Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Guest Blogger RLB Hartmann
I am overjoyed to have Author RLB Hartmann as my guest today. She's a real Renaissance writer IE she writes a little something for everyone, and well too! And without further ado...
The first story I remember writing was set on the windy plains of some northwestern state, with a horse named Keno as the main character. Green Grass of Wyoming, by Mary O'Hara (author of Thunderhead) was indubitably the inspiration. So I must have been old enough to read parts of that book; but I was a precocious reader.
My stories always begin with a character who is experiencing a time of crisis. It's as if I am dropped down into a world already there, and I'm driven by curiosity to find out what the characters in that world think and feel. I don't try to make things happen, but watch as they happen and record the events. Few things in life are as rewarding to me as that.
Among numerous other short works, I've written a number of short film scripts, most ranging from 6 - 12 pages, which are available to indie filmmakers needing a first project, either for school or as a calling card. I also have a "cozy" detective story featuring a young husband and wife team, which started out as a short script but is presently in the form of a 22-page comedic radio play. The first episode is "The Disappearance of Molly Barrow," with at least 2 more episodes in the formative stages.
This summer I entered a contemporary "road" story in the Textnovel.com contest. Strong Coffee was a Top 10 Finalist there. I'm debating the next step for this one.
For two years I was Associate Editor of the AB Bookman's Weekly online, and for 9 years I taught part time at the local community college. In another life, I taught for 12 years in a public high school. In between those "real job" stints, I wrote a 9 book novel of Old Mexico.
The epic saga is my realm. I worked on Tierra del Oro for more years than I'm willing to admit to, and the finished double-spaced novel manuscript runs to approximately 1257 pages. Originally I planned 6 scripts, but quickly learned that 3 of the titles were two-parters. Honing each segment into less than 120 pages was a lengthy and hair-pulling process, but I'm happy to say that I did it. With the help of writers at Zoetrope.com who were willing to read it. Repeatedly I was told that even one of the scripts was best suited to a mini-series, and once people were aware of the scope of the project I was urged to write and market them that way. Being the hard-headed Celt that I am, I was determined to shape each part of the story into a single theatre release. However, I am formatting the entire saga into TV format, and have 14 episodes ready to show. Principals interested in filming any of my work should contact me from my main website at www.rlbhartmann.com
Most recently, I'm creating a website for one of my characters at www.floydsemporium.com . It's very much a work-in-progress, but during the next year lots of new stuff will be added, so drop by and say Hey! to Floyd and his friends. You can read about his book, Floyd and the Traveling Yard Sale, and use the link to Lulu.com if you wish to order a copy. The cover is a painting I did of Floyd's cabin. Two stories not in the print version will be included if I ever bring out a new edition.
My best advice to a struggling writer is this: if your character is a wrestler, let him be a wrestler; he can't be anything else, regardless of what movie or book comes out with a minor similarity. Don't focus on the little pebbles in the road, write with abandon the parts you are sure of. They don't have to be in order. Write the white-hot scenes when you can, don't try to fill in the gaps as you go. Getting down a first draft, no matter how pitted and shaky, is the first step. Learn to love revision. It's where the beauty is.
A friend at a writers' site once asked "What would you want your epitaph to say? What would the logline for your life be?"
And I replied "RLB Hartmann - Writer - She dreamed what she wrote, and from all failures rose like the Phoenix on a plume of fire and smoke, to victory."
Some background: I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, listening to stories my grandmother Mawie told. They usually involved me as a character with her favorite movie cowboys. After earning degrees at Appalachian State University, I taught high school English until the year after my mother died. In Sarasota, I met a bookseller whose interests meshed with mine. We married and came back to the house where I had spent most of my life, and we are still here.