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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
   October 31, 2003  

in this issue

IN THE NEWS / Movie Reviews

Recipe of the Week

Author Spotlight

More Books For Book Lovers

For Aspiring writers - What are Archetypes, & Why should writers use them?

Marketing For Authors: Keep Up to Date!

Contact Addresses

IN THE NEWS / Movie Reviews

THE NEW YORK ENQUIRER - Now that American Media chief David Pecker has officially thrown his hat into the three-ring circus that will be the auction of Primedia's New York magazine, we can't help wondering what editorial scenarios might arise from having the regional mag published by the same folks who produce supermarket tabs like the National Enquirer and the Star. Not that there's anything wrong with those publications. In fact, their editorial esteem appears to have grown in recent years due to some of their advanced reporting on some major national interest stories. Or could it be that former prestige journalism brands have sullied themselves to lower levels. In any case, we can just see those New York special features on extraterrestrial hot spots and two-headed boy eateries, not to mention Intelligenciers on Elvis sightings. But hey, if New York could survive Rupert Murdoch, it could survive anything.

CLOSING THE BOOK - Book magazine, one of a flurry of literary industry magazines that launched during the late '90s, is closing its covers. The magazine, which published a smart mix of consumer and business news about books, authors and the publishing industry, apparently lost the support of its primary benefactor, book retail giant and co-owner Barnes & Noble. In addition to investing millions, Barnes & Noble provided an innovative distribution mechanism for Book, which was a free club magazine to customers who signed up for its Readers' Advantage program. But the writing may already have been on the wall for Book. When Barnes and Noble ended the subscription program, Book's circulation dropped to 150,000 from a peak of 1.4 million subscribers. That's the kind of circulation rate base adjustments that would be difficult for any title to survive. While there was no word on what would be come of the magazine's founders - editor-in-chief Jerome Kramer and publisher (and former Advertising Age reporter) Mark Gleason - I for one, will be waiting for the book on Book to come out. But don't look for it to be distributed by Barnes & Noble., perhaps?

COULD IT BE THAT COUNT OLAF IS AT WORK HERE? - Speaking of books, we were so relieved - or should we be alarmed - to learn that is up and running again. We were quite unsettled when we received an email on Oct. 6 from the Unfortunate Team alerting us that "an organization calling themselves 'The Happy Endings Foundation' appear to have breached security on the site and are intent on the downfall of your favorite author and all he represents. Despicable behavior if ever we heart it." Well, if you're not familiar with this site or the series of Unfortunate Events books it is designed to promote, you probably don't have a tween-age child milling around your abode. The books and their author, who goes by the pseudo name of Limony Snicket, are only the most popular literature to hit young readers since R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series. But since the books always end with, well, unfortunate endings, we aren't sure how to react to the happy resolution of the site's recent publishing problems. But wait, there may be an unhappy ending to this one, too. While the unfortunate team says has been "restored to its rightful place" and is chock'ful of new features, it does not appear to be in proper working order. Among the "special prizes" it's offering users are the chance to win tickets to Disney's "new feature film "Holes." Holes, for fans, who've already acknowledged not having tweens in their midst, was the hit film based on another incredibly popular children's book, that was released last spring. One thing we're hoping the Unfortunate Team does get right is the release date of its own forthcoming film. It stars Jim Carrey as the series' evil antagonist Count Olaf and is sure to be a blockbuster hit, a phrase, which here means, they will make a lot of money for the soon-to-be-even-more- fortunate team.

What's on TV?

HERE WE GO AGAIN - CBS will air a biopic on Ronald Reagan's presidency during the November sweeps, starring James Brolin as Reagan and Judy Davis as Nancy Reagan. Conservatives are already shouting about the treatment of their favorite president, claiming a Hollywood bias toward liberalism will make for an unfair (and sometimes unflattering) portrayal. We won't claim a liberal or conservative bias here but there's plenty of red meat in the Reagans' life for fodder on both sides.

CAMELOT: THE TV SERIES - ABC is pursuing a weekly drama series based on the life of another first family, the Kennedys. It would focus on Camelot beginning as then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy decides to run for the presidency in 1959. There's no doubt that the series would boast features that many dramas would love to have: Strong characters, intense drama and yes, sex and violence. Plus, if the series lasts several years, we know what the cliffhangers could be: First season, JFK wins presidency; second season, U.S. finds missiles in Cuba; third season, JFK goes to Dallas; fourth season, Jacqueline Kennedy escapes notoriety and Robert F. Kennedy pulls out of his funk to challenge arch enemy, President Lyndon Johnson. Beyond that, we here think the high-concept drama falters.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. MAYBE - First Court TV petitions the Supreme Court to open the high court's hearings to cameras and TV coverage and now Sci Fi Channel is urging the federal government to cough up what it knows about UFOs, particularly a purported sighting in Kecksburg, Pa., in 1965. Sci Fi thinks there's plenty of material to mine for new programming in the line between science fiction and science fact. Beats reruns of the original Star Trek.


IF ARNOLD AND JESSE COULD DO IT - "Access Hollywood" co-host Pat O'Brien is the latest to declare his political intentions. O'Brien said recently he's considering running for governor of South Dakota. It may not be as far-fetched as it seems. Instead of just being the silly host of a celebrity show, O'Brien was a good student at the University of South Dakota who later studied international economics at Johns Hopkins University. But we want to know who's next to declare his intentions to run for office? Jerry Springer?

Movie Reviews


Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April," this year's Thanksgiving movie, ends prematurely and has a side plot that's a distraction and a cheat, but it contains much good humor and works, anyway.

Despite its flaws, "Pieces of April" has a lot of joy and quirkiness; it's well-intentioned in its screwy way, with flashes of human insight, and actors who can take a moment and make it glow.


The movie is based on a Sports Illustrated story, written by Gary Smith, about the way a series of Anderson teams and coaches have adopted James "Radio" Kennedy, a mentally disabled local man, as a team mascot and cheerleader. He is much beloved, and we sense that his good heart and cheer needed only the right opportunity to give him this mission in life. The movie focuses in fictional form on Radio's first season with the team, and about the bond that forms between the youngish man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and lean, no-nonsense Coach Harold Jones (Ed Harris).

"Radio" is such a sweet expression of the better side of human nature, indeed, that it's surprising to find it in theaters and not on one of the more innocuous cable channels.


The movie stars Angelina Jolie, who is personally involved in efforts to help refugees and isn't simply dining out on a fashionable cause. She plays Sarah Jordan, a London society woman whose bloodless husband will never understand the passion she feels for social causes -- and for Nick Callahan (Clive Owen), the handsome doctor who flies from one trouble spot to another saving lives. Wherever Nick is in need, be it Cambodia, Ethiopia or Chechnya, Sarah flies in with truckloads of supplies for the sexy, saturnine Nick.

The key shots revealing the movie's priorities are the closeups right after Sarah meets Nick for the first time in Ethiopia. We've stayed in long and medium shot for most of the way, but then, after a line of dialogue in which it becomes clear Sarah has a romantic as well as a charitable motivation, we get closeups of the two as they share this realization. Movie grammar suggests that we are being visually informed that their romance is the real subject of the movie. Another approach might show Sarah in long shot moving through a field of suffering, and then a closeup of a starving child reaching out to her distant figure. You see the difference.

   Greetings Everyone and Happy Halloween!

Betsie's Newsletter has been going out to mailboxes for several years now. Only recently when we decided to combine our readers & writers into one group, and give it a more professinal look that people began asking questions... here's a recent casual conversation with a PR professional.

There's no advertisement in your newsletter?

No. And we prefer it that way.

You pay for it?

Yes we do.

Would you consider advertising?

Maybe in the near future. But we don not want our newsletter bombarded with advertisement, as we feel it takes away from the important information we attempt to deliver.

But advertisers could help with the cost.

True. But I'd rather give up the butter-pecan icecream for a month than load banners & what not. And trust me, my hips are thanking me!

And from the letters we recieve, it's unanimous! Everyone likes the new look and the fact that we're not full of fluff.

Just so everyone knows, this newsletter is also translated and sent out in Spanish.

Thanks for your input... keep 'um coming ^_^

  • Recipe of the Week
  •   Since the chilly season is coming I decided to toss in a soup recipe and being from South of the border I don't know too many American dishes ^_^


    Black (or black turtle beans) are small, mild-flavored beans used in both Mexican and South American cuisines. If you prefer a smooth-texture, puree the soup before serving.

    1 lb. dry black beans, soaked in water overnight
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 large onion, diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 smoked ham hock
    3 qts. water
    1 T. cumin
    1 tsp. oregano
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
    1 tsp. salt
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    3 T. dry sherry
    1 T. lemon juice
    1 cup sour cream

    diced avocado
    chopped onion

    In stockpot, heat the vegetable oil and saute onion and garlic about 5 min. Drain the beans and add them to pot along with the hamhock, water, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, pepper, cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, until beans are tender, about 1-1/2 - 2 hrs. Stir in salt.

    Remove hamhock. Pull off any remaining meat, shred and eturn meat to pot. Stir in the cilantro, sherry and lemon juice. Simmer another 30 min. When serving, spoon the sour cream on top of each bowl. Garnish with avocado and onion.

  • Author Spotlight
  •   Marketing Angels 37 Down To Earth & Practical How TO'S on Marketing, Branding & Sales

    by Kimberly L. McCall (a.k.a. Marketing Angel)
    Paperback: 124 pages
    Publisher:; (August 2003)
    ISBN: 1591133947
    Genre: Marketing/$14.95

    Rating: Highly Recommended


    Do you remember when Magicians Secrets Revealed came out on TV? The program showed you step by step how all the great magic tricks were done. It sure ticked off a whole lot people in the industry!

    Sell it Baby! reveals techniques and is a great refresher and reference book. According to the author, geared towards small-business owners, sales managers and marketing professionals, but I found it much more than that.

    This book is an easy introduction to the topic for anyone who needs to learn about marketing for the first time. The book comprehensively covers the subject, in short and well-focused chapters.

    McCall uncovers the truth and stimulates creative ideas on "how to" through effective research, the creative briefing process and how to manage creative development.

    It provides a structured step-by-step process for applying total brand management to your own product, no matter what it may be. You'll learn how to secure long-term revenue and build enduring business value. The entire book gives a solid basis in marketing without the fluff for sure. There's definitely no BS in this book.

    An enjoyable book that is best read by dipping in to the wealth of ideas and insights that are covered. There is so much -food for thought here, that a cover-to-cover read will leave you with your head spinning.

    Overall, this book would be very useful for not only for business professionals with products to sell. But extremely useful for first-time authors who wish to launch their novels into the literary world, or just someone who wants to learn ins & outs of marketing. This book will take you by the hand and guide you towards success. Absolutely, a must read!

    Reviewed by Betsie

  • More Books For Book Lovers

    Harry and Ida Swop Teeth by Stephen Jones
    Fiction, $24.47 / 7.99

    The man who brought us Babybird and You're Georgeous shows he's as adept with prose as he is with song lyrics. Not surprisingly, his fiction is every bit as dark as his music.

    Set in the not-quite-reality of Little America, separated Siamese twins Harry and Ida Brick don't have the money to pay for an operation to save Harry's life.

    Taking a rather violent leave of their father, they set out on a roadtrip in a quest to find help. Nightmarish and weird, but unsettlingly compelling.

    Geomancer by Ian Irvine
    Paperback: 608 pages
    Publisher: Penguin Books Australia Ltd
    $24.71 / 7.99

    All too often fantasy novels are turgid, sub-Tolkein tomes that attempt to make up in length what they lack in originality.

    Irvine has taken some of the traditional fantasy themes but given them a jolt of freshness in this tale of a young woman who discovers that the powers she can draw from the fault lines of the planet itself may be more than she can ultimately control.

    War Junkie by Jon Steele
    Paperback: 329 pages
    Publisher: Bantam Press, Ltd
    $34.01 / 6.99

    In 1995, award winning ITN cameraman Steele had a nervous collapse in Heathrow airport en route to yet another assignment in a war-torn part of the globe.

    The book is a vivid account of the events that led up to it during the previous year. Hooked on the adrenaline-surge of war, he worked in literally some of the worst places on earth, from Rwanda to Bosnia.

    High-octane and novelistic in approach, it's an enthralling insight into what goes into the images we see on our TV screens.

  • For Aspiring writers - What are Archetypes, & Why should writers use them?

    Why should you use archetypes when designing a story?

    Your writing your novel or screenplay. You have a wonderful idea. You spend days outlining and writing the first thirty pages. Then suddenly something happens. You lose steam. The pages get harder and harder to write. The momentum you had going slows down. Writer's block looms in the distance, and you lose excitement in the masterpiece you're writing.

    You begin to wonder... "maybe this wasn't such a hot idea after all?"

    Don't give up. The good news is that most of the time the problem isn't with your story but with your characters. So how can you make new, exciting discoveries about your character if she's nothing but a stereotype or blank page in your mind?

    Yes, you may have plot points, but did you think about how your character will react to the situations those plot points put her in?

    Reaction drives the story forward, not the plot points.

    To a writer, archetypes are the blueprints for building well-defined characters be they heroes, villans, or supporting characters.

    Archetyes are an invaluable tool often overlooked by writers. All too often writers create several characters who act exactly like the writer himself, archetypes help you to avoid this.

    In using archetypes, the essence of your character is narrowed down so she jumps off the page at the reader instead of blending in with all the other characters.

    Each with their own motivations, fears and cares that move them as well as the plot forward.

    Beware of books that present stereotypes as archetypes which is exactly the opposite of what a writer should use to create exciting new characters. Stereotypes are oversimplified generalizations about people usually stemming from one person's prejudice. Archetypes aren't formed from one individual's view of people but from the entire human race's experience of people. Judgement and assumptions are absent.

    Pick a character you want to write about. If you've written a story already, then pick a character you would like to spice up in a rewrite.

    You hero stands invisible before you like a cartoon waiting to be drawn. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this character coming to life. What does he/she look like?

    Find out why you want to spend the next year writing about this character. It will help you to persuade the reader to love him, too.

  • Marketing For Authors: Keep Up to Date!

    As I've stated in a number of newsletters, in media relations credibility is essential. Media relationships are built on trust, and the media must be confident that it can rely on information you provide. If you send out-of- date items in your press release or media kit or your Web site isn't current, your media contacts will cross you off their lists. They can't risk running inaccurate information.

    So if you plan to deal with the media, keep up to date!

    Update everything regularly including your press release, media kit, Web site and your answering machine message. If you don't, you'll fall victim to the relentless tides of change, and once they sweep you under, you won't be able to breathe.

    Continually read, watch, listen, and browse. When you contact media, be in a position to say, "I loved those pieces you did on___." Talk to them about their work and then pitch them similar or related items. *Be cautious no to linger to much though.

    Spot trends and position yourself to capatalize on them. Link your book to that particular news item.

    Include Dates

    Date every page of all print materials you distribute, and prominently post the current date on your Web site. Displaying the current date on the Web site each day can keep your site at the top of some search lists. Search engines sort by the most recent updates, so daily updates will maintain your priority position. Top listed sites get the most hits, which means more people and more publicity.

    Acknowledge E-mails

    Acknowledge that you've recieved and read e-mail messages. Even a brief few words -- "Thanks a lot," "Sounds good," or "I'll get right on it," -- can make an enormous impact. Even if they turned you down! Senders appreciate knowing that you read their messages. And the next time you contact them, they may be more receptive.

  • Contact Addresses

    Know the name of the actor you'd like to contact? Then here's some TV shows to get you started.

    HACK Big Ticket Television/CBS Prod./Pariah/Thomas Carter Prod.
    One South Broad Street, 20th Floor
    Philadelphia, PA 19107

    Belisarius Prod./Paramount Television
    1438 N. Gower Street
    Building 35, 4th Floor
    Hollywood, CA 90028

    Hanley Prod./CBS Productions/Sony Pictures TV
    10202 W. Washington Blvd.
    David Lean Building, Suite 410 Culver City, CA 90232

    20th Century Fox Televison/CBS Productions
    4024 Radford Avenue
    Building 7, 2nd Floor
    Studio City, CA 91604


    7800 Beverly Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90036

    All My Children
    320 West 66th St.
    New York, NY 10023

    General Hospital
    4151 Prospect Ave.
    TV Center
    Los Angeles, CA 90027

    Production Companies

    Fearless Entertainment

    I am looking for high concept, studio-driven material in the following genres: Comedies (Bruce Almighty/Liar Liar), Thrillers (Panic Room/Double Jeopardy), Action (Italian Job/Predator/The Fugitive), and Action Comedy (Rush Hour/Lethal Weapon).

    Examples of what is considered high concept are: 'The Wedding Crashers' (Two single men crash weddings to meet women until one of the guys falls in love with a bridesmaid), 'Princess Boot Camp' (a comedy about a group of spoiled teenage girls whose parents can't take their indulgent behavior anymore and send them to away to boot camp, where the "spoil" is squeezed out of them), 'In the Pink' (after being downsized out of his cushy corporate job, a Texas playboy, who is having problems landing a new job, ends up selling "Mary Kaye" cosmetics. On the job, he ends up uncovering the secret to understanding women and becomes the top cosmetics seller in the nation).

    PLEASE NOTE: If your pitch is not in the following sequence it will not be considered.

    Example of elements wanted and the way to pitch your project is as follows:

    a) Title: Daddy Day Care
    b) Big Idea: Mr. Mom meets Big Daddy
    c) Log Line: When a father loses his job, in order to make ends meet, turns his house into a day care.
    e) Hook/Twist: A man (dad) doing what is customarily the women's job.
    f) Genre: Comedy
    g) Audience: Family

    Budget range is open

    Fearless Entertainment, which is run by a former studio executive, manages both feature film and television writers. Within the last few months, Fearless has set- up a few feature film projects, and a television deal for one of their writing teams.

    WGA and Non-WGA both welcome to submit

    Please email elements of your pitch to:

    Orlando TV / Radio Stations

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