Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From The Diary of Alice Moriarty

Based on the screenplay, DOWN WENT ALICE, by Kristen Skeet 

It’s not something you get used to: the surprise on your own mother’s face every time she looks at you – her confusion. Like she’d thought you were just part of some horrible nightmare she’d had the night before and should have been gone by morning light.
Still. I loved her.
I loved her as much she loves her fans, as much as they loved her, as much as she loved him.
Alfie.
Alfie fucking Evans.
The bane of my inconvenient existence.
It’s because of Alfie she invited men like Chuck Wall into her life. They filled the void Alfie left when he bolted from her life after he found out about my pending arrival. 
There had been many of them over the years. The best of which was Jett - beautiful Jett who loves me as if I were his own daughter and still pays more attention to me than Stephen, my actual father, ever has or will, and the worst being Chuck.
Record producer by day, deviant drug addict and pusher by night, Chuck Wall kept Sara high for years.  It destroyed her but he didn’t care. He didn’t care about her at all. Sara was the most famous rock star in the world. Being seen with her was great for his career. As long as he kept her in the drugs she kept him around, and he’d done a fine job of making sure she kept him around. She’d become little more than his drug whore by the time I was 15. Cocaine, pills, heroin…you name it. Chuck had them all and Sara used them all and she did whatever he asked to get her hands on it.
It was disgusting.
It broke my heart.
Sara would never have been mistaken for mother of the year but there was at time - a time before Chuck - when she tried, in her own way. Like that time Jett hollered at me for trampling mud into the house. Sara grabbed my hand ran outside to dirty up her feet and danced around the house, her tongue jammed out at Jett as she danced.
That was a great day.
There were no great days after Jett left.
The nightmare hadn’t begun until Chuck moved in though. I was five. That nightmare lasted over a decade.
Why hadn’t she seen how awful he was? For all her faults, Sara deserved better.
I deserved better.
Chuck wandered into my bedroom the night before my 15th birthday. I was practicing guitar. He was dressed only in boxer shorts, as usual.  It was kind of a uniform for him.  I can’t imagine Jett ever having walked around the house like that, certainly not while I was around. That night Chuck’s shorts were slung so low I could almost see it. He’d had been high on something, of course. His speech was exaggerated and slow.
“Excited for your party tomorrow?”
Apparently, the party the following night was a celebration in my honor of my birthday. The charade was ridiculous. Had they really wanted to do something for me they would have canceled the fucking partying for one night and let me get some sleep for a change.
But, no.
I’d shrugged.
“15 already, hmm?” he’d said. “Where does the time go?”
Up your nose with the blow, I’d thought and then laughed. That could be a lyric.
While pondering the next line of my new song, my eyes drifted to the patch of hair on his belly that disappeared under his waistband. I’d looked away, disgusted, when I realized where I was staring but his slow smile told me he hadn’t missed it.
“You look older than 15.”
Creeper.
I set the guitar aside long enough to light a cigarette.
“Your mother know you smoke?”
“Yeah.”
“What about your father?”
“My father knows very little about me.”
“That make you sad?”
“No.”
“Tough little Alice…”
I jammed the cigarette between my lips and started playing again.
“You’re very talented,” he’d said. “No surprise there, considering your parents.”
I ignored him.
“Maybe you and I can make an album together,” he’d said. “I’m a hit maker, Alice.”
“You’re a creep,” I’d said, fighting to remain calm against a rage that was more powerful than anything emotion I’d ever experienced. “And a fraud. And everybody knows it.”
He’d rubbed his disgusting belly and smirked, again. It was the arrogant smirk of a man who knew his place in Sara’s life and in that house was solid. Sara was so strongly under the hold of the drugs Chuck provided her she would do anything to keep him around. She would ignore anything to keep him around.  I didn’t understand that smirk that day. I wish like hell I had.
Chuck crossed the room to my bed and bowed to speak quietly into my ear. “Not everybody, love.”
I stared down hard at my bedspread and begged silently for him to just get the hell out of my room.
“If you want something stronger than a cigarette tomorrow night, find me,” he’d continued, when he got no reaction from me. “It’s your special day, after all.”
As soon as he was gone I ran into my bathroom and threw up. I splashed cold water on my face and stared at my reflection. My face was too pale and gaunt. I’d always held an uncanny resemblance to Sara and, thanks to Chuck, I’d started to resemble the drug-addicted version she’d become of late, also thanks to Chuck.
It was then I decided, one way or another, Chuck Wall would be out of my life, and soon.
If only I’d known.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Two Sentence Horror Story



     Reddit.com recently challenged writers to offer up the scariest horror story they could using only two sentences.  
Here is mine:

Exhausted, I climb into bed and feel his arm slip around me as he whispers, “Sleep tight.”
I live alone.

Happy Halloween. 


Friday, August 22, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge



“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed."
Like many people I was leery of this challenge at first, as the rules as I understood them were that either you donated money to ALS research or you hammed it up for the camera and dumped a bucket of ice water over your head. Frankly, I thought these people were kind of dickish to do the challenge instead of donating. Since then, I’ve pulled my head out of my ass and realized that most people are doing both, and even if they aren't, the awareness alone raised by these videos makes these challenges worth it. According to als.org, ALS organizations have received $41 million in donations, most of which can be attributed to these challenges. Just under $2 million in donations were received for the same time period last year. The videos are working.
ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease but my first awareness of the disease came when actor Michael Zaslow was diagnosed. Mr. Zaslow played loveable villain, Roger Thorpe, on the soap opera, Guiding Light. Michael was diagnosed in 1997 after he started having trouble speaking his lines and passed away from the disease in late 1998. Much closer to home, my former teacher, Mrs. Linda Salzmann-Kwasniak, was diagnosed in 2012. You can read Mrs. Kwasniak’s story here: Hope for Linda.   If you’re still not convinced this challenge is worth it, take a few minutes and watch Anthony’s challenge video, and make sure you watch until the end: Anthony Carbajal Ice Bucket Challenge
I donated to als.net in honor of Mrs. Kwasniak. If you’d like to do some good on top of good, you can check out and considering donating to Let them LOL Let them LOL is a project dedicated to bringing fresh drinking water to the people of Sierra Leone, Africa.  




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Black List Review

UPDATE 5/28/14:


With the below reviewer's suggestions in mind, I edited my screenplay and resubmitted to The Black List for a second evaluation last week. That evaluation came in today and it was very positive.
Hallelujah! 
Remarks in this evaluation include "this film is highly marketable"and "this film has potential as a wide theatrical release." With one more high-rated evaluation in the coming weeks, the script will be eligible for The Black List's monthly 'Top Lists' list (it's all about lists) and that would greatly increase the chance of it in ending up in front of an interested producer's eyeballs. After all, a screenplay remains just a screenplay unless it can be produced into a film. 
   Baby steps...

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

______________________________________________________


 I've read that one needs thick skin to "make it" as a writer. 
Had I not prepared myself for the possibility of a not-so-overly-positive review experience, I might have launched myself off my patio at 2 o'clock this morning (an amusing thought considering I live on the first floor) after the professional review came back from 'The Black List' on the screenplay I submitted last week. It's not what the reviewer said that jarred me so much as how he or she said it. For instance, the first sentence: "[Script] shows a great deal of conceptual promise despite its currently inelegant execution."
Ow. 
I am a nice person. Why would you be so mean to me?? 
Setting aside my ego, though, and upon further obsession examination, the review it isn't as bad as my initial reaction suggested. That first sentence wasn't the greatest thing to read in the middle of the night while feeling overly-sensitive and defensive but in the light day there are quite a few positives. The negatives are constructive and to the point and, admittedly, will make this a better script.  Most importantly, the final statement gives me the energy to keep going and resubmit: "Ultimately, [script] shows enough promise in its ideas and themes to warrant continued revision. It is not yet the perfect version of its conceits, but if it is able to fulfill its potential, then it stands a respectable chance of reaching the screen." 
But, Jesus Christ, man. That was painful. I'm glad the first one is over and out of the way.
Consider my skin thickened.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." ~ Samuel Beckett.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Black List

I submitted my first screenplay to The Black List (www.blcklst.com) last week and paid for an evaluation from a professional reader. Industry professionals have been known to look to The Black List for the latest and greatest scripts, and they pay close attention to the scripts that have been highly rated. A positive evaluation of my script could potentially be the big break I've imagined for myself for over two years now. 730+ days. A not-so-positive evaluation could...decimate my hopes and dreams. So let's not even go there. This is no time for negative thoughts.
Stay tuned.