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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
  Christmas is just around the corner, give the gift of reading!

December 12, 2003

in this issue

In the News & More

Recipes & Jokes

Author Spotlight - Book Reviews

Children's - Book Reviews

For Aspiring Writers

For Screenwriters

For Authors & Autograph seekers

In the News & More

2 Million American Children Have Their Own Websites

According to data recently released from "Children, Families and the Internet," a survey by Grunwald Associates, more than 2 million American children ages 6 -17 have their own personal websites. This figure represents fully 10 percent of the 23 million kids who have Internet access from home today -- a threefold increase since 2000. Four in ten children online from home say they either have or plan to build their own sites. With the majority of kid site planners saying they'll build within the next year or sooner, the researchers project that more than 6 million American children, more than one in four of kids online from home, will have their own personal websites by 2005.

Abercrombie & Fitch Caves In

After being blasted by everyone from CNBC anchors and analysts to family groups, retailer Abercrombie & Fitch said on Tuesday that it has "retired" its racy in-store catalog. CBS News' "60 Minutes" profiled the company's hiring practices last Sunday. As I mentioned last week, Abercrombie is the subject of two racial discrimination lawsuits regarding its hiring practices.

Ad campaigns launched this week

Nissan names its newest car. Allstate takes a stand. Chicago Tribune showcases its editorial staff.'s

Far from being the dot-gone that we all thought it was after the crash of 2001, it looks like advertising spending by dot-coms is actually on the rise for the first time since the end of the boom.

Ben Silverman is the founder/publisher of soon-to-be- relaunched and a business news columnist for The New York Post.

Don't expect Time Warner Cable to get too far into pricing wars when it comes to broadband. At an investors' conference Tuesday afternoon in New York City, Time Warner Cable Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said that there are no plans to drastically cut the prices on its broadband service. While that doesn't mean that it won't engage in some special discounting or temporary offers, Britt said Time Warner Cable wasn't going to go for an overall price cut.


Love Don't Cost a Thing

Of all the 1980s teen comedies available to re-make, why did Troy Beyer select Can't Buy Me Love? The low- rent, John Hughes-inspired 1987 original has its adherents, but most of them like the movie not because it's a good film (which it isn't), but because it's so easy to mock. Can't Buy Me Love is a great film to laugh at (not with), and, watched in the right company, can be a fun experience. In updating and re- making it into a 2003 hip-hop morality play/comedy, Beyer and company (including original screenwriter Michael Swerdlick, who returned to help pen the new version) have eliminated Can't Buy Me Love's campy innocence and replaced it with an underlying sense of sleaze. The result is an atrociously unfunny, unromantic, and unpleasant product.

For those who care about such things, Love Don't Cost a Thing has a moral: be true to yourself. It may be presented in an inelegant, preachy manner, but it's there. Parents might applaud this message, but they won't be as thrilled with the underlying one: if you're a hard-working, nerdy high school student, the only way to get booty is to pay for it. The filmmakers may not have had that in mind when they put the movie together, but that's the lesson more viewers are likely to take to heart.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring is the first feature for director Peter Webber. Most freshman filmmakers don't come close to Webber's level of accomplishment, and (not to take anything away from him) some of the credit must certainly be parceled out to the cast and the cinematographer, Eduardo Serra. Girl with a Pearl Earring offers sumptuous visuals and compelling drama effectively intermingled in a pleasing, satisfying production. The director has crafted the film with great care, composing each frame like a painting with respect to color, light, camera placement, and texture. Girl with a Pearl Earring could be silent and it would still be an amazing achievement.

Johansson's sublime performance is ably supported by those of her better-known co-stars. Colin Firth gives us a brooding, dour Vermeer who only shows passion while painting (imagine Mr. Darcy with long hair). Judy Parfitt is her usual excellent, acid-tongued self. Tom Wilkinson gives himself to debauched abandon. And Essie Davis plays her part as a grown-up spoiled brat to the hilt. We have come to anticipate top-notch acting in British productions, and our expectations are not disappointed here. Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of those films that does many things right, and that places it among the year's best period pieces. It's a cut above the usual BBC costume drama.


"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (This is the one I'm waiting for!)

directed by Peter Jackson. Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom. The classic story continues as Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and the rest of the gang are back. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will present the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle- earth. "Return of the King" rivals "Matrix" as one of the most anticipated follow-ups of all time and is sure to be a worthy follow up to its predecessors. December 17

"Mona Lisa Smile"

directed by Mike Newell. Starring: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, Topher Grace, Marcia Gay Harden. Set at an all-girls college in 1953, Roberts stars as a free-spirited art history professor who opens the eyes of a group of young girls. Analysts are saying there may be another Oscar in store for Julia for this so-called "Dead Poets Society" for women. December 19

Media Contacts

CNN's "Paula Zahn Now"

* CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" is structured around Zahn's interests, from politics to family issues, and features interviews, both taped and live, with interesting on-the news guests, from such luminaries as President George Bush to late-night host Conan O'Brien. The senior executive producer is Jim Miller, at their new studios at the Time Life Bldg. Reach Miller at CNN, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, (212) 522-2761. Other new producers will come aboard soon.

Business Talk Radio Network's "Biz Soup"

* "Biz Soup" is a weekend radio show which is heard over 100 stations on the Business Talk Radio Network. The show, with host John DeBevoise, is heard from 8 to 10 PM ET on Saturdays. The thrust of the show is to help people with small businesses or home offices. The show has interviews with tax experts, marketing experts, patent attorneys, entrepreneurs, off-beat people, and includes information about new technology products Suggestions should go to John DeBevoise, who is also the producer, Bizness Soup Media Group, 37215 E. Benton Rd., Temecula, CA 92592, (909) 453-2673; E-mail:

* has launched a new section devoted to business opportunities made possible by the merger of information technology and imaging applications. Information should go to Penelope Patsuris, (212) 366- 8836; E-mail:


Wychwood Produtions (Simon West)
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

Yak Yak Pictures (Mimi Leder)
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 138
Burbank, CA 91522
818-954-1614 fax

Yorktown Prods., Inc. (Norman Jewison)
3000 W. Olympic Blvd. Bldg 2, Ste 2465
Santa Monica, CA 90404
310-264-4167 fax

Zanuck Co., The (Richard & Lili Fini Zanuck)
9465 Wilshire Blvd., Ste 930
Bevelry Hills, CA 90212
310-273-9217 fax


Greetings Everyone!


If any of you have linked to your review/interview on the old site, you may want to visit the new site and update the url as the old site will be dismantled by the end of next week.

Sharing experience:

Last weekend I had 2 booksigning's scheduled. Saturday went without a hitch. Sunday on the other hand.... in the first thirty minutes I sold 1 book and was being hit on by an old man (60's?). I was polite, listening to what he had to say, but my brain was busily talking "shoo, shoo go away your blocking the customers!"

Needless to say Waldenbook employees were having a laugh. The lonely man finally gave up after about 15 minutes and my signing continued. *whew!

On another note: After several phone call discussions I realized that "hollywood" wants my book, but want to push out the writer. So I called my manager and she wasn't surprised, and said "don't you dare sign anything away. Hold your ground - they want that book!" Well duuuh! Like I'm giving my hard work away? Presently we're waiting on the greenlight from the toughest analyst they have to offer. Hmmm maybe I should hit them over the head? Stars can be green, can't they? Wish me luck!

  • Recipes & Jokes


    This is a Mexican version of coleslaw. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator.


    1 cup vegetable oil
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1-1/4 cups sugar
    2T. celery seeds
    3 lbs cabbage, chopped
    1 green pepper, chopped
    2 white onins, finely chopped
    1T. salt
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

    In a saucepan heat the oil, vinegar, sugar and celery seeds until mixture boils and the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes.

    Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables. Let satnd for at least 2 hours before serving.


    Confusing The Border Guards

    While crossing the US-Mexican border on his bicycle, the man was stopped by a guard who pointed to two sacks the man had on his shoulders. "What's in the bags?", asked the guard.

    "Sand," said the cyclist.

    "Get them off - we'll take a look," said the guard.

    The Cyclist did as he was told, emptied the bags, and proving they contained nothing but sand, reloaded the bags, put them on his shoulders and continued across the border.

    Two weeks later, the same thing happened. Again the guard demanded to see the two bags, which again contained nothing but sand. This went on every week for six months, until one day the cyclist with the sand bags failed to appear.

    A few days later, the guard happened to meet the cyclist downtown. "Say friend, you sure had us crazy", said the guard. "We knew you were smuggling something across the border. I won't say a word - but what is it you were smuggling?"


  • Author Spotlight - Book Reviews

    Title: If I Perish
    Author: Deborah R. Turner
    ISBN: 1591295246
    Publisher: PublishAmerica
    Genre/Market: Historical Fiction
    Publication Date: 2002
    Book Length: 290 pages
    Price: $24.95
    Trade Paperback



    If I Perish is the rare book that transports the reader to another place and time. From the moment you pick the up this book, you are immersed in the world of ancient Persia. The people on the pages of the book not only come alive, but the reader is also there, reveling in the sensory delights provided by the author.

    The story begins when the young girl who will become Queen Esther is living in the Jewish quarter of town. She is a beauty even before she turns thirteen years old, living under the protective and loving care of her uncle Mordecai who has taken care of her since the death of her parents. She is called Hadassah as a Jewish girl and grows up sure that she will one day marry her best friend's brother, Reuben. But fate has other plans in store for Esther. For after King Xerxes has allowed his queen, Vashti, unprecedented power and influence in his court, his princely advisors are none to happy about a woman having so much say in matters of state. They plot to get rid of her and manage to get her banished, but the king mourns her absence. The princes come up with the idea to have a beauty contest throughout the land to find the most beautiful girl who will then become the King's new bride. While this is transpiring, King Xerxes has begun fall under the influence of Haman, a rug merchant, who appears to be wise and loyal to the King. Xerxes, who is often much too trusting, soon elevates Haman to a position of power which eventually leads him to become Prime Minister.

    Reviewd by Nancy Rechtman

    To read the complete review & interview click here

  • Children's - Book Reviews

    M is for Manners

    Title: Abbey & Friends M is for Manners
    Publisher: Hexagon Blue; (August 1, 2003)
    Author: Mary Jesse
    Illustrated by: Jennifer Cherif
    Genre: Chilren's/Educational Hardcover
    ISBN: 0972995803


    Delightfully entertaining!

    M Is For Manners tells of Abbey (a third grader) and her family, as they go to dinner at Sarah's house. This is a wonderful book, which can be used to teach children positive behaviors, no matter what the circumstance. The beautiful illustrations will surely entertain, this whimsical story appeal to children of all ages.

    I highly recommended this enchanting book as an addition for any school, reading group, community library. Although I would like to see this as required reading for pre-school.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    To learn more about the author or purchase a copyclick here

  • For Aspiring Writers


    The writer never creates out of nothing. While many writers begin the process with research, along the way, most writers will rely on their memory of stories, feelings, and experiences to shade their work and make it accessible to others.

    Remembering often begins with memories of childhood. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke said that memories and dreams are inexhaustable resources for the writer.

    Remembering is a creative act. When you're able to bring an experience to life through a script or novel, the audience/reader understands its authenticity. If you made it ring true, they'll live it, feel it, sense it.

    Part of your creative work is sharpening your powers of memory: to hear the sounds, to evoke the mood, to remember the pain. Thomas Wolfe calls it "making a living out of the substances of one's own life."

  • For Screenwriters

    Storytelling Without Dialog

    It's very easy for writers to slip into too much talking. Any time you can have something happen with very little dialog all the better. Also try to keep in mind that a spec script is nothing like a novel. If there's any description of smell and ambiance it's a couple of quick sentences and then only if it's critical to understand what's going on. Don't spend a five line paragraph describing the knick knacks on the shelves in the den. Don't mention the knick knacks period unless there's a great reason like a secret formula is hidden inside one.

    A spec script is a very lean animal that is all about visual action. Even in a character driven romantic script a character can reveal himself with action and not words. Imagine a husband who climbs out of the bed, goes and sleeps on the sofa in the living room when his wife pulls the blanket off of him as she turns her back. That tells us a lot about the guy, right? Let's see what we know....He'd rather avoid the confrontation by just leaving the room. Why? Well, we don't know yet, but we'd like to. How can we find out more? What if when he went in the other room, he also took two alarm clocks? Then, besides setting both of these for 4:00 A.M. he also set his watch too. Now, we know that he has to get up tomorrow morning really early.

    Now, back to the wife. If we see her smiling ear to ear as she hears her poor husband out in the living room we know some more about her. How about if in the middle of the night, she slips out of bed, sneaks into the living room, unplugs all the alarm clocks and drops the watch in the fish tank? We have a pretty good idea what kind of person she is despite her not uttering a word.

    If you want a good writing exercise try and write a ten page story without any dialog. Always strive to make your scripts as visual as possible and avoid the "talking head" label. If you don't think that development people won't label your script "a talking head" script that should be a play faster than you can say "New York minute", then you're in a dream world because that's one of the first things they're looking for to take you out of the running. Once you've written your ten pages without dialog go back in and place a few bits of strategic dialog. I'd be surprised if you didn't then find yourself with a very strong 11 or 12 pages.

  • For Authors & Autograph seekers


    I've been contacted numerous times in regards to press releases. Let me again explain what it is:

    A press release is a subtle piece of advertorial: a combination of advertisement and editorial content. We all know the point of advertising is to bring attention to a product, service and cause and turn the reader (watcher,listener, etc.) into a consumer, voter, volunteer or contributor. A press release is in one sense an advertisement, but in this case your audience is the media.You're selling them an idea instead of a product though. So knowing that, consider your audience.

    Last week I sent out the first "For Immediate Release" that is what a press release should look like. Use it as an example... fill it in with YOUR information. I have also posted an example on our site, copy and follow the instructions. If you have problems feel free to send mail.


    KNOW WHICH CELEBRITY YOU'D LIKE TO CONTACT? Then choose from any of these television production companies.

    Twentieth Century Fox Television
    10201 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    Angel, Chicago Hop, Judging Amy, Simpsons, X-Files

    Universal Studios Network Programming
    100 Universal City Plaza
    Universal City, CA 91608
    Just Shoot Me, Steve Harvey Show

    Warner Bros. Television
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, CA 91522
    Drew Carey Show, ER, Friends, Jamie Foxx, Jess, Norm, Suddenly Susan

    Worldwide Pants Inc.
    1697 Broadway
    New York, NY 10019
    The Late, Late Show w/ Craig Kilborn, Late Show w/ David Letterman



    Philadelphia Inquirer, 400 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130; 215-854-5615; Fax: 215-854-5099. Email: Web: Frank Wilson, Books Editor. Ann Waldron, Children's Books. Richard Fuller, Thrillers. Sandy Bauers, Audios; 610-701-7635; Email: Carlin Romano, Book Critic; 215-854-5615; Email:

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Boulevard of the Allies (15222), P O Box 566, Pittsburgh PA 15230; 412-263- 1601; Fax: 412-391-8452. Bob Hoover, Editor.

    Portland Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR 97201-9911; 503-221-8150; 877-238-8221; Fax: 503- 294-4193. Web: Jeff Baker, Book Critic, 503-221-8165.

    Providence Journal-Bulletin, 75 Fountain Street, Providence, RI 02902; 401-277-7000; Fax: 401-277- 7346. Doug Riggs, Book Editor.

    Rocky Mountain News, 400 W Colfax Avenue, Denver CO 80204; 303-892-5000; Fax: 303-892-5001. Patti Thorn, Books Editor; 303-892-5419. Email: Web:


    Here's the winner of this month's Betsie's Literary Page Contest

    WE HAD A TIE!!!

    Frank Mazur
    SPINE points at the public school. You know the characters, each a hot American topic: dangerous students, teachers of various ilk, parents, schoolboards, a minister seeking influence. A press release may couple with my selection as columnist with daily Herald-Leader (previously a Finalist) and/or possible publication of "Lowering the Motivational Bar" in Newsweek.

    Patricia Nelson
    I wrote a romantic comedy titled 'Cool Spring.'
    The reading audience it was intended for likes it.
    If a movie producer read it he would like it.
    I don't know any movie producers.
    The videotape I sent in auditioning for 'Survivor' didn't even make the first cut, so I could use some good news right about now.

    If both contestants would please send us a copy of your press release, include reviews (complete), and any other information you'd like to provide.

    For the rest, do not despair! The contest begins anew on January 5, 2004 and deadline for entries is January 15, 2004. So gather your thoughts and ready your entries.


    Copyright by Betsie, 2003
    All contents of this email are for the use of Betsie's Literary Page subscribers and may not be reproduced in any way and/or posted on websites without prior express written permission. If you would like to have friends or associates receive our emails, rather than forwarding this, please have them subscribe.

    Thank You for reading, see you next week!

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