Austin Film Festival and Conference Days 1 and 2

So I was nervous the first day. Still am a bit, but I am so very glad I came. While I feel like I don’t have a lot to contribute, per se, I am certainly taking notes. My being an extrovert is also coming in at least a little handy. Though I’m having that problem I get sometimes where I can be a little bit shy and uncertain. I’m finding my best bet is to just sit next to someone or strike up a conversation in line. It’s also a little odd to be around other extroverts, since usually I’m the one who starts talking first.

But the panels have been great. I feel like a sponge. And it’ll only make my own writing better. I’d like to catch another roundtable if I could. Even if I’m not asking questions, at least I can listen and take notes. I took a lot of notes with Jason Neulander and mostly quotes at the Chicks with Bics panel.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to Nicole Perlman’s panel most of all. I haven’t probably networked as much as I should, but I’m doing it a bit here and there, so I think I am making progress.  And I’m definitely coming back next year. Maybe I’ll even have a screenplay to enter.

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Driskill Hotel at Night

IMG_2144.JPG

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What do I want to see?

I had an assignment that asked me what I wanted to write and why, and this was what I came up with:

I would like to write and create films whose focus is female characters. Women are often underrepresented or presented negatively on screen, and I would like to change that. That is not to say that I want to write strictly ‘feminist’ films, but I simply think that women should be treated as well rounded characters, the same as anyone else.

There are many tropes and stereotypes employed by film. These have changed over time, for the most part, but there is still persistent attitude that women can’t carry a movie or are unnecessary for a film. But I think that the world doesn’t require another white male hero.  They’ve made all kinds of Superman movies, but even after they did poorly, more were made. Yet one or two female led superhero movies with weak scripts, and it’s all the lead actresses fault. I love the Marvel franchise, but they act like a Black Widow movie would simply be impossible, no matter how much fans have demanded it. Let alone any sort of merchandising of the female characters.

There is a void out there. Half of all moviegoers are female. Many moviegoers are people of color. But most movies are still aimed squarely at the white male 16-25 demographic.  Female film lovers don’t just want another romantic comedy. There’s a place for them, just as there’s a place for white male action heroes. The problem is when that is all that is offered. Young girls need heroes to look up to that reflect them. Young boys need to know that girls can be as tough and smart and clever as boys.

My other creative love (besides writing) is photography. And screenwriting is a wonderful merge of the two, taking the images I see in my mind’s eye and translating them for others. I look forward to using my talents to make a living and maybe also make a difference.

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Film and History

It’s been very interesting to take both a Women’s History course and a Race and Gender in American Film class at the same time. It’s hard not to see the parallels. All media is created in a specific environment, so it’s easy to see one reflected in the other.

As perceptions and stereotypes morph and change, so does media. Film that is made by people outside the status quo, reflects their perceptions and points of view.

For instance, it was surprising to me to realize that a film had been made, basically explaining that Jewish people were okay and should be accepted. From where I am, in 2014, I don’t see racism against Jews. But historically, that has been an issue.

So, studying film is also studying history. “Birth of a Nation” is a terribly racist movie, but it is still studied due to it’s innovations in filmmaking technique.  Film and history and intertwined and one reflects the other.

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On writing relationships

Sorry to bother you – I was wondering if you had any advice for writing romantic characters? I have a bad habit of writing all my characters aromantic/not-in-a-relationship and I have a creative writing test on Tuesday and my character for that needs to be in a relationship and flirt… And you’re a writer. A good one. So I was wondering if you had any tips on writing romance and flirting? Yeah. Sorry.

Thank you for the compliment.

Maybe I have a small advantage of being married 16 years. Or I just like Jack Harkness, a lot. I would say the big thing is the small things.If you want to be in a relationship, you notice the small things. You know what they like in their tea or coffee. You laugh at their jokes. If you’ve been a relationship for a while you have your inside jokes and shared experiences. If you’re just meeting someone, take a tip from Jack Harkness, smile, meet their eyes and introduce yourself. It’s a fine line between being creepy and being warm, but it’s about paying attention to the other person, and making sure they know you’re the center of their attention.

It’s also about being patient. That’s how I tend to write/think of Mystrade. Greg is warm and friendly, Mycroft is standofish and aloof. But he melts the ice simply by being there and letting Mycroft know he is willing to take as much time as he needs. John and Sherlock can have a similar dynamic, depending on how you’re writing them.

Like I said, in a more long term relationship, it’s about getting to know the other person. You get to know their lines, what jokes go too far, what things from the past you shouldn’t bring up if you want to keep  you head attached to your shoulders. Real relationships have ups and downs, fights and moments of love. It can be as simple as holding hands. It can be as complicated as watching the sunrise together.

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Why Fanfic

 Do you think there’s any point in writing fanfiction if no one really reads it?

Absolutely. I write some pairs that I know very few people will read or care about, but I still write it because it makes me (and maybe one or two other people) happy. I write fics sometimes just for me that I end up not posting at all.

If writing makes you happy, do it. It doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter if one person or 5 or 10,000 people read it. Write because you want to. Write what you want to write because you want to.

I know sometimes it can be discouraging to think no one is reading what you put out there, but people will come. And you’l find those that support  you through it. Heck if you need to, my ask is always open.

I strongly support writing, any writing. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you write is worth less then anyone else’s just because it’s fanfiction, or something they aren’t interested in. Write it anyway.

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lampasasriver

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Goodreads Giveaway 1

The hardest part of this self-publishing thing is probably making people aware that you exist. So, one of the pieces of advice I found was just do a Goodreads Giveaway. Now, I’ve been on Goodreads a while, but I actually had never seen the giveaways. So maybe I just don’t spend enough time on the site. Still, I figured it was worth a shot.

Well, my giveaway started this morning. As of right now, I’ve got 174 entries, and even better, as far as I’m concerned, 71 people have added my book to their to-read lists. Now sure, I might be buried somewhere on their reading piles, but that’s still 174+ people that now know that my book exists, and quite a few who might eventually read it. We’ll still have to see how this translates to sales, but at least it’s visibility.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unthinkable by Merinda Brayfield

Unthinkable

by Merinda Brayfield

Giveaway ends August 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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So what made you decide…?

One of the most common questions I get asked now that my book is out is “What made you decide to self-publish?

For me, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. This story is probably around ten years old (I honestly don’t remember when I started writing it). I made some effort to shop it around maybe eight years ago, but nothing came of it. So it’s been sitting on my hard drive, along with two other finished stories in the series and the start of a third. I’ve been talking about publishing it myself for years.

So why now? Well through the years I’ve let a few people read it, and pretty much all of the reaction was positive. A few months ago I let another friend read it, and she was particularly enthusiastic, and for whatever reason, that was apparently the push I needed. I started investigated what would self-publishing would entail.

These days, self-publishing is easier and cheaper then ever. Honestly, other then putting yourself out there, there isn’t a lot of financial risk. So I went for it. And now it makes me giddy to see myself on Amazon.

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Hello All

Hello, I recently self-published my first novel, Unthinkable. I plan on blogging about my misadventures as I navigate this new experience and hopefully give some insight into my experience.

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