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 2009
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series

"Traded for Lies "

Written by Diane Meyer


Diane Meyer lives in Lakewood, Colorado. She’s been an editorial photographer and writer for fifteen years and is working on two novels and magazine articles. As a screenwriter, Diane is scripting four original features. Diane is a graduate of New York Institute of Photography and Long Ridge Writer’s Group. Writing is her passion and full-time job. She is delighted to have been selected as the first place recipient of The Writer’s Place award.

Additional Writer Information:


To return home, a trafficking victim enlists the help of a blacklisted journalist, but her secret could get them both killed..


In vain they run. He fires. They’re dead. One woman remains. The man wants something she isn’t about to give. He forces himself on her. She grabs his weapon and fires, killing the brother of Zambia’s most heinous trafficker.

LEXI CAHILL discovers her friend ANAYA KUIPER is a victim of human trafficking. Realizing that writing Anaya’s story could redeem her from her own reprehensible mistake, Lexi agrees to help Anaya return home.

But Zambia holds more danger and deception than Lexi could have expected. In the search for Anaya’s family, Lexi must escape a slave trader hell bent on possessing her, determine which man to trust and rescue Anaya from yet another kidnapping. What would have been an exotic trip for Lexi’s redemption turns into a nightmare she might not return from.


The TRADED for LIES screenplay, copyright, and story idea below is owned by Diane Meyer. No copying of any of the below pages is allowed, unless approved by owner.




SUPER: Outside Lusaka, Zambia - two months ago

A man forces the Woman into the van.


She fights him. He drops a small key. The Man retaliates and she falls. He secures one hand to the bar with a plastic tie strap, then leaves. Two other women are already shackled to the inside of the van.

The Woman notices it. With her foot, she pushes the key to another woman close by. She picks it up and unlocks her shackle and then frees the other woman.


The door to the building swings open, the Man walks out, sees the two women outside the van. The women run. The Man shoots, kills them both.

He enters the van and attempts to rape the Woman. But she fights him, grabs his gun and fires. He's dead. She struggles to free herself from the tie strap, her wrist bleeds.

Another man exits the building. He carries a gun.


The Woman points her gun at the door, waits. SOUNDS of FOOTSTEPS on gravel. She fires the remaining rounds. The Man jumps into the van and beats her senseless.


A dirt road along the unguarded border between Zambia and Malawi is a dropping off point for traffickers.

Obasi, 30's, muscular and compact, African, drives the van to the border between Zambia and Malawi. The Woman is in the back. The Man in the truck flashes his headlights.

Obasi hands over the Woman. The Man dumps her into the back of the truck.

Get her out of here. The
buyer is waiting.

There were supposed to be

The other two are dead.
We'll have another
shipment in a few weeks.

They leave.


A small plane lands on a crude airstrip on an eastern Colorado farm. It carries the Zambian Woman.


The Woman's hands are shackled. The Man hauls her out of the plane towards the truck parked several yards away.

The plane takes off.

She fights, knocks him out with her shackles and disappears into the corn field.


Rain beats down on the funeral for young Ryan Bennett. His white casket lies under a canopy.

A preacher reads from Psalm 23.

His mother, TRACY BENNETT, 20's, hung over, hugs Ryan's casket, sobs.

LEXI CAHILL, 30's, tenacious, journalist, watches from several yards away, half-hiding behind a cross-shaped headstone.

The funeral ends. Tracy glares at Lexi as another woman whispers something. She stomps over to Lexi.

What are you doin' here?

Paying my respects.

Tracy shoves Lexi.

Lexi falls, doesn't get up.

If you had any respect,
you'd never have written
that article.

I'm sorry.

Tracy beats on her chest.

I was gonna get him back.
The judge said that if I
got help, he could come
home. You took that away
from me.

Tracy stumbles across the grass to the waiting limo. She pulls out a flask and gulps down a quick drink.

Lexi gets up.


Lexi sits on her office floor shoving newspapers with her article about Ryan into the shredder. A stack of newspapers sits next to her.

Unopened mail lies in a neat pile on her desk.

DAVID LIVINGSTON, 18, cocky and self-assured, walks into Lexi's office pushing a cart of newspapers and mail.

He unloads the newspapers onto the already large pile.

I emptied out every
newspaper box I could
find. And bought
newspapers from every
7-11 on the planet. You
owe me.

David picks up the pile of letters.

             DAVID (CONT'D)
Where do you want this?

More hate mail?

David yanks an ad from Macy's.

Macy's doesn't hate you.

Lexi stands, takes the mail and leafs through it, then tosses it on her desk.

She grabs her wallet and pays David.


David turns to leave.

Oh, boss man wants to see

Lexi throws some newspapers in the air.



BEN STOCKWELL, 50's, uptight, paces in front of his window. He jiggles the keys in his pocket.

Lexi stands at the door. Knocks.

Ben waves her in and then pops three antacids into his mouth.

You wanted to see me?

Sit down.

Lexi sits, pushes the chair back several inches.

             BEN (CONT'D)
Ryan's mother filed a law
suit naming you and this
newspaper. Says you
contributed to his death.
I know, I know, it's

It wasn't supposed to

Maybe your article pushed
his foster parents over
the edge, maybe it
didn't. Either way,
changes need to be made.

Lexi pops a mint into her mouth.

So what's my new

Cooking. We want to
create a food section.
You're going to be the
first to write the stories.

I don't cook. I wouldn't
even have a refrigerator
if it didn't come with my

We can't afford to lose
this law suit. And if
your dad wasn't such a
good friend, I'd fire you.

Don't let that stop you.

Ben ignores her remark.

             LEXI (CONT'D)
I have a box full of
awards and all readers
can remember is the one
mistake I made?

Unfortunate, but true.

Lexi straightens the picture frame on Ben's desk.

I got it. A story on the
recent mine disaster.
I'll investigate the


How about I ride with the
Denver SWAT team? Or
investigate the recent
gang killings?

Are you on a suicide
mission? Listen, his
mother may never forgive
you. The question is, can
you forgive yourself?

Please, just give me
an assignment with some

Ben shuffles the papers on his desk until he finds one in particular.

All right, let's try
this. Your uncle is
hosting a luncheon. Wants
to get reelected to the

God save the country.

Ben hands her the paper.

Don't make trouble, just
get the story.

His housekeeper and I are
friends. She's from
Zambia. I'm sure she has
stories that would --

Stick to politics. Go.

Lexi leaves.


The large home sits against the beautiful foothills west of Denver.

Lexi parks in the driveway, gets out and walks around to the back of the home.


SOUNDS of people talking. MUSIC plays.

ANAYA KUIPER, 2O's, small, delicate-featured, Zambian woman who speaks in a heavy African accent, serves appetizers. Anaya is the Woman in the van.

PRESTON CAHILL, 50's, nervous, waves at Lexi as he walks towards her.

Lexi holds up her hand to Preston.

Be with you in a minute.

Lexi weaves through the throng of politicians, their hands laden with food and drink, and finds Anaya.

             LEXI (CONT'D)

Anaya places the tray on a table and hugs Lexi.

I got the birthday card
you sent. Thank you.

I still owe you dinner.

Preston makes his way to Lexi.

        (to Lexi)
You weren't on the guest

He hugs her tight as if trying to stop her breathing. She wrenches out of his grasp.

I got assigned to cover
your party for the paper.

Free PR. Won me the
senate seat last time.

People don't know really
get to know the
candidates before they
vote anymore.

Preston stomps off dramatically.

Why don't you leave my
hired help alone and get
to know the guests.

       (to Anaya)
We'll chat later.

Lexi works the crowd, takes notes. She pours herself a glass of tea and sits in the lounge chair, observes the guests.

AMBASSADOR ISAAC LINDU, 50's, tough, black, Ambassador to Zambia, talks with a heavy African accent, walks down the path to the backyard.

The Ambassador's body guard follows behind him.

Preston greets him. Ambassador Lindu, scans the crowd.

Lexi pushes herself out of the chair and hurries over to Anaya. She points to the Ambassador.

             LEXI (CONT'D)
Who's that?

Anaya squints at the man. She nervous, very nervous. She spins around, her back to the Ambassador.

             LEXI (CONT'D)
What's wrong?

Do not let him see me.

Why? Who is he?

A very dangerous man.

How do you know?

Anaya glances at him again.

He brought me here.

To Colorado?


Lexi grabs Anaya's arm and pulls her behind a large tree.


Anaya lays the tray of appetizers on the table, pulls up her sleeve above her wrist, shows Lexi her deep scars.

I was sold to a man who
brought me into the
states. I cannot be sure,
but I think it is him.

How'd you end up with my

I escaped. I woke up in a
hospital. A social worker
helped me get this job.

Lexi paces, keeps her eye on Preston and the Ambassador.

Did they know you were

No. You cannot trust
anyone in government.

Preston walks toward Lexi.

And here comes one of the
reasons our government
isn't trustworthy. Stay

Lexi meets Preston halfway.

             LEXI (CONT'D)
You looking for me?

Yes. There's someone I
want you to meet.

Preston and Lexi walk over to Isaac.

             PRESTON (CONT'D)
Isaac Lindu, meet my
niece Lexi Cahill,
extraordinaire. That is
until recently.

Lexi regards him with intense skepticism, shakes the Ambassador's hand.

And what do you do Mr.
Lindu? For work, I mean.

He's the --

Isaac holds up his hand at Preston.

I'm the Ambassador of the
Republic of Zambia.

Impressive title. How do
you know my uncle?

We're working together on
some political issues
between our countries.

We have issues with

Long story. I was telling
him about Anaya.

What about her?

Preston scans the crowd.

He and his wife are
hosting a party. Wants to
borrow Anaya's services
for a few days. Where is

She's not available.


Plenty of merry maids in
the phone book, if that's
what you're looking for.
Preston, get the book.

Preston pulls Lexi away from the Ambassador.

What the hell are you
doing? He's an

So he said. How well do
you know this guy?

Stop embarrassing me and
do your damn job.

Embarrassing politicians
is part of my job. And
you introduced me.

Preston walks back to Isaac.

My mistake.

Lexi follows Preston.

I'd like to meet Anaya.
Is she here?

No. She's not.

I'll bring her by your
house tomorrow
say...noon. We can talk


Preston and the Ambassador mingle with the crowd.

Lexi hurries over to the tree where Anaya hides

He's the Zambian
ambassador, Isaac Lindu.
Are you sure he's the one?

Anaya squints to get a better look.

I'm not certain. He could
be. What does he want?

You. More to the point,
he wants to borrow your

The Ambassador watches Anaya, nods to his body guard who walks away and makes a phone call.

Anaya panics, paces behind the tree, glances towards the house.

Oh, dear God. I have to
get out of here. Will you
help me?

I'll go to the police
with you.

No. I have no passport,
no money. I have to go
home, now.

Preston's going to take
you over to Lindu's house

What if he is the one?

Lexi paces.

Okay, okay. This is
crazy. Just be ready to
go in an hour.

Can you get me home?

There's an awkward silence.

I...I'll think of
something. Stay away from

Lexi leaves.

The party's over and all the guests leave.

Preston leaves.

Anaya piles dishes into a bin and takes them into the kitchen. She empties the kitchen trash and finds an opened telegram from Zambia addressed to her.

INSERT - THE TELEGRAM, which reads:

"Floods have devastated your village. Unable to locate survivors. Don't come home. He has not been captured."