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Movie Star Me!

Last night, I got to play movie star. A friend of a friend asked me to be in a video at Sony Pictures Interactive. It’s probably not a video you’ll ever see; it’s intended as an educational piece for Sony employees to learn more about how different ages use different types of digital content and social networking at various times during the day, and how the platforms relate to one another.

There were no lines. (Well, once I had to say “Wake up!” but my voice won’t be on the video.) I played “Baby Boomer” with a 12-year-old son. I got there at 7 p.m. and went straight to make-up. I enjoyed chatting with the make-up artist, a very nice woman from Russia named Liana. Then dinner arrived (we got to order from a nice restaurant nearby). It was a while before they were ready for me.

They shot the scenes out of order, but in chronological order, it starts with me waking up to the clock radio (how un-hip!) while other, younger characters wake to their various cool digital devices. There were a couple of short scenes where I’m being “stern mom”–I’m making my kid get out of bed, I’m telling him to stop playing games and go clean his room (this is all done without dialogue, mind you). Then I take his tablet computer away (he’s watching Men In Black II ) and I start watching it myself (I switch to The Vow). The last scene, I’m watching the original Men in Black on the sofa, and I motion for my son to join me. We share a sweet mother-and-son moment, all is forgiven, and we watch the movie.

The video has two other characters that have their own little drama going on, a Gen X man and a Gen Y man. (They’re texting each other and watching trailers on their cool devices, then ordering movie tickets online.) But I don’t interact with them so I didn’t see much of them last night. The entire video probably lasts no more than five minutes.

All scenes were shot against a green screen. If you’re a fan of Cougar Town, Courtney Cox’s son has a green-screen set-up at his house. It’s where you can drop in any background you want during post-production.) My “bed” was a long skinny table padded with a couple of couch cushions.Also, all screens on the devices we used were blue; video images will be dropped in later. So I had to pretend to tap and scroll on the tablet computer when I had only a vague idea of what I was supposed to be seeing, then make the appropriate facial expressions.

Acting without lines is actually more difficult than I thought it would be. Everything had to be conveyed with facial expression. I had to look stern, sneaky, guilty, delighted, surprised. They told me the video would be ready by the first week in June. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post any clips or not–it might be proprietary information.

All in all it was a great time. I love acting. I’d do more of it if I could, but of course if I really wanted it, I’d have to put together a resume, a reel, headshots, find an agent, etc. And that would take way too much time away from writing. But any time a gig falls into my lap, I’m all over it!

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It’s been like giving birth, I swear. After all these months, today I was doing all the teeny final stuff–mopping the floor, replacing the faceplates and the smoke alarm and the vent register. And one of the faceplates wouldn’t go on. I’d built out the wall too far. So I had to get my putty knife and scrape, scrape, scrape until finally it would fit. Then, of course, I had to repaint! But finally it’s done. It’s really done. And I’m in the process of moving all my stuff back in.

My antique hook rug, given to me by my mother-in-law, was so filthy I couldn’t bear to bring it into my nice new office. So Rob and I took it outside, hung it over the swingset, and beat it with a broom. (There’s no other way to clean it, really. It’s too fragile.) this old-fashioned method worked surprisingly well. It looks much better.

I’m going to have to do a major purge of office stuff. I am determined to get rid of anything I’m not using, and organize what’s left. In addition to writing stuff, I have to cram my art, crafts, and vintage stuff in this one small room. Right now it really looks junky, which is a shame because the new office is so pretty.

In other news, I’ve been planning the family bike trip, which will be in upstate New York (along the Erie Canal towpath)  in August. I had no idea how difficult the planning is. It literally look two straight days. You have to balance the daily mileage with the towns you want to visit with the lodging that is available and reasonably priced, for seven people. You have to figure out where to rent the bikes (most of the bike shops don’t do long-term rentals, so I had to call a zillion before I found one who would work with me). Then you have to figure out how to get the bikes back to where you started (because we only ride one way). To keep costs down we stay at hostels when we can. This trip, we’re staying at a lot of bed & breakfasts, because those end up being the cheapest option. Also staying at a few cheap motels. We’ll only be riding 20-35 miles per day, to give us plenty of time for sightseeing. There’s a major bird sanctuary there, and Rob’s sisters are interested in doing some genealogy research, as his mother’s family is from this area.

Tomorrow, I’m all set to start a new book (in my new office!) I’m going to work up a proposal for three more Project Justice books. I’m waiting for my friend Charlotte to read the vampire book and give me feedback.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m teaching an online class starting tomorrow (Monday, May 7) How to Quit Your Day Job, with the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. Here is the link if you’d like to check it out: http://heartofcarolina.org/online-classes.html It’s only $20 for a three-week class.

Cheers,

Kara

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We can all agree that caffeine wakes you up, a scary situation causes your body to produce adrenaline, and certain boring books put you to sleep. But the mind-body connection goes so much further than that. Research continues to prove just how closely our minds and bodies are connected, which has huge implications for writers. Are there foods you can eat to make you more creative? Will the time of day you work out affect the number of pages you write in a day? Can writing an emotional scene make you mad at your husband? Join me for a fun and interesting two weeks, learning about the latest research and how you can apply it to improve your writing (and maybe improve your life). It starts today! (and runs for 2 weeks).

Here’s the link http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/forumdisplay.php?f=1849

Scroll down to find the forum. I believe you can read without registering, but to post replies, ask questions etc. you have to register.

Catch Up Blog

I have been so bad lately about blogging. There’s been lots going on.

The biggest news is, the first two Project Justice books made the finals of the Rita competition! The call took me completely by surprise, as I’d forgotten what day the notifications were going out. I tried to be calm but I’m afraid I shrieked a bit.

Once Rob scraped me off the ceiling, I had a new set of problems. They gave me a deadline for providing five more copies of my books and an author photo. I am completely out of my first book. I’ve never done that before, but this book has always been in short supply. I wasn’t able to order an extra box even when they were new. So now I am reduced to ordering used copies from Amazon, one at a time, and hoping they show up in time that I can send them.

And the photo … oh, dear God. I haven’t had a proper portrait done in years. I have a couple of semi-flattering snapshots I’ve been using for guest blogs, facebook, whatever, but this picture will be blown up to about twenty feet wide on a screen in a huge ballroom, and a snapshot won’t do. So I bit the bullet and found a professional photographer. He was all the way out in Venice, but I really liked his portfolio and he was reasonable. I should bet the proofs soon, and he said he can turn around the final image pretty quickly. I also forked over the dough to have my hair and make-up professionally done. If I don’t win the award, at least I got a new picture!

Tomorrow is April 1, the first day of Script Frenzy. Script Frenzy is like NaNoWriMo, except that instead of writing a novel in a month, you write a screenplay. I haven’t written a script in a long time so this will be good for me. I am taking one of my failed novels and seeing if the story will work better as a movie.

And finally, I am STILL painting my office. I’m on the second coat of enamel for the woodwork; can’t wait until it’s finished! Once I can move all my junk back into one place, instead of having it spread all over the house, I will be so much … I was going to say happier, but I’m happy. More at ease, maybe.

That is pretty much my life. It’s raining (almost always a happy thing in Southern California) so I think I’ll head for bed with a good book.

Plot Generator

I just signed up for Script Frenzy, which is the screenwriter’s version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to finish a script, start to finish, in 30 days. Which really isn’t that hard; every script I’ve written has been finished in less than a month. It’s only 100-110 pages, most of it dialogue.

I had big plans to pursue screenwriting when I moved to Southern California. But almost immediately after I moved here, I sold to Superromance and I’ve been caught up in that. Six books later, still no script. I’m hoping this will jump start me.

But I have no story in mind, and I must find one before April 1. That goal in mind, I consulted the Script Frenzy plot generator. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Tired of a monotonous day job, a single mom of six discovers the cure for a broken heart.

2. After a painful sneeze, a group of urban cannibals gets trapped in an elevator with Dr. Phil.

3. On a remote island, a guilty judge is kidnapped by the Russian mafia.

4. After losing one million dollars at the circus, a stoned principal is mistaken for Elton John and goes with it.

5. After winning the World Series, a wily group of drunken sportscasters rushes an elite southern sorority.

6. While studying for the SATs, a posse of snobby teen vampires sets out to shave a sasquatch.

7. Unable to find true love, a nuclear physicist with a broken heart accidentally eats a year’s supply of Viagra.

8. In the back of a pickup truck, an 80-year-old graffiti artist decides to rid the world of bad pop music.

Some of these are obviously not script-worthy. But others contain the seeds of workability. Snobby teen vampires trying to get into college is kind of funny.  Drunken sportscasters mixing it up with an elite sorority–I could do something with that.

If you’d like to generate your own plots, go to scriptfrenzy.com. You don’t have to sign up to play with the generator. But why don’t you? Join me in the insanity!

BOOK GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away three Project Justice books: NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, A SCORE TO SETTLE and OUTSIDE THE LAW (that’s the new one!). All you have to do is visit my facebook author page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kara-Lennox/181382008567736, “Like” it, and leave a comment somewhere on the page telling me so. If you’re already a fan, just leave a comment so indicating. I will draw a name from all the fans/commenters.

Today at the Orange County Chapter RWA, two agents spoke to us about trends, what they’re looking for, and what publishers want. Jill Marsal and Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

They spoke about how publishing has folded in on itself, so that there are fewer editors to submit a project to. Lower print runs and lower advances are the bad news. Expanding opportunities with small presses, digital first publishers and self-publishing was the good news.

The one thing I was really surprised to hear was the rising popularity of romantic suspense. Yay! Although I enjoy writing a great many different types of book, romantic suspense will always be my favorite.

The young adult market is the only one that has seen expansion recently. If you’ve got a yen to write one of these, now is definitely the time. A wide range of subject matter will fly with YA publishers, including sex (if done contientiously) and touch subjects like abuse and suicide.

But traditional publishers are looking for books that can go big, selling a minimum of 50,000 print copies. Midlist is almost non-existant.

I really enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of these two women.

I also signed copies of my new book (Outside the Law). I actually sold out! So nice to have such supportive chapter mates.

After the meeting, Rob and I went on a letterbox hunt. “Letterboxing” is my new hobby; it involves hidden boxes containing a rubber stamp and a log book. You bring your own rubber stamp, stamp, stamp the box’s logbook, use their stamp to mark your own logbook, then put the box back where you found it for the next person to find. Clues to the letterbox locations are found online. We found our first one yesterday and our second one today. Yay!

Something awful happened to me the other day. I met my writer friends at McDonald’s (no, that’s not the awful part). I ordered a coffee, then sat with my friend Laura. We both commented on how tasty the coffee was and what a bargain at 65 cents! Two other friends joined us, one of them a young, attractive mom with two small children (which was why we met at McDonald’s; it has a play area)

After our meeting, we all agreed our new temporary meeting spot (we usually meet at Starbucks). We all like the coffee, and Laura and I again commented about how lovely the 65-cent price is. The pretty one said, “Mine cost a dollar.”

I bet you can see where this is going. Laura and I looked at each other, horrified. The woman behind the counter had charged both of us the senior price! Without even asking! I’m not sure if I’m even old enough to qualify as a senior at McDonald’s.

This was a terrible blow to my ego. Most of my adult life, people have been surprised to learn my age, always believing I’m a good decade younger than I am. But sometime in the last five years, my looks have caught up with my age.

The very next day I went out and got a more chic, youthful-looking hairstyle and I bought a box of hair color (because yes, my roots were showing!) I am not giving in without a fight.

So how do you feel about senior discounts? If you are “of a certain age,” do you prefer for a clerk to simply give you the discount without asking, to ask if you qualify, or not give you the discount and assume you’ll ask if you want it?

 

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