Thursday, January 7, 2016

Five scripts please, Mr. Walma

It looks like project number one for the new year will be preparing scripts for the proposed new Abigail Massey web series, The Station.

My colleague (and the lead on the web series project) Nancy Lynch has indicated to me that she feels we need to have no fewer than five polished scripts ready to be part of our funding applications. I have to admit, that's a little scary for me. Luckily, Nancy is an award-winning screen writer so I am in good hands. She certainly has the chops to nurse-maid me through the process and to save the day if I go too far wrong.

The proposed series will have a slightly more mature, more serious feel to it when compared to the original Abigail stories. Those stories are bright and happy and aimed at the 8- to 12-year-old group. We're thinking The Station will deal more directly with issues of war and adolescence and young love.

The scripts we plan to write will become part of our funding applications but the real star of our proposals will be the magnificent teaser trailer created late last year by Nancy and her son, Tom Belding, who happens to be an instructor at the Vancouver Film School. I was literally brought to tears the first time I watched Tom's amazing 90-second film and continue to be amazed at the level of talent, the creative eye he must have to produce a trailer of such power and beauty in so short a time.

We spent a single morning at the McAdam Station to do the filming and Tom sent along the finished trailer just a week or so later. He skillfully blended historic footage in with his own work, added a dramatic sound track and produced what I hope you'll agree is a remarkably effective product.

I'm almost afraid to write the scripts and film a pilot, for fear that we won't be able to live up to the promise of that original trailer.

But, fear not, with professionals like Nancy and Tom on our team, we're going to make something really amazing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mapping out a new year of writing

With the dawning of the new year comes a chance to sit back, think things through and update my writing plans.

The fourth collection of Abigail stories sold very well throughout the holiday season, meaning we have already paid the cost of printing and are making significant money to support the restoration of the McAdam Railway Station and Hotel. Perhaps not surprisingly, we also saw a surge in sales of Volume 1 of the stories and of the Christmas novella, A McAdam Station Christmas.

As a writer of middling success, it fills my heart with joy to see such sales results. We seem to have built a pretty good following for the Abigail stories here in New Brunswick. The challenge is to come up with a fresh new approach to promoting each new collection.

That's my little blue book, to the left of the Grinch
One wonderful moment for this writer came when I visited Bryan Prince Booksellers in Hamilton over the holidays. I had done an Abigail event there in October and dropped in to this wonderful little independent book store while visiting friends in the Steel City.

Imagine my delight when I found the final two copies they had in stock of the Christmas novella nestled on their Christmas display beside How the Grinch Stole Christmas! My little book on the shelf with a Christmas classic -- like equals!

As for the new plans and the new focus, I have committed myself to completing four projects in 2016 -- and please do not call these New Years Resolutions!

1. An adaptation of A McAdam Station Christmas for the stage, with a significant focus on having it ready in time for potential staging next Christmas;

2. The scripts for at least the first four episodes of The Station, our proposed Web Series based on the Abigail stories, with a view to soliciting funding for the series and, if possible, beginning to film the pilot before the end of the year;

3. A strong draft of my middle-school novel; and

4. Another volume of Abigail stories, with my writing partner Mary E. O'Keefe.

I know, sounds ambitious. I have to get working.

But, to be honest, I wish it could be more ambitious. I'd like to include the completion of a second novel, a mystery, that I began several years ago AND the revision of another mystery that came very close to being published before I moved to NB.

All in good time, I guess. Any one of these projects could take over all of my time and energies and any number of outside distractions could also impact my ability to meet these goals. All I can do, I guess, is "hunker down" and get working.