I recently found this picture from a day on the set of the feature film Powder, where I first met actor Jeff Goldblum. Since posting it on my personal Facebook page, many friends have asked about the story behind it.
It was 1995. I was 19-years-old and a senior in college at the University of Houston (UH). One more semester and I would graduate with my BA in TV-Film and minor in Theater. I wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but my parents weren't so sure - yet.
In the months before the production came to town, I was reading a copy of the Hollywood Reporter, a Hollywood trade magazine, and saw that Powder was coming to film in Houston. And I knew I had to find a way to get on the set.
During the spring semester, I talked to a friend at UH who was interning on the film, and I got him to take me along with him to the production office to ask if they needed another intern. When we arrived, they seemed a bit dubious about taking on another intern. So, I made myself invaluable by working hard. I fixed copy machines, hauled ice, cleaned popcorn machines, and endured an office-wide water gun shoot out. I can't remember exactly how it happened, but while working in the production office, I caught wind of the production needing extras for a high school classroom scene. True, I was a bit too old, but I knew I could still pull it off. So, after speaking with casting, I was cast as an extra in the scene.
Before my scene was even shot, I was working as an intern on an outdoor scene with Jeff Goldblum, Mary Steenburgen, and Sean Patrick Flannery. Then, as I was sitting with some friends on the back of a production vehicle, Jeff Goldblum chatted with us, and eventually asked if I wanted to do a cold reading of a script with him. So, I did.
After I walked away to haul some ice (film interns get the least glamorous jobs you can imagine), Jeff told my friend, "she's good." That moment led to what happened next. . .
A couple weeks later we were on the set of the classroom scene where I was an extra playing a high school student and Jeff was our science teacher. During the few days we spent shooting there, my parents came to visit. It was then they met Jeff Goldblum. He told them I should move to Los Angeles and study with him and other teachers at Playhouse West in North Hollywood.
That was in March. I turned 20 in April, graduated from the University of Houston in August, and moved to Los Angeles in September. I'd made friends (some of whom I know to this day) on the set of Powder who greeted me when I arrived in L.A. Before the end of the year, I was enrolled at Playhouse West taking classes with Jeff Goldblum and Robert Carnegie.
I studied with them for two years.
The acting training I received at Playhouse West not only immensely helped me grow as an actor, but also informed the way I write dialogue for both fiction and film.
Several friends have recently asked me about my process. How do I write and work on films while also keeping up with our house, grocery shopping, doing laundry, caring for pets, and having a husband and elementary age son? In short: it's a juggling act.
I've learned what my personal and work priorities are and make sure I make time for those in addition to all of the responsibilities that come with being a wife and involved mother. On a typical weekday, I get my son, Alex, to school, then I head to the gym. I workout for an hour. Then, I go home, shower, have lunch, and by noon I'm writing (or working on any film business that's come up.) I generally write from 12pm - 2:30pm. Then, I take a break to grab a little snack and then go and pick-up my son. (Note: I always take my laptop or a manuscript with me.) If Alex wants to stay after school to play for awhile, then I'll let him play and sit on the playground or in the gymnasium with my laptop and will keep working.
When we get home, it's time to feed the family, feed the pets, make Alex's lunch for the next day, help with homework, etc. When Alex is in the shower, I'll try to move the laundry on to its next stage. Then, after he's in bed, my husband watches TV and I go back to work. If it's during a semester, I grade papers at night or work on a critique for a writing partner. If I don't have a class or a manuscript to critique, then I may work on one of my manuscripts for an hour or so. Sometimes, I'll go to the grocery store at night if I haven't had time during the day (but I usually do a grocery run on Fridays when I feel I've put in a good week of work in terms of writing). I try to give myself one night a week that I don't work at night so I can just watch a show, but it's very difficult for me not to be working on something.
I do my best to be in bed an hour before I plan to go to sleep. This gives me time to unwind and time to read. I read mostly middle grade and young adult fantasy and horror; however, I sometimes venture into other genres, but not frequently.
I usually fall asleep around 11pm, then I'm up at 6:30am the next morning to start again. I do sleep in on the weekends and I almost always take off Saturday or Sunday completely so I can start the new work week feeling ready to go.
Things definitely change in the summer. . . there's not quite as much time to write, but I always manage to make a way to get things done. Even if I'm at the park or the pool with my laptop.
The Rival Studios team and I had a fun time at Houston's Comicon this past weekend. Our short film, "The Cask", which I wrote and helped produce, was screened at the Comicpalooza Film Festival, and Rival's short film, "The Caretaker", in which I acted, was screened as part of The Zone Film Race & Festival at the Comicon.
Aside from the strange and wonderful costumes, we enjoyed meeting a variety of filmmakers and actors. We had some positive interest in "The Cask", and "The Caretaker" won several awards, including a win for me as "Best Actress". I was thankful to have my husband with me, as well as several friends who came out to support us.
We had a blast, and are ready to get started with our next project: a feature length film.
While my main focus is writing, I've recently been able to use my acting skills again, which is how I first started in the entertainment business. I had a lot of fun doing "The Caretaker." For those of you in Houston, I hope you'll be able to come out and see this Rival Studios film as part of The Zone Film Race at Houston's Comicpalooza May 12 - 14, 2017.
Check out my interview with Race the Darkness author, Abbie Roads. In it I share some things about juggling life and writing: Author-on-the-Couch.
In April, my short story, "The Cask", which I also adapted into a screenplay, was made into a film. Here's the film poster!
The film is currently being edited and will be be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival this September.
I'm excited to share with you my critique/blog partner's debut cover reveal for Race the Darkness!
It’s precisely 7:22 pm ET, the sun has just set in the Eastern Time zone, and it’s starting to get dark.
We are excited to reveal the cover of Race the Darkness, a dark, gritty, emotional and sexy romantic suspense novel by debut author Abbie Roads!
First in a gripping paranormal romantic suspense duo by a Golden Heart finalist debut author whose clinical work gives her chilling insights...
Cursed with a terrible gift criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
That threatens to engulf them...
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.
About Abbie Roads:
Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contests including the Golden Heart. Race the Darkness is the first book in the Fatal Dreams series of dark, gritty romantic suspense with a psychological twist.
Race the Darkness will be available on October 4th.
A special note from Abbie Roads:
I wrote Race the Darkness from start to finish three different times, with three different story lines, and with three different titles! The only thing that ever remained the same between the versions was Xander and Isleen. I believed in them and the story they wanted to tell. I hope you love reading about their tragedies and triumphs as much as I enjoyed writing them… All three times! And isn’t the cover amazing, beautiful, gorgeous? I cried the first time I saw it! It made all the hard work to get this book to you worth it!
An excerpt from Race the Darkness:
No way was he going to die running. He stopped, turned and faced the truck barreling toward them. The tires ate up the ground at an indecent rate. He clutched Isleen tighter to his chest. For her sake, he wanted it to be a quick death. No more lingering. No more pain.
That thought infuriated him. None of this was right. They shouldn’t be on the verge of death. Again.
The truck kept coming—twenty-five feet.
Everything slowed, happened as if through the quicksand of time. A white dandelion floaty meandered on the breeze directly between them and the truck. His heart no longer ran a staccato rhythm. Duh…duhm. Pause. Duh…duhm. Pause.
His life didn’t flash before his eyes. The future did. Isleen’s future. In an ethereal dream beyond time, her skin was gilded by firelight, her eyes void of sadness and fear, her body whole and healthy. She smiled, an expression so full of warmth and tenderness and undiluted joy that it plunked itself down inside his heart and wouldn’t leave.
He ached to create that kind of smile on her face, but their lives were over and it all could’ve gone so differently if he’d only listened to her, believed in her, found her years before now.
Be in touch with Abbie Roads:
So, things are getting exciting for me and "The Cask". Not only is my story, which is a modern re-telling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", going to be re-released in an anthology by Dark Mirror Press later this year, but we're gearing up to shoot my screen adaptation of "The Cask" this April.
The film will be directed by the super talented John Hale, and is staring Jeffry Griffin (The Big Short) and Justin Adams (Radio Cape Cod). It's being produced by the awesome Debra Gutjahr and Dominic Orozco of Rival Studios.
Our goal is for the film to be shown at film festivals around the world.
True friendship is not bound by time or place, but endures regardless of circumstance.
Check out my latest blog post on Readerlicious: How A Fantasy/Paranormal Writer Spent Her Summer Vacation