: like a change a writer requests, a bio they sent, and question about the Publishing Agreement, a needed Permission Form... There's a lot to do, and every one of my writers is unique. And I have over forty writers.'s taking some time.

Those are my excuses.

Here's an update:

Of the 41 writers, I have Publishing Agreements back from 16!

Some writers I still haven't been able to contact, though. Still working on that. Which is what I'd better get back to.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Publishing Agreements are coming in!

Last week I managed to send out ALL the Publishing Agreements and Permissions Forms for every story in the Deliver Me book!

And I've heard back from many contributing writers. What fun! I've heard from so many, in fact, that I haven't been able to keep up with the e-mails. They're stacking up waiting for me to answer the many questions and make many changes to the stories. I'll get to them. I promise!

Meanwhile, five of my e-mailed Publishing Agreements bounced. So I'll have to try the phone numbers I have for those writers, and I'll hope they're still good. I hope to get that done this weekend.

There are still two other writers that I know their e-mail addresses, the phone numbers I have for them, and the addresses I have for them are not good. I'm trying everything I know to track down these two writers because I love their stories. I had one glimpse this week that I might be able to find one of them, but I haven't heard from her yet. So...I'd appreciate any prayers that I'll be able to find both of these writers.

I know there are other writers I haven't heard back from yet. But with sending out forty e-mailed Publishing Agreements pretty much at once and then having many coming back, I've kind of lost track of how many I've heard from and who I haven't heard from yet. As I'm able to go through the e-mails and Publishing Agreements that have come in by mail, I'll be able to figure that out.

So much to do. It's a lot of work. And it's not like this is the only project I'm working on. But I'm so extremely pleased I'm working on it!

Thanks for your patience and support!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Milestone! - Contacting Writers Who Contributed to Book

It's another milestone to celebrate with this book! Now that I have the manuscript in place, it's time to start contacting the writers who contributed stories that are in the book. (The book that was formerly titled "Where Grace Abounds" and is now titled Deliver Me: Hope, Help, and Options When You're Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy.)

I started contacting my writers this afternoon!

I tried a few by phone and didn't get anyone, but then it is Friday afternoon...

As you might imagine, because this book has been in the works for so long some of the e-mail addresses and phone numbers I have for the contributing writers are no longer good. It may prove to be a challenge to contact some of my writers.

(Note to writers: Let this be a lesson to you. If/when you move, send a change of address card or e-mail to the editors/publications you've submitted to!)

But then I got one voice mail...and not a generic message but one with the name of the writer I was trying to reach! I left a message and followed with an e-mail.

Then on my next try I actually got one of my writers! Whoo-hoo! She sounds (almost) as excited as I am about this book finally coming to fruition. I met this author, Ann, at a writers conference in 2004 and she sent me her story after that. That's (at least) how long I've been working toward this point with this book.

Do I hear Patience and Perseverance, anyone?

I have 60 stories in the book written by 41 different authors. So I have a lot more writers to contact.

But today I got a hold of one. I'm thrilled! Hey, it's a start.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Writing Opportunity -- I need stories!

My writing friend Renee Gray Wilburn and I are compiling a new book by, for, and about grandparents which shows the challenges a grandparent can face and the spiritual fruit grandparents can see by influencing their grandchildren for Jesus Christ.

We need your stories!

Currently we need stories for our book proposal, which has been requested by a mainline Christian publisher. The writers guidelines are below. The deadline is listed as April 30th, but sooner would be better.

Please submit stories to me at

A Grand Influence: Grandparents Impacting Grandchildren for God

Writer’s Guidelines

Renee Gray-Wilburn and Dianne E. Butts are compiling a new book by, for, and about grandparents. Currently about one-third of all adults are grandparents, and we wish to provide a helpful book filled with encouragement and ideas through true stories of grandparents who have been successful in influencing their grandchildren for the Lord. Besides true stories, the book will contain resources including practical application points and personal study questions.

Grandparents, we need your stories! Stories need to show how you, as a grandparent, have overcome obstacles to influence your grandchild toward Christ. Examples of obstacles could be long-distance grandparenting, when your grandchildren’s parents are not walking with God or are divorced, and Christian children with whom you’ve been able to establish a successful partnership. Besides the obstacle(s) you’re working through, we need to see as a result of your influence some kind of spiritual fruit in the lives of your grandchildren. This doesn’t mean all problems are resolved or challenges met, but rather shows that you are walking through this journey with God. Examples of spiritual fruit may be the grandchild learning to pray, wanting to go to church, or asking about Jesus. Please don’t feel limited to these examples.

Keep in mind that these need to be stories, with a beginning, middle, and end, a point of conflict, and an encouraging resolution. It’s helpful to include practical tips for how you’ve reached your grandkids so we can encourage others who may be in your situation. If you feel you have a compelling story but cannot write it yourself, please contact us anyway. We can help bring your story to life!

Please know that writing under a pseudonym (changing names and shadowing minor details to protect family relationships) is acceptable and we will respect that should your story be chosen for publication.

We’d like each story to be around 1500 words. Each story chosen for the book will pay $25 along with one contributor’s copy of the book. Your bio will be included. We have a tight deadline of April 30, 2010. And, of course, sooner would be better!

Feel free to pass these guidelines along to anyone you think has a story to tell. This is a great opportunity for a writer to have a story published!

Submit stories as an attached Word file or questions to either Renee Gray-Wilburn at or Dianne E. Butts at .

Friday, February 19, 2010

Deliver Me Manuscript Update

I know, I know. I've been away from my blog for a looooong time. Where have I been? Working hard on the manuscript for Deliver Me.

And guess what? Just a little bit ago... Today... Just moments ago, I finished the manuscript!

Okay. Well let me qualify that: I finished the main manuscript. I still need to go back an add in some statistics to ever chapter and resources at the end of each chapter.

After that I'll need to contact every contributor and get permissions signed. I have a lot of work yet in front of me on this book. But hey. This is a milestone!