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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
 Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter .  
November 10, 2003 
. . . . . . . . .

Greetings Everyone!

From one Vet to another... Happy Veteran's Day!!
Well its been a hectic week.

Thursday I experienced a very small piece of what I believe J.K. Rowling did, but on a much larger scale of course.

During the booksigning... I was handing a book to a 13 year-old when a man & a woman came up to me as I handed the book to the young girl and began quoting the bible! The girl hugged her book & took off like a jackrabbit... I just stared. After a few minutes of listening I questioned this woman if she allowed her children (or grandchildren) to read literary works by - and I rattled off several author names, and she flatly said NO!

I said ok, thank you for coming and smiled. The woman continued to look over my book and again stated Christianity is the only thing allowed in her home. I replied "ok not a problem." The woman and her husband crossed their arms over then walked out of the bookshop. The owner turned to me, I to her and she said "what the hell was that all about?" "I haven't a clue," I replied.

I think my stupified look said it all. But I really felt for the 13 year-old who only wanted to buy a book.

It's sad to see the mentality of some people. If they could only separate religion from literature-- I'm sure the world would be a better place? By the way I'm a practicing Catholic!!!

in this issue
  • In The News & Media Links
  • Author Spotlight
  • For Aspiring Writers - Screenwriting
  • Brand Awareness For Authors

  • Author Spotlight

    Title of Book: Curiosity
    Author: Gerald Allen Wunsch
    Drawings by Irene Joslin
    ISBN #: 1-4107-3699-7
    Publisher: 1st Books Library
    Genre/Market: Children's Fiction
    Publication Date: 2003
    Book Length: 108 pages
    Price: Paperback

    Rating: Recommended


    A familiar element of many children's books involves placing children into a new environment, showing they aren't exactly thrilled to be there, and then watching them find the value of their new surroundings. In Curiosity, Ginger and Irene are sent to Ginger's grandparents, George and Abby, for a month in southern Indiana while Ginger's parents are away on an extended vacation. George and Abby live out in the country along with Laird, their wire fox terrier. The young girls are looking for adventure in a place where there seems to be nothing much to do, but adventure is exactly what they find during their month in the country.

    George takes the girls to visit the home of his friends, the Browns. Their house holds many hidden surprises. Mrs. Brown talks to the girls about the Civil War and the history of the Underground Railroad. She then shows them the secret hiding places in the house which were used by the slaves on their quest for freedom via the Underground Railroad. The girls imagine how the slaves must have felt when they were hiding, awaiting their journey to the North and to freedom.

    Several days after this visit, the girls are bored, trying to find something interesting to do. When Laird disappears, they find that he has fallen into a hole. After Laird is rescued, it is discovered that the hole leads to an underground storage cellar. The girls are curious about what they might find in the cellar. What they find leads to their own adventure, which ties in, once again, to the Underground Railroad. Their exciting discovery lands the girls on the front page of the local newspaper.

    This is a book that teaches children about an important part of our history in an interesting way. After each chapter are questions which are answered in the Learning More section at the end of the book. This section provides information, photographs and drawings which expand upon the story. I felt this was a nice touch since the author provides answers to questions that might be cropping up as inquiring young minds read this book . The illustrations throughout the book are well done and add to the story.

    Having said this, I must mention that there were drawbacks in the mechanics of the book which I feel could have been avoided by a good editing job. Since I feel this was a nice story, I wish that these editing concerns, particularly the page formatting, could have been addressed before the book was published.

    In spite of these reservations, I would still recommend this book. It is an interesting and informative story about the Underground Railroad. I like how the author provokes thought about slavery and the desperation that would make slaves risk everything for freedom. I also appreciate how the author wants the readers to stop and think about what life was like for the slaves, what it must have been like to be in hiding, and what the Underground Railroad physically consisted of. And I enjoyed the warm relationship between Ginger and her grandparents, emphasizing that grandparents have much to offer their grandchildren. Curiosity is a children's book and from that vantage point, I feel that it has much to offer young readers.

    Reviewed by Nancy Machlis Rechtman

    Read the Interview with Gerald Allen Wunsch »

    For Aspiring Writers - Screenwriting


    It's relatively common to hear screenwriting instructors note that one should enter a scene at the last possible moment and exit at the earliest. This is a concept that I agree with; however there is a whole secondary opportunity to capitalize on this technique besides the obvious.

    For the new screenwriter, let's first review the reason for this general rule of entering as late as possible and exiting as early as possible. It's quite simply to trim the fat. Except in rare circumstances, a screenplay shouldn't exceed one hundred and twenty pages. In fact, if you are an unsold writer trying to break in, I would advise you to never write a screenplay that exceeds this. As a matter of fact, most of the time, the screenplay should be less than that. For comedies 90-105 pages is probably about right.

    What this means is that you have very limited space to tell your story, so you don't want any waste. Don't show a character doing mundane things like cracking eggs and tossing them in a frying pan unless it's going to reveal character and push the plot forward. If your protagonist was a man that ran around saying only gay men cooked and then you showed him cooking it might be important to show. But, if all he's going to do is eat the eggs and then have a fight with his wife, don't show him cooking the eggs. Pick up the scene as he eats the eggs and his wife enters the room and finds the frying pan uncleaned in the sink. Today's style of movies is usually very fast paced. Scenes are rarely longer than a couple of minutes. Get in. Get out.

    Okay, so that's the basics of it. Now, let's talk about how you can use scene exits and entrances in comedy. The temptation when writing comedy is to show the audience all the funny stuff that happens to a character in a particular situation, but many times it can be a lot funnier if you leave it to the audience's imagination by having an early exit of one scene and a fast entrance into another.

    The simplest example which I'm sure you've seen a hundred times is where you have a character swearing that he won't do something. There's absolutely no way he will wear a dress! Never! - Fast Cut - There he is walking down the street in a dress. The audience delights in imagining what events took place that ended up with him in that dress. Usually, you'll never come up with something as funny as what they are imagining must have happened. The movie PAYBACK with Mel Gibson has a good example of this. It's already been established that Gibson's character is one angry, dangerous guy. So, when Gibson encounters a big tough underling of the bad guy who tells Gibson that there's no way he's going to see the boss and then there's a quick cut to the underling entering the bad guy's office with considerable physical damage and Gibson right behind him, you can't help but laugh at what must've happened. And how sorry this underling must be that he took the position that he did.

    The temptation would have been to write a scene where you witness Gibson's character beat the crap out of the guy. Sure, it would have been okay, but what you need to get producers to note your writing is material that is simply terrific. So, next time you're thinking about writing your funny scene, think about quick ins and outs that leave the humor to the audience's imagination. Often times, this will be the more hilarious route.

    Brand Awareness For Authors

    Brand awareness is the top influence on consumers when purchasing online, according to the first of a series of "eSpending Reports" for the holiday season.

    Findings from the first study revealed that 63 percent of shoppers surveyed in the past week relied on brand awareness as the leading factor in purchasing online.

    But in this Internet- and mass-media-driven world, brand awareness has become an integral -- and somewhat necessary.

    Therefore, it has never been more vital for authors to understand how brand awareness relates to their businesses and how they can use branding techniques to create better bonds with consumers and, ultimately increase sales.

    Like other aspects of business, good advertising is the result of hard work and careful planning. Creating good advertising is an enormous challenge. Imaginative and refreshingly honest.

    More evidence is coming out in support of Web advertising as a branding medium -- rather than a tool for driving immediate sales.

    Begin branding your own individual name. You can become successfully branded through the internet.

    Select/design your caricature/signature and put it on everything!



    Graphic ads

    Text ads


    The Internet's most powerful application is the dominant application for interactive marketing.

    It's immediate, inexpensive and in-your-face. E-Mail has changed business communication forever. It sells, promotes, brands, informs, reminds, creates buzz and best of all, it's cost effective.

    In The News & Media Links

    Rosie Acknowledges Lack of Control, Contradictions

    In what was expected to be her last day on the stand in her breach of contract trial with former Rosie magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr USA, Rosie O'Donnell, under cross-examination, acknowledged some major discrepancies between her original deposition and her initial testimony over who she believed had ultimate editorial control over Rosie magazine.

    Under cross-examination by G+J's attorney Marty Hyman, O'Donnell admitted not having read her agreement with G+J and that she was not clear whether she, in fact, had the creative control she said G+J CEO Dan Brewster had assured her of. She also conceded, that as editorial director, her responsibilities did not include the hiring and firing of staff, or determining or distributing compensation levels, which would seem to be key facts given that it was G+J's appointment of Susan Toepfer as Rosie magazine's new editor that precipitated her walking out on the publication.

    Who's In Charge Of Penthouse? Who Cares?

    - This just in: Contrary to numerous reports today, Bob Guccione says he has not resigned as editor in chief and publisher of Penthouse magazine or as chairman and CEO of its publisher General Media Inc. General Media Inc., is the unit of Penthouse International, which last month filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid sagging sales. A number of major news organizations reported today that Guccione had resigned from the magazine he founded in 1965 as a thinly-veiled and raunchier imitation of Hugh Hefner's Playboy. Those reports said Milton Polland had been named chairman and acting chief executive of Penthouse. This afternoon, Penthouse released a statement denying those reports and assuring that Guccione remains very much in charge of the flagging media enterprise.

    All The News That's Fit To Blog? Not Yet, But Maybe Soon

    Blogging and social networking may or may not change the face of traditional media as we know it. But Web wonks at a freewheeling panel discussion in New York Thursday morning said the impact of both is already being felt up and down the media food chain. And with one of the panelists estimating that somewhere in the neighborhood of three million blogs currently exist - three million people decrying the Bush Administration's economic policies, overcrowding at the local zoo or the propriety of continuing "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" without John Ritter - it probably behooves those few who aren't paying attention to get with the program.

    The blogging crowd was on enemy turf. The breakfast roundtable, dubbed "The People vs. The Media: Will Blogging & Social Networking Turn the Media World Upside Down?," was held at publishing power-lunch mecca Michael's (in the back room, dubbed "Siberia" by one attendee). Nonetheless, the session was the blogging and social networking equivalent of an all-star game, featuring A-list bloggers, venture capitalists and suppliers of blogging and social networking technology.

    The most interesting take on the rise of social networking (and the potential for monetizing it) was given by Tribe Networks chief executive officer Mark Pincus. Pincus, whose Tribe.Net seeks to be to professional networking and advice what Friendster is to dating, suggested that social networks - especially ones that serve as de facto referral networks - could ultimately serve as an alternative to classified ads. The potential implications for advertisers are enormous, as local classified activity is generally considered a better indicator of purchasing intent than a search on the Web.

    And You Thought Tampa/St.Pete Was For Retirees

    America Online and Digital Marketing Services recently surveyed kids between the ages of seven and twelve in the US to find that 46% go online four times during the week. Furthermore, the survey determined that 20% go online every day.

    As for the major US markets where most kids are using the Net most, AOL found that the Tampa/St. Petersburg area has the highest percentage of kids going online between five and seven days per week.

    WHO'S GRILLING WHO? -- Well, it's not exactly the rumble in the jungle, but former heavyweight champ and current grillmeister George Forman has been matched with C. Lee Peeler, deputy director of the FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection, for the 25th Annual Promotion Marketing Law Conference Dec. 8-9 in Chicago. Now that may seem like an unusual pairing, but we suspect Foreman has had to do more sparring with attorneys in recent years than with pugilists. As for Peeler, we doubt he'll manage to go more than three rounds against Foreman, if he doesn't take a dive first.

    Media Links


    Production Companies and More


    Miller-Clark Entertainment

    I'm looking for a completed low budget slasher-horror film that can be shot in a few locations, preferably a remote house, woods, cabin, etc., with a small cast. Can have a lot of digital visual FX and should be quirky in some way (think Cabin Fever, Evil Dead).

    This film will be shot on a low budget, so the writer will be paid, but it will be commensurate with the budget. The fee paid the writer will be below WGA scale and will be purchased outright. It will be straightforward, but DO NOT submit to us if you are expecting to direct, act in the film or expect to be attached in any other way to it. Writer will get story and writing credit. The writer will get shared writing credit if we choose to rewrite it.

    Miller-Clark Entertainment is the live-action division of Animationwerks. Currently the company is in pre- production on two 3D animated feature films, has a children's program in production with Warner Brothers, and executes many of Showtime films visual FX shots.

    Please email a one-paragraph description of your script to:

    Jim Clark


    Studios USA TV/CBS Productions
    12641 Beatrice Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90066


    Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures, LLC (Barry Levinson/Paula Weinstein)
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, CA 91522-0768

    Clean Break Productions (Tom Arnold)
    14046 Aubrey Rd.
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210
    818-995-0089 fax

    We welcome and appreciate forwarding of our newsletters in their entirety or in part with proper attribution. (c) Betsie's Literary Page 2003

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