MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Sunday, August 31, 2008

MAUI WRITERS CONFERENCE (HONOLULU)

DAY 1: orientation. Ran into old friends: Steve Fisher from APA, Neil Nyren from Putnam, Roger Jellinek of Jellinek & Murray Literary Agency (Hawaii’s only lit agency!); Marcia Markland from Thomas Dunne, Jillian Manus (thank you for inviting me!),

And met Steve Berry, whose The Charlemagne Pursuit I’d just finished on the plane from L.A.



Got his autograph, and talked to him about the film rights (which I will discuss with Pam Ahearn, his New Orleans agent and an old friend); John and Shannon Tullius, the founders and organizers of the Conference (in its 16th year), Stephen Bulka, head of original movies at Lifetime.

After a rousing sunset cocktail party on the 36th Floor of the Ala Moana, managed to watch Obama’s magnificent speech from the Democratic Convention.


DAY 2. Met Columbia Pictures’ exec DeVon Franklin and pitched him Tracy Price-Thompson’s Gather Together in My Name; Jaime Levine, exec editor of Grand Central; Georgia Hughes, Editorial Director of New World Library (The Power of Now); Jay Schaefer, Editorial Director of Chronicle Books—who remembered me from Ron Nowicki’s The San Francisco Review of Books; Elizabeth Evans of Reece-Halsey North Agency; Dena Fischer from Manus Lit; Jacqueline Hackett (of Literary Works, Atlanta); Robert Strickler (of San Francisco’s Kul’cha Literary Agency). In a full day of pitches, encountered a number of potential AEI projects and even more writers I thought Writer’s Lifeline could assist.



Night 2: The entire audience was blown away by the keynote speaker, Bryce Courtenay, #1 bestselling author in Australia. His mesmerizing storytelling was about storytelling, including the best description I’ve ever heard of what we used to call at Yale “the fictive reader,” who is as much a character in your novel or screenplay as any of the other characters. He calls this unseen persona, who is MORE important than the other characters, “the fourth protagonist,” and convinced us with vivid examples that it should be he that controls what a writer puts in and takes out. Wish everyone could have been there to hear it!

DAY 3. More consultations and discussions with agents from New York about the kinds of stories we’re looking for for film and television. Finally got to meet Mike Palmieri, head of the Conference’s screenwriting program; and to chat with Catherine Fowler (Redwood Agency in Portland) and Holly Root (Waxman Agency, NY) and with Georgia Hughes, about Latino publishing in the U.S. Met 3 exciting African-American authors who we’d love to sign if their writing is as solid as their pitches!

Night 3: Sunset at Waikiki and a special advance screening of Robert & Amanda Moresco’s film, “The Kings of Appletown,” on a thirty-foot screen on the sand at sunset.

DAY 4. With Dena Fischer (of Manus Lit Agency) and Jacqueline Hackett (of Literary Works, Atlanta) presented a workshop entitled “Every Author Is a Publisher,” emphasizing the necessity of extending your belief in yourself to marketing your book—a tradition as ancient as Sophocles (who needed to enlist an admiral or general to finance his great tragedies) or Shakespeare (who convinced the Queen to help him establish the Globe Theater for his plays).

Lunch with Marilyn Horowitz, NYU screenwriting prof and new NY associate manager for AEI.

Introduced AEI client Tracy Price-Thompson to DeVon Franklin, Columbia Pictures Director of Development, who will be reading her Gather Together in My Name.

And the next morning, after one-on-ones, listened to Bryce Courtenay talk about the need for massive commitment to putting in the time at the outset of a writer’s career.

Aloha, Hawaiian Islands Writing Festival. And Mahalo to John and Shannon Tullius, Sam Horn, Jillian Manus, and everyone who had a hand in organizing it.

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