The magic of a single sentence

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I adore writing.

Yet practically every time I sit down to write it’s a battle. That first paragraph, that first sentence, that first word, all punch me in the gut and kick me in the shins every time I try to capture them.

I can see why they fight so hard. I wouldn’t like to be captured and confined to a page either. It’s more fun running around free, with no constraints.

But I’m a writer. It’s my job to rein in those wild creatures we call words and convince them to work together to tell a story. And let me tell you, it’s not a particularly easy job.

To convince the little creatures to play nice I use the single sentence method. If I sit down to write and find that those words are being particularly ornery, I make a deal with myself (and them).

All I have to write for the day is a single sentence. One little sentence. It doesn’t matter how long or short, as long as it progresses the story and gets written.

That’s when the magic happens.

It’s strange. Once I rein in enough words to make a single sentence, other words usually follow. I don’t know if they’re playing Tag, or maybe Follow the Leader, but a single sentence turns into a paragraph, and that paragraph multiplies to become a page. Once I even wrote an entire chapter that way, without even realizing I had done it!

Of course, there are days that I write that single sentence, and that’s all. On those days I have to remind myself that tomorrow is another day, and hey, I have moved my story forward. If only a bit.

Besides. Those days are rare. In all the years I’ve been writing, I can only remember a handful.

Without a doubt, there’s magic in a single sentence.

Happy writing!


Women write great movies

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There are loads of fabulous writers out there, and many of them are women. But when it comes to Hollywood women writers are a bit hard to find. As a matter of fact, only about 11% of writers in Hollywood are women, even though about 52% of movie goers are women.

Odd, don’t you think?

Anyway, I decided to highlight some of the feminine talent out there with a list of wonderful movies that owe all or part of their entertainment value to, you guessed it, a woman. Maybe she wrote the screenplay, the original story, or was one of a whole crew of writers.

Whatever she did, she deserves the credit.

And yes, I’ve watched all of these. After all, I can’t say it’s a worthwhile movie to watch if I haven’t watched it.

Anyone else ever notice how hard it is to find writer’s names on movies?

And sorry if I missed your favorite, woman written flick. It was unintentional.

A Beautiful Mind. Book by Sylvia Nasar
Amazon Falls, Story by Katrin Bowen
Amarican Graffiti. Written by Gloria Katz
Austenland. Screenplay by Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale

Beauty and the Beast. Animation screenplay by Linda Woolverton. Story by Brenda Chapman
(The) Big Sleep. Screenplay by Leigh Brackett
Brave. Screenplay by Irene Mecchi. Story by Brenda Chapman
Bridesmaids. Written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones’s Baby. Screenplay by Helen Fielding and Emma Thompson

Carrie Pilby. Screenplay by Kara Holden. Based on a novel by Caren Lissner
Casablanca. Play by Joan Alison
Casper. Written by Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver
Chicago. Play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Clueless. Written by Amy Heckerling
Coffee Shop written by Theresa Preston
Contact. Based on a story by Ann Druyan

Descendants by Josann McGibbon & Sara Parriott
(The) Devil Wears Prada. Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna. Novel by Lauren Weisberger
Dirty Dancing. Written by Eleanor Bergstein
Divergent. Screenplay by Vanessa Taylor. Novel by Veronica Roth

E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Written by Melissa Mathison
Erin Borckovich. Written by Susannah Grant

Frozen. Screenplay by Jennifer Lee

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. Screenplay by Katie Dippold
Girl vs Monster. Story and teleplay by Annie DeYoung
Gone with the Wind. Story by Margaret Mitchell
Guardians of the Galaxy. Written by Nicole Perlman

(The) Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Written by Amanda Silver
(The) Heat. Screenplay by Katie Dippold
(The) Help. Novel by Kathryn Stockett
Hidden Figures. Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi. Book by Margot Lee Shetterly

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Screenplay by Gloria Katz
Inside Out. Screenplay by Meg LeFauve. Additional dialog by Amy Poehler
(The) Intern. Written by Nancy Meyers

(The) Jane Austen Book Club. Screenplay by Robin Swicord. Book by Karen Joy Fowler
Julie & Julia. Screenplay by Nora Ephron, book by Julie Powell. Julia Child also credited
Jurassic World. Screenplay by Amanda Silver

Kingsman: The Secret Service. Screenplay by Jane Goldman
Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Screenplay by Jane Goldman

(The) Last Mimzy. Screen story by Carol Skilken. From a short story by C. L. Moore
Legally Blonde. Screenplay by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith. Novel by Amanda Brown
(The) Lion King. Screenplay by Irene Mecchi and Linda Woolverton. Brenda Chapman, story supervisor. Additional story material by Jenny Tripp.
(The) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Screenplay by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens
(The) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Screenplay by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens
(The) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Screenplay by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens
(The) Lovely Bones. Screenplay by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens. Novel by Alice Sebold

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Screenplay by Jane Goldman
Moana. Story by Pamela Ribon
Monsters, Inc. Original story by Jill Culton
Mulan. Screenplay by Rita Hsiao. Screenplay by Eugenia Bostwick-Singer
(The) Mummy. Screen story by Jenny Lumet
My Little Chickadee. Screenplay by Mae West

Night Will Fall. Written by Lynette Singer

(The) Outcasts by Dominique Ferrari and Suzanne Wrubel

Pitch Perfect 1, 2, and 3. Screenplay by Kay Cannon.

Safe Haven. Screenplay by Dana Stevens
Saving Mr. Banks. Written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith
(The) Secret Garden.  Screenplay by Caroline Thompson. Book by Frances Hodgson Burnett
(The) Shining. Screenplay by Diane Johnson
Singin’ in the Rain. Story by Betty Comden
(The) Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Screenplay by Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler. Novel by Ann Brashares
Sleepless in Seattle. Screenplay by Nora Ephron
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Screenplay by Leigh Bracket

(The) Terminator. Written by Gale Anne Hurd
Terminator Genisys. Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Their Finest. Screenplay by Gaby Chiappe. Novel by Lissa Evans
Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy. Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor
To Kill a Mockingbird. Novel by Harper Lee

Unbroken. Book by Laura Hillenbrand

What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Screenplay by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach. Book by Heidi Murkoff
Whip It. Screenplay and novel by Shauna Cross
(The) Wizard of Oz. Screenplay by Florence Ryerson

You’ve Got Mail. Screenplay by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron

Zootopia. Story by Josie Trinidad and Jennifer Lee


Movies I’ve found on ‘best’ or ‘favorite’ lists, but I haven’t yet watched:

American Psycho. Screenplay by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner
Before Sunrise. Written by Kim Krizan
Before Midnight. Written by Julie Delpy. Characters by Kim Krizan
Belle. Written by Misan Sagay
(The) Bling Ring. Written by Sophia Copola and Nancy Jo Sales
(The) Boxtrolls. Screenplay by Irena Brignull
Celest & Jesse Forever. Written by Rashida Jones
Cinema Paradiso. Collaboration writer – Vanna Paoli
Dallas Buyers Club. Written by Melisa Wallack
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Written by Amanda Silver
(The) Debt. Screenplay by Jane Goldman
Downfall. Book by Traudl Junge and Melissa Müller
Enough Said. Written by Nicole Holofcener
Gone Girl. Screenplay and novel by Gillian Flynn
(The) Handmaiden. Screenplay by Seo-kyeong Jeong. Inspired by novel by Sarah Waters
Home Again. Screenplay by Hallie Meyers-Shyer
How to Train Your Dragon. Book by Cressida Cowell
Howl’s Moving Castle. Novel by Diana Wynne Jones
(The) Invisible Woman. Screenplay by Abi Morgan. Book by Claire Tomalin
(The) Iron Lady. Screenplay by Abi Morgan
Jane Eyre. Screenplay by Moira Buffini. Novel by Charlotte Brontë
M. Written by Thea von Harbou
Metropolis. Screenplay and novel by Thea von Harbou
Middle of Nowhere. Written by Ava DuVernay
Rebecca. Novel by Daphne Du Maurier. Screenplay by Joan Harrison
Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Written by Amanda Silver
Room. Screenplay and novel by Emma Donoghue
Shutter Island. Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Smashed. Written by Susan Burke
Stardust. Screenplay by Jane Goldman
Twelve Monkeys. Screenplay by Janet Peoples
When Harry Met Sally. Written by Nora Ephron
Witness for the Prosecution. Novel by Agatha Christie
Wreck-It Ralph. Screenplay by Jennifer Lee



Decisions, decisions!

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Here’s the thing.
I adore Christmas. Decorating, spending time with family, baking. All of it.
But I don’t ever want to get too far from my writing. I have a fear that if I allow myself too much time away from it I’ll lose that spark. And I really like that spark.
I just took off a little over a week for a trip, and there’s a week and a half until Christmas. That’s about three weeks out of the writing routine.
I know I’ve been writing regularly long enough that I seem to be able to start it and stop it almost at will.
But what if I can’t? What if the next long stretch of time I don’t write, the well goes dry?

Wait a minute! I’m looking at this all wrong.
Writing has become so much a part of life to me that it’s more like breathing than anything else.
If I hold my breath, I have no fear that I’ll forget how to take that next breath.

I can write, or not write, during the Christmas holidays.
Because I know that when everything settles down again, I’ll be gasping to get all those pesky ideas down on paper.

Phew! Crisis averted.

Being nice

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…sometimes doesn’t pay.

I just got back from the grocery store.

As I was returning the cart I noticed that the person who had returned the cart right before me had left what looked like a gift card in the basket.

The man was still there, so I rushed over to let him know that he had left it behind.

He thanked me. More than once. And no matter how many times I hinted that the conversation was over, he kept talking.

I detest being rude, so I spent the next few minutes inching closer and closer to my car so I could make my get-away without hurting the man’s feelings.

I was only a few feet away from my car when the man decided to solidify our budding friendship by insulting President Trump.

I’m SO tired of that.  He was obviously about to say more, so I gently informed him that I support President Trump.

I had assumed I would be allowed to politely leave, but no. It was as if I had flipped a switch and become not the nice person the man had just been complimenting, but The Enemy. He wasn’t quite yelling at me as I got into my car, but he wasn’t that far off.

Nice to know we still live in a civil society.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Today is Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving.

Everything I’m taking to the big family get-together is ready except for the mashed potatoes. As I sat here, drinking my coffee and waiting for the potatoes to boil, I realized something.

I love being around family. They’re interesting, fun, and enjoyable. But Thanksgiving is a bit of a pain.

First there’s the perfume issue. Even though everyone in my family knows I’m extremely sensitive to fragrances, someone will ‘forget’ and wear cologne, aftershave, or perfume. Then there will be the ones that wash their clothing in scented detergent (that really does a number on me).

The result will be sapped energy and a foggy brain. Depending on the amount, I might have an asthma attack.

Or at least, that’s how it’s been every holiday get-together for the past 25 years. I remember leaving the table one year to cry in private. Several people were wearing scent that year and I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t breath. At all.

It’s funny, I’ve never realized it before, but most of my extended family don’t really know me. They can’t. They’ve only seen the damped down version. What I become when my body and brain have been sabotaged by a plethora of unnecessary chemicals that some people think smell yummy.

Oh. And then there’s the food. Let’s cut to the chase. I have food allergies. Lots of them. Potlucks are a nightmare for me.

Nuts = migraine
Sugar = anger and depression
Dairy = asthma and stomach ache
Gluten = stomach ache, weird skin patches, and a feeling of malaise
Garlic = huge stomach ache
Onions = huge stomach ache

I could go on, because there’s quite a bit more, but you get the picture.

Hmm. Why DO I like Thanksgiving?

Oh, yeah. I enjoy family. I’m willing to put up with a lot of discomfort for family time.

I hope you enjoy your time with your family and friends, too.


Update: Three people wore heavy fragrance. I sat by an open window throughout the meal and was okay. But after the meal everyone congregated in the living room, a smaller space, and I had trouble walking through the perfume force field that formed at the doorway.

Nice to know family cares. Right?

Sorry if that comes off as snarky, but I have this weird thing where I like to be able to breath.

Top of the stairs

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An excerpt of what I wrote today.
This script still has a long way to go, but I’m encouraged because it plays out easily in my head.


Annie has her arms full of folded laundry as she trudges up the stairs. At the landing she pauses to get out of the way as Caleb runs past, closely followed by Noah, who’s making a noise that vaguely resembles a locomotive.

She smiles as she watches the boys, but her smile slips as an apparition of a man appears at the top of the stairs, between her and her boys. Noah and Caleb continue into Caleb’s room and shuts the DOOR with a resounding BANG.

Annie remains frozen for several seconds, unable to take her eyes off of the ghost. Other than the muted noise of the boys wrestling in Caleb’s room all is quiet.

Then the ghostly man is gone. Annie throws down the folded clothes and bolts up the stairs. She pauses for a split second when she reaches the place where the man stood, but nothing can keep her from her children and she powers through the spot.

When she reaches the closed door to Caleb’s room she pauses to regain composure.

(under her breath)
There’s no such thing as ghosts. I’m just tired. There are no ghosts.

Annie pastes a smile on her face and opens the door.

Can I play too?

She enters the room and firmly closes the door behind her.

Excerpt – Spencer 1928

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Spencer 1928 is the working title, although I’m getting closer to a real title.
Emma and her friends play a practical joke on Edwin and his friends, who are camping out.


Other than the CRACKLE of the glowing remnants of the FIRE, all is silent at the camp. The empty cardboard box that once held the birthday cake smolders near the fire, ready to burst into flame at any moment.

Emma, Betty, and Mildred tiptoe into camp dressed in white with powder on their faces and in their hair. Emma peeks into Edwin’s tent and smiles. Betty and Mildred check the other three tents. All three girls give a thumbs up.

Emma and Mildred quietly cover each tent with a blanket-sized piece of gauzy material and Betty tacks the material to the ground.

As Betty places the last tack the CARDBOARD BOX POPS as it bursts into flames directly behind her. Startled, she squeals and twirls around.

Mildred sprints from the trees and tosses the burning box onto the campfire. She glares at Betty and puts her finger to her lips.

Betty rolls her eyes and shrugs. She grabs a bucket from behind a tent and pours half of the water in it on the smoldering FIRE, causing it to SIZZLE. She jams the half-full bucket in the fire pit.

Emma joins them. Betty mouths the word READY. Both Emma and Mildred nod. Betty grabs another bucket, this one near the trees, and empties the contents, two small, brick-like objects, into the bucket of water. Immediately after they PLOP into the WATER a fog rolls out of the bucket and spreads across the ground.

Betty grins. Emma and Mildred gleefully nod in response.

The three girls pull out more of the gauzy material, drape it over their heads, and position themselves around what was once the campfire. Mildred nods, Emma gives several hard yanks on a rope.

A cacophony of CLANGS and BANGS assault the silence. In three of the tents figures spring through the openings, only to get caught in the gauze. They struggle to rip through.

Once free they see the terrifying sight of three ghosts cavorting in a deadly mist. The three figures run, yelling from the yard.

The girls break into laughter. Emma catches sight of Edwin’s tent and stops.

Did you see them?

Emma stares at Edwin’s tent.

Big, tough David yelled like a baby.

Emma rushes to Edwin’s tent and touches the gauze, which is exactly where she placed it.

Wonder if they’ll tell anyone this story?

Betty. Mildred. Come here.

Emma’s serious face wipes the smiles off of the two girls’ faces. They join Emma at Edwin’s tent. She points at the gauze.

Did he sleep through this?

Betty and Mildred shrug. Emma rips the gauze down and sticks her head inside the tent. Betty and Mildred follow suit.

Where’s my brother?