Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, May – October 2008
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series
"Kissin’ Kuzins"
Written by Deana W. Costner

Craig Rosenthal

Deana has written educational curriculum used by public and private schools and organizations. Recently, she started writing screenplays, and has completed or nearly completed nine. Although The Writer’s Place is the first contest she has won, she has placed in others. She’s a sixth generation Floridian with degrees from the University of Alabama and a doctorate from the University of Central Florida. She loves to travel, read, cook, but her first passion has always been writing.

Additional Writer Information
Contact: dcostner@cfl.rr.com


Two would-be heirs claim the same property – one by moving in and the other legally.The fight’s on between perky Margaret and persistent James as they must “share and share” alike the land, house and bed until the Judge rules.


Perky Margaret and confirmed bachelor James inherit the same acres with the stipulation that the heir who “takes possession” first wins.Unknown to each other and unrelated, they leave Philadelphia jobs to ride the rails to Kansas in 1876.Margaret hires a wagon and goes right out to the land while James lays claim with the attorney who turns chicken-liver and declares only the Circuit Judge can decide.Problem is he ain’t due for six weeks.Until then the two must “share and share” alike the land, house and bed – of course, Margaret’s nailed a board slap down the middle separating the would-be heirs in this romantic comedy.

During their spell of wait, James learns all about cow raisin’ from the gentle Jake and boastful Billy.Sarah, the silent squaw, befriends Margaret and teaches her the woman stuff and how to ride. James and Margaret never find peace together as each tries to force the other back to city life.Margaret locks him out to sleep in the bunkhouse.He returns the favor by scattering her clothes across the yard.She sleeps in a make-shift hammock on Sarah’s earthen porch. Bathing in the near-by creek is a matter of considerable irritation to Margaret.

A fragile friendship forms in Abilene when they travel to purchase cows.It falls apart when James recognizes Margaret as the speech-giving suffragette back in Philadelphia who caused him pain. The banker freezes their funds when taxes come due, and he won’t loosen them without payment of sorts from Margaret. Only when James fights for her honor in a barroom brawl do they come to realize the land ain’t worth much without the other.But pride holds them apart until the night of the Indian raid when fear drives Margaret into James’ arms.He declares his love “for good and always.”




A long shot of city, brick roads, buggies, wagons, horses, people walking.Pass buildings and homes.Finally see outside of a mercantile store then move inside.


JAMES, (30) an impatient, plain-speaking man, waits on older WOMAN.He pulls a bolt of cloth, she fingers it and shakes head before points to another.

James pulls bolt and spreads it on counter.Woman holds to body like dress, shakes head.She points to bolt high above.

James pulls ladder over to reach material. As he pulls cloth down, she shakes head.James pushes bolt back into place.Frustrated.

She points to one on his right.He adjusts ladder to reach it. Pulls it out.Looks questioningly. She shakes head.
James slams bolt back; temper rising.

Other side.

He leans over ladder almost falls.He pulls cloth down.Unfolds roll on counter.He looks expectantly.


Gosh, Almighty, Woman.There’s no
pleasing you.What do you want?

 Woman pulls to a ridged stance.

Respect, young man.

She stomps out in huff as CHARLES enters.Charles wears long apron, older than James.He watches woman stomp off,

You did it again!

She's a cackling hen.

You know your problem -- you just don't
like women.

Oh, yea, I like women.I just don't like
woman. When you got just one, she gets too

Charles laughs as he throws letter toward James.

Post's in.

       (rips open, reads slowly)
       (pushes it toward Charles)
read this.

Charles picks up letter to read, shows interest.


James walks park where women are drawn to bandstand decked in patriotic bunting. Men stop, shrug and soon walk on.

 MARGARET, (19) a saucy, naive but beautiful woman, speaks. She dresses in patriotic colors.

Sisters, let 1876 be the year our bonds
are broken!
       (sweeps hands down forcefully)
We demand the vote for Philadelphia women!

Women folk applaud.Men jeer and push through small crowd.

James jokes to men nearby.

A woman that pretty is only made for
one thing, and it sure ain't voting.

Men laugh crudely, openly mock Margaret.

Unseen by James five angry, WOMEN, huddle -- fume.

James walks on alone away from crowd.Suddenly he trips.A mob of women pounce on him, pull his hair, claw at his face, bite his arm.

What the --

James attempts to defend himself without hitting a woman.

From behind, a woman pours hot kettle water on him.

He screams and turns in anger.

Unseen another hits him with a rolling pin.He passes out with a blurred vision of Margaret speaking.

Without the vote, there is no power.

Police whistles blow.

Women scatter but not before giving James a swift kick.


James leans against stair rail.A POLICEMAN with him.

You’re the second attack we’ve had.No
known identification.

Oh, I can identify one of them.

James hits fist against his flat hand.

If I ever see her again.


 James cocks head and enters boarding house where sign reads: "Rooms to Let. Gentlemen Only."

He looks back at park. Crowd gone. Holds side.


Margaret skips up steps of another townhouse.In window, sign reads: "Rooms. Christian Ladies Only."


Curtains billow from open window. A milk glass LANTERN WITH RED ROSES burns.Margaret reads letter to young WOMAN.

“...to notify you of the death of your
cousin, Sam Stone.He leaves you the
whole of his estate, provided you are the


Spartan room.James lays on bed, reads letter...

“...heir to claim the land known as Sam’s
Ranch.Three hundred acres...”

James sits up, tosses letter aside.

No more ladies to order me around.


No man to tell me what to do.

             YOUNG WOMAN
I don't know. What about this part?
       (points in letter)
Two heirs.Suppose the other one
gets there first?

       (airily, confident)
I'll be first.

             YOUNG WOMAN
You’d go to Kansas alone?

I'll have a home no man can take from me.


--- James withdraws money from bank and puts it in pocket.

--- Margaret withdraws money from same bank and puts some in a purse, ties some in hanky and stuffs in      bodice.

--- James bids farewell to men friends, boards train at rear.

--- Margaret bids farewell to sister suffragettes, boards at front.

--- As train pulls out, Margaret, face presses against windowpane from her seat up front, waves.

--- James waves from rail at back of train.

--- As train moves westward, James plays cards and glances out window at passing countryside.

--- Margaret, fascinated by endless stretch of country, visits with passengers boarding.

--- Arriving in Newton, James hops from rear car with luggage clutched in two hands.

--- Margaret steps from front car with Porter assisting with three trunks.

--- Noise of engine stops all activity until train pulls away, leaving smoke, dust and Margaret and James.



Town’s people stop their routine to examine newcomers.

Men boldly watch Margaret. Women shyly approve James.

Several men run to help Margaret with trunks as she makes her way to Joe’s Livery Stable.

James takes in whole town.First, the Grand Hotel where a sign reads: "Rooms.Fifty Cents a Night."

At street end, set apart from other buildings, is finest dwelling in town -- Newton’s Bank.It’s the only one with a fresh coat of paint, tall columns grace the front.

On steps, tall thin man, EARL JONES, (37) watches town and people.Dark mustache covers his tight lips.His business suit and hat formal for town.

Earl, notes James’s stare, condescendingly, tips hat.

Next, a red pole announces Barber Shop; beyond three barrels on wooden sidewalk lead into mercantile store.

Across is a clapboard building where the shingle of "Theodore Faultner, Esquire of the Law" hangs.

James strides that direction.

Half of people watch Margaret's progression and half watch James.They circle for speculation and gossip.


Margaret enters stable, darkness blinds her.She runs into JOE.His strong arms brace her.

Steady there, Missy.

Margaret straightens.Men lower trunks and listen up.

Miss Tomkins.
       (slight pause)
I'd like to hire a wagon to Sam's Ranch.
I'm the new owner.

Men take-in sharp breath. Joe looks her over from toe to hat and back again.

Margaret shifts uncomfortably, pulls up smartly.

So the Missy got here first?

Joe looks at men, his eyebrows rise.

You knew I was coming?

Men shift, withdraw, eager to share the news.

Rather ‘spicion you might.

I'd like to go to the ranch.
Right now, in fact.

Joe nods, harnesses horses.He laughs as he works.

Margaret waits impatiently, goes to door to look outside.She sees James walk to a clapboard building.


Building stands alone with three steps up to a solid wooden door.James reads sign: “Closed for Lunch.”

He knocks and waits impatiently, knocks again.Finally he turns toward Grand Hotel.


From window, James examines town and dusty road as it narrows into countryside. In distance he watches wagon loaded with trunks disappear from view. Margaret perches next to Joe.

KNOCK interrupts his thoughts.

Come in.

A comely, country-looking, SUSIE (24) and a young boy enter with bath water to pour into zinc tub.

Long trip?

All the way from Philadelphia.

Susie gives a flirty wink when James tips her.In a friendly manner, he flips a coin toward the boy who catches it.


Margaret jiggles next to Joe on bumpy road.

This road’s surely used.

Yep, all the way to Santa Fe. Wagons
been cuttin’ these ruts before you were

Road bends. Joe reigns horses to left.Wagon slows.He gestures toward fields.

This here’s where your land starts,
Missy. Sam picked the best land. Soil’s
       (hand sweeps out)
...flows by your boundary and you're
close to the great cattle drives.
Ever’thing around here depends on two
...cattle and rails.

Margaret scans land.A low wooden fence runs along road. On one side, grass inches into ruts; on other side, tall immature shafts of corn stand motionless.

What's out there?

Ain't you ever seen corn growing?


Sam liked corn for his cows.
       (shakes head)
He always did things peculiar like.
Them fences speak for themselves.

What's wrong with fences?

A mite greedy to box in the range.

Why, animals would ruin that field.

They pass a sign, "Sam's RanchCattle Bought and Sold", the letters burnt in wood, strong and serviceable.

That's a mighty plain sign for land
this pretty.

Change it.You're the new owner.

Margaret grins, nods.

       (pulls horses to turn)
Here's the place.

Smoke rises from tree tops. Margaret leans forward in anticipation, her attention focuses ahead.


James leans forward, focuses on FAULTNER (50), bald and heavy set, who sits comfortably behind big desk, stuffs tobacco in pipe.

Everything's in order.

I'll go out first thing tomorrow.

Here's the will.
       (pats paper)
When the Circuit Judge rides through,
he’ll file the deed.

Faultner lights pipe, brushes lint from coat.

My saying the spread is yours doesn't
make it official until he decrees you're
the first one.

Faultner sorts papers on desk, picks up one.

He's due here in six weeks.
       (looks up)
The other heir, Margaret Tomkins, hasn't
responded.You know her?


Both related to Sam. Both lived in

How’d you know where to find me?

Sam hired some Philadelphia lawyer.I’d
never heard Sam speak of family until he
wrote his will.

James tries to rise, but Faultner props feet on desk.

Yes, siree, Sam came in laying claim to
land and buying what he didn't claim.
Used real gold, too.Some say he struck
a vein in California.He never said.

He pulls feet back from desk and leans forward.

Don't guess you know?

No, sir, never heard tell.

James stirs in chair.

You're the only grandchild of his
father’s sister.

That so.

This Miss Tomkins is the only child of
his mother's favorite cousin who married
late in life and died when she was a
       (taps pipe)
You ain’t really related.

James nods that he understands.He rises, but Faultner's look makes him sit back and cross his legs.

Faultner gets up to walk around desk.

You've got good land, good ranch hands,
money in the bank, all bills paid, and
taxes due in a month.


Don't worry about them, Son.Your
uncle didn't leave nothing to chance.
You got enough money in the bank to run
that place a year.

James squints at lawyer. He rises, holds hand out to Faultner. They shake hands.

Oh, yes, one more thing.The squaw,
Sarah, stays as long as she wants.
It's all in the will.

Faultner looks at James seriously.

Good man Sam.He didn’t back down
from a fight. No siree.

Sorry I didn’t know my uncle.

Pats James on back.

Go get it, boy.

They nod in agreement.