Friday, July 31, 2009

Discounting Greatness

In April, 2007, the Washington Post published Pearls Before Breakfast, Gene Weingarten's article on what happened when a world-class violinist plays in a public place and is perceived as a street musician.

The internationally revered virtuoso Joshua Bell -- handsome, charming, and prodigiously gifted -- was the performer. Bell, whose playing Interview magazine once said did "nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live." Bell, who provided the lovely music on The Red Violin, and whose talents enable him to command over $1,000 a minute.

Bell didn't play some second-rate fiddle. No-- he played his nearly 300-year old Stradivarius. And he didn't play 5 easy pieces. He played technically challenging masterworks by The Greats.

The article on Bell won Weingarten the Pulitzer.

And the public's reaction to the Master playing among them is a telling (and chilling) illustration of how readily people discount beauty and greatness when we meet it face to face.

Writers often bemoan how difficult it is to get published... read... represented...

"Not true," editors, agents, and publishers would have us believe. "We recognize true talent when we see it."

The reality is, most creative artists are bound to encounter dismissive rejection at some point in their lives. It's easier for people to say "No," than to say, "Yes." If you're writing because you hope for the accolades that accompany a bestseller, you are most likely doomed to disappointment.

Our job as writers is not to give up. To keep on keeping on. To continue to create the things that move us, and inspire us, and make life worth living. Regardless of who recognizes our talents.

Writing Updates

My daughter is spending the week with her grandparents. I'm hoping to be able to immerse myself in my Novel Project, because--

The Projects are done!

Yes, it's true. All loose ends are, for the moment, tied neatly in bows.

Ryan's manuscript is in his hands, awaiting his comments, changes, and suggestions. The photography for that project still awaits scheduling and shooting, but odds are that won't happen in the next week...

The Marathon Man script is in the hands of a possible producer who is discussing the project with Paul.

The Marathon Man book proposal is under consideration to a wonderful agent whom I would love to work with again, and who I have afforded a month-long exclusive to the project. The only thing I can do is cross a few fingers that she likes it well enough to push it aggressively and find a publisher who agrees on its merits.

Which leaves me with a very clear desk. Oh, it's true, there are PR things to do, FaceBook Page learning curves to master, promotional things to undertake for the Marathon Man book and film. But this week is blissfully free. I think I hear my novel calling me...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Surprise Me!

One of the best things you can do as a writer is to keep your reader guessing. Guessing readers turn pages to see if their suspicions are correct. Readers who have all the answers spoonfed to them close the book, turn out the light, and go to sleep. Then, it's anyone's guess as to whether the book will ever see the light of day again...

Last night, at the Novel Writing Practicum, I suggested that writers think of their narrative as a game:
• Too predictable = too easy. Reader grows bored and stops.
• Too unpredictable = impossible to win. Reader grows frustrated and stops.
• Establish the playing field & the rules early.
• Adhere to the rules you set.

Part of establishing the "playing field" involves clearly placing your book in a particular, recognizable genre. Another aspect of the "rules" has to do with the decisions you make about things like reality and narration (First or third person? Omniscient or narrow? Biased or objective?).

The readers’ fun is in thinking they know more than you.
Your fun is in surprising the readers AND keeping them turning pages.

The writer's toolkit of surprises includes such gems as:
• Narrative sleight of hand and misdirection.

• Unexpected emotions or actions. (Think Scarlett in "Gone with the Wind." Any vulnerability comes a a surprise, which brings added depth to the moment.)

• Reveal of previously hidden information.

• Characters acting in ways contrary to their nature. (In a wonderful scene in Being Julia, the main character -- a diva -- goes out of her way during practice to allow the ingenue to shine. The entire scene is memorable because it includes one surprise after another. What makes it even more effective is when the diva allows her true nature to shine -- in a scene that is also rife with surprises.)

• Previously introduced but now forgotten element takes center stage.

• Unexpected alliances or feuds.

• “One fact short of understanding.” (Excellently played out in thrillers -- Shattered (or "Butterfly on a Wheel") and The Illusionist are two films that use this method very well.

“Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.” Billy Wilder gave his mentor Ernst Lubitsch credit for emphasizing surprise in the game of storytelling.

It should come as no surprise, however, that the more you engage your readers and give them a puzzle they can sink their teeth into, the sooner they'll come back to you for more!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Those Who Can, Do -- Part 2

or, "The Ellen Tweet"

Earlier this month, I wrote about the great work that horsemen and dog lovers Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta are doing to rescue unwanted and abused dogs. I was honored to work with Danny and Ron as part of my involvement with the USHJA Trainer Certification Program. The ASPCA has recognized their efforts. And literally thousands of mistreated and abandoned animals have found new homes, thanks to them.

(If you can read the story of Oogy on their site without tearing up, I'm not sure I want to ever meet you...)

Now,Ellen Degeneres has taken note of what Ron and Danny are doing. These days, who knows? A single "tweet" from a dynamo like Ellen (whom I just love...) might be enough to encourage hundreds -- or thousands -- of people to get involved in rescuing, fostering, or adopting an animal that, up to now, has led a life of misery.

Think about it.

In this media saturated world, it's easy for we writers to wonder if words have the power to truly move people anymore. But sometimes it only takes 140 characters to make a difference. They can bump people out of their comfort zone, challenge complacency, and provide the impetus for action.

So often I hear people tell me that their dream is to write a bestselling book or celebrity crush-starring screenplay. But when I inquire as to the progress of their pet project, too often, all they can talk about are the obstacles they have allowed to get in their way. It is always easier NOT to do a thing.

Those who can, do. Even if it's uncomfortable, or difficult, or inconvenient. Books don't write themselves. Movies don't film themselves. Abused animals and children can't save themselves. From the creative process to humanitarian efforts, in order for anything to exist, someone must first do something.

Of course it's easier to watch TV than to write a screenplay. It's easier to read a book than to create a story. It's easier to "tsk" sadly when we see mistreatment than to get our hands dirty and remedy the situation. But think of the great works of art and literature, not to mention the countless lives that "ease" has cost our world.

I look at River, once unloved, who is now an integral part of our family. She adores us all, especially my daughter, who plays with her and reads her stories for hours on end. It would have probably been easier to get a dog I didn't have to explain to people. But we would have missed out on so much: her eternal energy, happiness, and love of life infuse the entire house.

So: kudos to Ron and Danny... and to Ellen... and to everyone reading this who feels the Muse inspire them to do something. Here's to worthwhile endeavors that make life such a ride!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stop Making Sense!

For the past several weeks, I have been gamely trying to determine the unfathomable influences that caused one of my best friends to commit to a train wreck of a life choice. If I can just figure out what is motivating her, I reasoned,maybe her decision will somehow make more sense...

The fact that I couldn't come up with ANYTHING that would explain the inexplicable bothered me terribly.

Inexplicably poor decisions are the hallmark of bad writing. Watch any dodgy horror flick, and you'll see ample evidence of this.

"Scary bad things are happening... I think I'll go to the basement, unarmed and alone," some young thing thinks -- and you just know that character's about to meet a Bad End. It's the movie world's IQ tax for stupidity. Rarely does any person in the audience care about the Horrible End about to be visited on the actor-wannabe because -- let's face it -- everyone knows that no one in real life would be so dumb.

I spend a great deal of time thinking about a character's motivation. I want to make sure that, no matter how stupid a decision may seem, I can defend it in light of a character's core. Granted, sometimes I watch a movie or read a book and realize that I work way too hard on this issue... Still, I reason that everything has reason.

And then real life proves me wrong.

The always interesting and entertaining Alex Papadimoulis is a gallows-humor master when it comes to commenting on the wild and wacky underworld of computer programming, IT, and other geek-speak things.

In his latest article, Mr. Papadimoulis explores the Real Life scenario that presented itself when a company's CTO declared that technical support should never be necessary. If the client had a problem, this mental giant reasoned, that problem clearly arose from incomplete or improper documentation.

Among other things, the mandate resulted in the following report:

ISSUE #88274
Client Issue:
"Has ANY person in your company ever Looked at or tryed to READ any maniual man u all something like thet that it's funney even after 7 years I still LAUGH any way some people like Ta know I mean Ya know!"

Problem Point:
We failed to provide the client with a version of their manual in garbled, unpunctuated non-english.

Improvement Goal:
Many companies miss the garbled, unpunctuated non-english market segment completely, and we should not be one of them. It's important to remember that for every client that understands "Click the 'submit' button to save your changes", there's another that only understands "klik tHe summit butt on two SAVE yer changez ya know ya know".


Which just goes to prove, I suppose, that not only is Truth stranger than Fiction, but it is also stupider.

Now, I'm not suggesting that writers completely disregard the importance of realistic motivation when it comes to creating characters. I am, however, positing that perhaps a readily recognizable, connect-the-dots progression from decision to deed is not always available. Real life is messier than that. Sometimes it's ok if a character's motives are as murky as a Real Person's. Heaven knows it'll certainly keep the reader guessing...

Project Updates

The manuscript for Ryan's book, complete with suggested photo and illustration requirements, should be finished by this time tomorrow.

The Marathon Man screenplay goes out to two key interested parties this evening (very exciting).

The sample chapter for the Marathon Man book proposal awaits commentary from the subject of the book. He's currently out on a speaking engagement, but I expect to hear from him by Monday. With any luck, the proposal will wend its way to the agent who has expressed interest in it by the end of the month.

This will free me up to work on my own things, most notably the novel I've been picking away at in my free time. Perhaps I should re-examine my characters within it. I suspect they may all make too much sense...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Going Live

The United States Hunter Jumper Association Trainer Certification Program is now officially accepting applications. What a great group of people they were to work with! I was honored to be involved in the project and to have the opportunity work with so many giants in the hunter / jumper world during its creation.

It's always bittersweet when a major project gets published or goes live. Most of my work on the phase of the USHJA TCP that just rolled out at the end of June was finished over a year ago. The phase that has yet to be presented to the public occupied much of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the graphics, design, and layout people still worked around the clock to get the project done on deadline.

The project in question was equivalent in scope to several books. It took two years of my time... It had been in development for years before I came on board. It is something of which I am very proud to have been able to make my meager contribution.

But there is no time to sit on one's laurels or to pat on the back those involved in the project's completion. I'm under contract to work on other writing projects. Shelley Campf, the astoundingly capable TCP Committee Chair, and Melanie Fransen, the tireless USHJA Director of Programs & Education, have multiple irons in their respective fires -- as do the scores of trainers and other experts who worked to make the project a reality.

And so a project goes live... or a film gets released... or a book is in print -- and it happens on a day that goes on like any other day.

Fortunately, it is not the end product that motivates us writers. Rather, it is the challenges and the joys of creation that drive us to our keyboards every day. Yes, it can be gratifying to hold a book in my hand and know that I had something to do with its existence. But, in many ways, it is the actual wrestling with the words on the page when the ideas are alive and new -- fresh but not fully formed -- that is most rewarding.

Right now, Ryan's manuscript is in the editing phase. I am currently waging war with the words, forcing each one to convince me that it deserves to stay. Most are putting up solid arguments. Some, however, are revealing themselves for impostors and space-wasters. These must go.

This is the stage at which a project is most real to me. Sometimes during the writing phase, the book or screenplay is amorphous and unformed. It doesn't yet exist. After the edit, it is out of my hands -- like a child that has left home and ventured into the world on its own.

So, while we work on our Next Great Thing, the rest of the world awaits our Latest and Greatest. All we can do is our best, and hope that the work we've put into a project now, during its creation, shows up then, during its consumption... Whenever that might be.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Praise of Bad Decisions

or, "The Taming of the Shrewd"

We all know them: good people, friends even, who seem hell-bent on living their lives from one train wreck to another. We look at the choices they make and shake our heads in disbelief, wondering Is it just the writer in me that sees this for the tragedy it really is?

I find it fascinating that some people willingly choose to put themselves in real-life situations that I would hesitate to inflict upon my characters. And every time I wonder why on earth a real person committed to some clearly ill-advised course of action, I realize that I do the characters that exist only in my imagination no favors if I allow them to lead stable, comfortable lives.

This thought struck me last night as I re-watched "The Taming of the Shrew," one of four solidly interesting re-imaginings of the Shakespearean cannon in the BBC's Shakespeare Retold. In real life, I tend to wish more people would make shrewd, solid, logical decisions that would enrich their lives and enhance their stability. However, in my reading and movie-watching, I prefer Those Who Choose Badly. They make far better entertainment.

Now, I am not suggesting for a moment that a writer should look to befriend the sorriest people imaginable in order to shamelessly plagiarize and then publicize their unfortunate decision-making. I am, however, advocating, taking a hard look at characters and imbuing them with complicated, complex, and -- at times -- downright contrary motivations.

Tonight, the Novel Writing Practicum is going to focus on Character Development. Participants are to bring a chapter or segment of writing no more than 10 pages long, and we will workshop it with regards to the characters involved.

Some of the questions I encourage my students to ask when analyzing a character include:

• What drives this character? How is it evidenced?
• What distinguishes this character from everyone else?
• What makes this character interesting? How can this be improved?
• What makes this character worthwhile? How can this be strengthened?
• What makes this character complex? How can this be made more interesting?
• What are this character’s flaws? How can they pose even more challenges?
• How can the character be more proactive?
• What is this character’s passion? How can this be better focused?
• Why does the character behave this way?

I then suggest a list of questions to apply to the character in action in a particular sequence, scene, or chapter. One of them is:

What else could happen here that would take this character further out of his or her comfort zone and make things even more interesting?

I have to admit, though I hate it when the real people that I love and care about make deplorable decisions, it's kind of fun to play God and see what sorts of situations I can inflict upon those who are at the whim of my words...

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Clean Well-Lighted Place

This Tuesday, July 14, beginning at 6:00, the newly formed Novel Writing Practicum will meet at Isabella's Tapas Bistro (formerly the "Hacienda") in Benton Harbor.

I thought I'd try this location before the Practicum became too entrenched in a way of doing things. If it works, it could be a good thing -- Isabella's has good food at reasonable prices, so people won't have to miss supper to attend the Practicum. Also, because Isabella's doesn't have the space issues that my writing loft does, there may be no need to limit the number of participants in the Practicum.

In any case, it will be worth a try.

This week, we'll be working on Character Creation. Participants are encouraged to bring 4 copies of one chapter (up to 10 pages) and workshop it with regard to the characters that people it. We'll explore different filters to apply to our writing, in order to bump the characters off the page and into our readers' minds.

It promises to be an interesting, challenging, and stimulating evening. (Writers who wish to join us should contact me for details.) Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Casting the Hook

or, But "N.W.P" Doesn't Mean Anything...

Last night was the first meeting of the Novel Writing Practicum (NWP) I am facilitating at the Muse Ink Writing Loft. I hope there will be many more like it.

We focused on the "hook" -- the thing that grabs readers by the throat and forces them to turn the page and keep reading. As literary agent Chip MacGregor recently informed attendees at the American Christian Writer's Conference in Grand Rapids, he can tell in 30 seconds or less whether or not a writer can write, whether or not that writer has a unique "voice," and whether or not he wants to spend any more time with that writer's submission.

(Incidentally, Chip's blog is practically a must-read for anyone hoping to get an agent or to get published. It's full of great information AND he invites readers to send him their publishing industry questions, which he then actually takes the time to answer. If you ever wanted to ask a working agent something, it's an excellent resource.)

Back to hooks...

Since hooks are so important to a work, the first meeting of every month is going to be dedicated to focusing on them and improving them. Hooks aren't just for introducing the book, remember. Every chapter needs one to keep the reader turning pages.

We read the opening paragraphs of current fiction and non-fiction bestsellers (including "Twilight," "Dead Dark," "Horse Soldiers," "My Sister's Keeper," and others), discussed what hooks really worked, and analyzed both how and why they worked. It is amazing how quickly the authors got to the point of getting the reader's attention. All did it within the first 200 words.

Interestingly, the one hook that flat-out DIDN'T work for any of us is a number one bestseller -- and the latest installment of a very long series. We all agreed that it was sophomoric and overwritten. It would have never passed muster as a first work. It just goes to show how important an established readership is to an author's continued success.

Participants then read the opening paragraphs of their current projects, and we analyzed them solely for their "hook" value. A rule of the NWP is that trashing is patently not allowed. But neither is saying that something is "perfect."

"But what if it is perfect?" someone might ask.

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it...

I believe that every participant received targeted, valuable feedback. Every writer heard specific suggestions for how to hook her readers faster, and make them want to find out more. All of the suggestions were framed in such a way that held the original work in high regard.

We went a bit over time (First night. Lots of "new business" to attend to and explanations of How This Will Work. It was to be expected.), but I believe it was productive. Though I didn't workshop the hook from my novel, after going through the process with the others, I believe I can be as tough on the material as I need to be. I can already see the flaws -- which I couldn't see at this time yesterday. Better yet, I know how to fix them.

If you're a writer, I challenge you to engage in a little "Hook Homework" yourself:

* Read the first page of 5 or 6 current bestsellers in a row. Ideally, read them out loud.
* Write down what does and does not work for you.
* Analyze what the writer is doing to force you, the reader, to turn the page and commit to reading more.
* Read the first three or four paragraphs of your current project.
* Subject it to the same analysis. If you realize that the "exciting part" hasn't happened yet, skip to where it does happen, read it, and find a way to make it part of the hook.

Remember -- if you don't hook the readers and make them keep reading, all of your brilliant writing later on will go unread. Words require readers' eyes to dust them off and keep them alive!

In Other News

I have been asked to conduct another month-long Writer's Workshop similar to the one I did in June at the Coloma Library. We're currently discussing dates and times. It would be great to do so -- the venue is close enough that it wouldn't require air travel or hotel stays: it's a possibility packed with plusses!

Poor Cassandra was looking forward to playing in the park last night while I conducted the N.W.P. Unfortunately, she got sick at the last minute and spent the evening wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Poor kid. I felt terrible about having to leave her at home while I went to the Practicum.

The Marathon Man screenplay keeps not being done. Every day for the past week, Paul and I have said, "this is the last day." And every day we're wrong. It's close... very close. And it's good (thank heaven). But it's not yet done. Perhaps today will be the day I can do the Happy Dance that accompanies the completion of every project.

The Sample Chapter of the Marathon Man's book proposal also continues to evade completion. At this point, it's overburdened with too many words. I must be even more merciless in my role as Editor and Chief Word Executioner.

Finally, I've been toying with thoughts of entering the 3-Day Novel Writing Contest held every year over Labor Day. I have an idea I've been shelving that would lend itself well to such an endeavor. At the very least, it would kick my butt and force me to spend three days wrestling with the project. At the end of the weekend, I'd know for sure whether or not the idea was worth dedicating any more time to...

That does it! I've talked myself into it...

Wait: Create a novel in 72-hours? What am I thinking?!

Monday, July 06, 2009

In Praise of Readers

Too often, writers forget that they have a dual audience. While it is true that we must write the things that move us, it is also true that we owe our readers our best.

In the past, I have worked with clients who came perilously close to forgetting this tenet. Ah, but the public is not clueless. And the moment a writer begins to think of the readers with distain (about the same time that writer begins to describe him- or herself with superlatives), the pact a writer makes to the reader has been broken.

My favorite moment in any movie is when the screen goes completely black just before the film begins. It is fraught with promise and possibility. Likewise, my favorite moment in any new book is sitting down with it and opening the cover. I am full of anticipation, and I hope the story will move me. I want the words to affect me. I want the book to become an all-time favorite.

Don't delude yourself: words don't make great writers. Readers do. Consider the amazing event that occurs when a writer's words leap off the page, engage the mind, and force a reader to consider the bold new possibilities presented by a new arrangement of 26 innocuous letters and a few punctuation marks!

No wonder we become fans of people who can craft words that affect us! Being a writer is akin to a sacred trust. When writers begin to think that their thoughts are all that matters, those writers allow pride to blind them to their readers.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that writers should lower their standards and write schlock in an effort to be all things to all people. But every writer should consider the reader a beacon of light on the creative landscape. The reader should inform every word, every turn of phrase, and every edit -- and the thought of one's readers should constantly encourage the writer to push the limits to deliver his or her very best work.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Those Who Can, Do...

"I would love to write a book. Maybe someday (when I'm out of school / the kids are in school / out of school / out of the house / when I'm retired...) I will."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard those words. They're usually uttered when someone hears what I do for a living, and then feels compelled to launch into the reasons why they could do what I do, if it weren't for this pesky thing called "life" getting in their way...

It should come as no surprise to learn that I have very little patience for people who are full of excuses for why they don't do what they say they want to. I am much more interested in those who actually follow through with things that they set their minds to...

When I was working on the USHJA's Trainer's Certification Program, I had the great honor of interviewing many of today's truly GREAT horsemen and horsewomen: George Morris, Frank Madden, Karen Golding, and Danny Robertshaw, among others. These people have contributed in a significant way to their chosen sport and have enriched the world with their talents and dedication.

In my experience, it is the busy people who always find the time to get things accomplished.

Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, for instance, in addition to their work in the horse world, tirelessly advocate for animal adoption and an end to animal cruelty. Their efforts have been instrumental in placing nearly 1700 dogs, have been featured in the book Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives they Transform, and have been recognized by the ASPCA. To raise money and awareness for their cause, Ryan Beckett is cycling coast-to-coast this month.

Now, Ryan is a realtor for Palm Beach Polo Realty. The name of the firm doesn't immediately conjure up images of abused animals. One would argue that someone like Mr. Beckett could easily go through life without having to come into contact with any of the gritty reality that most unwanted or neglected animals deal with every day. I think there is something noble about someone who works in the rarified atmosphere of Palm Beach to put his life on hold to cycle across the country -- over 3100 miles -- for such a charity.

You can track Ryan's progress online. If you like, donate to the cause -- I'm sure Ryan, Danny, and Ron would be thrilled. And then, if you're not already immersed in something worthwhile, I challenge you to begin. Those who can, DO. We only go around once. There is no time like the present to do what moves you.

Here's to whatever it is that you decide to DO!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Stupid is as Stupid Does"

or, Not As Incompetent As I Feared...

I thought the time was right to put a new wrinkle in my brain. With so many writing projects in the works, so many people contacting me with writing-related concerns, and so many writers asking questions about the protocol of using social networking to promote their writing, I felt that the only thing to do was develop a professional "Page" on FaceBook.

I reasoned that I would endure the learning curve and then use the FB Professional Page to communicate with those interested in writing and in my ongoing projects without annoying my personal "friends" with work-related updates.

So, I spent some time creating a barely-ready-for-people-to-see FaceBook Page. Since it was so easy to have this blog automatically import to my personal page, I figured it would be a proverbial piece of cake to do the same with my Pro Page...

But I couldn't figure out how to do it.

Techno-Geek that I am NOT, I wrestled with the problem. I tried every setting, clicked on every "help" button, fiddled with the templates for both the blog and for FB. I tried to remember how I'd gotten the personal page to do the import, and got increasingly upset with my stupidity. Reasoning that eventually even the blind pig finds an acorn, I kept picking away at it for the past TWO DAYS.

So it was with twin emotional waves of both vindication and utter incredulity that I discovered the following post on a FB Help Forum:

"I have a personal page - and then I have a page that I am an admin for - I want to import our blog posts into the notes of the page I am the admin for, but it seems my only option is my personal page?"

This was posted a month ago, with at least two others chiming in that they had the same problem. No answer has (as yet) been provided.

This all just goes to show that Winston Groom was right when he had Forrest Gump's mom tell him "Stupid is as stupid does."

Though I may have been initially elated to discover that I wasn't quite as incompetent as I had feared, the fact that I wasted significant portions of two days of my working life trying to figure out how to do something that those geekier than I cannot do doesn't say much about my relative IQ...

In Other News...

My co-writer Paul and I spent most of the day re-writing and polishing the Marathon Man script. Thanks to a community theater group's roundtable reading of the screenplay last weekend, we discovered that a major character could be whittled down to nearly nothing, and the story would thrive without him.

So, we pulled out all of his scenes, distilled the essence of what we wanted him to accomplish, and re-inserted him into the story -- a stronger character, though one with significantly reduced screen time.

Listening to the recording of the actors reading the script is an interesting exercise in humiliation. (Did I actually write that? What on earth was I thinking? No one would actually say those words out loud...) I now understand a little bit of why many actors don't like to watch their own performances. I have discovered that I REALLY don't like to hear a lot of my scenes read. They sound SO different than I "hear" them.

We have another roundtable reading scheduled with a different group of actors in Sonoma at the beginning of next month. All are completely unfamiliar with this project and will be reading it cold. With any luck, we'll have the lines polished to where they sound they same in real life as they do in my head...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It's Official

I discovered today that pre-orders are already possible for Ryan's book. This is mildly concerning since it's not yet finished. Ah, but it will be. It will be. Soon.

Last night was the final class of the Writer's Workshop. Twenty people attended. It was quite bittersweet -- it's been a great group of people to work with: dedicated, driven, and interesting.

So many are interested in pursuing their writing dreams and improving their manuscripts that I am going to be holding an ongoing Novel Writing Practicum: a roundtable reading group limited to only 8 members. It will exist for the sole purpose of helping members polish their work and get it into publishable form. I'm really excited about it. Looking forward to continuing my work with some of these students.

Last night we discussed marketing and promotion. It's the sort of thing that always gives me a reality check because I know I could be doing more on that front myself. (Having a mother who drills the lessons of humility, modesty, and the evils of blowing one's horn is a great thing -- until the day one realizes that one must engage in some Shameless Self-Promotion if one wants to feed her family.)

So, because I know how important it is to DO and not just to SAY, I bit the bullet today and created a FaceBook page for the "writer" me, as opposed to the "person" me. Hoping this allows me to keep business and personal things separate without adding extra upkeep time to my day.

The important thing, I always say, is to know what you're talking about before you tell others how to do a thing. Social networking is the future of marketing. Just ask my friend and author Trudy Morgan-Cole.

Trudy's latest book, By the Rivers of Brooklyn, made the Top 10 of her online Canadian bookseller after she used FaceBook and other networking tools to coordinate a successful online book launch. (I like to take credit for suggesting the thing. But Trudy gets all the kudos for actually putting it together and seeing it through.)

So... it's official: Ryan's book WILL be finished soon. And I officially exist as a "Writer" on FaceBook. Now I just need to fine tune how to use all the tools at my disposal... Further bulletins as events warrant.