Monday, March 12, 2018

Save the Cat: A Great Resource for Any Writer!

Save the Cat is a great book for any writer! Even though the subtitle is The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need, it's a helpful tool for any writer!  Check out what writer editor Tim Stout says: 

The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet is the best plot structure template I’ve come across.
It breaks down the three-act structure into bite-size, manageable sections, each with a specific goal for your overall story. It’s a great resource! 

Below is an explanation of each beat:


Opening Image – A visual that represents the struggle & tone of the story. A snapshot of the main character’s problem, before the adventure begins.
Set-up – Expand on the “before” snapshot. Present the main character’s world as it is, and what is missing in their life.
Theme Stated (happens during the Set-up) – What your story is about; the message, the truth. Usually, it is spoken to the main character or in their presence, but they don’t understand the truth…not until they have some personal experience and context to support it.
Catalyst – The moment where life as it is changes. It is the telegram, the act of catching your loved-one cheating, allowing a monster onboard the ship, meeting the true love of your life, etc. The “before” world is no more, change is underway.
Debate – But change is scary and for a moment, or a brief number of moments, the main character doubts the journey they must take. Can I face this challenge? Do I have what it takes? Should I go at all? It is the last chance for the hero to chicken out.
Break Into Two (Choosing Act Two) – The main character makes a choice and the journey begins. We leave the “Thesis” world and enter the upside-down, opposite world of Act Two.
B Story – This is when there’s a discussion about the Theme – the nugget of truth. Usually, this discussion is between the main character and the love interest. So, the B Story is usually called the “love story”.
The Promise of the Premise – This is when Craig Thompson’s relationship with Raina blooms, when Indiana Jones tries to beat the Nazis to the Lost Ark, when the detective finds the most clues and dodges the most bullets. This is when the main character explores the new world and the audience is entertained by the premise they have been promised.
Midpoint – Dependent upon the story, this moment is when everything is “great” or everything is “awful”. The main character either gets everything they think they want (“great”) or doesn’t get what they think they want at all (“awful”). But not everything we think we want is what we actually need in the end.
Bad Guys Close In – Doubt, jealousy, fear, foes both physical and emotional regroup to defeat the main character’s goal, and the main character’s “great”/“awful” situation disintegrates.
All is Lost – The opposite moment from the Midpoint: “awful”/“great”. The moment that the main character realizes they’ve lost everything they gained, or everything they now have has no meaning. The initial goal now looks even more impossible than before. And here, something or someone dies. It can be physical or emotional, but the death of something old makes way for something new to be born.
Dark Night of the Soul – The main character hits bottom, and wallows in hopelessness. The Why hast thou forsaken me, Lord? moment. Mourning the loss of what has “died” – the dream, the goal, the mentor character, the love of your life, etc. But, you must fall completely before you can pick yourself back up and try again.
Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three) – Thanks to a fresh idea, new inspiration, or last-minute Thematic advice from the B Story (usually the love interest), the main character chooses to try again.
Finale – This time around, the main character incorporates the Theme – the nugget of truth that now makes sense to them – into their fight for the goal because they have experience from the A Story and context from the B Story. Act Three is about Synthesis!
Final Image – opposite of Opening Image, proving, visually, that a change has occurred within the character.

I used the Beat Sheet method in writing my last novel and it was a big help! Are you familiar with Save the Cat? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Easy Crock Pot Beef Burgundy

I was planning meals for the week and found this incredibly easy recipe for Beef Burgundy over at  I've never made this dish because the name sounds too intimidating for me to even try. However, when I found this three-step crock pot version, I decided that I could make it after all! Enjoy!

Easy Crock Pot Beef Burgundy


1.5 lbs boneless beef round steak, cubed
1 (1 oz) package dry onion soup mix
2 cups mushrooms sliced
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2-3 cloves of ga
rlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 (10 .75 0z) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 package of egg noodles, prepared


1. In a 5-6 qt crock pot, add in your cubed steak.
2. Sprinkle with dry onions soup mix. And the mushrooms, onion and garlic.
3. Pour wine, broth and Worcestershire sauce into crock pot. Top every thing with cream of mushroom soup. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. Serve over egg noodles.

Have you ever made Beef Burgundy? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Insight From Frederick Douglass

As we close out Black History Month, I wanted to share this article about Frederick Douglass form

"Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference," wrote Frederick Douglass, a leading American abolitionist and former slave. Douglass rejected all biblical justifications of slavery after living under the cruel institution himself. Born in Maryland in 1818, his master's wife taught Douglass to read at a young age, and Douglass shared this knowledge with other slaves, encouraging them to read the New Testament and interpret Jesus Christ's message of equality. But Douglass rejected all Biblical justifications of slavery.

After escaping slavery, Douglass settled in New Bedford, Mass., and joined an integrated Methodist church where he attended anti-slavery meetings and befriended fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison encouraged the young Douglass to become an anti-slavery lecturer, and in 1845, Douglass published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. The book quickly became a best seller, reprinted nine times and translated into French and Dutch.

Douglass started a weekly journal, The North Star, where he challenged his readers to question the contradiction between America's Christianity and the institution of slavery. Speaking before packed houses in Great Britain and America, Douglass attacked Christianity for not only permitting the continuation of slavery but also encouraging its expansion: "The church and the slave prison stand next to each other. ... [T]he church-going bell and the auctioneer's bell chime in with each other; the pulpit and the auctioneer's block stand in the same neighborhood."

Though Douglass was initially disappointed that Abraham Lincoln did not advocate for an end to slavery at the beginning of the Civil War, he was overjoyed when the president issued the Emancipation Proclamation. After Lincoln's Second Inaugural the president welcomed Douglass into the White House and was pleased to learn that Douglass approved of his speech.

After Lincoln's assassination, Douglass said of the late president: "Can any colored man, or any white man friendly to the freedom of all men, ever forget the night which followed the first day of January 1863, when the world was to see if Abraham Lincoln would prove to be as good as his word?"

Both of my kids have read the Narrative of the Life of  Frederick Douglass for their English classes, but I'm ashamed to admit I haven't, but it is on my to read list! Have you read it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 19, 2018

The History of Presidents' Day

Happy Presidents' Day! Hope you're enjoying a day off. My high school student is, but not my college student.

If you've ever wondered about the history of Presidents' Day, here's some information from

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

For more on the history of Presidents' Day, click here.

Are you off for Presidents' Day? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 12, 2018

John and Abigail Adams: A Great Love Story

It's almost Valentine's Day, so today I thought I' share a great love story from history that I found at Click the link for more great love stories!

Abigail Smith married [John Adams] at age 20, gave birth to five children (including America's fifth president, John Quincy Adams), was [his] confidante, political advisor, and First Lady. And the more than 1,000 letters they wrote to each other offer a window into John and Abigail's mutual devotion and abiding friendship. 

It was more than revolutionary political ideals that kept them so united; they shared a trust and abiding tenderness. Abigail wrote: "There is a tye more binding than Humanity, and stronger than Friendship ... and by this chord I am not ashamed to say that I am bound, nor do I [believe] that you are wholly free from it." As for John, he wrote: "I want to hear you think, or see your Thoughts. The Conclusion of your Letter makes my Heart throb, more than a Cannonade would. You bid me burn your Letters. But I must forget you first."

So romantic! For a recreation of their great love story, check out William Daniels and Virginia Vestoff portraying them in the movie 1776 singing "Yours, Yours, Yours." The lyrics in the song were inspired by their letters.

"Yours, Yours, Yours"
Btw, will you be writing a love letter to your Valentine? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!