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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter )
  November 15, 2003
 
in this issue


  • In the News
  • Cooking - South of the Border
  • Author Spotlight
  • Children's Books
  • Upcoming Movies and Reviews
  • For Screenwriters -AVOIDING SURPRISE
  • For Aspiring Writers -WRITING COMEDY
  • For Authors - Using Sound Bite
  • Production Companies and More


  • Greetings Everyone!

    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 SCREENWRITING COMPETITION

    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 November 20.

    This year's recipients are (listed alphabetically by script title):

    "Augmentation;" Andrea R. Herman; Roswell, Georgia
    "Linda and Henry;" Tejal K. Desai and Brian C. Wray; Middletown, Connecticut and Brooklyn, New York, respectively
    "Revival;" Annie Reid; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    "Season of the Witch;" Bragi Schut Jr.; Los Angeles, California
    "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 Senate.

    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 that back?


    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 unusual.

    Ingredients:

    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

    Garnish:

    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.


    Author Spotlight


    The Holy Land by Robert Zubrin
    ISBN: 0-9741443-0-4
    Publisher: Polaris Books (September 3, 2003)
    Genre: Science Fiction
    Paperback: 304 pages
    Price: $14.95

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    11/11/03

    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 engaged in.

    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
    ISBN: 1-4137-0375-5
    Publisher: Publish America (October 20, 2003)
    Genre: Biographies and Memoirs/Inspirational
    Paperback: 59 pp
    Price: $12.95

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    11/12/03

    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
    ***


    Children's Books


    Squeaky Squirrel

    By Susan k. Droney
    Illustrated by Gail Balga
    Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
    Price: $4.95 download / $9.95 CD

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    11/9/03

    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

    "Gothika"
    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


    REVIEWS

    "LOVE ACTUALLY"
    (2003) (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth) (R)

    Romantic Comedy: Various couples and others deal with love and relationships in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

    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.


    "ELF"
    (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 box office.



    For Screenwriters -AVOIDING SURPRISE


    AVOIDING SURPRISE OBSTACLES THAT HAVEN'T BEEN PLANTED EARLIER

    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 the story.

    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


    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 money-maker.

    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 similar.

    Comedy is a subjective art that no one can or should have all the answers. If they did, comedy would cease to exist.

    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 of humor.

    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, and compellingly.

    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 seconds.


    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


    EXAMPLES:

    1) I'm the James Bond for the new millenium. I make computers secure, detect break-ins, and restore lost data.

    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 offensive.


    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 summer blockbuster!


    PRODUCTION COMPANIES

    Manhattan Project Ltd., The
    1775 Broadway, Ste 410
    New York, NY 10019-1903
    212-258-2541
    212-258-2546 fax

    Oxygen Media
    75 Ninth Ave.
    New York, NY 10011
    212-651-2000
    212-651-2099 fax

    Shoelace Productions, Inc. (Julia Roberts)
    16 W. 19th St. 12th Fl.
    New York, NY 10011
    212-243-2900
    212-243-2973 fax



    INDEPENDENT

    ARCHLIGHT PICTURES
    1201/39 McLaren St.
    North Sydney 2060
    Australia
    (61-2) 9955-8825

    BLUE RIDER PICTURES
    2800 28th Street, Suite 105
    Santa Monica, CA 90405 U.S.A.
    310-314-8246
    Fax: 310-581-4352
    www.blueriderpictures.com

    DOUBLE TREE ENTERTAINMENT
    9606 Santa Monica Blvd., 3rd Floor
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210
    310-859-6644
    Fax: 310-859-6650


    TELEVISION

    David E. Kelley Prods.
    1600 Rosecrans Ave. Bldg 4B
    Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
    310-727-2200
    Ally McBeal, The Practice
    Exec. Prod: David E. Kelley, CoExProd: Jonathan Pontell

    HBO Prods
    1100 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036
    212-512-1000

    StudiosUSA TV
    8800 Sunset Blvd.
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    310-360-2300
    DC, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael


    ************

    We welcome and appreciate forwarding of our newsletters in their entirety or in part with proper attribution. (c) Betsie's Literary Page 2003


    Quick Links...

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