There are two kinds of people in the world.  Actually there are almost seven billion kinds of people in the world, but for our purposes today, I’ll simplify.  There are two kinds of people.  The kind who fall neatly into slots other people choose for them, and the kind who make their own slots.  I won’t complicate this by pointing out that at one time or another, we’ve probably all done both.  Let’s just pretend life’s easy to understand and go from there.

As loyal blog followers know, I spent most of the past two weeks in New Zealand watching one of my earliest novels being made into a film for the German television station, ZDF.  We won’t take up the question of why an American author flew to New Zealand to watch a German production company make a film of a novel originally set in Georgia.  Suffice it to say that the transition works well, and that New Zealand has enough gorgeous and diverse locations to make a gazillion movies, as well as a flourishing film industry eager to help.  What I really want to talk about is how often I noted people doing what they loved. 


E with Jim and Terri.jpgTake Terri and Jim, for instance.  Terri and Jim are originally from the UK–although Jim spent time in Jamaica along the way.  After a trip to New Zealand’s South Island, they went home and began to work toward the goal of moving back permanently to run a charter boat service.  It took more than a decade to make the dream happen, but now Jim and Terri ARE Kaiteriteri Boat Charters, offering spectacular cruises through the Abel Tasman National Park.  Their joy in what they do is catching.  Every detail is performed with enthusiasm and care, plus they serve the best picnic lunch I’ve ever had, which permanently endeared them to all on board.

Then there was James.  James is a runner, at least I think that’s what he’s called in filmspeak.  James does everything.  I noted him on the first day and the last, a young, energetic man who seemed to know exactly what to do and how to do it on time and with courtesy.  On the last day I overheard him in conversation with another member of the crew.  He talked about how his job was simply to do whatever needed to be done with no excuses.  Not ever.  Can you imagine a world in which everyone had that attitude?  I have a strong feeling we’ll be hearing from James again.  All of us.  Because I’m sure James has plans to move on in the world of film, and I’m sure he will. James isn’t afraid to try.

How many of us can say that?  I’m one of the lucky ones.  I “fell” into writing when the opportunity presented itself.  I adore what I do.  But I was never told to follow my dream.  I was told to be practical, to shoot for security, and not to step over boundaries because that wasn’t sensible.

I did step over boundaries, of course, and became a writer, even though I had a nagging feeling–and still do sometimes–that my typing skills might best be used for clerical work.  Still, had I not found a publishing niche so quickly, would I have continued working toward my goal?  I’d like to think I would have worked a decade for my dream, the way Jim and Terri did, but I’m not sure it’s true.

Do you have a dream you’re trying to fulfill? Go for it, and tell your children to do the same.  We’ll all be better off because you did.  After all, happiness and enthusiasm are catching.  I know it’s true.  I came home with both.    

IMG_0016.JPGYears ago when my husband read Lord of the Rings to our children, I figured that was “their” time together.  After all, hobbits and elves and wizards?  Not my thing.

Then, the movies arrived.  Although I wasn’t dragged to the first one, neither did I go with much enthusiasm.  And then, the magic.

At one point while we were waiting for the third movie to debut, I turned to my husband and said, “You know, if I die before this movie comes out, that’s going to be the last thing I think about.”  And while that probably wasn’t strictly true, it was nearly.  I still think watching the movies on the largest and best screens in our area were some of the most pleasurable moments of my life.

 

IMG_0045.JPGUntil I was on my way to New Zealand, I forgot that the films were made here.  Then we had the pleasure of meeting Robin Murphy, who was our guide around the islands for several days.  Robin was the location manager for Lord of the Rings, and of course, had fabulous stories to tell us.  She also offered to take us to some of the sites.  So here we are at Hobbiton, in Rivendell, and finally at the stately home where Gollum commits the act that turns him from a happy fisherman into the creature he becomes. 

 

IMG_0057.JPGNovelists deal in fantasy, but we all have our personal fantasies, too.  Mine is of a life in Middle Earth.  I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be a Hobbit or an Elf.  I just know that if Middle Earth is half as beautiful as the country where the movies were filmed, I will be eternally happy. 

SANY0007.JPG

A movie set is a village, complete with solutions to all life’s pressing problems.  Places to eat, rest, clothe yourself, and, of course, a place where that most primal of needs, the telling of stories, comes to life in a very special way.

We arrived in New Zealand in the morning, rested and showered then headed to the set where my novel . . . but wait, I can’t tell you which one yet, can I?  See two blogs ago to find out why and enter my giveaway.

“The film being produced for German television” is based on one of my earliest novels, what publishers called a “sweet” romance, meaning there’s an absence of steamy love scenes and the heroine is often young and innocent.  Fascinated by family life, I often, even then, wrote about domestic issues, a habit that served me well in this novel.  The moment we arrived on set we watched a scene with the movie’s male lead and three young children. 
Thumbnail image for Rain, rain go away.JPGAnd watched.  And watched.  Because if I learned anything in the hours while I stood in the rain as two different scenes were filmed and refilmed, I learned movie making is an exacting and exhausting business that requires an enormous number of people from the inception (where I came in) to the conclusion, when the film makes its debut.

On any number of levels, I’ve been so impressed with the film people I’ve met.  They have been, to a person, warm, interested and interesting.  They are cosmopolitan, creative and in the case of the German production team, flawlessly bilingual.

And did I mention great with children?  The kids in the production are having such fun, and the adults clearly enjoy having them around.

Take your best shot.JPGEven in the moments when nothing was going right, rain was falling, closeups revealed problems with continuity, there were none of the much publicized personal theatrics we’re told to expect on film sets.  Just hard work, attention to detail and creative solutions. I am left with a new respect for a medium I, as a viewer. often take for granted.

Which reminds me of another group of films made here in New Zealand that no one will ever take for granted.  But we just pulled up to the Shire, so that story will have to wait for the next blog.

Stay tuned for photos.

NZ filming.JPG Yes, I made it!  This is me, after 24 hours in an airplane, watching the fourth book I ever wrote being made into a film for German television.  Stay tuned for updates from down under this week.

Mountain of Clouds from Jasmine De Roberto.jpg

We take so many things for granted.  You know that already, I’m sure, but recently I’ve had the lesson significantly reinforced. For instance, hopping a plane and arriving on time.  Or at least on the right day.  Or at worst, the right week. 

Those of you who visit my Facebook page know that after two lovely months in Florida, then another week in Sarasota with my brainstorming group, I was marooned in Tampa by the back to back blizzards that hit my home in the Washington DC area.  As some of you pointed out, this was no time to whine.  I should have been down on my knees saying prayers of gratitude I was snug and warm with my wonderful brother and sister-in-law instead of shoveling snow. 

Truthfully, despite that timely reminder, I’ve been more worried than grateful.  Because on Sunday, I’m scheduled to fly again, this time to New Zealand to see two of my novels filmed for television movies to be shown in Germany.  This is truly a trip of a lifetime, so I’ve been understandably concerned I might not get home in time to make that flight.  Right now it looks as if I’ll be able to fly home this afternoon, but at worst, I should be able to find another flight out tomorrow.

I’ll be away for ten days, and may not be able to blog down under, although I’m hoping to. At worst I can promise I’ll store up lots to tell you when I return.  Polyphon, the film production company, is shooting two of my novels now, ending one and beginning another.  So hopefully I’ll see some action on both.  My wonderful husband will be with me, and promises to be my photographer.

For fun?  Can you guess which of my novels they’ll be filming?  A hint.  Click here for a list of my old series romances.  The two they’ll film are listed under Silhouette Romances.  Yes, they’re that old, but I know they’ll be freshly updated.  I’ll tell you all about it.

One guess per person, guess one book only.  Everyone who gets one of the two will be entered in a drawing for something fun and funky (and cheap) from New Zealand and an autographed copy of one of my more recent novels. If no one gets either novel right, I’ll draw from all the guesses.

Email your answer.  I’ll announce the winner once I return at month’s end.

So off to the Tampa airport I go for the first leg of this journey.  Wherever you are, stay safe and warm.

Meantime, don’t forget to comment on my blog about author Mary Alice Monroe to enter a drawing to win her autographed novel The Four Seasons. You have until March 1.

Arlington Snowmageddeon.jpgAs I’ve told you before, I’m a confirmed Brainstormer, or BSer, as my group fondly calls itself.  I just finished a week in Sarasota, Florida with my brainstorming friends working on ideas for our upcoming novels.  Please remember, the plans for this event were laid months ago.  We didn’t check weather maps or consult a crystal ball.  I had no idea that the Washington DC area, where I live, would have a historic snowstorm, the largest on record, while I was away, or the view from my front windows would be the one in this photo.  No idea, nada.

But wow, did we choose our week well, or what?  I’m a great fan of history.  I just prefer not to witness this kind first hand, particularly not when my author friends are calling, our view is a lake with an alligator snoring in the sunshine, and the only objects falling from the sky are ospreys searching for dinner.

So what if now that we’re finished, I can’t get home again?  Southwest Airlines apparently objects to 30″s of snow on airport runways, but no problem for me.  I am snugly settled at my brother’s house in Tampa for the duration, having at brith been lucky enough to acquire a sibling who would have the good sense to live not far from the very airport where I’d be forced to wait for Snowmageddeon to cease in Virginia.

Meantime, while I wait, I’m bursting with ideas I want to translate to paper.  A brainstorming group is NOT the same as a critique group.  We don’t read passages of our work out loud to solicit comments and advice. We are all confident in our abilities to put our stories on paper–although when we’re actually doing it, we often wonder. Instead during our week together, in ten one-and-a-half hour sessions and five tarot readings for characters, we worked on skeletal plots, plumping them out  or more often turning them inside out.  Some of us started with bare bones ideas; some just needed advice on a few points in their works in progress (my Sunset Bridge among others).  We plotted an international thriller, a paranormal mystery, an inspirational novel, a traditional mystery, a women’s fiction story.  We discussed at length two ideas for upcoming series–one of those mine.  Some of us worked on different ideas at each session, and some stuck to one. 

My job now that I’m temporarily marooned, is to transcribe the tapes I made during my sessions.  What will I find?  From experience, I’m sure I’ll discover many, many half-formed ideas that lead nowhere.  I’ll listen to ideas that have no appeal or are impossible to implement, ideas that just didn’t fit this story but are worthy of consideration for another, ideas with possible merit.  And finally, there will be THE ideas, the ones that are like  fireworks displays when they erupt.  “Ka-ching” ideas that are the missing pieces I’ve been searching for.  There won’t be many.  But two or three for a week of hard work?  Believe it or not, that’s enough to fuel a novel.

Brainstorming is wonderful.  I’m delighted by my fellow BSers.  I like their wit and their insights.  I love our dinner conversations, when we finally have the chance to catch up with each others’ lives.  But brainstorming is surprisingly exhausting.  At the end of a day’s work, we go to bed early and sleep well. Very, very well.

So once Southwest decrees it’s safe to fly, I’ll go back to the land of ice and snow.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a few more days of sunshine.  And I’ll put ideas on paper.  Lots of ideas.  I hope that in a year or two, I’ll be sharing them with you.  After all, that’s what this past week was all about.