Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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We Have A Script!

Kind of.

As most of you have surmised writing a screenplay is a process. And as I wrote earlier part of Mike's and my process is to pass the script back and forth until we have a solid draft.

We have a solid draft. 91 pages of a solid draft.

I've passed the script back to Mike and now he will take another pass doing clean up. He'll pass the script back to me and I will take one final read...more clean up. And then we will send the script to the producers for their weekend read (1).

But we aren't finished. Not. Even. Close.

The producers will read. Discuss amongst themselves. Find flaws. Weak parts. Have questions. They will write down all of these things, knocking our script and potentially shredding it to pieces. Mike and I will then pick up the scattered and battered bits of script left over once the producers are finished and then recraft based on their notes. Each time, in theory, this process is meant to make the script better. And sometimes it does. At the very least the process points to areas that need to be reworked and tightened.

So we have a script. Let the fun begin.


(1) Weekend Read: The EVER important read that takes place on the weekend. Everyone in entertainment has to read a ton of material. Since most entertainment execs work a 14 hour day, reading is often relegated to the weekend. Thus, as a writer you want to turn projects in to Producers in time for the weekend read aka Wed. Thurs. or Fri. Hopefully then you wait 3 days for a response instead of 7 (if you turn in a project on a Monday.)

Friday, March 26, 2010


I have a manuscript. A nearly completed manuscript. I also have an editor who wants to read the manuscript. This is not a problem, this, as every writer knows is a blessing. A bountiful, wonderful, most hoped for blessing.

So what am I kvetching about?

I want to send the manuscript NOW. Now, now, now, NOW! And while it is ready-ish. I know the manuscript will be better if I wait just one more week.


Beta readers. Those beautiful beta readers(1). I have received comments from one Beta reader. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) But have two more Beta readers to hear from. Granted, I just did ask my third Beta reader yesterday if she'd mind taking a quick look. And of course being the ever lovely person she is, she said yes. But it takes time to read. And make notes. And people have lives.

So while the impatient part of me just wants to send, send, SEND! The realistic and rational part of me realizes that with each Beta reader I get some good input and information about a manuscript that I've read so many times I could recite the dialogue in my sleep. Therefore...I wait. I wait for my Beta readers to report back. And as I wait I continue to read, make notes, and then once all the Beta readers notes are in, I will revise one final time.

The impatient part of me screams and kicks as I write this. But the rational part nods.

Damn, I hate being rational.


(1) Beta reader: The most trusted of author friends that you allow to read your work first often before editors, agents, and even family. They provide you with notes, guidance, and often times good wishes so that you may persevere toward another rewrite/revision and a better book.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh Screenplay, why do you taunt me so?

So dear readers, you may or may not remember the very LENGTHY film treatment my writing partner, forever after called MM male (or until he tells me I can use his name on my blog) and I wrote for our producers. Well now I am in the process of co-writing the script. I say co-writing because MM male and I write screenplays together. And no MM male is not just some weird male version of me, he is an actual person who is a guy, who just happens to share my initials. In the early stages it is our process to pass the script back and forth until we have a full draft. And I am currently up to bat. Have been for a...uh...while now. And although the process is going along swimmingly, due in part (I hate to admit to the German (1)) to the LENGTHY treatment. I still find myself starting, and stopping, and doubting, and rewriting, and swearing, and gnashing my teeth, and pulling my hair...because I just want the darn thing to be right.

What is right?

Good question.

Glad you asked.

How the heck do I know? If I could capture the definition of right there wouldn't be nearly as much starting, stopping, doubting, rewriting, swearing, gnashing of teeth and requisite hair pulling.

But then, what fun would there be in that?


(1) The German: One of our managers who just so happens to be from Germany and is the sadistic operator of the dreaded Orange Highlighter about which I often tweet, blog, and curse. (The pen, I curse about the pen, not The German. Not ever. I promise.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Winging It by Jenny Gardiner

Another GCC'er with a new book and this time non-fiction. Jenny Gardiner's latest book Winging It just came out. Here is the cover:

Also, here is a little bit about Grayce


This time around my book is a memoir, titled WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Gallery Books). Think of it as David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak. It's about an African gray parrot with an attitude who arrived as a surprise Christmas gift the year we had our new baby. Life has never been the same.

The idea grew over many years. We got this parrot as a gift--my brother-in-law came back from Africa one Christmas with parrots for the family, and we ended up with the ornery one. And over the years, stories about her have become so legendary, she is such an entertaining thing (when she's not being vicious). I have written about her for my newspaper column before and people were so interested in her. At dinner parties, she becomes the focus of everyone's interest--we've had her now for almost 2 decades and people are always so entertained by her and stories about her, so I thought it would be fun to do a book. My sort of funny backstory is YEARS ago, I was sitting in a bat mitzvah, and I get really antsy when I'm a captive audience, especially when everything isn't in a language I can remotely understand. So when I was sitting there for like 3-1/2 arduous hours (it was a high holiday so they had a huge service with it), I pulled out a notebook and pen and HANDWROTE four chapters of what would eventually become this book...

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?

I love that you call that organic. It sounds so much more deliberate and literary that way ;-). Yes I am very much an organic--i.e. seat-of-the-pants--writer. I have ideas, I sort of "noodle" them in my head for a while sometimes before I commit them to the page, but I do like to just sit down and type.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

There really is no typical day for me. I've got 3 kids, so I'm at the mercy of their schedules first. Ideally I am up before dawn and at the gym and home before 7, then get the kids off to school, then come home to write. In reality there are often so many things going on that it's not that simple. Long ago I adapted to that writing lifestyle and take my laptop with me whenever I know I'll have even an idle 10 minutes.

Do you have a vice that you’ve given up, but long to continue?

Currently I've given up Mint M&Ms for Lent. And while I know I can go back to them (while the limited supply lasts!) in a few weeks, I'm disinclined to because it was a habit I needed to break. I did that last year with Peanut M&Ms and it seemed to stick. Though I think I just end up trading one bad habit for another.

How do you promote your books? Are you going on tour for this book? Any upcoming signings?

With my first novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, I actually won a publishing contract in the American Title III contest (sort of an American Idol for books). And I won that by surviving a 6-month period of online voting. What was wonderful about that was it really gave me a leg-up on marketing--particularly online marketing--a product that at the time wasn't even a tangible book one could buy. But I guess you'd call me an "early adapter" LOL to capitalizing on the internet as a marketing tool. So I do try to maximize my online presence as much as possible, especially because with a family it's hard to technically "tour" when book comes out. I do do plenty of appearances and signings, try to do as many book festivals as I can afford, and do whatever media appearances as possible.

I'm appearing on a panel and signing at the Virginia Festival of the Book, in fact, March 21. I've got a signing at Fountain Books in Richmond, VA, on April 8, and at the Barnes & Noble, Tyson's Corner, VA, on April 16. I'm also at the PennWriters Conference in Lancaster, PA in mid-May. We're setting up other events still.

For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?

The time it takes to market and publicize oneself. I don't mind marketing and publicizing, but I'd way rather be just focusing on writing books, and rue the day that this became so much more the onus of the author. I understand why it is that way, but wasn't it a beautiful thing in this country when those with an area of expertise were able to take care of that end of things, rather than nowadays when it seems that everyone is expected to do everything themselves? There was a time when people didn't pump their own gas--remember that? And you hired someone to come fix things, rather than trying to patch it together yourself. Ah, but I digress...

What do you love about being an author?

I love to write. I love to be able to make up a story that ends up being something with which others find entertainment/comfort/diversion. I love that as a writer I have the ability to touch other people, maybe bolster their sagging spirits even.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?

Believe in yourself. This business can be demoralizing--it's all so subjective, so you have to trust in your gut that you're a good writer with a good product, one that just hasn't found the right editor yet. If you allow yourself to be dragged down by rejection, you'll only end up marinating in a gray fug of gloom half the time.

What’s next for you?

Writing, writing writing. I've got a proposal to put together for my next non-fiction book, I've got an agent and editor awaiting a book I'm writing right now, and so many other ideas I'd love to start writing.

Thank you Jenny. Now, readers, go buy the book!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

RWA-Women's Fiction Inaugural Workshop

I am thrilled to announce the inaugural workshop for the RWA-Women's Fiction Chapter. Direct Your Book! Theatrical Techniques to a Blockbuster Novel by Leanna Renee Hieber. And although RWA-Women's Fiction would love to have YOU as a member, you need not be a member to participate in this fabulous workshop!

Best selling, award winning, multi-published author Leanna Renee Hieber will teach her unique hybrid approach in writing novels. Leanna uses this remarkable theatrical background to crack open a whole new way to think about your fiction. She utilizes techniques inherent to actors, directors and other theatre professionals in the creation and telling of stories and teaches you to use these techniques to bolster story structure and characterization. As an author, think about what it takes to step into the role of actor, director, cinematographer, etc. and feel the lightbulbs go off as you troubleshoot your way towards an engaging, character-rich, one-of-a-kind hit novel.

I am very excited to participate in this workshop because one of the gifts of writing is that as a writer I have always something to learn. Writers are life-long learners. Each time we sit at the keyboard we discover something new about our story, whether it be a plot twist or a character quirk there is always something unexpected popping onto the screen of our computers.

There is also the craft and business of writing. I know from a cursory glance over my past books that my knowledge of craft has changed over the years. This knowledge is often hardwon and sometimes self taught. The result of trial and error, rewrite after rewrite, constant critique and a keen editorial eye that grows more astute with each word written. However as a life long learner I am always looking for ways to facilitate the next step in my writing whether it be deeper characterization, stronger POV or a tighter plot. And, in part, this is the brilliance of RWA-WF. We, as a group, are able to participate in workshops, critiques (soon), meetings, and panels to help us learn our craft and the business of writing.

I hope you will join me March 26, 27, 28 & 29 as Leanna teaches her workshop Direct Your Book! Theatrical Techniques to a Blockbuster Novel. This workshop is sure to bring many insights to all writers of all levels.

The final day to register is March 20th and EVERYONE is welcome. You need not be a member of RWA or RWA-WF to participate in this fabulous workshop. The price of the workshop is $20 for RWA-WF members and $25 for all non-members. Details on how to register are at the bottom of the article here.

The workshop will be a yahoo loop. You will be notified with an invitation to join the loop prior to the workshop date. RWA-WF reserves the right to cancel this workshop should fewer than 20 participants sign up for this workshop. Upon a cancellation of this workshop by RWA-WF all registered participants will receive a full refund. Please contact Maggie Marr at maggiemarr AT mac DOT net for more information.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You need to post!

How is it Tuesday already and I haven't posted since last Wednesday? I'm not sure.

I could blame it on the kids. I could blame it on my dear friend Ally and her challenge to me that I write 2k a day for 25 days. I could blame it on the impending arrival of my Mom and MIL. I could even blame it on my self imposed deadline to finish this draft of The Billionaire's Proud Mistress and the newest screenplay by the end of March. But while I'd like to blame my lackadaisical blog writing on any or all of those things...I simply can't.

I mean take for example my agent: Kristin Nelson. She works nearly as hard as I do (please know I write that with a grin and wink there are very few people that work harder than Kristin and I'm certainly not one) and she manages to post daily on her very famous, very witty, and very informative blog Pub Rants.

For goodness sake if Kristin can post daily, why can't I?

Hmm. Good question. So along with every other quest I seem to be on this year... (write more, complain less...exercise more, eat less...go out more, stay at home less...I see a theme emerging) I am going to attempt a minimum of three posts a week.


There. I've written it. Now back to that word challenge....