Beverly Gandara is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. An award-winning, multi-published screenwriter and novelist, this New York native’s screenplay, Rent Money, earned her the 2012 Golden Palm Award for Best Screenplay at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival.
Her current book, Women, Work and Triumph pays tribute to a remarkable ensemble of working women in a series of fascinating interviews. Intent on learning more about each woman she interviews, Beverly dives into their life stories and work, with a goal of shining a light on the trials, tribulations, and joys each woman has encountered on her journey thus far. Each story introduces a woman whose grit and determination in often male-dominated environments moved them along a path to personal fulfillment, success, and acceptance. Welcome, Beverly!
Interviewed by Debbie A. McClure
Q: What an interesting title! Can you tell us a bit about it?
A: Women, Work and Triumph features interviews with 26 diverse women in 26 various careers, from A – Z, with 1 goal—acceptance and respect.
Q: Tell us what motivated you to write about women and their careers.
A: For a long while I’ve felt that, despite the progress women have made over the past decades, not enough has been done to accept and respect women in the workplace and at home, which is also a full time profession. Women are still not being payed the same salary as men in certain professions, industries, or jobs, despite having an equal education, and in some instances, comparable experience. I simply wanted to provide a vehicle for women in male-dominated environments to have a voice.
Q: Each person and career is so diverse. How did you choose the women you interviewed?
A: I looked toward the women I knew first; family, friends, and colleagues. Then I chose women in male-dominated professions whose work I respected, and was delighted that they all chose to be a part of the book.
Q: As people read your book, what is the message you want them to receive?
A: Stop labeling and judging people before you have the opportunity to know a person and the journey that brought them to where they currently are in their lives, work, and relationships. That goes for all people—men, women, and children.
Q: You didn’t start writing until after retirement. Can you share with us what your motivation was to begin at that stage of your life?
A: I have an active mind and needed to stimulate and challenge myself, so I took a course in screenwriting. I liked the idea of telling a story minimally in scene setting, character description, and dialogue. For me it was an intriguing process.
Q: You started writing screenplays, then switched to novels and books. Can you tell us why?
A: I was being noticed for my screenplays, particularly when I won the Golden Palm Award at the 2012 Beverly Hills International Film Festival for my comedy screenplay, Rent Money. But it was my coming of age story, Concrete Wings, that had the attention of two producers who suggested I convert the screenplay to a novel, which according to them would make it easier to sell in Hollywood with a book attached. So, I took the challenge and enjoyed that process as well.
Q: Writing and getting published is far more challenging than most people imagine. What would you like aspiring writers to know about the processes?
A: Writing takes commitment of time, energy, and money. When you have a story in mind;
- Be clear about the story you want to tell. Can you describe it in 1-3 sentences?
- Once you decide on the format—if it’s to be a screenplay, book, or article, etc., research the topic thoroughly for authenticity in story.
- Read books by the masters and take a course—local schools often offer beginners writing courses. Learn about language; review your knowledge of grammar, spelling, and the need for crisp, descriptive words. Keep a thesaurus by your side.
- Stage32’s educational bundles and seminars offer extraordinary opportunities for learning the craft of writing. https://www.stage32.com/education
- The Gotham Writer’s Workshop WritingClasses.com, where I began my screenwriting program, lists a wide range of courses on writing, whether it is screenwriting, memoir writing, article writing, and more.
- https://www.writersdigestshop.com/writing-skills/get-started-in-writing presents many courses, including non-fiction, freelance article writing, memoir/life story writing, and screenwriting.
- After completion of the work, I suggest the following:
- Working with a proofreader and editor
- Copyright the work https://www.copyright.gov/
- Register the work with the Writer’s Guild of America (west or east coast) https://www.wga.org or https://www.wgaeast.org/
- I suggest one review The Schedule of Payment guidelines in The Writers Guild of America site https://www.wga.org, in the event one wanted to hire someone to help him or her.
- Once the project is complete and ready to be seen, sold, or shared, I suggest marketing the work by entering contests as a starting point. Depending upon the format, there are several contests listed online. That way one could be assured the work would be read by a professional who will give feedback.
- If one chose to write a book and self-publish, a search on the internet would provide options.
- If it were a short story or article, consider pitching it to newspapers, magazines, and publishers. To create a good pitch letter, visit https://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Pitch-Letter
- https://usnpl.com/ lists newspapers in every state of the union, plus school newspapers and magazines.
- I suggest joining stage32, www.linkedin.com or www.facebook.com and focus on the various writers groups within each site, for networking.
- I urge you to set small goals. Start with a title. Write a synopsis of the story; i.e., (Title) is about…
- I recommend writing the first five pages, then follow up with five more. Before one knows it, he or she would have succeeded in the ultimate goal to write a screenplay, book, etc. The rest is business.
Q: How do you select the stories you write?
A: I enjoy people’s stories and find that whether we are talking about the 1500s in France or the 2000s in Alaska, behavior is the same. There is love, loss, betrayal, etc. If a story touches me, I want to share it. People often come to me to write their stories—they need to be heard, and I believe we learn from each other.
Q: How did it feel to win the Golden Palm Award for best screenplay at the 2012 Beverly Hills International Film Festival?
A: Exhilarating! There were many finalists, and when my husband and I went to the dinner our table was in the back of the room far from the stage, which I took to mean I was not a winner. The most memorable moment was seeing the pride in my husband’s eyes and the wide grin on his beautiful face when my name was announced.
Q: How do you feel about your future as a writer?
A: I learn new skills with every project, so I am looking forward to continuing the process. I’ve written dramas, a comedy, a suspense thriller, and I love the diversity of it all. I am inspired by life and enjoy the craft of story telling.
Q: What’s next for you, Beverly?
A: I have a character from one of my novels who would be fun to bring back to new surroundings. I intend to revisit my screenplays, sharpen them, and ready them for release. The stories never get old; the environments change. I strongly believe that there are no expiration dates on one’s dreams, so I’ll just keep moving from strength to strength.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise, Beverly. We wish you all the very best in your future endeavors—they’re sure to be worth following! Speaking of following, readers can connect with Beverly Gandara here:
Website link: www.bevgandara.com