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July 02, 2004 Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
Gearing up for the Fourth?
Greetings Dear Readers!

Did anyone get a chance to read "Top 10 Signs You're a Perfectionist." ???

Well everyone always says I am, and in a sense I guess so, as I tend to be hard on myself. Always striving for the top. I don't ecpect perfection from others - its human nature to make mistakes.

The one thing I found interesting about this article is the following: A scary warning for perfectionists: The impossible quest for perfection has been linked to a host of emotional, physical, and relationship problems, including depression, eating disorders, marital discord and even suicide.

So now I know why I'm not married, I refuse to work out, become teary-eyed during a full moon, never learned to cook and somewhere in the future I'll be hanging from the roof with a noose around my neck!

It's nice to have your life spelled out so neatly! LOL


Publishing News

W to Launch to New Luxury Shopping Magazine

W magazine will launch its first WLuxe Shopping Magazine as an in-book supplement, magna stripped into the November 2004. The 32-page shopping magazine will cover fashion, accessories, jewelry, watches, home and beauty. W plans to run WLuxe Shopping Magazine quarterly, timed to seasonal issues. Through an exclusive partnership with W Hotels, 5,000 copies of WLuxe Shopping Magazine, which will be printed on heavy paper stock, will be distributed in key cities around the world. In addition, featured products will be available at

New Custom Publishing Awards

The Custom Publishing Council (CPC) has announced the launch of Pearl, a new awards program celebrating custom publishing's excellence in editorial, design, and strategy. Entry forms have been mailed to custom publishers throughout North America and are due in to the CPC by September 7. Judging will take place in October and the awards will be presented at the CPC's fall meeting, which will be held in Chicago on November 19.

According to the CPC, North American corporations now produce nearly 116,000 different custom publications annually and spend as much as $29.9 billion in the process.

Razor Shaves Editor, Can You Hear The Buzzing?

Razor magazine publisher Richard Botto Tuesday shook up his editorial staff, terminating Editor in Chief Craig Knight and replacing him with himself. Allison Young, previously Razor's managing editor, was also promoted to executive editor and creative director. Botto implied that Knight was not let go based on his work on Razor's editorial product, but rather as a result of some internal conflicts. "It was my opinion that we needed a change at the top. There were several incidents and transgressions that warranted this," he alleged.

The shakeup at Razor occurs just as the three-and-a- half-year-old men's title has been generating positive buzz from feature stories in its current issue, which includes a cover story on an outspoken Howard Stern. Circulation and ad revenue have also been on the rise in the past year.

Botto said he is pleased with the book's editorial and does not plan major changes. "The editorial mission remains on track," he said. "I am excited for an opportunity to add things from my lifestyle to the magazine."

Razor will also relocate its editorial group from Toronto to its headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., with additional staff to be based at a new editorial bureau in New York later this summer.

by Philippa Burgess, Creative Convergence   THE ART OF QUERY

Now that you've got your material together, you are ready to take on that next important step of getting it into the right hands. Thus begins the query process. As a manager, we receive thousands of queries, review them all, and only request a handful out of every hundred. It is my sincere hope that this provides you with valuable information to distinguish yourself in that all-important next step of getting the right people to want to consider your script.

Managers are usually the most responsive to queries from new writers. From the industry's point of view, we are the front line to scout, develop, and nurture new talent and material.

Agents also accept queries, but they have a larger client base and are typically more deal oriented, so they are usually looking for material that is ready to sell. Some producers, especially those who do not have deals with the studios, usually accept queries and may consider un-represented material; however the more established studio producers typically do not. You can either start with an e-mail query, hard copy letter or fax; or a general e-mail inquiry to see what the submission policy is or if they are currently considering new material. I recommend e-mail queries, and at our company that is our preferred way of reviewing queries. You can just send your query directly to agents and managers with your genre and logline for their consideration. A general query is the more conservative way to go about it, although I would only do this with e-mail. I would recommend this approach more in the case of producers where their acceptance of submissions is often restricted to material sent by a representative.

If you don't get an initial response to your e-mail, you may want to send a letter instead (don't mention that they ignored your e-mail), but take it as an opportunity to try an altered pitch on yourself or your material. The standard letter query has mostly been replaced by e-mail, so don't forget to include an e-mail address with your contact information in a hard copy letter for the fastest response. In almost all cases do not expect to hear back from them about a query unless they are requesting the material. Just put it out there and let it go. It may take them up to a couple weeks to review your query, but if you do not hear back from them by then, you can assume they have reviewed it and are not interested. Move on to querying new companies or eventually move on to your next idea. Keep in mind that they are either not interested in your idea, or may not be interested in considering ideas from new writers, either just for now or ever. And whatever you do, do not send multiple query letters or follow up on the status of a query.

Some e-mails queries are formatted as letters and can be addressed to an individual, to the company, to the literary department, or as 'Dear Agent', 'Manager' or 'Producer'; while other inquiries are just the script facts alone, and in that case there is no need to use a salutation at all. Any of these forms are acceptable, but it doesn't hurt to have a personal approach as long as you are sure that you have the correct information for whomever you are addressing. All too often I get referred to as Mr. or Agent, and it is forgivable but not favorable. It is also worth mentioning that although e-mail is somewhat more informal than a regular letter, typos, misspellings and bad grammar are never acceptable from someone who wants to be taken seriously as a writer.

As a very short intro, or as an aside after you present your one or two ideas, and only if it is noteworthy, you can mention any screenwriting awards, top rankings in prestigious writing competitions, your experience or relationship to the industry, any relevant film education or personal expertise on the topic. With e-mail, your entire query is all best received in the body of the text and not as an attachment, and NEVER send the script as an attachment in a query. Just keep in mind with any query letters, less is usually more and it is ultimately about the idea. Your query letter is serving as an invitation for them to consider your material. This is not a resume for a job interview or your life story. Your only request is to see if they are interested in your idea; that they let you know and you will send it to them for their consideration.

As a representative, what we are primarily looking for in a query is a script that looks like it has the potential to sell in the 'spec market'. The spec market is a unique buying situation where representatives blast a script to studio buyers and it gets sold in a competitive bid. If you want more information on what is selling on the spec market or what a logline looks like, I recommend the Done Deal website at* and which track all the literary material being bought by the studios in any given month. There are others, including, which also provide some similar tracking information and additional resources.

The scripts that sell as specs tend to be very basic- genre driven. As someone once told me that means the ideas ~sit in a chair, as opposed to falling between chairs~. A basic-genre has a particular structure and certain story beats that it needs to hit. The genres that typically have the most commercial appeal are -- on the light side, comedy ~ which can be ~broad comedy~ for a wider audience (LIAR, LIAR or BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE) or ~teen~ oriented (AMERICAN PIE), romantic-comedy (SWEET HOME ALABAMA or THE WEDDING PLANNER), action-comedy (LETHAL WEAPON or TRUE LIES); and -- on the dark side, action (FAST AND THE FURIOUS), thriller (SIXTH SENSE), and horror (THE RING). Each of these genres elicits a certain emotion from the audience unlike the terms 'period', 'sports', 'musical', 'family', or 'sci-fi, which can be married to these basic genres.

Right up front we want to know the genre of the script because that's the first thing that grabs our attention. Then we read the logline, which IS the one or two 'sell' sentences that capture the story and hopefully, our interest. The logline not only tells us the gist of the story, but it also gives us just enough so that we are intrigued to want to know more. The elusive ~high-concept~ usually fits squarely in a basic-genre and is something that has an interesting twist. We want to hear those great new ideas that work within the tried-and-true genre formula.

These are the kind of projects that studios are looking for from new writers (and they write the checks).

We personally don't like to consider dramas unless they are industry referrals or they have received some recognition for exceptional writing. The reason that we shy away from dramas is that they tend to be difficult to sell without a high profile actor or director attachment. If you are pitching a drama don't necessarily mention any actors in particular, but feel free to say if there is a strong or attractive role for a male or female star. This can be useful if perhaps that industry professional has certain actor relationships and is looking to find a script that would have a great role for them. If they think they can get a star involved it exponentially expands the project's marketing potential.

I want to emphasize that there are a lot of scripts that you can write that will find their way to the right people eventually, but they may not be what you need right now to use as the tool to get that initial attention you need to get started. Your arc as a writer is to transition from outsider to insider, and the more access and credibility you have within the system the easier it is to facilitate certain types of projects, especially dramas, independent films, or something you would like to helm as a director. Also consider that most of the movies you are seeing are ideas that have been internally developed by studio producers, based on their own idea, an article, a book adaptation, a re-make or a sequel. New writers' ideas are held to a higher standard than a lot of what is getting made by the insiders.

I would suggest that you only include your best one or two scripts for consideration. These should not only be your most commercial and compelling ideas, but also great examples of your writing. For as much as I talk about commerciality it is equally important that your scripts have creative passion and craftsmanship. Whatever you do, don't tell us you've written 15, or even several, because we'll assume they are all mediocre. Just send us the best as it only takes one great script to interest us. Then we might just ask you, 'what else do you have?' and that's when you can tell us.

On a final note, you should not see these manager, agent, and producer entities as separate from each other, but all inextricably linked. Remember that everyone is always on the look out for the next great thing so use the interest from one to get the attention of the others. The query gets you knocking at the door and I don't doubt it is with no less anticipation as that of picking up a first date. Going with that analogy, remember you want to make that great first impression, and if all goes well, you are on your way to the second date.

Book Reviews
Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks   The Way Home: The For Hymn Mystery Series Book I by Paula F. Blevins

Publisher: Publish America (March 2003)
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
ISBN: 159286113x
Paperback: 160 pages
Price: $19.95

Rating: Highly Recommend

Through God and Faith, all questions will be answered.

June 25, 2004

Elizabeth Perkins had a very troubled childhood. She lost her mother as she was born and her father died in an "accident "seventeen years ago. She has suffered recurrent dreams of this trauma for many years and the spirits of her parents cannot rest within her heart. She meets the man of her dreams. He is a very spiritual man with strong and unwavering faith in God and the scripture. He is the one destined to lead "Lizzie" back to God and she is on the brink of finding happiness.

Her fiancÚ's life is now threatened and Lizzie's world is about to delve back into a cycle of loss and sadness. She has already lost her mother and father; must she loose her fiancÚ Ryan Denlinger as well? She utilizes the images that trouble her as she sleeps to recreate the scene of her father's death and the days she spent by his lifeless body as a child. These painful memories and sleepless nights lead her to a startling realization. Is it possible that her father's death and the threats on Ryan's life are related? As she finds her way "home" she will find that God has been with her in many forms. She wants a closer relationship with God and her fiancÚ will take her there - if he survives.

This book will serve a dual purpose. It will satisfy those looking for a good mystery with a surprising and unexpected ending. It will also serve to remind those that follow God or the ones who have lost "the way home" that God is alive and will guide you to your purpose and peace - if you have faith. It is suitable for any audience, young or old and it is timeless.

Pick up a copy for yourself and for anyone trying to cope with loss. The therapy found within these pages is for anyone and everyone who may feel that their life is tumbling from their hands.

Reviewed by Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews  

Dancing in the Mirror by Bryan Walton

PUBLISHER: Centreline Publications
Genre: Spirituality/Inspirational
ISBN Number: 0-9734379-0-1
Paperback; 147 pages
Price: $27.95/$37.50 Cdn.

June 28, 2004

Dancing in the mirror-inspirations on peace and joy

"The practice of being in the heart is the essential step from which all other steps follow. The heart state allows the opening of possibilities, the limitless expression of the greater self." Page 15

In your search for guidance and direction, not a day will go by that you don't refer to Dancing in the Mirror. Intuitively flip to a page number and find the inspiration you need to go forward. This is one of those "can't be without it" books that seem to come along just when you need it most.

Like Tarot cards, Rune stones and ancient animal oracles, this book will provide deep understanding of life's challenges and obstacles through gentle wisdom. It will inspire, encourage, support and validate. Everyone, young and old, could benefit from Dancing in the Mirror.

Author Bryan Walton began his own spiritual quest at an early age, practicing daily meditation to stay centered. As Bryan discovered, life journeys seem to be guided by unexpected inspirations and life happenings. This book will become your daily source of these inspirations. Shawn Andrews' strategically placed illustrations add a spattering of imagination and colour. The writings themselves are reflective, enlightening and written to invoke insight into one's self and the world around us. This is one book that will stay in my personal library. Pick up a copy of this highly recommended book today.

Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks  

Fathers, Sons and Brothers by James Gus Filegar

Publisher: Publish America (January 2004)
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 159129908X
Paperback: 192 pages
Price: $19.95

Rating: Highly Recommend

An action packed account of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a Patriot.

June 29, 2004

I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt of this novel during the pre-publication stage and I am delighted that I've been given the opportunity to share with you my feelings about the book. First of all, the vibrant cover of the Union Soldier in front of the Stars and Stripes made this book jump off of the shelves. To look at the cover is to be invited inside to journey back into time.

Fathers, Sons and Brothers is a story told from the vantage point of Nathan S. Clark. Clark is an Irish immigrant and patriot that left home soon after his marriage to the woman that he loves to fight for the country in the Civil War. He is a member of the Twentieth Main Infantry Regiment and he is seen as a leader by his superiors from the beginning. He feels that the war is just, even though he does not savor the fact that he will be taking lives, he is determined to carry out his orders.

He and his regiment battle the weather, disease and fear as they march towards their objective. His service is dotted with several skirmishes and a first hand view of the horrors of war. However, Gus Filegar will show you the human side of this struggle. With the violence that is a part of any war, he will also show you compassion and mercy for those who take up arms on opposite sides of the battlefield.

The writing is extremely descriptive and the vivid details will take you as close to the battle as you would like to go. You see the men charge into battle, you see them fall on the battlefield and you see the medics struggle to piece together the mutilated parts to make the soldiers whole again. You see the sacrifice and feel the pain. You enjoy the small comforts that the men enjoy - such as hot coffee and stale bread. You travel into a world where soldiers die on the battlefield due to the munitions or the biting cold.

As you read this you realize that these things actually happened. A country united once to escape from the watchful eye of Great Britain now drawing a line between the North and South and battling for independence from the other's ideals and beliefs. This book has it all and it will pique your curiosity and perhaps you will go on a fact-finding mission to learn more. While on that mission you learn of the plight that every soldier faces as they lay down their lives for a cause and develop a new sense of respect for this "career".

Read this book and digest every word, just as I have, and you will appreciate the level of craftsmanship that this book contains. It is well worth one or two evenings to travel with the Civil War historian Gus Filegar and perhaps understand why he had to write this book. It wasn't just for him; it was for all of us.

Books not yet Released
Reviewed by M. Romero   Behind Closed Doors by Susan R. Sloan

Publisher: Warner Books (August 2004)
Genre: Fiction/Family Violence
Hardcover: 467 pages
ISBN: 0446530298

Rating: Highly Recommended

Insight into the dynamics of relationships between victims and abusers

June 30, 2004

The 1950's, an era in which families taught their daughters how to prepare for married life. This was an interesting decade in which many of your grandparents were settling into comfortable lives and having children (your parents- perhaps). Women were encouraged, and more so expected to stay at home, keep house, raise children and obey their spouse.

Such was life for Valerie O'Connor, a woman who grew up in the 50's. By the summer of 1955 at the tender age of 18 Valerie visits her sister in Boston where she falls in love with a striking young man named, Jack Marsh. Jack had served in the Korean War, was smooth, he was worldly in many things. Against Martin O'Connor's better instincts, by the end of December Valerie and Jack are wed.

Their wedding night turns into a complete disaster, as Jack is only interested in satisfying his needs, in turn Valerie has a lifelong repulsion to sex. Shortly after Jack whisks his new bride to Seattle where things begin to unravel. Even so, Valerie performs her wifely duties and is thrilled after having given birth to five children before she is given news that she cannot have anymore due to health reasons.

Behind Closed Doors spans across time and into a two generations of the Marsh family and its secrets. The author's descriptive work reveals one of society's worst social problems: domestic violence, focusing on an abuser and a co-dependent victim. A social problem worthy of academic debate, and one that still exists today.

Afraid to seek help from society; Valerie feels bound by traditional Irish-Catholic beliefs that it is wrong to air your dirty linen in public. She attempts to hide the problem for many years, during which the situation worsens, as Jack's drunken outbursts spiral out of control. The Marsh children fear for their own safety. All of which later begin to exhibit a range of problem behaviors. Problems, Valerie can't or won't face.

Behind Closed Doors is filled with psychological suspense. Maybe after reading this novel, all you women out there will understand your Mothers and/or Grandmothers a little bit better. I found this book particularly riveting, powerful, and engaging. The torment Valerie receives, accepts, then takes into her own hands and survives - is amazing!

NEVER BORING! No one would be wasting their money on this book. It's a fascinating read even if you feel you have no reason to take an interest.


The 5th annual DV Film Festival will be held during Digital Video Expo West in Los Angeles, December 8- 10, 2004.

We are currently accepting submissions for both short and feature length films shot in digital video or high-definition.


Friday, October 1, 2004 (Early)
Friday, October 15, 2004 (Late)

All submissions should have a completion date no older than January 2003 and must be submitted in NTSC VHS or DVD format.

Submissions will be evaluated on creativity, originality, storytelling, technical expertise, and entertainment value.

Go here for submission form and instructions


The DV Film Festival is currently seeking volunteers to help with all aspects of the festival in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Interested individuals should contact the festival director at Please place "Festival Volunteer" in the subject line.

by Dusty Richards - for more info visit   What's Getting in Your Way? Author of 65 Novels Says, Write Anyhow

How many books did you write last year? In 2003, I wrote eight novels. In 2004, I'll probably write six or seven. That is no Guinness Book of Records achievement; anyone can do it. I know full time writers that will do a dozen to fifteen books a year. They have to or else they starve.

How many books did you write last year? None? Maybe I know the answer why. Please mark off the reasons below so you will know what impeded your production of even a single novel. 1. My computer had a virus 2. I can't say no to anyone 3. Most of my time was spent on the web, searching 4. Too dang tired when I got home from the salt mines 5. Too many interesting shows on network TV 6. My family's demands 7. I don't feel like writing unless the muse moves me 8. I'm afraid of the rejections that I'll get if it do write something.

First, writing a book is not a horse race. Some people can write several pages a day, others one or two. But like anything else, the writing process requires work. Just as runners and even walkers who exercise regularly can walk faster and farther than someone who's always sedentary, crafting a novel takes practice. The more you do, the easier it gets.

Are you defeating yourself? The small candle of creativity is easily snuffed out by self-imposed fears. The biggest one is "this ain't good enough." Who set you up as the final authority? You must write the first draft in total disregard of what you think about the quality. Aside from some minor editing to make sense when you return to that book so you remember what you did the last time--then you plunge back into the story line.

How do I write several novels a year? One technique I use when I sit down to write without a defined idea is the "wagon wheel": A plain piece of typing paper with a small circle in the center for the hub. I write my theme inside the hub, for example, "meets the killer." Then I put spokes out: the killer's name, description, attitude, site, weather, outside influences, things that will take place--all around that hub. This frees up my brain and sets me off writing.

I get up each morning, sit down at my computer about 7 a.m. , answer e-mail and write at least ten to twenty pages. Ten pages is a typical range for most of my chapters. Then I go back to the real world, research, answer inquires, and sometimes go trout fishing. It's the writer's life, and I love it.

So don't quit too soon--you really can finish that novel.

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