After the release of the first Mama B novella, inspired by my grandmother, I started to reflect on other “Mama B” figures in my life. Let me tell you about Ms. Ginnie Bivona! I met Ginnie several years ago at a writer’s conference. I had just finished presenting a workshop. I had about an hour to relax before my next session, so I stayed in the room and sat in on her presentation. The title of her workshop was, “How to Get Your Book Turned into a Movie, but Only if you Believe in Fairy Tales.”
The funny thing is, as she passively discussed the long and drawn out experience of how her self-published book, Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party, became the Lifetime TV Movie Bound by a Secret starring Meredith Baxter and Lesley Ann Warren, I remember thinking, “She’s really not telling us how she did this.” So I decided to exchange numbers and reach out to her.
We had lunch a few weeks later, and I absolutely fell in love with her warm personality and tell-it-like-it-is wisdom. She did give me her agent’s name, but I put the whole “movie” thing on the backburner as I got to know Miss Ginnie as a person.
Though Miss Ginnie is now in her 80’s, she still gets around town in her SUV, writes, and even runs a small publishing company. I was so inspired by her mental and physical sharpness that when I thought about Mama B’s character, I had to steal Miss Ginnie’s spunk and eating habits.
Fastforward 6+ years, Ginnie and I eat dinner and chat about 4 times a year, mostly as part of a writer’s panel. The last time we met, I shared news of the movie option for my novel, Falling Into Grace. She was elated and began to ask me the kinds of questions only no-nonsense older people would ask and give me advice that only someone who has been down that road and genuinely cares about your success would share.
Now that I’m on the whole movie path, I can only laugh because things worked out just as she said in her workshop when we first met. In both our cases, going from print to movie is a matter of faith that cannot actually be explained or presented in a step-by-step handout.
Actually, I kind of like it that way; God gets all the glory!