Well I believe we've covered quite a bit in this issue --
well except the sale going on over at JCPenny's LOL
But for everyone's sake, please keep in mind that these
articles are only one person's opinion, thought,
expression, and not to be taken as law.
There are no set rules when it comes to writing and
each person will develop their own style in due time.
These articles are only to help and guide.
On another note --- please, please DO NOT send me
your loglines and pitches. I include contact information
for a reason. We here at Betsie's Literary Page do book/
movie reviews, press releases and distribution. We
attempt to bring the latest news and scoops to our
readers and writers, nothing more.
We don't produce films nor can we sell them for you. So
its unfortunate to say -- you're barking up the wrong
tree. But who knows one day we may just have an
angle on that ^_^
Now onto the real meat of this newsletter!
In the News
WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR ACADEMY'S 2003 NICHOLL
Six new screenwriters, two of whom wrote
collaboratively, have been selected as recipients of the
2003 Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting,
presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences. Each writer or writing team will receive the
first installment of the prestigious fellowship's $30,000
prize money at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on
This year's recipients are (listed alphabetically by script
"Augmentation;" Andrea R. Herman; Roswell,
"Linda and Henry;" Tejal K. Desai and Brian C. Wray;
Middletown, Connecticut and Brooklyn, New York,
"Revival;" Annie Reid; Vancouver, British Columbia,
"Season of the Witch;" Bragi Schut Jr.; Los Angeles,
"Trucker;" James N. Mottern; Los Angeles
This year marked the first time that a script written by
a team earned its writers a fellowship; collaborative
efforts were first allowed into the competition in 2001.
The program began in 1985.
Should the Internet be taxed?
That's the question facing the Senate this week, as it
debates whether it should extend a ban on state and
local taxes on Internet connections. The Senate last
week postponed a vote to extend the ban, which had
been enacted in 1998 and expired Nov. 1. The House of
Representatives has already approved a ban, and the
White House has made it clear it would like to see the
ban restored. But there are a few sticking points in the
One of the issues is whether the Internet is special
enough to make it tax- free. In a year when state and
local governments are so bereft that they could use
new sources of revenue, should they be forbidden to
tax connections like AOL and NetZero?
The argument for lifting the ban has to do with
precedent, and not just because states need quick
cash. In 1998, broadband hadn't popped yet. Most still
dialed up to get online, with telephone connections
already being subjected to tax. And the Internet wasn't
anywhere near the penetration it is today. You could
make the argument that Internet penetration has
spread faster without taxes than it would have with
them, although that's not the most compelling reason to
keep the Internet tax-free. Telephone and cable TV
have grown just fine under taxation. Consumers find it
useful and the technology grew, regardless of taxation.
There's the problem. Why should the Internet get a free
pass from state and local taxes? It's certainly not on
training wheels anymore. Why should dial- up and
broadband connections escape taxes but not DSL or
handheld wireless, as some have suggested?
While no one likes paying taxes, just about everyone
sees the value. The fiscal crises that state and local
governments are facing make it reasonable to start
looking at alternatives. Just as corporations are finding
through the last downturn, there's only so much cutting
that can be done before core operations, and the ability
to grow, are compromised. It's not government's role to
run a profit, but more revenue will have to come in if it
is to come closer to balancing the budget.
After so many government tax breaks, is it time for the
Internet - and those of us who use it - to give some of
||Cooking - South of the Border
Since corn is the staple of Mexico, I have to include a
corn soup recipe. This one is very delicious and a bit
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2T. chopped cilantro
1/2 onion, chopped
2 chiles poblano, roasted & peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup tomatillos, cooked
4-1/2 cups corn kernels
5 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup green peas
3 large lettuce leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
tortilla strips, crisp-fried
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onion
and garlic about 5 min. In a blender, puree the
tomatillos until smooth. Add to the saucepan. Cook over
high heat about 4 min.
In a bowl, combine the corn, 2 cups of chicken broth,
peas, cilantro, chiles and lettuce. Bit by bit, puree in
blender until smooth and ass to the pan. Cook about 5
min. Then add the remaining broth and salt. Simmer the
soup until slightly thickened, about 20 min.
When serving, garnish with sour cream and tortilla strips.
The Holy Land by Robert Zubrin
Publisher: Polaris Books (September 3, 2003)
Genre: Science Fiction
Paperback: 304 pages
Rating: Highly Recommended
A thought-provoking political satire regarding the state
of the Middle East as well as a look at the sometimes
perceived "holy war" that the United States is currently
Imagine if you would a place where there is no
separation of church and state. Imagine also that in
that place young children are martyred - in exchange
for a "handsome cash bonus, guaranteed, within 10
business days of the event." Imagine now a place
where the sound of a blaring siren fills the air as the
inhabitants of that place drop to their knees and chant
in the direction of a place perceived as "the Holy
Land." Now I must ask you to imagine that this place
is - the United States of America!
This is a story primarily about two peoples, the
inhabitants of Kennewick, Washington and the
Minervans. The Kennewickians are earthlings that
simply reside in or come from Kennewick and the
Minervans are "refugees" from a distant planet who
claim that Kennewick is their ancient homeland - and
they want it back!
In this struggle, both sides are equally repulsive in many
ways to each other. The Politicians from the United
States, who are driven by greed and media image,
cannot defeat the Minervans through forceful military
means, mainly because the Minervans are telepaths and
are well aware of the soldiers thoughts as they engage
in combat. Therefore they use the Kennewickians as
pawns in this despicable "chess game". The American
politicians send the Kennewickians off to a refugee
camp to make the Minervans feel remorse for what they
are doing. They also send in children as martyrs, again
to make the Minervans feel bad.
The Minervans hail from the Central Galactic Empire -
which is part of a conglomerate of planets organized to
monitor and sometimes regulate the activities of their
subjects, with the liberal Western Galactic Empire in the
lead role. The Western Galactic Empire, although they
are technically advanced and able to control the
thoughts and actions of the Kennewickians, ultimately
controls the Minervans. They too become pawns in this
battle for Kennewick.
As the two political battles are waged, enter our two
main characters. Sergeant Andrew Hamilton, a POW
from a failed attempt to defeat the Minervans and
Priestess 3rd Class Aurora, she is the Minervan who
captured this Army Ranger to keep as a "study
specimen" with the hopes of making him "human".
Can these two individuals stop the decay that
threatens the galaxy? Well, the ending will definitely
surprise you and the journey from the first page to the
last will be enjoyable. This book captivated me and
took my thought process to a higher level. Robert
Zubrin's book should find a place at the top of
your "Must Read" list. Written in a way that can satisfy
a multitude of genres, target audiences and age
groups, "The Holy Land" has something for every one.
Reviewed by Tyrone Banks
Tasting The White Water by Jack Daley
Publisher: Publish America (October 20, 2003)
Genre: Biographies and Memoirs/Inspirational
Paperback: 59 pp
Rating: Highly Recommended
An unpredictable journey through life towards a higher
understanding of "self".
Mr. Daley shares with us his innermost thoughts and
dreams to describe his journey to awaken from the
slumber that we call life. A student of Henry Miller,
Castaneda, Gurdjieff, and Krishnmurti for over forty
years, Mr. Daley has written, "Tasting the White Water"
as both a biography as well as an inspirational story.
Like many of us, Mr. Daley takes part in many of the
same struggles that we face today. He has a family
and the normal obligations that we are all charged
with. However, Mr. Daley feels that something is
missing and that he has not reached his full potential.
He documents his dreams in this book and tries to
attach some type of value to them during the course of
his day. At times he is overcome by a feeling that he
has lost control and that he is not prepared, as his
dreams switch from one scene to another. There are so
many parts of his inner-self that crave attention as well
as outside factors that need to be addressed.
He and his friend Alex take up white water rafting in this
stage of his life as a means of recapturing their youth
and they discover a natural and legal high. At first,
they feel their way down the rapids with little skill and
some success. However, as the book progresses Mr.
Daley conquers his fears and insecurities as he battles
fearlessly through the rapids, and he begins to awaken
from his life and reach towards his true potential. It is
as if the worries of his life have vanished to be replaced
by a true appreciation of life itself. Time has stopped,
material things began to sloth away as every beam of
sunlight and every part of God's creation teaches Mr.
Daley about his inner-self and how he has evolved
based on his experiences and dreams.
He acknowledges the fact that we are who we make
ourselves to be. Nothing in life is totally out of control,
as it is perceived. If you tackle a series of problems in
the same manner that you tackle the powerful current
as you navigate through vicious rapids, you can achieve
success. Sometimes you have to "roll with the
punches" and prepare yourself physically and mentally
for the unpredictable that fate and destiny assign to
us. Perhaps that was not his entire message, but Mr.
Daley's inspiration has awakened a part of my psyche to
believe that this is what it means to me. I had some
trouble placing the genre primarily because this book
can mean so many positive things in so many ways.
The imagery is vivid and you may find yourself gasping
or holding your breath as you ride the rapids with Mr.
Daley. He is a true artist well verse in the use of words
and descriptions to take you to the places that he has
been and to travel down the river that he has
conquered. "Tasting the White Water" is a remarkable
piece of literature free from any "fluff" or necessaries.
Every word in this book and every scenario offered ties
into his central theme that man is still truly asleep in his
potential. To awaken we must first realize that we are
asleep and then we are prepared to take the next step.
Reviewed by Tyrone Banks
We do apologize, as we are having server problems this
week and are unable to display interviews or reviews on
our site. We wil include them as soon as the problem
has been resolved. Thanks for reading
By Susan k. Droney
Illustrated by Gail Balga
Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
Price: $4.95 download / $9.95 CD
Rating: Highly Recommended
This is a wonderful children's tale about a little squirrel
named Squeaky who's older brother Sam leaves home to
start a family of his own. This causes Squeaky to
reflect that Sam is only a year older than him and that
he may have to leave the nest soon too.
Squeaky is very self-conscious about his voice,
although he likes the new squirrel at his school, Sally.
Until a chance meeting causes them to become fast
friends, when he realizes she likes him for who he is.
Author S. Droney teaches children through this story
not to rely on peer opinions and to like yourself for who
you are, regardless of what you think your shortcomings
may be. It also teaches children that change isn't
always bad and can be a good thing.
The illustrator did a fine job in bringing the story to life
with very colorful, and vivid pictures. Whether being
read to by a parent or reading alone, children of all ages
would benefit from this delightful tale.
Reviewed by Betsie
||Upcoming Movies and Reviews
"In the Cut"
directed by Jane Campion. Starring: Meg Ryan, Mark
Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon. The
acclaimed director of "The Piano" directs this
provocative and sexually charged story of a literature
professor (Ryan) whose chance involvement in a murder
case leads to an erotic affair with the detective on the
case (Ruffalo). October 22 Limited
directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. Starring: Halle Berry,
Penelope Cruz, Robert Downey Jr., Charles S. Dutton.
Berry plays Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist who wakes up
as a patient in her own hospital, accused of murdering
her husband. Cruz plays a fellow inmate and Downey Jr.
plays a colleague in this horror/thriller produced by Joel
Silver and Robert Zemeckis, scheduled in time for the
Halloween rush. October 24
"Scary Movie 3"
directed by David Zucker. Starring: Anna Faris, Regina
Hall, Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Jenny McCarthy,
Leslie Nielsen, Queen Latifah. The third chapter in the
spoof series highlights a new round of parodies including
send-ups of "Signs", "The Ring" and "The Others",
among others. October 24
(2003) (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth) (R)
Romantic Comedy: Various couples and others deal with
love and relationships in the weeks leading up to
I suppose one could consider Love Actually as a holiday
motion picture, since there's a heavy dose of
Christmastime atmosphere. However, the movie isn't so
intimately wed to the time of year that it can't exist
without it (and viewers who sit down to watch it in the
middle of summer won't find themselves longing for
December). This is one of those times when a film's
goodwill allows critics and viewers alike to overlook its
most egregious flaws and enjoy it for what it's trying to
be. This is Curtis' first outing behind a camera, but
many potential movie-goers will be familiar with his work
as a screenwriter, which includes Bridget Jones' Diary,
Notting Hill, Four Weddings and Funeral, and The Tall
Guy (as well as the "Mr. Bean" and "Blackadder" TV
series). Love Actually fits very well into that group, and
anyone who has enjoyed Curtis' past projects will
probably like his latest one.
"THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS"
(2003) (Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne) (R)
Sci-fi: Various human freedom fighters prepare to make
one last stand against their former, machine-based
oppressors while their leader contends with an
increasingly powerful and dangerous agent who's
escaped the Matrix with the intent of killing him.
This was a tough one, being a Matrix fan.
When The Matrix Revolutions works, it does so as eye
candy. Although the first hour drags because of the
pontificating about choice and fate (none of the
speeches offer anything new), the second hour zips by.
The battle sequences may not be as involving as those
in, say, Star Wars, but they are done with enough
technical savvy to retain the attention of most viewers.
And those who are on hand just to see a big-budget
special effects extravaganza will be satisfied. Anyone
hoping to experience the blend of science fiction,
philosophy, and edgy action that characterized the
previous two movies will be disappointed. Nevertheless,
for completists who need to find out how it ends, The
Matrix Revolutions provides answers (although not
necessarily to all questions) and doesn't cop out when
it comes to the final resolution.
(2003) (Will Ferrell, James Caan) (PG)
Comedy: Raised as an over-sized elf, a human travels
from the North Pole to NYC to meet his biological father
who doesn't know he exists and is in desperate need of
some Christmas spirit.
To the extent -- it's kid-friendly. But the movie's appeal
is limited, and, in the end, just about the only thing Elf
has going for it is the time of year when it's being
released. For those who are desperate to take their kids
to a holiday-themed flick, pickings are slim, and that's
probably the only reason Elf won't sink like a rock at the
||For Screenwriters -AVOIDING SURPRISE
AVOIDING SURPRISE OBSTACLES THAT HAVEN'T BEEN
I've recently worked on two scripts that each contained
a scene sequence where a principal character was
bitten by a snake and almost died. The problem in both
of these screenplays is that the snakebite was a faulty
device to create tension and drama.
If you have a story, which is about a protagonist who is
fighting his way through a desert or a jungle where the
protagonist's "big problem" is overcoming the difficult
journey with all of the natural obstacles, then snakebite
is a wonderful device. It's expected and it belongs in
Let's suppose you have a character drama that is about
a rotten father who beats the protagonist and wants to
destroy his romantic relationship so that he never
leaves the nest. Now, unless you've planted early on
that there are poisonous snakes on the farm and it's an
ever-present threat, a sudden snakebite that threatens
the protagonist's life or anyone he loves is a weak way
to create dramatic tension.
Your dramatic tension should be a natural result of the
opposing forces of the protagonist and the antagonist.
Again, if the antagonist is "mother nature" in the jungle,
snakebite is a good logical obstacle. Otherwise, your
dramatic conflict needs to come from elsewhere. If you
want to have a scene sequence where the protagonist's
fiancée ends up in the hospital and almost dies, create
a situation that derives from the natural conflict.
In this case, perhaps the antagonist (the evil father)
loosens the brakes of the protagonist's (the good son)
car, thinking that the son would have a collision, but
instead the fiancée comes over and borrows the car.
Now, you've got a ton of gripping scenes as the viewer
is worried that the fiancée may crash and then some
further riveting scenes as the fiancée does have a
harrowing action filled drive which results in a crash.
Now, you can have the drama of her being on death's
bed in the hospital and the drama of the son's immense
grief which perhaps is enough to make the son realize
that he loves this girl more than anything and that he
must decide to stand up to his father.
||For Aspiring Writers -WRITING COMEDY
Humor is a comodity in constant demand because it is
tremendously popular. If you study most fields of
entertainment you'll discover that comedy is the big
COMEDY CHANGES CONSTANTLY
Not all of us can write varying forms of comedy. "The
Saturday Night Live" writers were quoted as saying that
they were tired of old writers who couldn't deliver fresh
comedy, even though 3 of the writers were in their 20's!
Their premise is valid. Every new style of comedy
demands new writers who specialize in it, and modern
alterations in style open the door for new breeds.
COMEDY IS NOT RECYCLABLE
Comedy material is used up at an alarming rate. Once
it's on the airwaves, it's gone. In fact, not only specific
jokes and premise are lost, but other jokes that are too
Comedy is a subjective art that no one can or should
have all the answers. If they did, comedy would cease
Build your skills -- write, read and listen
Inspiration= Listening to other humorists can be a
stimulus to get you to your typewriter. The big-time
comics can add something intangible to your work.
When it comes to the actual writing of comedy, three
skills become paramount:
Recognizing relationships and ironies
Visualiztion and imagery
Facility with words
Most comedy is a combination of two or more ideas: it's
relationship of these ideas that generates the humor.
Most jokes are pictures. That is to say, with words we
create an image in the listener's mind. The distortion or
the ridiculousness of that image generates the humor.
That's why puns have the reputation as the lowest form
Words have a playfulness all their own. For the most
part, words are the medium we use to convey our witty
creations. You can misuse phrases so that their
meaning is conveyed -just about. The word-play of
substituting also produces an image. There is hardly any
word you can think of that doesn't have at least one
other meaning -- most have several.
It's easy to categorize these skills and list them
seperately, but in practice they are intertwined: in the
creative process you employ them all as one.
Now go watch some Comedy Central!
||For Authors - Using Sound Bite
Do you "get the word" out regularly using multiple
advertising and promotional vehicles? We're talking
about advertising and promotions as a key part of your
Marketing. If not --don't waste your time and money
implementing advertising and promotional initiatives for
which you have no intention of following up on.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF WITH A SOUND BITE
Like it or not, we live in a world of Sound Bites. These
days, no one has time to listen to the full story. People
want a synopsis, a digest, a capsule of information
delivered in a few seconds that is easy to swallow and
switches on their mental light bulb.
So if you get an opening, you better make it good! You
better be ready to say what you mean quickly, clearly,
You must be able to deliver your sound bite -- your
message that tells people who you are, what you do,
and how your book or product can help them -- in less
than thirty seconds!
For television or radio cut it down to ten or fifteen
ABC's of Sound Bite
Your sound bite must be a grabber, a memorable
message that makes listeners want to buy your
product, champion your causes, and fight your wars. If
it's short and gets the intended target attention, it
buys you more time to sell. It must be interesting
enough to attract immediate attention, powerful enough
to be remembered, and convincing enough to stir
overloaded listeners into action.
1) who you are
2) what you represent
3) why you make a difference
1) I'm the James Bond for the new millenium. I make
computers secure, detect break-ins, and restore lost
2) I'm a ghost writer. I'll turn your experiences,
adventures and ideas into books.
Get the picture?
Most people aren't accustomed to promoting
themselves. So when it comes to blow their own horns,
they don't know what to say, and what they do say is
either understated and ineffective or overstated and
Be creative. Determine which of your unique qualities
can make you a star or what features of your book or
service are novel or groundbreaking.
In our celebrity-obssessed society, the media
desperately seeks new faces. It loves to splash their
names in headlines, tell the world their stories, and ride
their coattails to fortune and fame.
Write a sound bite that will captivate the media, show
them your star potential, and make them want to move
mountains to advance your career.
||Production Companies and More
Keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to have
a script to submit to these companies. Pitch them your
book -- who knows yours might just be the next
Manhattan Project Ltd., The
1775 Broadway, Ste 410
New York, NY 10019-1903
75 Ninth Ave.
New York, NY 10011
Shoelace Productions, Inc. (Julia Roberts)
16 W. 19th St. 12th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
1201/39 McLaren St.
North Sydney 2060
BLUE RIDER PICTURES
2800 28th Street, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90405 U.S.A.
DOUBLE TREE ENTERTAINMENT
9606 Santa Monica Blvd., 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
David E. Kelley Prods.
1600 Rosecrans Ave. Bldg 4B
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Ally McBeal, The Practice
Exec. Prod: David E. Kelley, CoExProd: Jonathan Pontell
1100 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
8800 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
DC, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,
Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael
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newsletters in their entirety or in part with proper
attribution. (c) Betsie's Literary Page 2003