Thursday, June 5, 2014

Why We Need Creative Challenges

Connie Mann with her son Ben Klopfenstein,
showing off their Audience Choice for Best Feature
by Connie Mann

Note: Connie Mann is a much-loved friend of the Ancient City Romance Authors. and we look forward to seeing her beautiful smile at our conference each year. When we heard the news of her novel-turned-screenplay-turned-film, we were so excited for her that we had to share with all our friends.

One of the great struggles for writers, especially those who write commercial fiction, is to write, “the same, but different.” We scratch our heads, trying to make sense of it. How do we keep fitting our writing into accepted norms, while still making it new and fresh?

I learned, quite by accident, how writing something in an entirely new genre ignited my creativity and passion for writing all over again.

Several years ago, my son Ben Klopfenstein, who works in the movie industry, asked me if I had any stories that might work as a screenplay. He had several requirements: it had to be set locally, couldn’t have too many characters and couldn’t have oodles of locations. (All things that keep a movie budget tight.)

After he read what I gave him, he said, “Could you turn it into a screenplay?”

Could I? I thought about it, gulped, a lot, and said, “Sure.”

Then I went scrambling for information, because screenplays and novels are two completely different animals. In a novel, you can have a character think for pages on end. How do you show that on screen?

It took six intense weeks to take Catch of a Lifetime from novel to screenplay, followed by months of tweaking and pre-production work. I was privileged to be one of the producers and our house become movie central for several weeks, with props stored in every available location, the cast and crew being fed out of our kitchen, make-up applied in the hall bath. It was crazy and intense, but the most amazing part was seeing my words brought to life on screen. There is no thrill quite like it.

My son spent another year and a half (yes, you read that right) editing, tweaking, adding music and doing all the other magic that makes a movie wonderful! Ben submitted Catch of a Lifetime to the Silver Springs International Film Festival and we were thrilled when it was accepted. It was shown at a local theater a few weeks ago, so we all got to see it on the big screen for the first time.

We were even more thrilled when, at the awards ceremony, Catch of a Lifetime was named Audience Choice for Best Feature! This mama couldn’t have been more proud of her very talented son!
I was also incredibly glad I’d accepted that creative challenge and tried something new.

Connie Mann loves stories of suspense, adventure and second chances. She encourages busy women through her blog: and is the author of Trapped!, Angel Falls, and Catch of a Lifetime.  She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local schoolchildren or her fabulous family. Please visit her online at:

Catch of a Lifetime:

Silver Springs International Film Festival: