2013 in Review (THANK YOU READERS for All Your Blog Visits!)

I’m thrilled to learn that my blog had 21,000 views this year, because I have to admit, I haven’t been focusing my time on creating many blog posts or links to my blog. I’ve been focusing my time on WRITING, and then when I have free time, I’ve created Facebook page posts, because so many of you have joined me there. Thanks again!

I haven’t posted a lot to the blog this year because I’ve been occupied writing my novel. So, thanks for your patience, regular blog readers, and I promise you’ll be rewarded for it in 2014!

All the best for 2014!

xox Heather

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

About these ads

Another 5 Star Review for The Friends I’ve Never Met!

Image

I love waking up to surprises. Some of my favourites: Snow on the ground. My daughter leaving a crayoned card at my bedside table. Hubby and her made breakfast in bed. AND FIVE STAR REVIEWS LIKE THIS ONE!

Thanks to author Lisa Justus for such a well-written review that will hopefully make more people want to read this story.

You can read Lisa’s review here and follow her links to buy the book on Amazon. It’s also available on the Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Sony reader and at Smashwords in epub format.

2013-11-28 11.25.01_2This is me, keeping on going until I am stopped! What, you think a tree is going to stop me? :)

Meet Four Writers On A Blog Hop!

Welcome to my blog hop, where you will learn a little more about me and three other authors:

Tracey Allen (Sustainable/Gluten-free/Passive Solar) http://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save–simplify.html
Luigi Benetton (Technology/Business) http://luigibenetton.com/category/technozen/
Paul Lima (Business of Writing) http://paullima.com/blog/

and her
e’s my official website:

Heather Grace Stewart (Author/Poet/Speaker) http://heathergracestewart.me

If you’ve never visited my blog before, thanks for dropping by! Hope you’ll stay a while, and please be sure to visit my writer friends’ blogs. Thanks!

I’ve been writing creatively since I was five years old, and my first poem was even published (in the school newsletter!) From that moment on, I was hooked on writing. I went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and wrote for the Queen’s Journal and Tricolour Yearbook. Then I attended Concordia and completed a graduate diploma in Journalism. After a few years working for a newspaper and several magazines as their associate editor, I decided to become a freelance writer, and in 1999, I founded Graceful Publications, my freelance writing and editing business.

Little did I know that one day I’d expand that business to become a book publisher!  I’ve been traditionally published a few times (Jackfruit Press, Bewrite Books and Winter Goose Publishing) and recently, through Graceful Publications, I published a book of children’s poems, The Groovy Granny, my screenplay The Friends I’ve Never Met, and I’m so excited to announce that my 4th collection of poetry, prose & photography, Three Spaces, will be released in ebook format mid-February 2013 (print will come a month later). I really enjoy doing readings and speaking engagements, and am looking forward to doing a workshop on epublishing at the Queen’s Conference on Journalism and Media next month.

I think the best advice I can give to aspiring authors is to follow your passion. You may have to keep a job you don’t like much to pay the bills, but if writing about fly fishing or vampires or poetry is your passion, then find the time to do that, because that’s probably where you’ll do your best work and find your greatest joy. Don’t give up, either. There are so many different ways to get your work out there now – you can make your own ebook for free, or post samples of your writing on a blog, record them in pod casts, or even Tweet them!

So, don’t give up! Write every day, even if it’s a few words on a little sticky note. Those few words could spark a great novel some day.

Sale! Sale! Sale!

In case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I wanted to let you know that today and tomorrow only, November 24 & 25th, 2012, my publisher is having a Holiday Sale on all their books.

Printed books are just $10.99 when you shop at their site http://wintergoosepublishing.com and their ebooks are $2.99 at their site, on Kindle and Bn.com. Don’t forget that you can download free reading software from Amazon.com if you dont have a Kindle!

My first collected poems, Where the Butterflies Go, is just 0.99 on Kindle until midnight EST tomorrow, the 25th.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for buying The Friends I’ve Never Met on Kindle – it was my biggest selling item for first-day sales on Kindle ! and I’m thrilled you were interested and shared about it with your friends and family.

Happy rest of weekend!

Heather

Go to Amazon.com and click on KINDLE to get your free software
so you can read Kindle books anywhere – on your laptop, desktop,
or phone!

The Friends I’ve Never Met- Now on Kindle!

This is the story of a screenplay that has traveled around the world more than I have in the last three years.

It’s the story of my romantic comedy screenplay, The Friends I’ve Never Met, now available for you to read and enjoy on Kindle or for free on your laptop or desktop computer using easy to use, FREE Kindle software  I’m selling the screenplay there for just three buckeroos.

Why put a screenplay on Kindle? Why not? It’s registered to me under WGAW, and it’s not like it hasn’t been read by dozens of people already. I just decided that I wanted it to be available for more people to read and enjoy.

I wrote The Friends I Never Met in 2009, and acted as my own agent, because finding an agent proved tougher than just getting it read by people in the industry. On a whim, I called up my then-Facebook friend, playwright and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (he’s since left Facebook) and asked if he’d take a look at it. He was kind enough to say he’d be happy to read it (and also to suggest I buy the show Pinky and the Brain to engage my then- four-year-old daughter. I’d told him I’d given her a bowl of cheetos bigger than her head so I could “talk to the nice movie-making-man.”) and to send it right away to his office. It’s an understatement to say he’s a busy guy, and he never found the time amid writing The Social Network, Moneyball and The Newsroom. Last he told me, it was not only in his house but in his “awesome Mulholland Brothers script bag.”  I’d like to think some day he’ll finally pick it up, read it, and give me some pointers ~ or maybe even take his Kindle out of the box, set it up, and read my screenplay on the Kindle. That would surprise me more, since he admits he doesn’t even know how to create presets on the radio in his car. But, damn, the guy can write movies and television.

I didn’t stop at sending it to Mr. Sorkin (twice). I sent it to one of my writing heroes, Michael J. Weithorn, executive producer-writer of King of Queen’s, a writer-producer of Family Ties, and now a film director (A Little Help, 2010). He didn’t just read it; he offered to talk about it over the phone with me. His advice was the best I got on this journey. I used a lot of it to make the script tighter, more real, and, I hope, more compelling. As well, he sent me old Family Ties shirts and a funky sateen jacket from set. Come ON! It was definitely a Top 10 moment for this Family Ties junkie.

I sent the screenplay to several screenwriting festivals too, including WildSound in Toronto and Scriptapalooza in the U.S., and I got some solid writing pointers back from a team of writers at each festival.  I used their comments to improve it once again. (The script has seen at least 10 revisions. I’ve lost count).

I’d been acquaintances with actor Mark Feuerstein (What Women Want, In Her Shoes) for a few years before writing this screenplay (we’ve never met in person but we’ve spoken on the phone), and he agreed to read the script next. What a sweet, unassuming guy. He was busy preparing for his new show, Royal Pains, at the time, but he still took the time to read the screenplay, compliment me on it in an email (he even said he’d be happy to play either male character, schedule permitting and all!), and offer to let me use his comments as a referral to any person or agency I sent it to. And so, I sent it to his agency and a few others, and crossed my fingers that it would catch someone’s eye in the Slush Piles of Screenplays.

It didn’t, so I continued to send it to festivals, and called producers, big and small, in LA. Sometimes, their office assistants wouldn’t even give me the name of the person I should mail the script to. I used to open with “I’m in Canada.” Maybe that was a bad idea, EH?

Next, I poked someone else on Facebook. I’m kidding – but all of these contacts thus far were made thanks to Facebook!

Other places my script traveled? Actress Forbes Riley (24, The Pretenders, The Practice) gave it a read and a big thumbs-up from Florida. Next it went overseas to New Zealand into the hands of actor-director Tom Cavanagh (Ed), who was acting as Ranger Smith in Yogi Bear. He then accidentally left it in the Vancouver airport waiting room. I’d like to think he was overtired from flying half way around the world, and not that he left it there because he hated the read. It was mailed back to me with some very constructive comments – including new director’s directions! – in the margins up to half-way through. I kept that copy because that was even better than an autograph, and I implemented the changes he suggested.

I even spoke with Drew Barrymore’s Director of Development for Flower Films on the phone, and he agreed to read the film’s synopsis. He told me it “sounds like an innovative idea and a fun, sincere story, and you’re definitely plugged into the zeitgest,” but Flower Films is a “small company with a very small slate and not making that genre of film right now.”

A lot of good friends and family members read the screenplay, too. I asked for their honest opinion, and in many cases, their critiques helped me change scenes and characters for the better.

After two years of sending the screenplay around the world, I was stopped. I always say, ‘Keep on going until you are stopped,’ when it comes to your dreams, but this dream was getting expensive! I did one last revision, then left it alone.

But, I didn’t want that to be the end of this story. Recently, I read the screenplay again, and realized I didn’t write it for it to gather dust inside my laptop’s hard drive. I wrote it for people to enjoy.

I just had to come up with another way to get more people to read it. So, I’ve published it on Kindle (and soon, on the  Kobo and iBooks!) and hope that you all buy it and tell me what you think. It’s not like I haven’t heard compliments and critiques from people from all walks of life already; I’m all ears for yours!

Enjoy the read and if you like it, please tell others about it!
Best wishes,

Heather

Me, wearing my new Family Ties tshirt, a kind surprise from a writer-producer of the show. Getting his advice and constructive criticism on my screenplay was one of the highlights of this journey.

“You Should Write A Movie.”

“It’s him. Why wouldn’t it be him?” my friend Artsy Mommy asked me the day after Mr. Screenwriter signed my blog.

“What’s the big deal?” she wanted to know. “He’s just a writer.”

Just a writer. I laughed out loud. She had clearly expressed what most of the world thinks of my chosen profession. This is one of many reasons why I love Artsy Mommy—for her honesty—and for what came next.

“You should write a movie about this,” she smiled as she helped me toss another load of muddy clothes into my washer.

“About this?”

“Inspired by this. By the people you’ve met on the discussion board, by meeting someone famous online—by you freaking out pretty much all the time about it.”

“It would be pretty funny. A stay-at-home-mom and writer meets someone famous on the Internet. I like it. I could fictionalize it—but people who meet on the Internet—that’s a good starting off point. Something we can all relate to.”

“So get to it.”

“Yeah, right. With what free time? At four in the morning? ” I laughed.

Six months later, I was sitting in front of my computer screen, rereading the first draft of my script, “The Friends I’ve Never Met.”

I glanced at the clock. 4:44 a.m.

I hardly remembered any of the writing process these past few months. I’d been waking up at 4 a.m. instinctively—on the nose, without an alarm clock—and writing in a trance-like-state until my daughter woke up at 8 a.m. every morning.

I’d read a couple screenwriting books, visit Mr. Screenwriter & The Facebook Movie’s discussion board for advice and inspiration, and rework that morning’s write using my cue card system during the three hours she was in preschool. I knew the first draft was done when I woke up at 7 a.m. one morning instead of at 4 am. I’d hit 120 pages.

It was one of those pieces that insisted on being written. And then—like no piece I’ve ever written before— it insisted on me telling the world about it. It’s a very stubborn, persistent child. It won’t give up.

But then, neither do I.

***

Update: I wrote that movie. I shopped the screenplay around for two years, and when I ran out of money doing that, I published it to Kindle, Kobo Nook and iBooks! It has been my best-selling ebook to date!  Thanks so much to everyone who believed in me along the way! :)

The Friends I’ve Never Met  - find it on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony, iBooks, Copia, Smashwords and more!

Read the background to how I came to write the screenplay and the many adventures I had around it:

starting here:

I’m Afraid to Ask, But What Is Poking?

“You’re Not Being Punked.”

When I write, “until the day I found a way to speak with Mr. Screenwriter on the phone,” you must remember that I worked from home with a four-year-old tugging at my pant leg every ten minutes.

Therefore, if I wanted my impulsive plan to work (and by impulsive, I mean impulsive—I’d only come up with the idea a half hour before, when my clever four-year-old suggested in a matter-of-fact-tone, “If you want to speak to him, you should call him.”), it was imperative for the Flickering Babysitter to hold her clever attention for at least 10 minutes.

The fact that I also absent-mindedly poured her a bowl of Cheetos bigger than her little blond head while he and I were conversing is not one of my proudest parenting moments. But it did give Mr. Screenwriter and I something else to talk about.

“I just put on Rocky and Bullwinkle for my daughter, so I can get a quiet moment to speak with you. I don’t even know what Rocky and Bullwinkle’s about. Working from home doesn’t always work out for me,” I laughed.

“How old is she again?” he asked.

“Four.”

“She might be a little young, but try Pinky and the Brain,” he said, and he went on to explain why he and his daughter liked the show. We were having a regular conversation. I didn’t think I sounded like a stalker or a bimbo, but apparently I did sound Canadian, because he made a joke about my o’s. I laughed and relaxed a little, catching my breath so I could ask him my next question.

“So, I guess you’re really answering my emails?”

“Yes, Heather, you’re not being punked.”

That’s what it took for me to finally believe. Yes, Virgina, he really was Mr. Screenwriter! I could finally let go and start enjoying my time on his Mr. Screenwriter & The Facebook Movie discussion board. Maybe I’d even stretch my legs a little. Or a lot.  It was the best thing that could have happened.

Posting on a public discussion board for the first time helped me find my funny, and reading about his work (and how  much he seemed to love doing what he did) inspired me to try to write a screenplay of my own—something I’d never dreamed of trying until I happened upon that discussion board in December 2008.

I suppose my journalism training has made me overly suspicious of everything I read—especially items I read on the Internet—plus, I’ve probably watched Conspiracy Theory a few too many times. But if I weren’t an over-thinking-paranoid-yet-impulsive frosted flake, I wouldn’t have these great stories to share. There is a method to my madness.

I don’t regret much in my life, but I do regret deleting Mr. Screenwriter’s blog comment because, well, it was damn funny. And who doesn’t want to drive traffic to their blog? Who cares how it happens, as long as the readers get there?

Apparently, me. Apparently, I am the freak of nature who cares a little too much about pretty much everything. I wish I’d had Cher near my computer that day, smacking me silly, “Snap out of it, Blondie!” Why did I have to be so perfectly principled? It’s not like I’d posted photos of me pole dancing— “More of this at heathergracestewart.com!” (Besides, I couldn’t possibly have any photos like that, in case you’re wondering).

Luckily, my fits of over-thinking and panic have miraculously failed to scare Mr. Screenwriter out of my life, so I am still treated to his brand of funny from time to time.


Read how this story started:

Prologue: The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

1) a-The Fine Line: “Do What You Want”

b-Emails from L.A.

c-“I”m Afraid To Ask, But What Is Poking?”

Read the NEXT chapter: “You Should Write A Movie”

“I’m Afraid To Ask, But What Is Poking?”

“A new comment on the post #179 “Will Mr. Screenwriter Add Me As A Facebook Friend?” is waiting for your approval.

I stared at my inbox in disbelief, then looked around for a brown bag to breathe into.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in.  Breathe out. Mr. Screenwriter—the guy who wrote my favourite movie and some of the best television ever written—just signed my blog? Mr. Screenwriter just signed my blog!

Okay. It’s easy to figure out who everyone in my story is—it’s not like I’m making it hard for you—and everyone in my story is just fine with that, but I’m sticking with the Mr. and Mrs. Names. They’re funny, and they have a nice ring to them.

“I’m afraid to ask, but what is poking?” Mr. Screenwriter wrote me. He was referring to the title of a second post he’d read on my blog about Facebook, “You’ve Been Poked.” He was in the process of writing a movie about Facebook, and wanted to understand how it worked.

The whole thing was very funny—but hard for me to believe. I’m from Ottawa. I’ve only traveled to the States a couple times. I’ve never been to Hollywood. The only famous person I’d met was Gary Sandy, WKRP’s Andy, in the elevator of an Edmonton hotel. I was about twelve years old, and recognized him right away. “Hey, I know you!” I grinned, and gave him a hug (my personality hasn’t changed much since twelve). I think my parents turned red, but chuckled. I then went on to tell Mr. Sandy how I was taking drama classes and was going to be famous some day. My parents tell me he got a kick out of me that night.

As for the blog post Mr. Screenwriter signed, you won’t be able to find it. One day, in one of my fits of panic and over-thinking which my dear family members and friends have come to refer to as—actually, they can’t quite find the term for me yet—I decided to delete the posts. They were getting a lot of traffic, and it bothered me.

Yeah. I know. Trust me to find a reason to panic about a blog post getting a lot of traffic. This won’t surprise any of my good friends or family members. As my dear friend Lucky Man Larry puts it, “It’s okay. I’ve become immune to your panicking.”

At the time, I didn’t like all the questions I was getting about it in my inbox. I just wanted people to read my blog for the poems and stories–not because some famous person had signed one of the entries.

There was also the not-so-minor fact that for about six months, I thought I was corresponding with Mr. Fake Screenwriter—that me and the more than 10,000 readers of his Facebook discussion board were being bamboozled, conned, fooled, punked, getting the wool pulled over our eyes.

I thought this despite that I’d called his studio to confirm with his assistant that this was the real deal.  I would think this until the day I found a way to speak with Mr. Screenwriter on the phone.

Read how this story started:

Prologue: The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

1) a-The Fine Line: “Do What You Want”

b-Emails from L.A.

Read the NEXT Chapter: “You’re Not Being Punked”

The Fine Line: Emails from L.A.

“Your friend’s on T.V.”

“My friend?”

“Your friend whose name I can’t pronounce.”

“Ohhh! My FRIEND! Mr. Sitcom Actor!” I squealed, and ran from the kitchen, where hubby and I had been making dinner together, to the living room. It was three years after the Crazy Phone Call, and since that time, not one restraining order had been placed against me. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I have never had a restraining order placed against me. Seriously. Please, keep reading.

Mr. Sitcom Actor had, in fact, recently told me I should refer to him as my friend, “even though you’re in Montreal and I’m way over here in L.A.” It never surprised me when he responded to my emails—he’s a dear-heart like that—but I knew it was a rarity for a famous person in Hollywood to give a rat’s ass about someone who could do nothing for them. I enjoyed our rare yet lively e-conversations.

I caught the tail end of the ad that was on for his series, but it was enough to get me jumping up and down, clapping, as I always did when hubby told me my friend was on our TV screen. Our one-year-old was sitting in her high chair, and started clapping along with me.

“Dat? Dat dere?” she asked, big eyes blue and wondering.

“That’s my friend. Mr. Sitcom Actor. He sends me emails from L.A. Well, not really.
I email him, and he’s sweet enough to email back.”

“Nice haih, dat,” Monkeydoodle mumbled through her peas.

“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. He really does have great hair.”

I’m going to stop typing immediately and clarify something before I get deluged with excited emails from you, dear readers. This is a fun game to play, keeping you guessing about all the parties in my story, but no, I didn’t get emails from McDreamy in my in-box. Patrick Dempsey wouldn’t return to our TV screens, set my heart racing, and make me put extra mousse in my husband’s hair until a whole year later.

As I finally sat down on the sofa, dinner plate on lap–this has got to be one of Murphy’s Laws–our daughter’s face turned beet red, and she announced an event to us for which anyone with an operating olfactory nerve required no announcement:

“Poop!”

I laughed, and was reminded of an email Mr. Sitcom Actor had sent me a few weeks back. We’d been comparing diaper duty–he’s quite the hands-on Dad and had admitted he and his wife were “knee-deep-in-it” –and, having read some of my poems, he’d told me I should write a Mommy Rap about changing diapers. “That would be hilarious!”

I never did write that rap. Life gets in the way; or perhaps that’s just not how it was supposed to happen. If I’d started practicing my rapping when Mr. Sitcom Actor suggested it, maybe I’d have learned to sing on key and sound bad-ass enough. But then I wouldn’t have earned my “The girl can’t rap, but she sure can write” t-shirt sent to me by The Sex People, along with a delicious strawberry cheesecake, delivered to my door.

Who the hell are The Sex People? I’m sure that’s what the cheesecake delivery guy wanted to know, with every inch of his being, since I wasn’t expecting him, and had answered the door in leggings and the new black stilettos I’d been modeling for my girlfriend Artsy Mommy. He must have thought I was running a very different kind of home business.

Back to The Sex People. The simple answer is I met them online when Mr. Sitcom Actor joked with me tongue-in-cheek, “Yes, Heather, let’s be friends, officially,” when I’d asked him if that was really him on Facebook—as if you have to be on Facebook to make your friendship official. He soon posted a link to a discussion board led by Mr. Screenwriter, which I thought looked quite interesting, so I joined.

Before I knew it I was online every day with a bunch of friends I’d never met, chatting about the in’s and out’s of screenwriting, sex in the movies, baseball, and our messy, beautiful lives.

It was the stuff movies are made of.

Read how this story started:

Prologue: The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

1) a-The Fine Line: “Do What You Want”

Read the NEXT CHAPTER: The Fine Line: I’m Afraid to Ask, but What Is Poking?

The Fine Line: “Do What You Want”

“You’re getting wrinkled.”

“It’s not that hot,” I coughed through the steam.

“You’re getting drunk.”

“It’s rosé. I’m pretty sure you can only get tipsy on the pink stuff,” I laughed. Still, I decided he was right. It was time to get out of the bath. At 31 years old, this newlywed was already a little too wrinkled for her liking.

Hubby handed me a towel. Before he even got a word out–typical, really–I looked up at him and asked him one more time:

“Do you really think I should do it? I’m gonna do it. Should I do it?”

“Do what you want.” He smiled at me, then walked into the other room.

“What are you doing? Hey!” I hated when he did this. Leaving decisions up to me was a very bad idea. And yet, he did it all the time. His philosophy is, so long as no one gets hurt, I’m a grown woman, it’s really all up to me. Once, I e-mailed him from the 27-floor building where I worked, saying I hated all the bureaucracy, hated the tediousness of the work, and wanted to quit. Could we afford it?

He typed back: “Do what you want. Do what makes you happy. Do whatever doesn’t involve jumping out the window of a high-rise building.”

I finished getting dressed, wrapping the towel around my head like a turban. As I walked out of the bathroom, I found Bill standing at the kitchen counter, pouring me another glass of wine.

“Here you go,” he smirked, handing it to me.

“What’s this for?”

“Liquid courage.”

“See! I knew you knew I was gonna do it.”

“Of course you’re gonna do it. You’re showing off how good you are at finding phone numbers on the Internet. Show-off.”

“Do you think I’m crazy? I mean, it’s probably not even his phone number.”

“I’ve always thought you’re crazy. This just makes you crazier.”

I didn’t even stop to stick my tongue out at him. I took a quick swig of the wine, picked up the phone, and started dialing.

One ring. No one was going to answer. Come on. It was his home phone number in New York. How the hell did that end up on the Internet? Two rings. Did this mean I was a stalker? It just popped up on my screen! It’s not like I’d even been looking for it! Three rings. Someone was answering. Holy hell, someone was answering!

“Hello?”

“Um, Mr. Sitcom Actor?”

“Yes. This is Mr. Sitcom Actor.”

“Wow, I didn’t think you’d answer. I’m Heather. In Montreal.”

“Hello, Heather in Montreal.”

“I, er, um, I just wanted to call and tell you how much I’ve loved your work in movies and television. I’ve watched it all.”

“Hey, that’s really nice. I’m about to go to dinner with my girlfriend and my Mom…”

“No, no, I’m married, Mr. Sitcom Actor. He’s right here, actually. I’m just outgoing like this. I just felt like you might need a pick-me-up. I had this gut instinct that I should call. It must sound crazy.”

“No strings attached? Really? Wow, that’s really sweet. I’ll tell my Mom!”

“Cool. Have a good dinner.”

“I will, Heather in Montreal. Thanks so much for the call.”

I hung up the phone, turned to hubby, and performed a jiggly-jumping-up-and-down-quick-spin-around-”Oh Yeah! I did it! Oh Yeah!” ritual that I would come to refer to as my Heather Dance.

“Ha! He answered! And he was touched!”

“Or maybe you’re touched.”

I laughed and clicked my wine glass with his.

And that was how it all began.

So, as you can see, clearly, it’s all my husband’s fault.

Prologue: The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

Read the next chapter here:
The Fine Line: Emails from L.A.