Monday, August 19, 2013

Sketch Comedy -- Behavioral Interview

From the Second City Website
I'm starting to take a Writing Class at Second City, an improvisation/comedy venue in Chicago.  Second City alums include Tina Fey, Steve Carell, John Candy, Mike Meyers...actually many of the Saturday Night Live cast members studied at the Second City, including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner.

I'm not going there to change my career nor my writing focus, which is fantasy.  I'm just hoping that it will add a new dimension to my writing.  Even though this class focuses on Sketch Writing, there will still be some improv. I'm hoping that it will translate to faster writing and better dialog.  I took Writing I almost a year ago and then didn't continue with it.  I've also taken a couple of Improv Classes as well.  After seeing a Second City performance on Saturday, I decided to look into continuing.  Low and behold...classes start today.

Here's my first and only sketch ever, it's what I wrote in Writing I.  What do you think?  If you like this, I can post all of my sketches as I write them.  I'd love to hear your feedback!

As an aside, Second City offers an online writing class if you feel sad that you don't live nearby the LA, Toronto or Chicago training centers.

Please note that this contains expletives.

Behavioral Interview
by me...Lauren Amundson :)

(Sara is sitting in a chair behind a desk.  There is another chair on the other side of the desk.)
Sara – Send in the next candidate.
 (Jimmy enters; both look shocked to see each other)
Jimmy and Sara (nearly together but not in unison) – What are you doing here?
Jimmy – I’m here for an interview.
Sara –I’m the hiring manager.
Jimmy – Oh, shit.
Sara – Please, sit down.  HR should have given you a folder.  Please hand it to me.
(Jimmy sits and hands the folder to SaraSara flips through it.)
Jimmy – You look well.   It’s been, what, four years?
(Sara keeps flipping through the papers for a few more moments.)
Sara – Fine.  Let’s just try to be professional.  Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively. What made your communication effective?
Jimmy –Come on, that’s not even fair!
Sara –  It’s on my list.  I have to ask it….but I think I know the answer to that one.  Excessive vocalization; poor listening skills.  (pause to take notes)  There are times when we work without close supervision or support to get the job done. Tell me about a time when you found yourself in such a situation and how things turned out.
Jimmy –  Well, back at ABC Corp, I was a member of a team that --
Sara(Interrupts) I think you know the unsupervised situation I am referring to.
Jimmy – I admit, and have on multiple occasions, that sleeping with your friend, Tina, while you were out of town was wrong.  And I apologized.  And bought you that necklace.
Sara – Give me some specifics on your decision making process in that situation.
Jimmy – I dunno.  I was drunk.
Sara – You were not.  You were stone-cold-sober.  I walked in on you.
Jimmy – Oh, I got confused about which time. 
Sara –Tell me about a time that you had to work with difficult people and give an example what you did to make the situation better.
Jimmy – I usually try a direct approach.  In one situation, your mother was butting in about my expenditures.  You had complained to her rather than having a direct approach with me.  See, I like directed communications, not trap ones.  I explained to her that she needed to mind her own fucking business.  Successfully, she never came to our apartment again.  Much better.
Sara - Can you give me an example of motivating those around you?
Jimmy – I used to tell you that you gained a lot of weight, but now you’ve lost most of it.  That must have been motivational.  You look great.
Sara -   I see that you describe yourself as a ‘people person’.  Can you give me an example?
Jimmy – Tina seemed to like me.
Sara – Great, I think I have everything I need.  (shuts folder) We’ll be in touch about the next steps.  The receptionist will see you out.  Thanks for your time.
Jimmy – So, I’m not getting the job, huh?

Sara – No.

Friend Makin Mondays -- School Days

friend makin mondaysThis is something that Kenlie at All The Weigh does.  Basically, you answer a few questions and link to it at All The Weigh.  

School Days
1.  What was your favorite subject in school?  Math and Science.  I always doubled up in at least one of them.  My friends used to joke that I was Hermione from Harry Potter...back in the day when it was only books) and needed her device for taking my extra classes.  I also enjoyed English, especially the assignments that required writing...go figure :)
2. Did you attend elementary school and high school in the same town? Yes, but I was homeschooled in Jr High.
3.  Are you still friends with anyone that you met during school?  Just one girl.  We have been friends since the 5th grade.  She and I and our significant others are going on a road trip to Maine in October.  But, she's the only one.
4. What activities were you involved in as a student?  Rock Climbing Club, Spanish Club and a couple other things that I don't remember anymore.  
5. Did you bring your lunch, or did you get it at school? I used to work on homework in the library at lunch at least a few days a week.  I went a semester where I only ate candy while at school.  That wasn't very healthy.  Outside of that, I'm pretty sure that I bought my lunch most days, but it was a long time ago.  We had a very nice cafeteria with an amazing salad/taco/potato bar.  I ate that quite a bit.   We were quite lucky with the quality of our lunch food.
6. Did you enjoy shopping for clothing and school supplies?  I've never been too big into shopping.
7. Name a song or a band that reminds you of high school.  Dixie Chicks.
8. Did you like school?  I enjoyed learning, but I did not like college my first time through.  I went back a few years ago to finish my college degree and I enjoyed it much more as a non-traditional student.
9. How long have you been out of school?  I graduated High School 12 years ago.  I finished college nearly 4 years ago.
10.  What did you like most about school?  What did you dislike most about school?  I enjoyed the socialization part when I was not homeschooled.  I didn't mind the homework.  I felt that it was a challenge.  Although, I typically did the homework for one class during the class before (thus the doing homework in the library, those were the days that I was falling behind!)...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Binge Writing

First off, I want to state that I am a fan of the "Write Every Day" camp, but I'm thinking about trying something a little special for the Labor Day Weekend.  I'm going to set at 30,000 word binge writing goal.  I'm going to cancel all plans and am trying to get my husband to go away for the weekend or at least make a bunch of plans with his friends.

It will start Friday night and end Monday at midnight.  So, three and a half days.  I plan to have the work outlined and ready for the binge so that I'm not just floundering.

Has anyone out there tried a binge writing weekend?  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Friend Making Monday on Wednesday

friend makin mondaysSo, I meant to do "Friend Makin Monday" this week, but it got away from me.  I've done this on my other blog a few times and it's always fun :)

This is something that Kenlie at All The Weigh does.  Basically, you answer a few questions and link to it at All The Weigh

Have You Ever?

1. Jumped out of an airplane?  No, and I have zero interest in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.  My hubby wants to, and I said that's fine as long as I don't know until after he's home safe and sound.

2. Lived alone?  I had my own room sophomore year in college, then when I was 22 until I got married at 24, I lived alone then too.  Moved to two new places during that time.

3. Met a celebrity? I played poker against some guy who had been the runner up in the bachalor the season before.  I'm not sure if he was more offended that I didn't know him, said I didn't like reality tv or won on the hand he went all in on.

4. Said something to someone that you immediately regret saying?  Sometimes I get frustrated and don't talk as nicely as I should.

5. Had a manicure/pedicure? A few times.  Maybe five throughout my life.  I have friends that go every week.  I just don't have the time for all that.

6.  Gotten a hickey? Nope.

7. Owned a pet that was not a dog or a cat?  I had a salt water fish tank that a friend of mine got from an abandoned storage unit at a storage facility where he worked.  It was the most expensive free thing I ever got.  I had two fish.  The first was a beta fish named "Jar Head".  You get them to make sure the pH level is okay because they are pretty hardy and fairly cheap.  After he'd been around for awhile I got a clown fish named "Sushi".  Unfortunatly, I was in school and finals started so I forgot to feed the fish for a few days.  Jar Head made it.  There was no sign of Sushi.

8. Been outside of your home country?  Traveling is my favorite hobby.  I've been to Mexico, Italy, Belguim, France, Spain, Australia and China.  It's not too many places, but I'm working on adding to it.

9. Kissed your best friend? My husband is my best friend...does that count?  Also, when I was in middle school, my best friend was a boy and we "dated" for a while.

10. Eaten food that fell on the floor? Five second rule!

11. Met someone online?  I met one of my really good friends online.  We got a meetup together for people new to Chicago.

12. Been on TV? I was on the local channel a few times when I was a kid for choir or something like that. 

13. Had braces? I got them when I was 16 and got them off right before I turned 18.  I now believe that they were taken off a little early because some of my teeth have shifted back.  But at the time I was more than ready to be rid of them.

14. Gone skinny dipping?  I'm a little boring.  Nope.

15. Been to the opera? No, but I want to.  A co-worker's wife is an opera singer and I need to go see her perform.

16. Been caught making out by a policeman? was senior year of high school.  We were being very PG, but he wanted only G.

17. Sung in public? Last night at the Cubs game I sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with the crowd.

18. Handed out candy on Halloween?  When I was in high school

19. Been snowed in?  Sort of.  Chicago had a crazy 24 inch snow a couple years ago and everything got shut down, including Lake Shore Drive (the major road that runs along the lake).  Luckily we weren't on Lake Shore Drive, but a bunch of people got stranded on it over night because there is this stretch that has the lake on one side and a marina on the other.  We took a back way, but once we got home were stuck there the next day. 

20. Fallen in front of other people?  Hah, just did that about fifteen minutes ago in front of one of my direct reports. 

21. Cheated on a test?  Nope.

22. Regretted saying “I love you” to someone?  Nope.  I don't think that is something to regret.  It's not saying "I love you" that people ought to regret, even if you end up realizing that it was something other than love.  I do regret not saying it even though it ended up not being "true".

23. Finished a meal in a restaurant and realized that you didn’t have your wallet?  I am paranoid about doing this.  I always check about five times before going into the restaurant.

24. Shot a gun?  Yes.  I actually own a rifle.  I've not shot a handgun.  I was afraid of the recoil.

25. Heard a song that was written for (or about) you?  Nope.  That would be awesome, but alas, my husband isn't musically inclined. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Favorite Words

What are your favorite words?

I'm not talking about words that you love, but words that are actually your favorite...the words you overuse.  I have been using a word cloud to show me the words that throughout my novel I've used Wordle to create a word map of the most common words in my novel. 

I'm okay with some of the most common words.  "Altis", "Bahlym", "Meena", "Adara" and "Nazarie" are major charecotrs.  "Mist" and "Edge" are two actual things...very important things.  Interestingly, the word Hailey, my main character's name, does not appear. However, it's first person and she doesn't run around thinking about her name that often.  So I guess that makes sense.

There are other words that aren't too great--words such as "back", "like", "one", "think", "around" and "see".  My plan is to go through my novel and limit my use of those words.

What words do you use the most?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Considering Self Publication

I've been considering self publication, specifically an e-book only self-publication route.  I'd always said that I had zero interest in self publication, but I feel differently now.

There are few reasons:
  • Self-publication doesn't see to have the same stigma that it once did.  I've been really enjoying self-published authors recently.
  • I like the idea of "owning my destiny"
  • The thought of sending my query into the black hole of agent desks sounds scary.
  • I can afford to spend the up-front costs on editing/marketing/book-covers

Goals Before I get Started:
  • 3 fully polished books in my "back list".  
    • I currently have one fully polished and another that's 14k words into its rough draft.  
    • I plan on releasing them 6-8 weeks apart.  
    • One will be the first in a series
    • The other two will be books 1 and 2 in a different series (with the first being free)
  •  Create a full marketing plan.  I want my books to be launched...not released...and not escaped.  The plan will have all of my marketing goals, but a subset includes
    • Giveaways
    • Facebook page
    • Press Release for my hometown (Fishers, IN) and local (Chicago)
    • Blog Tour
    • Email List
    • Blog pages for each book
    • More...part of making the plan is deciding the "more"
  • Get books professionally edits
  • Get professional cover art

Currently the only item on the goals list that I am working on is getting three fully polished books.  I plan to finish that before I start the other goals. 

I think I need to be able to write a couple books a year if I want to be a successful published author.  I know that the more books you have, the more of all of them you can sell. 

The first book took me five years, admittedly on and off.  This second book has taken me four months to get to this point, and has at least six months left.  The third book I hope to fully write in six months.  The third book would be book two in one of my series.  The other two were the first books in two different series, so have a bit of "start up costs" around world building etc.

Anyone out there in blog-land have any thoughts about traditional vs self publication?

How many books per year should I aim to release if I am published?

Links of interest:

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