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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
  There's Magic in the Air!! February 20, 2004  

in this issue

In the News & More

Recipes & Jokes

Book Reviews

For Aspiring Writers

For Screenwriters

For Authors


In the News & More

SHE SOFTENED HANDS WHILE YOU DID DISHES, NOW WE BID HER OUR FONDEST WISHES - We're feeling sadder and a little more chafed than usual today on the passing of Jan Miner, the commercial actress who was best known as Madge the manicurist in the popular Palmolive ads. Miner played the character for 27 years, always singing the praises of the dish washing liquid to the customers who found her soaking her hands in it. She was 86.

Radio Biggies Report Stronger '04 Ad Sales Pace - Two publicly traded companies with significant holdings in radio -- Viacom and Radio One -- reported mixed results in the fourth quarter, but said the tide is turning based on stronger ad sales pacings in 2004.

National Newspapers Report Mixed January Ad Results - Like the other major national print media - consumer magazines and Sunday newspaper supplements - national newspapers continue to report erratic advertising demand. The Big 3 papers - The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, which appeared to be turning the corner as they came out of 2003, entered 2004 on down note.

24/7 Adds 1 More, A Big One - 24/7 Real Media will partner with Microsoft, which will use its ad server for the management and media sales of the Windows Media Ad Partner Program, further establishing 24/7's Web Alliance as one of the most powerful media entities on the Internet.

Same-sex weddings continue in City by the Bay

With either days or weeks to go before a judge could shut down San Francisco's same-sex wedding parade, city officials are keeping their week-old gay marriage program rolling and challenging President Bush to consider the real human beings who are finally being allowed to share the same civil rights that straight couples enjoy. The city reports that 175 same-sex couples were wed Wednesday, for a grand total of more than 2,700 happy couples, as local officials have opted to defend their actions in court rather than stop the wedding march. On Tuesday, Judge James L. Warren effectively gave the city a choice: Stop the weddings now, or return to court in about six weeks to explain why they should be considered legal. Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the city would continue its unprecedented challenge to California's "defense of marriage" act on behalf of gays and lesbians. Also Wednesday, an appellate court declined to intervene in a separate challenge to the city's marriage policy before Friday, when the judge in that case said he would hear more arguments.

As the weddings proceeded with increasingly routine efficiency at San Francisco's City Hall, the impact of the city's act of civil disobedience rippled across the country to Washington, D.C., where President Bush said he is monitoring the situation as he considers whether to support a proposed federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. "I have consistently stated that I'll support a law to protect marriage between a man and a woman," Bush said. "Obviously these events are influencing my decision." Newsom responded to Bush's statement by repeating that California's constitution prohibits him from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. And he urged the president to see the human faces involved in the city's new marriage policy, inviting him to meet the veteran lesbian activists who were the first couple to be wed with the city's blessing February 12. "I ask the president to meet Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin and discuss with them why they simply want the same rights as a couple of 51 years that my wife and I enjoy today," Newsom said in a statement.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Singer Jo Dee Messina's engagement to road manager Don Muzquiz is over.

Messina said the long, on-again, off-again relationship has come to an end.

Manager Stuart Dill of Refugee Management International said the working relationship between the two will continue.

NEW YORK - Rocker Ozzy Osbourne fears may never perform again

Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne said Thursday he fears he may not be able to perform again after an accident on an all-terrain vehicle late last year that left him in a coma for eight days.

Career Differences Causing 'Newlywed' Tension?

Rumors are sparking that America's favorite "Newlyweds" are headed for stormy times. Jessica Simpson's career continues to skyrocket as poor Nick gets pushed aside.

Last week on "Newlyweds," Nick was miffed at Jessica's bigger role on a VH-1 skit, and his role in their public service announcement all but disappeared.


Raising Their Voices

Dozens of men scurry around a suburban Cairo art gallery, carrying out the rapid-fire orders issued by a tall, imposing woman in tight black jeans and a cream cashmere sweater. "Everyone out of the way!" barks director Inas El Degheidi, scanning the set to make sure everything is in place for the next scene in Women in Search of Freedom, her film about the harsh lives of female migrant workers. Even in a cosmopolitan hub like Cairo, most Arab men aren't used to being bossed around by a woman, but El Degheidi's confrontational style does not faze her crew; they "are used to my way by now," she says. So are audiences: the veteran Egyptian filmmaker is known for training her camera on problems that male-dominated Arab society tries to keep under wraps - marital infidelity; the sale of child brides; a legal system that's tougher on women accused of adultery than on men. "Issues need to be brought to the surface," the director says, "to create a healthy social dialogue."

Provocative? You bet. El Degheidi, 45, belongs to a rising generation of Arab women who are challenging the conservatism and sexism of the Middle East, where some 90% of the population is Muslim and females are rarely treated as equals. Across the region, these women are using their growing prominence to push for women's rights, and overcoming real obstacles in the process. In Jordan, Queen Rania is lobbying for a progressive agenda - and riling traditionalists (see profile); in Qatar, Sheika Mouza has become the architect of an educational expansion that's giving women new options. And all over the Arab world, savvy, ambitious, effective women in all fields - politics, business, arts, sport - are helping to claim a larger space for women in the public sphere.


50 First Dates (Columbia Pictures)

Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin, Rob Schneider, Blake Clark Director: Peter Segal

50 First Dates offers viewers a kinder, gentler Adam Sandler. Gone (at least for one movie) is the narcissistic adolescent caught in a perpetual state of arrested development. In his place is a likeable goofball whose rough edges are worn off by a force more effective than sandpaper: falling in love.

Although there are moments that will tickle the bellies of longtime Sandler fans (one of which involves gallons of walrus vomit dripping from an individual of indeterminate sex), 50 First Dates is sweet enough to capture the attention, and perhaps affection, of those who would not ordinarily see a movie headlined by this particular star.

Movies Released Today

Against the Ropes

"Against the Ropes" is inspired by the true story of Jackie Kallen, the most successful female manager in boxing history. Meg Ryan portrays Jackie Kallen, a smart, gutsy woman who wants to break out of a dead- end job as she knows she was meant for more. She gets her chance when she sees Luther Shaw (Epps) in a brawl and knows he's a champion in the raw. Determined to follow her heart, she becomes Luther's boxing manager and convinces him that he can fight his way out of a thug life. Together with veteran trainer Felix Reynolds (Dutton), Jackie and Luther discover they need each other to realize their dreams and take the boxing world by storm.

The Best Two Years (limited)

Four missionaries. Half a world away. The experience of a lifetime.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

Lindsay Lohan stars in a comedy with attitude, "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen". Lola feels her life is simply not worth living when she moves with her family from every single thing on the planet that she loves (read: the Big Apple) and plunked down in the middle of the cultural wasteland that is suburban New Jersey. How will this New York doll ever make it as a Jersey girl?


The people who took audiences on a "Road Trip" and back to "Old School" now invite you on a wild "Eurotrip." Have you ever pressed "Send" on an email and immediately wished you could get it back? Scotty Thomas (Mechlowicz) and his Berlin-based computer pen pal Mieke (Boehrs) have been writing each other for years, sharing every detail of their lives. When Mieke makes a cyber pass at Scotty, he completely freaks out, thinking that this guy he's known for years is coming on to him -in German no less. Too bad the the one detail Scotty doesn't seem to know is that, in Germany, Mieke is a girl's name.

Welcome to Mooseport

The sleepy Maine community has all the accoutrements of idyllic small town life: a little park and gazebo, quaint architecture, a moose that wanders through the streets, and lots of friendly townsfolk, including the proprietor of the local hardware store, Handy Harrison (Romano) and his veterinarian girlfriend Sally (Tierney). Mooseport also just happens to be the vacation home for the leader of the free world: Monroe "Eagle" Cole, the President of the United States (Hackman). Following two successful terms, the wildly popular President is ready to retire to his "Mooseport White House," publish his memoirs and embark on a series of lucrative speaking engagements. "The Eagle Has Landed!" proclaim the Mooseport headlines when Cole arrives in the Maine town, along with his devoted executive secretary Grace Sutherland (Marcia Gay Harden) and young PR director Bullard (Savage).

   Hello, Hello Everyone!

Have you ever step outside your door, take a deep breath and wonder what it is that fate will bring your way - that hour, day, week, or month?

I do, and it never ceases to amaze me!

Wednesday morning I picked up the mail, bunch of junk. From out of the stack one envelope peeked out. I yanked it from the pile ... went inside then opened it.

I sat down as I began to read. Halfway through the letter I jumped out of my chair and screamed so loud that I scared my poor dog!

Immediately I made some calls and upon their advice quickly began contacting the media. Needless to say, it got me a spot in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, as well as follow-ups with channels 4, 5, & 11! It may also get me a spot in the Pittsburgh paper - who knows!

The amazing thing is that I never sent a letter to this person!!!! But the cool thing I found out was that I have fans!!!

Here take a look and see what scared my dog

  • Recipes & Jokes

    Hilarious Answering Machine Messages

    1. A is for academics, B is for beer. One of those reasons is why we're not here, so leave a message.

    2. Please leave a message. However, you have the right to remain silent. Everything you say will be recorded and will be used by us.

    3. Hi. I am probably home. I'm avoiding someone I don't like. Leave me a message, and if I don't call back, it's you.

    4. Hi, I'm not at home right now, but my answering machine is, so you can talk to it instead. Wait for the beep.

    5. If you are a burglar, then we're at home cleaning our weapons right now and can't answer the phone. Otherwise, we probably aren't home and it is safe to leave us a message.

    6.He-lo! This is Santo. If you leave message, I call you soon. If you leave "sexy message," I call you sooner!

    7. Hi! John's answering machine is broken. This is his refrigerator. Please speak very slowly, and I'll stick your message to myself with one of these magnets.

    8. Hello, You are talking to a machine. I am capable of receiving messages. My owners do not need siding, windows, or a hot tub, and their carpets are clean. They give to charities through their office and do not need their pictures taken. If you're still with me, leave your name and number and they will get back to you.

    9. This is not an answering machine. This is a telepathic thought recording device. After the tone, think about your name, your reason for calling and a number where I can reach you, and I'll think about returning your call.

    10. Hi, this is George. I'm sorry I can't answer the phone right now. Leave a message, and then wait by your phone until I call you back.

    11. Hello, you've reached Jim and Sonya. We can't pick up the phone right now, because we're doing something we really enjoy. Sonya likes doing it up and down, and I like doing it left to right, real slowly. So leave a message, and when we're done brushing our teeth, we'll get back to you.

  • Book Reviews

    Title: Welcome to Havana, Seņor Hemingway
    Author: Alfredo Jose Estrada
    Publisher: TurnKey Press; (October 2003)
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    ISBN: 0974700401
    Paperback: 340 pp

    Rating: Highly Recommend

    A literary time machine that will take you to pre- Castro Cuba with a fresh perspective.

    February 18, 2004

    I try to read and review the books that are presented to me within an acceptable timeframe. However, as I read the first words of this novel and proceeded to the conclusion, I did not want to miss one word! I found myself reading and rereading various sections in an attempt to take in every aspect of this book with no exceptions.

    In Seņor Estrada's novel, he begins by painting a diverse and colorful background utilizing culture rich Havana. He assembles a combination of visual and physical necessities that create a backdrop in front of which this novel unfolds. Each character is meticulously developed through the writing and their actions described by our narrator. Once developed, these multi-faceted characters interact with the multi- faceted background to play out the story.

    Enter Harvard educated Javier Lopez Angulo and legendary American writer

    Ernest Hemingway, two of the author's main characters that form a bond after a near miss - with each others' fists. The two form a bond of sorts and Javier leads Ernest "call me Papa" Hemingway through Cuba in a series of interesting events that take place prior to and during the violence that enthralls Cuba as it approaches the prohibition era riddled with social revolution.

    In the author's descriptions, you sit at a small table in the nightclubs Javier and Hemingway frequent. You watch the two of them drinking together, engaged in conversation about the ladies or the fishing - two of Hemingway's many passions. Every so often you witness a patron in the bar challenge Hemingway to a fight, only to be disposed of in a melee that entertains the crowd immensely.

    The two characters cross each other often, either in boxing matches or in matters of the heart. You get the sense that their relationship is evolving from a state of serenity to that of rivalry. Just like the Cuba that they live in during this time, things are going to change and they do. Seņor Estrada will take you on this personal journey in an attempt to discover what caused the rift in the relationship between his grandfather and Hemingway. You unravel this mystery utilizing Estrada's visual artistry in due time but every word from beginning to end will captivate you instantly.

    Add this one to your library, just as I have and revisit it often.

    Seņor Estrada, thank you for the journey!

    Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks


    Title: From the Agency with Love
    Author: John Drake-Moore
    Publisher: Synergy Books (April 2004)
    Genre: Political Thriller
    ISBN: 0974764426
    Hardcover; 345pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Impressive... Better than any Bond movie!

    February 18, 2004

    The overall structure of From the Agency with Love is pure excitement. Driving at a moderate pace, mixing adventure and sexual tension.

    Author John Drake-Moore offers a novel of international intrigue, and hard-boiled as befitting a spy story. Thus the intensity can wax and wane.

    On the high-sea of conspiracy readers will meet many a mysterious character, to name a few: Miss Sheperton, a nurse who secretly works for the bureau. Jonathan Stuyvesant-Smith, cunning, "well-kept" man with many secrets. His wife Madge Steinway who after a tragic accident - wheelchair bound. Kimber, who hails from Haiti and Jonathan's portly old butler. A trans-sexual hooker named April Shower, who meets an under-cover operator codenamed Marvel, not what he appears to be, and together they weave their way through danger.

    Poetic, and beautifully written, the story opens to a humorous gossiping conversation between a group of women on the isle of Capri. But trekking through fashionable hotels and isle's, life for these socialites quickly turns to murder, rapidly descending into the world of international espionage and greed.

    Pick a page, any page, and you'll find trust and betrayal is gracefully woven together with other, more delicate threads. Instantly you'll be submerged in a delightfully intelligent and engaging page-turner. It is completely enthralling.

    While this story is entirely fictional, nevertheless, From the Agency with Love highlights the very real dangers lurking. Such as, the rising importance of security issues, warning signs regarding the risk of conflict and misuse of power. Readers are shown that one should be less complacent and trusting of its government, for all is not what it seems. The backdrop of the book and they are well conveyed.

    The author demonstrates a nuance understanding of the current events shaping today's world. He also acknowledges that actions have long-term consequences. The timing of this book is rather appropriate here in the U.S., at a moment when government officials are attempting to abrogate rights.

    If you enjoy a great spy novel, this book is for you - guaranteed, this is one you will not put down until you reach the end!

    Reviewed by Betsie

    Besides an intriguing family tree, Award- winning author John Drake-Moore is also known for many other works. For more information visit his web site:

  • For Aspiring Writers

    Copyright confusion clarified!

    With the ease of copying information from the Internet, there is a lot of confusion (and misinformation) surrounding the notion of copyright. The following links provide easy-to-understand discussions of the subject.

    Brad Templeton has two very useful copyright articles on his web site. The first is a great introduction to the basics of copyright:

    The other is a great sequel that clears up some common misconceptions:

    The U.S. Copyright Office's web site provides a thorough coverage of copyright issues:

    Finally, here's a useful article on how to word a copyright notice:

  • For Screenwriters

    Screenplay's Wanted


    We are looking for a completed character driven Sci-Fi script, no Fantasy. The story must have a realistic feel, tonally similar to 'Gattaca'.

    Budget range is open

    Both WG and non-WG welcome to submit.

    Please send a logline followed by a synopsis to: Development

    Kinetic Management

    I am looking for a completed conceptual horror script in the vein of 'The Ring' (no slasher type).

    NOTE: As we are a management company we will not consider scripts by writers that are already repped by a manager.

    I am a former development exec for a number of studio- based producers (David Rotman at Fox, Marc Shmuger at Columbia and Lynwood Spinks at Universal) recently turned literary manager/producer.

    WG and non-WG both welcome to submit

    Please email a one-paragraph synopsis (no attachments) to:
    David Baird

    Screenwriting techniques you can apply to your scripts

    In "Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers," there's a scene where Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the "Dead Marshes." There is mist in the air, small fires eerily burn here and there, and Frodo, weak and tired, is spellbound by the dead faces he beholds under the water.

    Their power is almost magnetic -- and he's drawn down into the water. Further down he goes as their spirits reach out to ensnare him. They would pull him to his death of Gollum didn't save him.

    Frodo is suicidal; death is just on the periphery of his thoughts. The dead faces in the water are a "Symbol of a Character's Condition or Change in Condition." They symbolize his suicidal feelings. That's why Sam isn't the one who is drawn to them.

    This particular use of symbols, by the way, is what I call a "Character Deepening Technique," for it gives depth to Frodo's character. In "Beyond Structure" we go over about 30 "Character Deepening Techniques," and look at many film clips which illustrate how they're used.

    Like almost all "Beyond Structure" techniques, this "Character Deepening Technique" usually operates outside the conscious awareness of the audience.

    By the way, the dead faces in the water -- the people who died in a battle with Sauron long ago -- are also another kind of symbol: they foreshadow the large battle to come. And so they're also a "Plot Deepening Technique."

    In fact, the entire scene uses a third symbol as well. The marsh is populated by small fires. Throughout the three films, and especially "The Two Towers," fire is a symbol used repeatedly in association with Sauron and Saruman. Sauron has his volcano and his burning eye on his tower, and Saruman has the fiery forges of his underground foundry.

    Fire is associated with evil, and is a "Symbol of a Concept" -- yet a third kind of symbol. This kind of symbol is also a "Plot Deepening Technique." So when we see Frodo and his followers walking amidst the fires, unconsciously we're reminded that they're walking into the realm of dread and evil.

    Thus, when Gollum says, "Careful now! Or hobbits go down to join the dead ones, and light little candles of their own." -- his words have emotional resonance because he's not just saying that Frodo and Sam might die, but his words unconsciously evoke Sauron and Saruman.

    The scene does more than "deepen" Frodo and the plot; it moves the story forward. This shows how the idea isn't to "pause the story" to stick in some techniques, but to use them as the story advances.

  • For Authors

    Are we losing the desire to write well?

    British polling company ICM Research recently conducted a survey on behalf of MSN. They found that around two-thirds of the two thousand 18-24 year olds surveyed cared not at all about punctuation, spelling and grammar when composing e-mail.

    This overly casual attitude to e-mail seems to be quite widespread - and not just among 18-24 year olds. Much of the e-mail I receive (from both friends and business colleagues) is poorly written. Now this may be defensible in personal correspondence, but sloppy writing has no place in business.

    Remember, you are judged by the way you write. In a face-to-face meeting, you will be judged on your looks, height, clothing, perceived wealth, accent, class and a whole host of other features. While we tell our children not to judge a book by its cover, the reality is that we do exactly that every day of our lives.

    When reading a piece of correspondence from someone you have not met face-to-face, though, none of these factors are present. You have only one thing with which to form an impression of them - their writing.

    So, in this twenty-first century world of increasingly faceless communication, your writing is more important than ever. I say again: you are judged by the way you write, so write well.

  • Marketing

    15-Minute Marketing

    Do you think you don't have enough time to market? Here's a solution that can help you get started on marketing, or any other task you've been putting off.

    Promise yourself you will spend 15 uninterrupted minutes working on one aspect of marketing. Edit the copy for your brochure. Update your email signature file. Make some phone calls. Revise a web page. Send a letter. Post a message to an email list. Or identify a media outlet and send your most recent press release to them.

    You'll be amazed by what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes. Think you can't get anything done in that short time? How long does it take to clean your house? How long does it take if your mother-in-law will be there in 15 minutes? I rest my case!

    Set a timer (so you don't watch the clock) and focus on your task for 15 minutes. Don't answer the phone or get distracted by anything else. When the timer goes off, you can stop. Of course, if you are on a roll, you might want to keep going for a little longer, but don't keep at it for so long that you lose focus.

    There is nothing magic about 15 minutes. Make it 20 or 30 minutes, if you wish. Just commit to spending that time intently working on the task at hand.

    By the way, this technique can work for anything else you've been putting off.

    The Magic Touch

    When people see you in the media, you become familiar, even famous! And it gives you credibility. When you are written about in the newspaper, or interviewed on TV or radio, you are news; and that's better than any advertising you can buy.

    So how do you make yourself memorable and stand out from the crowd?

    Professional speaker Tom Britton has a magical secret to capturing the attention of audiences. He uses his skills as an award-winning magician to deliver powerful information in an exciting and entertaining way. Audiences respond both to his message and the unique way it is presented.

    Minnie Pearl had her hat, Steve Martin his banjo . . . entertainers have long understood the importance of having a "hook"--something that makes them stand out from the rest. It is just as important for speakers, sales people, professionals, entrepreneurs, managers-- anyone in business--to have a hook that makes them memorable.

    How do you demonstrate uniqueness? Perhaps an article of clothing (wearing purple, or large glasses, or a Panama hat), your personality style, a trademark saying (all the network anchors go for that), a logo, or a signature gift (the cookie lady). Create a "handle." Use a physical feature that makes you stand out, such as bright red hair.

    Your hook can make you stand out and help people remember you. The rest is up to you. Tom Britton's hook of incorporating magic into his presentations helps him get attention, but he wouldn't be as successful as he is if he wasn't also a great speaker. Once you've hooked them, you've got to reel them in by delivering great results.

    Getting media coverage isn't hard. Send enough press releases to the right media, and you will get publicity. However, some of the best publicity successes may come when you're not even trying.

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