Tuesday, November 27, 2007

India!

Kayoko and I are in India for two weeks for multiple purposes. We started in Delhi, as guests of our friends Vicente and Isabel (he former Brazilian consul general for Los Angeles, now ambassador to India).

The Ambassador’s Residence is a spectacular white-columned business whose elegance was matched only by the Pimentels’ hospitality—from roast turkey, tortelloni, and brown gravy for our “Thanksgiving” meal to escorting us to the perfect shopping spots (Kayoko wearing black Indian khurta), historical monuments, and rickshaw adventures in Old Delhi.

Visited the Gandhi museum and memorial, walked in Lodi Gardens, and commanded the kitchen to prepare my version of aglio/olio. Next, on to Mumbai to meet with below the line producers for AEI-Prince Avenue’s upcoming production of Krishna Shah’s TAJ (will meet in London with director Michael Radford on way back to L.A.).

11/29 Update

A swirl of southern color—from brighter saris to match the flowers—to billboards advertising candidates and McDonalds. Hung out one day at the pool of the magnificent Taj Mahal overlooking the Indian Ocean, to catch our breaths. Lunch at Trishna Seafood—swarming with waiters and Chinese-influenced Indian seafood; and exquisite Indigo, its sister restaurant in Manhattan. Prices more reasonable than Delhi, people friendlier, language more musical, architecture colonial British monumental—coconuts, bananas, serious shoppers (fewer beggars in evidence, though the slums were alarming in their proximity to opulence and their viral spread even through the new city). Bustling beyond belief—skyscrapers in every direction going up, internet instantly available just about everywhere. Service RAMPANT—you can’t even fart in the men’s room without someone there to thank and assist you (not that we’d think of it). Sky much clearer, air healthier, people see the future in their laps. Vodka servings stingy! Glad we lugged along duty free Kettle One from L.A. Indian Sula wine—chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc particularly nice, medium-bodied and savory—just a touch of fruit. Paratas with delicious cappucinno for breakfast (complimentary!)—airport transfers the cost of a $3 tip. Dollar rising against rupee while we’re here. We’re indulging at lunch, skipping dinner—Kayoko filming everything and wearing kurtas (I keep pushing for bhurkas, but no luck so far). 90% of middle class (which dominates people we saw in Mumbai, where in Delhi it was either mainly upper or lower) women insist on having and displaying their bellies (so I fit right in!).

Finally we’re delighted with Jet Airways—its efficiency makes Southwest look like a dinosaur. You’re at your gate literally within MINUTES of entering the airport, WITH your seat selected—whether it’s in Delhi (18 million people) or Bangalore (12 million). The planes are sparkling clean and new, and warm meal on every flight (Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Hyderobad, Hyd-Bangalore) even if it’s only one hour! No alcohol served on planes. No hassles with security for luggage or hand-luggage: the system is focused on serving the client, not the other way around! The scale of this country is incomparable—34 MAJOR languages, so the newspaper stands typically have 15-20 newspapers—all of them having color photos on every page, and typically at least 6-7 papers in English. The papers are so fascinating you can’t skip a page—cobras running wild in a village, monkeys being patrolled by scare-monkeys, eve teasing, and all written with an English literary that defies belief for an American. English itself is vastly different from city to city—hardly intelligible (to either side) in Hyderobad: you clearly order two cappucinos and get one espresso, etc (poor babies!). I could go on and on, but you know me. I prefer short emails… Sorry!









Ken on Peacock Throne (location for Krishna Shah's TAG), Ramoji Film Center, Hyderobad

Grade school students at Lodhi Gardens thought I was James Bond—how far Bollywood is from Hollywood!












Leaving Bangalore

From our Leela Palace room, watching bald eagles and Indian eagles soaring. Peacocks on the lawn. Bright orange blossoms on trees. Blue skies with clouds. Enough to overcome the shocking disappointment of being interdicted from playing gin rummy in the Library Bar. Exquisite buffets for breakfast and lunch (choose one!), but the best is the coriander chutney (bright green) and the bright orange onion chutney, which I immediately mixed with my scrambled eggs and spread on freshly-baked parata. Bougainvillea blossoms used as decorations everywhere, the saris and the blossoming orange and lilac trees in kaleiodoscopic harmony.

Frustrating fun to see the newspapers filled with films and books banned for ‘political incorrectness,’ murders at weddings, cobras attacking villages, cows wandering havoc through the traffic (the cost of killing a cow causes hapless bus drivers to lapse into hit and run). Delightful chargrilled chicken with green curry on the side on the plane to Delhi.

Accompanying Kayo to meet Mrs. Reddy at Grameen Koota in the far outskirts of the city—a quiet oasis of palms and figs and mimosa that reminded me of Louisiana. There for 2 days she filmed the work of lending to poor women without collateral. Grameen Koota started with $450 in 1989 and now controls funds of nearly $40 million—lending to over 100,000 women with a 100% return rate. Kayo got a good start on her documentary!

Bangalore extremely pleasant weather—70s, breezy, blue skies with delicate clouds—people even friendlier than Mumbai. More women driving (nearly none in Delhi, some in Mumbai). Parliament houses spectacular, visit to the Bull Temple—a 10-ton statue of a black bull with saffron-robed monks on both ends offering candle and water sacrifices—in the midst of the swirling peanut festival with blocks and blocks of raw and prepared peanuts for sale. Beggar children in this city cartwheel up to your car at every stoplight. Very difficult to ignore them, which is the only way not toward madness. 15 years ago I couldn’t wait to leave India. But it was a different country then. It has entered the 21st century as a massive force to be reckoned with, all without leaving its past the least bit behind, and all because its culture and education have not only been magnified but have become distinctly Indian—though the British influence is still heard in the intonations of every encounter.

Six attendants at the Leela packed us into our car as we departed with driver Suresh (very sad to be seeing you leave today, M’am and Sir, it is not a good day for me as a result), 2 Leela attendants at the airport to meet the car at the airport and get us through to the gate.



Kristina Y. McMorris News

The film rights to Kristina Y. McMorris's novel "Between the Lines" are being optioned by Original Film (Superman Returns, Sweet Home Alabama), set to be co-produced with Ken Atchity of AEI, and the manuscript is currently on publisher submission.

Her website http://www.kristinamcmorris.com/ took 2nd place in the 2007 Silver Rose Award for Website Excellence a national award for literary websites.


Kristina will be reading an excerpt from her manuscript "Between the Lines," a WWII love story and winner of the 2007 Kay Snow Literary Award, at Barnes & Noble in Clackamas, Oregon, on Sunday, December 9th at 1 pm, as a means to support the "Books for Kids" program.


Kristina Y. McMorris & Linda Yoshida's FLAHERTY'S CROSSING is completed (contemporary women's fiction with romantic and suspense elements). FLAHERTY'S CROSSING, Kristina’s second book was recently awarded 1st place in the Mainstream Category of the 2007 Gateway to the Best Contest and 2007 Golden Acorn Contest. It is currently a finalist in two other national writing competitions, and has placed in four others in the past several months.

"FLAHERTY'S CROSSING immediately engages the reader with lyrical prose, a plot equally moving and suspenseful, and real, compelling characters. The writing is as fresh as it is evocative. From heartwrenching to heartwarming, inducing laughter and tears, this virtual roller coaster of a tale won't let the reader go until reaching the final turn of the ride. A superb novel bearing a message not easily forgotten."
~ Angela Fox, publisher of Clackamas Review/Oregon City News

CROSSING just took 1st place in the Cleveland Rocks national writing contest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reviews of Forecast

Forecast By Jane Tara Love Spell

November 2007

A psychic, like the women in her family before her, Rowie Shakespeare has been sharing her gifts for years. One of her strong talents is predicting the weather, and the locals gather in the morning for their daily report. When she’s spotted by a TV station in need of a temporary weather person, Rowie takes on the new job until their usual weatherman is able to return to work.
Continue reading….

Alaya Johnson Feature

Magic and economics clash in a new fantasy novel about island culture.

By Jonathan Messinger
Time Out Chicago
PEARL DIVER Alaya Johnson dug her inspiration from Japan’s island culture.

Thirteen-year-old Lana wakes up one morning to find she’s in the throes of her first period. She’s filled with all of the expected emotions: fear, dread, anticipation, nervousness. But instead of, say, pilfering her mother’s supply of pads, she must dive deep into the ocean and pluck a jewel from the mouth of a rare fish to avoid bringing disgrace to her family.

You know, it’s one of those stories.
Continue reading…

Monday, November 19, 2007

Interview with Dr. Ken Atchity


Interview with Dr. Ken Atchity,
Atchity Entertainment International, Inc.

Interview by Jennifer Minar-Jaynes

Dr. Ken Atchity is a self-defined "story merchant"-- writer, producer, teacher, and literary manager-- responsible for launching dozens of books and films.
With more than forty years' experience in the publishing world, and more than fifteen years in entertainment, Atchity has been highly prolific, producing 26 films, including "Joe Somebody" (Tim Allen; Fox) and "Life or Something Like It" (Angelina Jolie; Fox).

As if that isn't enough, he's also authored 14 highly-praised books on writing, including How to Publish Your Novel and A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write.

What's more, as a literary manager, Atchity has successfully built bestselling careers for novelists, nonfiction writers, and screenwriters. Clients include bestsellers Steve Alten, Jamise Dames, Noire, Dr. Dre, and Governor Jesse Ventura.

As chairman and CEO of Atchity Entertainment International, Inc., Ken's Story Merchant companies, www.AEIOnline.com and www.TheWritersLifeline.com, provide services for commercial and literary writers who wish to launch their storytelling in all media, including publishing, film, and television production.

Describe your ideal client.

My ideal client is someone who's focused on his work, not on himself, and who will do anything to improve both its quality and marketability. Who's cautious, but not paranoid. Who's obsessed by making his own time productive, and equally respecting of ours. Who doesn't call and say 'what's going on.' Who doesn't have a lazy bone in his body, and who 'considers the source' when he hears something different from what we've been telling them. Who understands that before he can have the market follow his stories, first he must tell stories the market WANTS to hear.

At AEI, are you more likely to sign an author whose work can be easily adapted to the screen? Also, what are some ways of recognizing whether a book has film potential?

Yes, our favorite client is someone whose writing works for both publishing and the screen. A book has film potential if it's written following the laws of drama-- which will also make it a better, more readable book.

You've mentioned that AEI receives roughly 15,000 submissions a year and accepts about 50 of them. What specifically about your selections stand out to you?

What stands out is a clearly marketable concept-- 'high concept' if possible-- that is as well executed as it is well conceived.

Some writers whom I've interviewed claim that even with multiple book sales, it's difficult to make a decent living. Others tell me that they've landed extremely lucrative deals-- and I know this to be true of many of your clients. What are some of the main factors that play into whether a writer is offered a lucrative deal?

The most lucrative deals go to writers whose work (a) 'stands out from the pack,' usually because of its 'high concept.' And (b) whose forceful and compelling writing serves the reader, not itself.

As a writer and a manager who works with many writers, what advice would you give about dealing with the rejection every writer will inevitably face during their career?

Ignore rejection, other than to compile as many as you're going to get as quickly as you can compile them. I always say there's a big blackboard in the sky with a list of all the no's you're going to get on a given project-- and the final yes. The only problem is that the blackboard is invisible. Since that's the case, obviously the only way to stay sane is to get through all those no's as quickly as you can-- never wasting time trying to change a no to a yes. A yes from the wrong person is much worse than a no.

What are some characteristics of a writer who will have "staying power" in the industry?

A writer with staying power is always trying to make sure his craft and skill stays at the level of his ambition and vision. For that reason he values criticism more than praise, because only through criticism can an artist learn. We always point out that even the smallest remark was, after all, a reaction to something you wrote.

I always recommend that writers read A Writer's Time from cover to cover if they want to learn how to "harness" their time and become more productive. For the purpose of this interview, can you give us one tidbit from the book?

A huge one: Never sit down to write without knowing what you're going to write before you sit down.

Does this mean that you shouldn't outline first? Or, take notes?

Many writers ask, 'How can you outline without having written?' I think an outline is most useful when you've written at least a third of your book or script, then need to make sure you 'have the rest of it' before you risk writing off in a wrong direction. The more professional you become, however, the more you'll follow the advice in Writing Treatments That Sell: How to Create and Market Your Story Ideas to the Motion Picture and TV Industry, writing a treatment of your book or script before you commit the time and emotional energy to the work itself.

You've also said that having too much time to write is much more dangerous to getting the story out in an exciting way than having too little time to write. Please explain.

The most dramatic writing comes from pressure, and there's no better pressure than the pressure of self-imposed discipline focused on time. Limiting the time you're actually at the computer produces the strongest results. While you're NOT there writing, 'the back of your mind' will be working overtime to make that writing time more productive when it comes around again.

I've heard many writers rave about your book, How to Publish Your Novel. After reading it myself, I now understand what an amazing resource it is for those who are looking to have their novels published. What inspired you to write it?

I was inspired by answering the same questions over and over again, and hearing my partner and staff do the same. Since nothing annoys me more than wasted time, I figured it was time to put all we know into the book-- for the same reason, I wrote A Writer's Time, Writing Treatments That Sell and How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Transforming Your Career.

You've worn many hats. What have you most enjoyed doing and why?

I most enjoy reading a fabulous new manuscript that I KNOW I can develop into a successful book and film.

What, in your opinion, are some of the best ways for a writer to hone his skills?

Almost nothing is better than reading successful books or scripts in the same genre as you are writing in. Next is getting professional editorial guidance from a company that knows what it's doing like the Writer's Lifeline, Inc.

What are some misconceptions you think those who aspire to write fiction full-time have about the writer's life?

That it's easy. That it's sexy. That all you do is lounge around most of the time doing nothing.

Do you have a favorite quote, or words to live by?

Go for it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ho Ho Ho!

Just have to pass along a news item from Australia that will give you a good laugh as we head pell-mell into the holiday season:

Santa’s Ho-Ho-Ho No Longer Politically Acceptable

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Racing the Dark

Library Journal Review

Racing the Dark by Alaya Dawn Johnson

FANTASY

Like the other women dwelling on their seismically active island, Lana plans to become a diver for the jewels within the fish of the freshwater seas. Her first dive, however, turns up a rare jewel that marks her as a woman of power and causes her to flee her island home with her family in search of a teacher who can prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Johnson's first novel presents a coming-of-age story with a strong female protagonist and an unusual and exotic setting.

For most collections. [Johnson, just 25, is currently at work on the sequel volume to this planned trilogy.-Ed.]

Friday, November 2, 2007

Photo Gallery

Go home….

Millie Ruperto, Ness Bautista, and Katerina Monet in “Bricks”

Co Producer Mike Kuciak handling the music for "Bricks"


Toni Trucks & AEI client Joaquin Perles in “Bricks”


Doctor Dre and D. J. Kane in "Bricks"


With AEI client, Jen Minar on the set of “Bricks.”


KJA with Reem Raw, Doctor Dre, and D. J. Kane


Mike da Cop



Luis Moncada ("Rudy") and Ness Bautista ("Fuego")

On the Fox Studios’ set of Noire’s “Hitting the Bricks”




Casting Director, Co-Producer Mike Kuciak on the set of “Hitting the Bricks”

Alexandra Merejo with rapper Reem Raw on the Fox Studios’ set of Noire’s “Hitting the Bricks”



Jen’s birthday cake!

With itinerant cameraman (and granddaughter) Meggie McKenna

Meggie and Teddy on the set of “Bricks”
AEI V.P. L. A. Young as a parole officer on the set of Noire's "Hittingthe Bricks"

Texas Battle (as Mello) and Alexandra Merejo (as Eva) in Noire's "Hitting the Bricks" directed by Brian T. Jaynes





photos by David Lockard