Chasing AllieCat Film and events

untitled copyThe short film of Chasing AllieCat (see “New Projects”) will be ready sometime early next summer/late spring.

One of the cool things about the filming of  my story Chasing AllieCat is a small resurgence in the popularity of the novel. It sold out entirely from the publisher’s warehouse. When FLUX was sold to another overseeing publishing house, Chasing AllieCat went out of print.

 

Steph Borklund (her arm is visible in the second photo here) is working on editing the rough cut of the film. The last version I’ve seen is amazing. Gave me chills, even though I wrote the screenplay! She’s made some terrific edits, and has been kind and gracious enough to ask me if I’m okay with some of them that change the screenplay language. Like ALL edits, no like MOST edits, it’s hard to let go of  a writer’s “darlings,” but they make the story tighter, better, clearer. SO grateful Steph is doing this film!

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So now, the only way to get a copy is through used books–Amazon or B&N online. I have to buy books that way when I go do an author event about Chasing AllieCat! 

13051780_1249792608383865_1080295417738133882_nIn the meantime, I’m doing a few book clubs again: I visited a book club on Monday what was a pure delight. The women who had all read the novel had wonderful questions. We had a great discussion, and they plan to ask me back when Slider’s Son comes out.

I’m scheduled for another book club in late October, and just got book copies to that group yesterday. YAY!

And, here’s another delight: I’ve been asked to speak in my colleague’s creative writing class about the transferrence from novel to screen play. That’s coming up this Wednesday.

steph&Becky bikes shopHere’s Steph and me. We were consulting about how to get a shot we wanted inside the bike shop.

November: I’m going to Citizen Jane Film Festival at Stephens’ College. I’ll just be a visitor this year, but I am going to speak to the creative writing class there about collaboration with Steph on the screenplay, and about moving a story from prose to screenplay. All this is exciting!!

 

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Slider’s Son to be published in 2017!

Slider’s Son to be published in 2017!  North Star Press!

A murder! Grant O’Grady and his buddies smell something while playing baseball…It’s Big Joe’s body hidden in Grant’s best friend’s basement… Who? How? Why? The story unfolds…

Set in the late 1930s in North Dakota, Slider’s Son is the story of a boy named Grant who wants nothing more than to be a major league pitcher. Grant and his sheriff father discover Big Joe’s murder, and the story that unravels, leading up to the murder, causes all sorts of problems.

Grant and his buddies like to take a few risks. They sneak coal from the coal train passing through town to help heat their families’ homes during the Great Depression. Will they get caught? Or hurt?  One night, they climb the water tower for a thrill. Frank slips…and dangles. Another risky escapade could lead to crushing Grant’s dream of being a pitcher, forever. And who killed Big Joe, after all? Along the way, Grant has to help fight the prejudice of the 1930s toward his best friend (and catcher) who is half Mandan Indian.

This book has been done for a a couple years. It’s the first book I’ve written that my former agent, George Nicholson (RIP, my friend), said he loved.  At the time, George asked me to get some Native people’s endorsement that the book isn’t offensive in the world of Native Literature for young readers. I don’t think we’ll have a problem. I’m not trying to usurp anybody’s voice. I’m not pretending that I know how to write from a Native perspective. I just have a character whose best friend happens to be Native.

In the process of responding to my agent’s request, the Mandan Historic Village in Mitchell, SD, asked if they could keep a manuscript in their archives! YayI guess that’s a stamp of approval.

Grant’s idol is the late great “Rapid Robert” the “Heater from Van Meter” Bob Feller. The Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter Iowa asked me to come do a book event there. I look forward to that day!

FINALLY, this book will be out in the world in 2017, thanks to North Star Press! WhooHOO!! I’ll keep posting as I have more information.

Happy Birthday Freya!

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Happy Birthday, Freya!

Yesterday was Freya’s birthday. It was Soooo HOT that she refused to move from the basement after our initial early morning walk. I gave her a frozen raw bone from the butcher, and that was her birthday treat. She seemed to make the most of it, even in the basement.

 

 

It was an eventful day. Nikki and Tom and Alec and Lia left our house for their Calgary, Alberta adventure. After a delightful four-day visit, it was TOUGH to see them go.

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Lia and Freya

 

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So, after waving them out the driveway and drying my eyes, I got in touch with my friend Paul and saddled up for a 43 mile bike ride. Best way to avoid the blues that I know! It was, however, in the 90s and HUMID, so we were dripping wet by ten miles in. The heat made a bit of a challenge, but cycling moves the air, so I never notice the heat as much on my bike as off. Paul and I had much fun, as always.

Paul and me 8.10.1613886467_1081043135276460_1618886200407948600_n

 

Got some other work done, and then saddled up again to go on the Nicollet Bike Women’s Ice Cream ride. I figured that’s usually a leisurely paced, no-drop ride, so I could do it in spite of an earlier ride. Well, we moved right along and split into a couple groups, and I dropped a sweaty water bottle–fell right through my fingers–but Emma retrieved it, and all was good. Mom and Pop’s Ice Cream is, as always, a delightful way to end a hot, fun ride. . Good friends, good fun. https://www.facebook.com/nicolletbikeshop/photos/a.495357077178405.1073741826.139081836139266/1081043135276460/?type=3

 

Then, last night, I was sorting boxes from my basement in the Rapidan house. I found pictures of Nikki and me as toddlers. Here’s a rather delightful comparison:

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baby Nik and LiaI’m on the left. Nikki’s in the middle, and Lia’s on the right (taken two days ago). I guess there’s a little resemblance. It’s fun to see three generations carrying on. Nikki in the middle, by the way, is also playing with a tea set. Ha.

 

All said and done, what a good life.

This morning I went to the eye doctor, and the only problems are normal problems with aging. Nothing concerning. And with a new appreciation for life, I’m happy to have eye aging problems. It’s so much better than the alternative, which could have been mine!

 

Some news, Reflecting…and some wedding pictures

_MG_8303 Reflections on getting married and life in the last couple months… The big news is about my novel Slider’s Son. It looks like it’s going to get PUBLISHED in 2017! So before I launch into that explanation, which is a long story, I owe you a few wedding pics…

First of all, this is our gang. Tom and me with our kids and grandchildren.

Left to right:

Ashley holding Charlotte, Chase in Dusty’s arms, Kari, Ben, Tom, me holding Lia, Josh, Emily, Alec who doesn’t want his picture taken, Tom, and Nikki. Tom’s offspring are on the left side of the photo, and mine are on the right. What a terrific crew of kids. Ashley had the idea to dress the girls the same and the boys the same. Turned out ADORABLY in my opinion.

So, getting married the year I turn 60. Some might think it’s nuts, but to us, it feels just right. Secure, solid, content. We’ve been together so long, there are no questions about trust or if we can make it work. We just want to make one secure home (instead of two) for ourselves and for kids and grandkids to visit. It’s good. We like this.

Laughing, ceremonyWe had a good time at the super-informal ceremony outside in our backyard.

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And of course, Freya was our flower girl, thanks to Kirstin providing her with a wreath-collar! True to form, Tom didn’t leave his shirt on long after the ceremony ended.

It’s been a busy summer, the garden is bursting at its seams (with vegetables AND with weeds), and school starts in a couple weeks. I am happy, happy, happy to have survived an aneurysm and to be alive!

Oh, yeah, my name is now Becky Brooks, but I’ll still use Rebecca Fjelland Davis as my writing name. Just FYI.

Whew. And thinking of Muhammad Ali

This has been one heckofa month of my life. High highs (wow!), a big disappointment or two, but mostly, life is REALLY good.  In the next blog post, I’ll have information about some of these happenings that I don’t have time to dive into right now. But it started with the trip to Missouri for the filming of Chasing AllieCat and just this past weekend, Tom and I got MARRIED! It’s been sort of a whirlwind. But a good one. More on all that soon.

Right now, however, I want to show you this article. Davis Miller is my friend. He knew Muhammad Ali personally, and he wrote extensively about him. I loved his book, The Tao of Muhammad Ali, and I’m not really even a boxing fan. The book was what one might call transcendent. It transcended being about Davis or being about boxing or exclusively about Ali. It was about how we connect with other humans, and how our shared stories–personally as well as in literature–allow us to recognize our connections. Weirdly, Davis’ Great Pyrenees died shortly after Ali did. There’s something karmic about that, and the loss felt that way to Davis. Anyway, this article captures the relationship, and does homage to both men and to their friendship. It’s worth reading.

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/06/08/muhammad-ali-friendship0608_Davis-miller-ali-624x653

A Muslim at Prom

30prom-web1-master768A Muslim Prom Queen

YES! I’m so excited to read this article about a girl who was voted prom queen, wearing her hijab and all.

I have written a novel about a romance between a Muslim boy and a Lutheran/Christian girl. Titled Who the Frack is Maddie Jackson?, it’s under consideration as I write this. I’m hoping to find a new agent, since George Nicholson died.

I have done tons of research, spent hours talking with my Muslim students, and I feel I’ve portrayed the relationship honestly. I worried that no Muslim teen would get permission to go to prom, but HERE is proof that what I imagined can happen. I am so happy to read this today. Thanks, Trisha Speed Shaskan, for posting the article so I saw it!

The emotional roller coaster of writing

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So it’s been quite a two-week period. Carol and I left two weeks ago tomorrow for the filming of Chasing AllieCat the movie in Columbia, MO. It was surreal to see the kids–the characters and the scenes I had created come to life before the camera.

Here’s 3 bikesAllie and Sadie and Joe as they appear in the movie.

 

 

 

Here’s the camera crew in the woods, preparing for the scene where Sadie, Joe, and Allie find Father Malcolm. ALL the students working on crews were amazing. I loved hanging out with the entire group of Stephens Film Institute women!

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This is  the set-up before Father Malcolm is planted in the woods. steph&Becky bikes shop

 

 

 

 

 

Steph and I confer, trying to figure out a scene in the bike shop.

 

 

So all of this was a whirlwind, but delightful and exciting and exhilirating!

Then I got home with enough time to do laundry and repack and head north to St. Joseph, MN for the YAYA (Young Authors/Young Artists) Conference at the College of Saint Benedict.

I’m the keynote speaker for all three days of the conference (different group of kids each day). Each day, the auditorium is filled with 500-some kids! I have to keep them paying attention!

I do my schpiel about 5 rules for writers

1. Read

2. Live

3. Pay attention

4. Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair

5. Write!

And I talk about animal metaphors for writing to completion (all of this can be applied to doing art, too). I use how I came up with the story  Chasing AllieCat by “prairie-dogging” it together–using random unrelated weird things I’d noticed in life and tying them together as if digging a prairie dog town to connect them underneath–to make them all fit together into a story.

The copies of Chasing AllieCat sold out the first day. Luckily, I had ordered a box of 60 books before the movie shoot. I had 50 left, which the bookstore took on–and they sold all but the 15 they reserved for tomorrow’s crowd!

So…all of this should make me VERY happy. This is what writing success is, right? It’s the kind of thing you dream of when you want to write and when you spend long hours alone in front of the computer in the basement. I was flying high.

THEN the bookstore called FLUX–Chasing AllieCat’s publisher–to ask if they could get another 50 books in a hurry. Second choice: to buy the 50 books to replace mine rather than trying to pay me for them. Today FLUX answered that they only have 2 copies in stock, and  they aren’t sure they are going to print any more!!!! So finally all this good stuff happens, and the book that made it happen is going out of PRINT!???? That’s a writer’s nightmare. There’s still hope, but slim.

From the highest high to the most depressed low. Such is the emotional life of a writer! (My mother would have said, “Pride cometh before fall.”)

Good thing we write because we love stories. If we wrote for some modicum of “Success,” It would be the most depressing career in the world!

 

The Cast of the movie Chasing AllieCat

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http://chasingac2016.wix.com/chasingalliecat#!cast/ozesk

Playing Allie:

Emily Sukolics is a recent graduate from Stephens College. She earned her BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in acting. Along with acting, she sings, has worked backstage at multiple theatres in Kansas City, and is pursuing a career in film and stage work. During her time at Stephens she was in many stage productions including Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and, most recently,  Cassandra in Vanya, and Sonya, and, Masha, and Spike. She is very excited to be playing the part of Allie in Chasing Alliecat.

 

Playing Sadie:

Ana Michaela Chan was born on June 10th, 1997 in suburban town Davis, California to David Chan and Renee Alarcon-Chan. She is the youngest sister of a total of seven siblings, with her brother, William, ranking youngest of the pack. Ana’s involvement with theatre started at a supremely young age of 3 years old, where she would attend theatre auditions with her dad—the Davis Musical Theatre Company’s hired pianist. After years of observing the performers, Ana was finally cast at age 6 in her first theatre production, the musical The Music Man. Throughout all of her schooling, Ana was constantly involved in this theatre company’s productions, auditioning for as many shows her parents would allow, including Seussical, Les Misérables, South Pacific, and Peter Pan. Ana attended Rivercity High School, where she took part in various school activities, including a state-competing debate team (Mock Trial). Because of her family’s musical background, Ana was also the drummer/vocalist of the jazz band Syncopating Sea Monkeys. Ana is currently attending Stephens College, in Columbia, MO.

 

Playing Joe:

Zack Huels

 

Playing Cecil Baker:

Robert Doyen, Professor of Theatre

Rob Doyen is a resident actor/teacher at Stephens, where he teaches Acting, Directing and Musical Theatre. He also teaches in the Stephens Summer Theatre Institute (STI) and has spent the last 37 summers at Okoboji Summer Theatre. This past summer, he appeared in Blithe Spirit, The Foreigner and Little Shop of Horrors. Last year at Stephens, he was featured in A Catered Affair, Inspecting Carol, Uncle Vanya and A Shayna Maidel. He earned an M.A. from Illinois State University and a B.F.A. from Stephens College.

Father Malcolm: To Be Announced

Playing Race Volunteer:

Itohan Amayo is a sophomore student at the University of Missouri majoring in Communication with a minor in Theatre Performance.  Itohan LOVES acting and performing. Although she is going to school for communication, she continuously is striving to accomplish a career in performance. Itohan has been performing for 5 years now, and most of her performances have been in musicals, she is slowly creeping into a world of strictly acting, and she is loving the challenge.  Itohan is inspired by many people in her life like her family and friends, but her other inspirations are Oprah, and Todrick Hall, for obvious reasons. Itohan is excited to work with the cast and crew of Chasing AllieCat and hopes that this experience will create more experiences that will expand her talents and create new, awesome memories!

Playing the Nurse:

Danielle Doyen is excited to be a part of this SFI project. Danielle is back in Columbia after spending a decade in Los Angeles and New Orleans…it’s nice to be home. Selected Los Angeles and Regional Theater credits include: Natalie in AFTERMATH with Annie Potts, Constanze in AMADEUS, Vita in ANGELS FALL, Maria in TWELFTH NIGHT, Margaret in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Woman in THE 39 STEPS, and she appeared in MACBETH, THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL and AS YOU LIKE IT. She co-stared in the indie film UNMANNED, which garnered many festival nominations and awards.

Check out the crew, and see more details HERE.

Having Fun on the Bike

Everything about how I’m riding my bike these days goes against my natural inclination. After spending thousands of miles (at least hundreds and hundreds) in the school of pain and hard knocks, led by Mark Skarpohl (Skarpohli, as I call him, also known as Skarp, Mr. Twin Pipes, and several other nicknames), when you encounter wind, what do you do? Lean over, get low and dig into the wind. You go harder. What does that do? It elevates your heart rate. Doctors ordered me to keep my heart rate under 110 until June–six months after my brain surgery–and nothing that has become instinctual about cycling over the past 19 years fits that order.

The first hill I meet, I exert more pressure. Heart rate goes up. I turn into the wind. Heart rate goes up. This is completely counter-intuitive. It’s not what I’ve learned from Skarpohli or from Mike Busch, Gianni Anderson, Terry Beenken, Dan Friedrichs, and Brian Koenemen, who were the first guys who taught me to ride a road bike and taught me to draft and ride a paceline.

Now, granted, those guys also know how to take it easy and how to have fun on the bike. I’m not saying they only hammer whenever they go out. They don’t.

I’m just saying that I think about them when I turn into the wind, see my heart rate rise and have to back off. Soft-pedal until my heart rate goes back down. What? Yeah, my life and my brain are important enough that I am listening to the doctors, but I’m having to re-learn a lot of things. I’m rethinking what it means to ride a bike.

Few of the people I usually ride with want to ride my pace this year for very long…and I’d only ask them to on a rare occasion. (I do that). We have fun putzing along, and I appreciate those friends willing to putt along with me.

So what have I done? Mostly, I go to the woods. In the woods, the wind barely exists. It’s blocked. I turn into those welcoming trees, and the wind just goes away. If, on the outside chance that I crash (I haven’t since the brain surgery, knock on wood and hopefully not with my head), I land softly on grass or dirt. Absolutely no pavement. And I’m not going fast, so even if I should crash, it’s not going to do much damage.

What have I found? Fun! I feel like a kid on a bike, just tooling around, exploring. I’m riding the April Nicollet Bike 30-Days-of-Biking challenge, so I have to get out at least 2 miles a day. I go to the woods determined to find or at least photograph something new. It is truly like being a kid again. Exploring. Having fun. I love my bike, and I’m not kicking ass to go faster than or keep up with a paceline of a bunch of other people.

Maybe I’m discovering another stage of being a cyclist. Who knows. I know I’ll want to hammer again, and I’ll want to do time trials. And go fast. But for now, this is enough, and I’m having SO MUCH FUN.

Here’s what competitions looks like….

Senior games 1st copy

And here are some photos from this month. I have been riding around the woods, where the former Haunted Hayride was staged until ten years ago. Exploring has made my slow rides all the more fun!

Buds

Here’s admiring the bursting buds on the trees.

Clydesville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clydesville on the old Haunted Hayride route

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old screamsOld screams linger.

 

 

 

 

GreeterThe tattered Greeter. He doesn’t look so threatening against the blue sky.

 

 

 

 

 

The old Torture ChamberTorture chamber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite tree in the "Haunted Woods." Beautiful against the blue sky, but it always looked creepy in cemetery light.

My favorite tree in the “Haunted Woods.” Beautiful against the blue sky, but it always looked creepy in cemetery light.