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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
  SPRING IS IN THE AIR! March 26, 2004  

in this issue

In the News- & More

Recipes and Jokes

Book Reviews

How to get on Radio

For Aspiring Authors

For Screenwriters

For Novelists and More

In the News- & More

Multiple press reports are circulating (again) about the potential spin-off or sale of Time Warner's America Online division. These reports seem to ebb and flow driven by multiple factors---rumors swirling in the investment banking community, Time Warner earnings reports, the uphill slog for AOL in converting dial-up subscribers to broadband, ongoing federal probes into allegations of improper accounting, and the list goes on and on.

Jon Miller, AOL's chief executive officer, is set to brief Time Warner board members on the division next month. A few published reports indicate that Microsoft Corp. has been talking to Time Warner about AOL for several months with regard to a potential tie-up.

CHEESE WIZZES -- We always thought the radio medium was ripe for a major food category campaign, but there's just something about all that sight- sound-and-motion hype pushed by the TV folks that has kept radio from getting a fair slice of the pie, or, as you are about to learn, from a wheel of cheese. The J. Brown Agency has won the "Grand Winner Best of Campaigns" at the radio industry's annual Mercury Awards for its trade advertising campaign promoting "the power of cheese." But the power the agency has really demonstrated is the ability of great advertising to break through the limitations of any medium.

Summiting in Redmond - Not even a hardcore hit by European Union regulators could dampen the spirits of marketers, agency executives, and the MSN folks gathered last night for a cocktail reception kicking off the MSN Customer Summit.

The EU's action was more than a slap, to be sure. Microsoft was ordered to pay a $606 million fine (497 euros) for violating antitrust law. Further, the EU ordered the software giant to sell a version of its Windows software without Windows Media Player to ensure that other companies have the opportunity to compete. The EU sanctions appear to go farther than the U.S. Justice Department's 2001 ruling. The MSN Customer Summit attracted more than 500 clients from around the world representing some $50 billion in total ad spending---that's everyone from Ford, Procter & Gamble, and Adidas, to Nestle, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard, not to mention up-and-comer Vonage, the buzz about voice-over-IP service provider. Nearly 80 percent of the attendees were director level or above at their companies. And guess what? There were even some offline/traditional media folks there. I know, it's a shocker.

Youth Media and Marketing Networks Hits One Million Subscribers - The College Publisher subsidiary of Youth Media and Marketing Networks has passed the one-million-subscriber mark for its network of more than 250 online college newspapers. The network includes six of the top ten largest universities in the U.S., and counts papers from Ohio State University, Syracuse University, the University of Texas and Notre Dame University among its members.

According to a company press release, many college newspapers boast more online readers than print ones. "During a time when Generation Y newspaper readership is supposedly on the decline, this marks a significant milestone in the digital media market," said YMMN chief executive officer and co-founder John Fees. "College Publisher's one millionth subscriber proves there is a strong and growing audience for online community-based news publications and clearly demonstrates to advertisers that college newspapers remain a vital part of any media plan seeking to reach the collegiate market."

Recent additions to the College Publisher network include USC's The Daily Trojan, the University of Cincinnati's The News Record and the University of Arkansas' The Arkansas Traveler.

Internet Broadcasting Gets Broader: Monthly Audience Hits 51 Million - The study's findings, released Wednesday, found that with a monthly audience of 51 million and growing, Internet Broadcasting is swiftly becoming a savvy alternative for advertisers looking to reach a consumer market that is taking unprecedented action to avoid them. Half of this estimated audience lives in households with an annual income of $50,000 or more. One of the study's crucial findings is that 42 percent of Internet Broadcast users listen to Internet radio while surfing the Web for information about products and services. In addition, 27 percent have listened to Internet radio while making an actual purchase online.

Say 'Hola' to Emerging Markets - By Seana Mulcahy

The fact that Latin America's low-income consumers represent an annual purchasing power of $120M (USD) may seem like a shock to some of you. Not only is it true, but it's also an attractive opportunity for advertisers and brand marketers to pay close attention to.

There are many American assumptions toward low- income Latinos. Most see them as unsavvy shoppers and dub them "cash poor." In fact, they are the opposite. They take purchasing decisions to heart and shop, shop, shop. This is one of the largest emerging markets today.

Few advertisers have targeted this market. Even fewer have done it successfully. Like any other group, we must rely on consumer insight to successfully appeal to this group.

Sure this group is price-conscious. They tend to steer away from credit and use cash or short-term cards offered in their countries for day-to-day items. They look at the individual price of each product then assess the overall purchase as it relates to their budgets. They tend to use credit cards for larger items, such as appliances.

It is critical to look at branding and package size when trying to tap into this market. Put it this way; this group is not the "super-size" type. They prefer products that look fresh and wholesome, not fake. For instance, red waxy apples are a turn off to them, for it does not look natural.

I hope this piece gives you food-for-thought and does some of the heavy lifting for you. As you can see, there are many myths and few realities. They key is to be educated and sensitive to this market. It is not something to miss.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Charlie Kaufman needs therapy.

When Joel (Jim Carrey) discovers that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had an experimental procedure to erase him from her memory, he is heartbroken. When he can't take it anymore, he finds Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) and has the procedure done to him, with the help of some incompetent assistants played by Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst. As Joel lay unconscious, his memories of Clementine and their relationship are gradually stripped away, until Joel realizes he doesn't really want to lose her. So, trapped in his head, he tries to smuggle Clementine to other parts of his brain in the hopes that the procedure will fail.

This is a very creative and clever film with some good performances and some terrific imagery. Like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey is at his best when playing quirky unhappy people in dramatic circumstances - as opposed to irritating clowns bouncing off the walls. Joel arguably doesn't have much of a personality, but Carrey, well, carries him well through the journey. Clementine also seems to be missing a little something. It's unclear why she's so messed up in the head, but Kate Winslet is charming and likeable.

The story starts out a bit disjointed and confusing. Somewhere in the middle of the film, the beginning will start to make sense and the end will seem inevitable. Ultimately, Eternal Sunshine of the blah blah blah is worth the price of admission. Many are sure to find it obnoxiously bizarre for no good reason, but at its core, the story intelligently examines the dynamics of long- term relationships and their inevitable self-destructive tendencies.

Dawn of the Dead

Oh, man, was this movie friggin' great. All this week, I've had zombies on the brain (no pun intended).

The film is a remake of another horror film of the same name which was directed by the defacto Godfather of All Zombie Movies, George Romero. Romero made the original back in the last few years of the 70's, as a sequel to his most-famous film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

The 2004 version of DAWN OF THE DEAD is fantastic. This is a film that stands to make some serious bank at the box office: The audience I saw it with jumped and shrieked in all the right places; After almost nothing but crap having been released since Christmas, this is a welcome fun time at the movies; And, perhaps most importantly, it's not a film that you have to debate about after you've seen it, or one that's going to be talked about on the news ad nauseum, like some other films I could mention. Word of mouth will carry this film for awhile. On a related note, if you're planning on seeing this flick, go see it now. As in, this weekend. See DAWN OF THE DEAD as I did, with a packed audience at a late showing. This is when the more vocal audience members come to see movies, and seeing it this weekend will prevent you from possibly overhearing any plot details and spoiling some of the fun for yourself.

Any horror geek worth his (or her, in the case of Nurse Pink) salt knows that having some good, gory scenes can often make or break a horror flick. The gore in DAWN is pretty extensive, but wasn't as fetishistic as I would have expected. That is to say, there are more "Zombie Headshots" here than in any other zombie flick I can think of, but it's not like the film is built around them. In fact, some of the more gory or violent effects are played with a black humor bent, as when a big-ass truck crunches over a dozen or so zombies, or when a speeding ambulance unexpectedly causes someone standing in the center of a street to...well, disappear. For the gore fans in the Doctor's Office, you won't be disappointed; And, for the non-gore fans, you won't spend half the film covering your eyes. It's middle ground gore, I guess.


Jersey Girl
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez

The Ladykillers
Starring: Tom Hanks

Never Die Alone
Starring: DMX, David Arquette

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Starring: Matthew Lillard, Neil Fanning, Linda Cardellini, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Alicia Silverstone


Putting Pen To Paper: A Journal To Publication

Getting from a stack of blank paper to a published book can be a daunting experience. We are keeping a journal online so you can read about our challenges and achievements as we research and write "The Bestseller: Success Stories from Top Authors and the Editors, Agents, and Booksellers behind Them." journal

If you've ever been curious about how a book is born, meeting deadlines, how an author works with an editor, and the all important marketing and promotion efforts, you can now find out first hand. Every week we'll update Putting Pen To Paper: A Journal To Publication. From Brian Hill

Motion picture producers are increasingly looking to novels rather than original screenplays as source material for films. This year's Academy Award nominated films was an illustration of this trend. I think it must be an enormous challenge to determine whether a book would make a good film, especially given the number of wonderful novels written each year. How do you choose? I have had several people tell me that our novel, OVERTIME would be an exciting movie, which surprised me a little bit because I didn't think the story moves swiftly enough to translate successfully into film. What readers like about the book is the depth of the characterizations, much of which was developed through showing internal conflict rather than external. In movies, they tend to focus on external conflict, protagonist vs. antagonist, rather than internal, dealing with what is going on inside the character. In a book, of course, you can express what a character is thinking. You can get inside the character's head, depict subtle layers of emotion. In movies you are limited to telling your story through what a character says and what he does.

One of the skills I have acquired from learning screenwriting is the ability to write more economically. The discipline you are taught is roughly like this: if it doesn't advance the plot, contribute to the understanding of the characters, or give the audience critical information-cut it. Cut it-ouch!-that line was so funny. That little scene was so quirky. That description was so elegant. Too bad, it has gotta go.

A number of romance writers have commented how they recoil in horror when they see the results of their novels turned into movies. The film is not at all how the author sees her story in her mind. Part of this is casting, these authors say. The people chosen to play the lead roles bear no relation to what the author and her loyal readers have pictured in their heads. Think of this from the actors' standpoint: the characters already "live" in the minds of the people who will probably be watching the film. They have to somehow figure out how to conform their performance to these expectations. Tough job. Most likely a no-win proposition. But, then again, the actors do get paid.

The other factor is the sheer complexity of many novels. Think of how many twists and turns, subplots, and minor characters appear in a 400-page thriller novel. If you filmed the story as written you would have a 20 episode TV series on your hands, not a 110 minute movie. The screenwriter adapting a novel has to have the skill of a surgeon, to go into the novel and take out the most important, most visual, most dramatic moments. Sometimes this is a matter of determining who the most important characters are and cutting the rest out, because many novels have so many characters that it would be horribly confusing to have them all show up on the screen. The great screenwriter William Goldman faced this challenge when he was writing the script for Absolute Power, based on the rather long David Baldacci novel. He also had to change the focus of the story so there was a "star part" for the actor who wanted to play the lead. A guy named Clint Eastwood.

On rare occasions you read a novel that seems engineered from page 1 to be a movie. Jurassic Park was an example of that. Most novels, though, require an additional shot of magic from the screenwriter's wand (or their 'Final Draft' software). I wonder which novels on today's bestseller list will be the great movies of 2005

Brian -- Dee Power(Ms.)is co-author with Brian Hill of "The Bestseller: Success Stories from Top Authors and the Editors, Agents, and Booksellers Behind Them" Spring 2005, Dearborn Trade "Overtime" - a novel - September 2003 "Attracting Capital From Angels" 2002, "Inside Secrets To Venture Capital" 2001

Autograph seekers - here's this week's CELEBRITY ADDRESSES

1436 Summitridge Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-2246

8921 Andre Dr.
Las Vegas NV 89113

c/o IMG Models
170 Fifth Ave. 10th Fl.
New York, NY 10010

9255 W. Sunset Blvd. #1010
West Hollywood,CA 90069-3309


Dean R. Koontz
P.O. Box 9529
Newprot Beach CA 92658-9529

Clive Cussler
13835 North Tatum Blv #9-421
Phoenix, AZ 85032

Jacqueline Wilson
Transworld Publishers
61-63 Uxbridge Road
W5 5SA
United Kingdom

Lois Duncan (I know what you did last summer)

Tony Hawks (British comedian and author)

Nanette Newman (actress, author)
c/o Chatto & Linnit
123a Kings Road

John Lithgow
C/O 'Mrs. Farnsworth'
The Flea Theater
41 White Street
New York, NY 10013

Louis Sachar (Best selling author)
c/o F Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square W.
New York, NY. 10003



I just want to thank you for your newsletters. I print out everyone to keep for my files. You have helped me so much. Don't know how you keep up with everything and everyone but you do and I am so grateful. Once again, Thank you and best wishes on everything you do.

Linda Pannett, author of Silent Killers

Born today? Then you're an Aries - 03/26/04

Fortune Cookie - Take a trip to someplace new.

Current Influence of the Inner Planets - Each influence lasts from a day to several weeks.

You are extra sensitive, romantic and subject to changing moods. Relate to people through music and art. Find your tune and dance to it.... Make plans and goals for the 12 months. Start a new cycle for self- expression, leadership, honor and glory. Take three deep breaths and think deep thoughts. Find a new focus. You are the star. Communicate-- Your efforts can bring you recognition.

Current Influence of the Outer Planets - Each influence lasts from several weeks to a month or more.

Get more power by vowing to become a "master."-- Reach after spiritual goals. Commission a portrait. Live music brings good luck -- Go with some intense self- expressions.

Don't be too quick to point the finger. It only shows off shortcomings. Taking responsibility for your part gives you the moral high ground.


We appreciate and hope you continue to send us your comments, opinions, articles and suggestions. Remember if you submit anything to our newsletter - include a link back to your site.

Betsie's Literary Page is where readers and shoppers are respected, books are cherished, aspiring writers are encouraged and authors are adored.

Copyright by Betsie, 2004 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!


Greetings Dear Members!

First I'd like to take a second or two to welcome all the new subscribers (I noticed we have quite a few). It is my hope that you will find this newsletter interesting and helpful. Feel free to jump in - ask questions - have a drink, yes the bar is open!

There's quite a bit to share this week. I wasn't sure if there was going to be enough room and there isn't - so I'll save the rest for next week! Don't want to overload anyone.

Now on to the good stuff -- enjoy! ^_^

  • Recipes and Jokes


    2 lb Thinly cut beef skirt steaks
    3 c Orange juice
    4 Oranges, cut into 1/2" Slices

    Pound meat with side of saucer to tenderize, if needed. Cut meat into serving pieces.

    Place steaks in bowl; pour orange juice over meat. Marinate at room temperature 3 hours or in refrigerator overnight.

    Drain marinade and reserve. Grill meat and orange slices over hot charcoal to taste. Heat orange juice marinade; serve as sauce.


    Here's one looking at the lighter side of us ---

    1. Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

    2. Only in America are there handicap-parking places in front of our skating rinks.

    3. Only in America do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

    4. Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a Diet Coke.

    5. Only in America do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

    6. Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

    7. Only in America do we use answering machines to screen calls.

    8. Only in America do we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.

  • Book Reviews

    Title: Jump Start
    Author: Gary Carter
    Publisher: PublishAmerica; (October 2003)
    Genre: Science Fiction
    ISBN: 1413701930
    Paperback: 180pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Myths and Legends - Could this happen to us?

    Scientist Jacob Malfusco's career is reaching its end that is until he makes a startling discovery. Fossilized remains. But nothing before encountered by archeologists, in Death Valley lays the skeletal remains of a nine thousand year old dragon! In Australia, archeologist Marsha Kimbrough's career is doing no better when she stumbles upon - a hidden pyramid. Pappy Darringer, an astronomer learns that a vast number of small meteors are headed straight for Earth.

    Nothing is at it seems. Able to put together the connection from ancient traces, like a puzzle, pieces slowly fall into place linking the complex calendar of Stonehenge and puzzling ruins. When the meteors reach Earth - they turn out to be a calamity of dragons! Unforeseen, the populace soon learns humans are on the menu. The situation instantly grows from bad to worse. On the brink of global extinction, Earth fights back. Everything has a beginning and an end. But one question plagues these tortured souls: Will there be survival for the human race?

    Jump Start is well written, and captivating. Readers will easily identify with the characters determination, as well as flaws. Author Gary Carter has written a challenging tale, which includes UFO's, Dragons and extraterrestrials. His explicative comparisons of similar but disparate mythologies provide a fuller understanding of the world. Including a theory revealing cataclysmic events, and man's intellect in planetary history.

    Maybe if we take the time to study ancient environments we may yet learn lessons that will wake us up in time to avert the great extinction of species going on around us at this very minute. One for which we ourselves are responsible because of our often selfish, uncaring, greedy or unthinking actions.

    Whether you are worried about the environment or not Jump Start has something for everyone, and fans of phenomena and the unexplained will surely enjoy this novel.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    To read the interview or purchase a copy go here

    Title: The Ghosts of Benevolence
    Author: Mark R. Watters
    ISBN: 141340460x
    Publisher: Xlibris; (July 2003)
    Genre: Fiction
    Hardcover: 224pp
    Price: $31.99

    Highly Recommended

    A vivid journey into one man's haunted past.

    Lance Hawthorne returns to Benevolence, Georgia after years of trying to escape from the scars and bad memories created by the place he once called "home." Benevolence is a typical "Old-south" community where racism, lynching and prejudice stain the soil as well as the main character's memories. Lance's mother has tried to raise her son correctly and to place him on the correct path. After her death, Lance spirals out of control and creates a life devoid of God and faith but full of materialistic pursuits. He chooses to live in a place far away from Benevolence with the desire to forget that place.

    A business trip sends him back to the place that he has tried to erase from his memory. As he reaches his destination, his memories are evoked and what his mother tried to teach him about God and religion come back to Lance one memory at a time. He meets a mysterious stranger, who has the habit of disappearing all too often. Is this man a figment of his imagination? Can this man be an actual "Ghost of Benevolence?" Of course I wont tell you, but in reading that scene, you visit the occult and see the great lengths that spirituality has taken to re-enter Lance's tattered soul.

    Lance also holds the key to solving the mystery of a hate crime that took place decades ago in Benevolence. In doing so he also finds a way to forgive himself for taking the life of the one person that he loved more than life itself.

    "The Ghosts of Benevolence" is a well-written book. The author's vivid descriptions allow us to view the life of the main character from a unique perspective. The realism in this book is also unique. You can believe that these events took place and believe in the assemblage of characters that borrow life from human virtues. This book will pull you in and entertain all five of your senses through its imagery and concise and flowing text.

    Visit Benevolence, Georgia via Mark R. Watters and prepare yourself for an excellent piece of fiction!

    Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks


    Title: Counting Coconuts/Contando cocos
    Author: Wendi Silvano
    Illustrated by Marty Granius
    Translated by Eida de la Vega
    Publisher: Raventree Press (June 2003)
    Genre: Children's Bilingual (English-Spanish)
    ISBN 097201926X
    Reading Level: Ages 4-8
    Hardcover; 32pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    A monkey in the rainforest receives too much advice on how to count his coconuts.

    Monkey has worked very hard to collect his coconuts and as he is counting them by ones, other animals in the forest tells him it is easier to count by twos, and after he sorts them into twos, and starts to count them another animal tells him it easier and faster to count in threes. Monkey keeps getting interrupted with all this great advice it seems to take him longer to count his coconuts.

    This story shows the reader that although there is more than one way to do things, you must choose one way and follow through and trying to accomplish something faster is not necessarily better.

    The story is also educational because it gives some info on counting patterns seen with grouping numbers and multiplication.

    These fun illustrations go well with the story.

    The text itself is written in English but the book does contain a bilingual Glossary for numbers.

    I enjoyed this funny tale and definitely recommend it to all parents and teachers.

    Reviewed by Demetria Harris

    Title: Polar Slumber/Sueno Polar
    Written and illustrated by Dennis Rockhill
    Translated by Eida de la Vega
    Publisher: Raventree Press
    Genre: Children's Bilingual Text (English-Spanish)
    ISBN 0972497315
    Hardcover; 32pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    This story is about a child and her toy polar bear taking an adventure in a winter wonderland. You will begin to see how comforting and fun a toy could be to the child and it plays a special part of her life and her dreams.

    Every time you read the story you'll have a different version from the last time you read it and your children's version won't be the same as yours. Pictures in which you'll have to use your imagination to tell the story tell the text. This is a wonderful idea in teaching a child to work on their own not to be told every detail, this is one they'll have to figure out for themselves. There is no wrong way to tell a story.

    At the end of the story there is an English to Spanish version of the author's story. It is recommended that you have the child go through the illustrations before reading the story.

    These beautiful illustrations make it easy to come up with plenty of stories and being this vivid and detailed, every child is sure to fall in love with this book. The illustrations are so good; they should be on someone's walls!

    Children and adults will like this book.

    Reviewed by Demetria Harris

  • How to get on Radio

    Did you know that American radio stations need more than 10,000 guests PER DAY to fill their shows? If you have something to talk about, they need YOU!

    Can you save people money? Save them time? Make them rich? Tell them an amazing story? Make them laugh? Teach them something new? Get them arguing about a controversial topic? Enrich their lives?

    If so, you can tap into the ever-flowing fountain of free radio publicity. It's a win-win situation. You give the radio show great programming -- they give you great promotion.

    There are four ways you can get radio interviews :

    1.Hire a PR Firm. This will cost you a $2,000-$10,000 per month retainer fee.

    "If you can afford it and you hire the right firm, this can be very effective."

    2. Pay for a listing in a guest resource publication (show producers use these to find guests) These cost money, do not guarantee response and most calls come from little stations. The main problem is that you end up wasting a lot of time doing interviews on tiny stations with no listeners.

    3. Mass mail, fax or e-mail your show idea to producers. Costs money, most producers trash junk mail, faxes and SPAM, and what little response you do get will come from little stations who actually have time to read junk mail.

    4. Call the producers yourself and pitch your show idea directly.

    If you want to be on the big shows, this is how it's done.

    This is how successful PR agents do it, this is how savvy self-promoters do it, and this is how I do it.

  • For Aspiring Authors

    Pitching Your Manuscript

    The pitch will outline your idea, what market it is intended for, who the competition might be, publicity and promotional ideas and some information about you, the author. Explain your idea in several paragraphs clearly and concisely. Don't beat around the bush. Describe the market of readers who will be anxiously awaiting your book. Are they young or old? Male or female? The publisher wants to know that you have done your homework. Be honest about whom you think the competitions will be. If you think it will be a tough market, say so. Give details about how you plan to publicize your work and make sure the agent or publisher is left with the impression that you will work hard to get the word out. Lastly, list your qualifications. Why are you the person to write this book and how are you qualified in the subject? Don't be modest.

    In your pitch, be very certain you have down specifically not just why your book is thematically appropriate, but also why it would be in that reviewer or editor's interest to pick your book over others in the same field, genre, category, or subject area.

  • For Screenwriters

    What's the Deal With Free Options? - by Paul Lawrence

    While writers and producers have the same goal of getting a script turned into a film that gets distributed and hopefully makes a profit, they also have an adversarial relationship in relation to the fees that a writer will be paid. Understandably, the writer wants to get paid a handsome sum up front and perhaps a piece of the back end (the back end refers to participating in any profits) on top of that. However, the producer would like to pay nothing up front and as little bit as possible out of the profits. Generally, deals get made by the two parties landing somewhere in the middle where each party has a deal they can live with.

    In the last six months I have had the good fortune to sell two scripts. In each one of these cases I was paid a fee up front and I have a piece of the back end. In one case the up front payment was small, but the back end potential is substantial. In the other case, the up front payment was considerably more, but the back end is also much smaller. It's my opinion that as the writer it is always a good idea to obtain some money up front. This way if the picture ends up not getting made, loses money or you are cheated out of any profits (a very real possibility) at least you got paid something.

    However, it's quite common for a producer to want to obtain the rights to produce your script with no money up front at all. This is called a "free option". Technically for legal purposes the producer gives you a nominal amount of money which can be a low as one dollar. This gives the producer the right to exercise an option to buy your script for the terms specified in the option. Then, the producer will "shop" the script around town and try and get it set up somewhere. If and when he does that, then, the writer might get paid.

    Although naturally as the writer you wish to get paid up front there are times when it can make sense to give a producer a "free option". Each deal should be looked at individually and then a decision made. Here are some of the things you should consider if a producer requests that you give him/her a free option:

    Does this producer have a track record of produced and verifiable credits or other credentials that make you believe that he/she can get your movie made and how long is the option for? I have given a producer a "free option" before. In this case, the producer had a number of credits and had an "in" (a relationship with a personwho has decision making power) with a very large producer of female driven television "long form" (TV Movie). Since the script had a female protagonist and was ideal for a television movie and the option was for a brief period of months, I gave it to her. Unfortunately, her "in" left the company and the new guy wasn't very receptive to her. So, she returned the rights to me and the script is "for sale" again; nevertheless, I am not sorry I gave it to her and under the right circumstances I might do it again with her.

    Now, let me give you a different very recent real life example of how I handled when a producer wanted a "free option" from me. I just returned from a trip to L.A. to my home in Fort Lauderdale this last week where I had what seemed like a very productive meeting with a producer (I had some other meetings too, but that's a different story). I had met with this producer about three months ago the last time I was in L.A. After he'd read my script he had expressed a great deal of interest in the project although he wanted to do a rewrite because of a number of creative concerns that he had. The deal had gotten put to the back burner and now that I'd returned to L.A. my agent set up a new meeting. I was quite enthusiastic because this producer had paid a different client of my agent's a considerable sum to option one of his scripts, so I had hopes of also signing a lucrative deal.

    Well, we had a three hour lunch and hashed out creative details and at the end of the lunch he announced that he wanted to make a deal. As instructed by my agent, I never discuss the business end and allow my agent to do the negotiating, so I replied that I was looking forward to working with him and that my agent would contact him to work out the details.

    My agent did precisely that, but to my surprise this producer was upset at being asked for money up front and fully expected that I would rewrite the script on speculation based on his creative ideas. In this case I absolutely refused to work without any pay up front. This producer goes around town (Hollywood) attending industry events wearing the hat of a producer, yet he has never made one film. Since he's been doing this for years I had no good reason to believe that he would be able to set up my film, so I passed. (If I was going to be paid a handsome option fee I'd have gladly signed even though I still doubt he would've set up the picture because I'd have gotten a nice payday and in 24 months his option would run out and I'd have the script back) Luckily in this case, all I lost was the three hours of listening to him rant at our lunch in Beverly Hills about his views of the world, how to change my script and the embarrassment of listening to him insist that the waitress should take his advice and make her soon-to-be ex-husband pay for her to go back to school even though she said she abhorred school and had no intention of ever going back.

    So, I would advise that while there are certain times that you might give a "free option" to a producer, that you do this very selectively. It might be nice to say that you've had a script optioned but unless the party is a known industry person it won't open up and doors for you and it will tie up your precious script. In addition, an inept producer could get it read and passed on all over town, so that even when you get it back there's nobody to bring it to any more. If a producer is serious about getting your script made they will likely pay some money up front. And if they don't and they don't have a track record then you're probably better off passing.

    Paul Lawrence is a screenwriter/script consultant with his script, EXPERIMENT set up with Prime Time Productions to be shot in LA early in 2004 and his screenplay DRAW sold and set for production in 2004 with Monaco Entertainment, three other feature scripts optioned, one sold, one development deal, has done many rewrites for independent Los Angeles based producers and is represented by a Beverly Hills licensed literary talent agency.


    ------ 1) Affinity Films International Ltd. ------

    We are looking for a completed low-budget dance script that takes place in Spain.

    Affinity Films specializes in international co-productions and further information can be found at out website.

    Multiple submissions and any other queries will not be accepted. We will not be able to answer every query letter and can only contact those writers with projects we wish to pursue.

    Please submit a one or two sentence pitch only to:

    ------- 2) Glover Productions Pty Ltd -------

    I am looking for completed action/thriller feature scripts that can be shot entirely in Australia. This is the only genre I am looking for.

    Budget for the film production will not exceed 5 million dollars. WG and non-WG writers are welcome.

    Credits include: 'Talk of The Town' (1 hr.) and 'R & R Live', (13 1/2 hr. episodes).

    Please email a logline followed with a synopsis to: Peter Glover -

  • For Novelists and More
  •   Ok - Last week I brought up what not and how not to submit to reviewers. This week I'll show you how to get their attention. I'll use my own email as an example:


    I would like to submit my young adult fantasy novel "Caleng and the Moonstone Pearl," for review consideration. This review will be used for new promo purposes.

    Title: Caleng and the Moonstone Pearl
    Author's Name: M. Romero
    Publisher: 1st Books Library
    Copyright (month & year) : June 2003
    Genre: YA/ Fantasy
    ISBN: Paperback - 1410746119 / Hardcover - 1410762114

    Brief description of book: Prince Caleng has a strong desire to learn magic. But his constant defiance is a challenge to his nursemaid Quiggles. After a startling revelation, he runs away and chaos soon follows.

    Even though social prejudices in the Faerie Realm are largely absent, ignorance about outside races brings to them fear, as Caleng wingless and stripped of his powers learns what it is to be human.

    Caleng and Nicole's magical adventure takes them through the earth's underground cavernous tunnels where they meet many a strange creature, such as Essyn'del's talking ring.

    For review copies contact:
    Charlene McGlashan
    Phone: 800-839-8640

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    This is actually a very simple letter giving all the information required by any reviewer, except for one thing---

    Key words: This review will be used for new promo purposes.

    It tells the reviewer there's a chance of publicity for both author and reviewer. Are we lying? Of course not, be sure to include a sentence or 2 when you send out the press release! Will it work on everybody? Not really, but you will get a lot more responses. That one sentence even garnered an extra reviewer, here's her response:

    "Thank you for asking me! BTW, I know of another reviewer site who would agree to reviewing it as well. If you would like her name, email, and postal address, just let me know."

    The reviewer offered another reviewer the chance? Amazing, but true! The lesson here: If and when possible - let others who are willing - do the work for you.

    Now go get those testimonials!!

    The Compulsive Reader
    Maggie Ball, editor

    The Word Pool
    Diana Kimpton, editor
    Review books published in the UK and only rarely review fiction. contact:

    *** Next week I'll list agents and what they accept.

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