"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Introduce Yourself with a Sound Bite

"The short words are best, and the old words are the best of all.”

–Winston Churchill

In our busy world, no one has time for the full story–they want a synopsis, a digest, a capsule that takes only seconds to deliver, is easy to swallow, and resonates in their minds. And it must contain everything they need to know. Since publicity is about getting your message across, brevity is a must. You must create a short introductory message that will cut through the din and draw attention to who you are, what you do, and the benefit it will provide. We call these messages sound bites.

If you want to get your message across, you need a great sound bite that will immediately capture the attention of busy people. When you get an opening to deliver your sound bite, you better make it good! You must deliver your sound bite quickly, clearly, and compellingly. The more briefly you say it, the better it is.

The media is especially impatient and wants information fast. When you watch TV or listen to the radio, notice how quickly everything moves. Most news stories are delivered in ten seconds or less and most TV segments run for three minutes. Since the media moves so fast, you must deliver information to them fast.

Create a sound bite. Make sure it includes your name, the product or service you provide, and how it will help your consumer. Create your sound bite in two stages: first, create a message that you can deliver in less than thirty seconds; then cut it down to ten or fifteen seconds for the media. Radio news segments come in ten-second increments so “if you can’t express what you want and why it’s newsworthy in ten seconds, you’re off the phone,” advised a news director for a major NBC affiliate.

The purpose of a sound bite is to turn listeners on; it’s a verbal business card that you can deliver when you’re introduced to new people. It’s your “elevator speech”: a snappy, self-description that you can rattle off in the time it takes an elevator to rise from the lobby to the fifth floor.

As theatrical empresario David Belasco said, “If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.” A sound bite is the foundation on which to build a forceful and memorable public persona. It’s the first impression you make, an attention-grabbing device that will get you and your message noticed and remembered. Think of it as an investment with an immediate return because every time you use it, someone considers paying you.

Writing a sound bite forces you to sharpen your focus and examine your approach. It also makes you identify your audiences, clarifying who you are addressing and what you hope to receive from them. When you narrow these fields, it’s much easier to promote yourself.

The ABCs of Sound Bites

Your sound bite must be a grabber–a memorable message that makes listeners want to buy your products, champion your causes, and fight your wars. If it’s short and gets their attention, it buys you more time to sell. Your sound bite must be:

INTERESTING enough to attract immediate ATTENTION,

POWERFUL enough to be REMEMBERED, and

CONVINCING enough to stir overloaded listeners into ACTION.

Examples of a variety of effective sound bites are the following:
“I used to weigh over 300 pounds. Now, I’m a size 8. I can teach you how to lose weight and keep it off.”
–Diet book author

“My name is ________. My free tips on _______.com make investors rich from Internet stocks.”
–Investment broker

“I teach people to look rich, even if they aren’t.”
–Fashion advisor

“I’m a ghost writer. I turn your experiences, adventures, and ideas into bestselling books.”
–Freelance writer

“My name is _________. I free folks from financial worry. Give me a call at _________ and I’ll do the same for you.”
–Financial consultant
More on sound bites next week-

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman’s Author 101 Newsletter”
Subscribe at http://www.author101.com and receive Rick’s “Million Dollar Rolodex”

Lisa Cerasoli--On the Brink of Bliss and Insanity

Lisa Cerasoli’s novel On the Brink of Bliss & Insanity has been sold to FiveStar Publications.

"So... I'm not quite sure how an author that I briefly interrupted in an airplane catastrophe had already written inside of my brain every stupid-did-i-really-say-i-love-him-and-why-don't-I-leave relationship that I have ever lived, but, here it is in literary form. "On the Brink".. is one of the best DAMN books I own. Nope, not sharing it with my best friend Karen. Nope, not my mom Eddy, or anyone who even thinks they are removing it from my library, they are Out Of Their Minds. They can buy their own and have this once-in-a-lifetime-someone-understands-me moment for themselves. I know that's what "On The Brink"... did for me. BUY IT!"

Tish Ciravolo, President/Founder, Daisy Rock Girl Guitars

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s Dracula: The Un-Dead

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s Dracula: The Un-Dead has been sold to Penguin Canada, as a 3-book deal, for significant six figures.

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s Dracula: The Un-Dead

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s Dracula: The Un-Dead, edited by Alex Gallant, has been sold to Harper U.K. for significant six figures.

Go Obama Go!

Congratulations Rudy, your iMix "Go Obama Go!" has been published in the iTunes Music store here.

Playlist Notes: The people are singing! From the irresistably infectious rock of the Obamabots "Yes We Can" to the YouTube sensation Obama Girl's "Crush"
with hot offerings from Rankin Cobra, Blakk Rasta and more, Obama lovers are singing out for the next President of the US!!

Song Name - Artist
Yes We Can - Obamabots
I Got a Crush On Obama (Single) - Obama Girl
Obama - Pistol Opera
Obama -Extra Golden
Obama - Rankin Cobra
Obama - CD & O-Dubs
Obama Girl Vs. Giuliani Girl - Barely Political
Barack Obama (Root Version) - Blakk Rasta
Obama Meets Osama - Capitol Steps
Obama - Chick Willis
Obama Slammer Dub Mix - Rankin Cobra
Hey the Obama - Manson - Bubba the Love Sponge
Barack Obama (Dance Hall Version) - Blakk Rasta

$700 billion to bail-out Greed; $600 billion (and counting) to fight an illicit War:

Who will pay these bills?

That is the only important question about this election. Vote for McCain, and you will pay the bill by further erosion of your pocketbook and your dreams. Vote for Obama, and the bill will be paid by the people who incurred it—the corporations, the mortgage firms, the banks, the brokers the leaders of which became individually wealth not only at our expense but at the expense of their works whose benefits and welfare shrunk in direct proportion to the growth of their obscenely high annual compensation.

Ask yourself, who can better afford to pay this bill?

The profiteers demanded that government “stay out of the way,” so that they could profit unchecked, cutting back on benefits, raising fuel costs, raising interest costs, evading insurance claims, raising credit card interest rates, offering unsound mortgage bargains—in general, preying on the desperate needs of our weakened Middle Class and hopeless Lower Class.

But the moment the house of cards they created topples on all of us, they immediately turn screaming to the same government to save them and to put them right back in their high-paying offices. At Lehman Brothers, top managers who went home on Tuesday of last week were back at work on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong: the bail-out is good. It gives us a shot at a way back, just as the bail-out of the savings & loans did a while back. It’s just a question of who will pay for it.

Vote for Obama and let the profiteers dip into their offshore accounts and help rebuild the country they have wrecked.

Rollins’ Quote Praises David Angsten’s forthcoming Night of the Furies:

"Fast, furious, sexy, and unique, David Angsten's NIGHT OF THE FURIES turns a tour of the Greek Isles into a gripping story of ancient history and bloody retribution. This book demands to be read in one sitting."

--James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Oracle

Read more about and buy NIGHT OF THE FURIES on Amazon.

Inside Hollywood at the EMMYS: The Reel Path to Screenwriting Success in Film and Television

I’ll be chairing a panel, "Inside Hollywood at the EMMYS: The Reel Path to Screenwriting Success in Film and Television."

This panel will consider advanced legal and business issues relating to the critical
need to create the correct approach in advising your client on the development of screenplays, teleplays or documentaries (the “Property”) for film and television. The discussions will relate to the creation and protection of the Property under the U.S. copyright laws and Writers Guild of America guidelines, and defining a clear chain of title and the clearance of all rights in the development, production and distribution of that Property.

Also discussed will be negotiations regarding deal memos and option
agreements for the Property with the major studios. Moreover, the panel will include an analysis of the rights to the use of original or licensed music in film or television soundtracks, including a discussion of publishing and synchronization rights. The panel will also explore ethical considerations in relation to client representation in this area.

Ken Atchity, CEO, Atchity Entertainment International, Inc., Los Angeles

Richard Warren Rappaport, Esq., Adorno & Yoss LLP, Boca Raton and Miami Pat Quinn, Partner/Manager, Quinn Media Management, Beverly Hills Emily Patricia Graham, Esq., Law Offices, Emily Patricia Graham, Fort Lauderdale Dale R. de la Torre, Esq., Jacobson, Russell, Saltz & Fingerman LLP, Los Angeles Leslie Iwerks, President, Leslie Iwerks Productions, Inc., Santa Monica David B. Schwartz, Esq., Vice President, Business Affairs, Disney/ABC Domestic Television, Burbank Richard Willis, Jr., President and CEO, Mozell Entertainment Group, New York and Los Angeles

See the entire program here.

How To Publicize Your Book

Now that you have finished your book, and it is ready to be shopped around to publishers (or has already been bought by a publisher!) it’s time to think about what you can do to help promote your book.

1) A little promotion, focused on NY media, can help us bring your book to the attention of major publishers. Brainstorm with us about this!

2) All other PR should be saved for the month of your books’ launch and following.

3) That means you have to start six months before that date to make magazine and television deadlines!

4) Read the chapter on publicizing your book in KJA’s How to Publish Your Novel (Square One Books).

5) Read John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book.

Come up with a marketing Plan!

•Books don’t publicize themselves and, today, publishers rarely put maximum effort into a book’s release until the book starts selling. This Catch-22 means that YOU are your book’s best hope. The sooner you take that approach, the better your chances will be. Even well-known writers have found that putting little effort into marketing will produce virtually zero results—one or two thousand sold.

•Let us review it before you start implementing it and spending money.

•Start a website! Create a website solely dedicated to your book. AEI’s webmaster provides that service for our clients at rock-bottom prices. And get your link sponsored on other websites too!

•Write emails! Send an email to friends, family and co-workers about your book, and ask them to pass it along to everyone they know. You’ll be amazed how fast word of mouth spreads!


It’s invaluable to get endorsements for your book–authorities and/or well-known people who will say great things about your book to display on the jacket. There are numerous ways to request endorsements (aka “blurbs”):

•Ask your colleagues! If you are a professional in any given field, it’s always a good idea to ask your colleagues for their own endorsements, or to recommend you to well-known others, especially those who are writers too.

•Does your topic deal with a timely issue? Can you think of anyone in entertainment who may relate to your topic? Try and seek out celebrities (actors, best-selling authors, athletes) to endorse your book (it never hurts to have a famous name on the cover!)

•Brainstorm with your editor. Check out your publishers catalog, and suggest writers who might appreciate your book.

•One suggestion. Busy people have good hearts but not enough time. Write the endorsement yourself, focusing on what might sound in character for them; fax or mail it to them, along with sample chapters of your book, asking, “Would you mind endorsing my book along the lines suggested here?” You’ll be surprised that often they just say yes, and let you use what you wrote as their endorsement or change it slightly.

Click here to buy How to Publish Your Novel by Ken Atchity, Andrea McKeown, Julie Mooney, & Margaret O'Connor on Amazon

Every Author Is a Publisher

"Listen to "Every Author Is a Publisher” from the writers conference by downloading the MP3 file here.


Author Royce Buckingham's Second Funny Fantasy Book for Kids Released This Month: Kirkus Reviews Calls Book "A Riotously Good Adventure"

Two kids discover a world of Goblins underground in this hilarious new book for kids by Author Royce Buckingham.

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) September 10, 2008 -- The sleepy town of Sumas near the Canadian border sits atop a rambunctious world full of Goblins in Royce Buckingham's second humorous fantasy novel for kids, GOBLINS! The book hits stores Thursday, September 18.

When PJ and Sam--a cop's kid and a juvenile delinquent--sneak into the Sumas woods in dad's police cruiser, they accidentally run down what looks like a mutant gorilla with a bad attitude. But it's no ape--it's a goblin, and thousands more live under the earth. Sam discovers a tunnel into the goblin world and quickly winds up in their clutches. It'll take all of PJ's strength and ingenuity to outsmart the goblins, save Sam, keep the creatures from finding their way to the surface, and get back to the station before his dad finds out.

The release of GOBLINS! follows Buckingham's breakthrough first novel, DEMONKEEPER, which was named to the International Reading Association's 2008 Children's Choice Booklist and is already in development with 20th Century Fox as a major motion picture. DEMONKEEPER was also just released this August by Random House Germany as a lead title in the launch of its newest division, Penhaligon, and is titled Damliche Damonen. Buckingham has recently inked additional deals with Random House-Germany for GOBLINS! and a sequel to DEMONKEEPER.

Buckingham is an author and screenwriter who creates funny, creepy, and cool stories for kids while working as a prosecuting attorney. He is currently revising his third middle grade novel for Penguin under the working title SCARY MONSTERS and writing the sequel to DEMONKEEPER. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and their two boys. He is represented by the Atchity Entertainment International management and production company in Los Angeles.

Sleep For Success

From How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

Excerpt from Chapter 7 “Your Mind/Body Asset Base”

I rarely lose a night's sleep, despite the stressful lifestyle I've chosen, because I promised myself at the start of my career transit that losing sleep over this new career was a symptom of not being able to handle it. Take your sleep very seriously. The minimum you require for functioning with a clear and rested brain is a non-negotiable need. But make sure you've done everything you can to make your sleep restful. To begin with, unless you're allergic to cotton, buy an all-cotton mattress with an all-cotton cover that breathes through the night instead of emitting noxious fumes. Engage only in soothing activities before falling asleep (sex is best during the day). And if you have a telephone in the bedroom or anywhere near (I no longer do), disconnect it! If you know you might be disturbed you’re already disturbed.
I don't watch television before falling asleep because it fills my head with incoming stimuli at a time when I need to shut down the onboard computer so it can reshuffle and sort its programs. Instead, I find reading a half-page of almost anything will instantly knock me out, no matter how charged-up I felt before I began reading.

Click here to buy How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream on Amazon.

Top 5 Sleep Tips
by Nadine Saubers author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fighting Fatigue

1. Stimulants
--Use your bed only for sleep and sex—don’t read or watch TV in bed- and avoid other stimulants including vigorous exercise, caffeine in beverages and such things as caffeine containing medications like Excedrin, smoking, alcohol, and emotionally charged conversations in the evening. Because individuals have their own thresholds for each of these I always say to find your own cut off time. But the general rule of thumb is to limit your caffeine laced drinks to three cups and drink them before 10 am. Just being aware that all of these are factors is the first step in knowing that you have to find your own limitations/thresholds.

2. Sleep environment-- Keep your sleep environment dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. That includes black out shades, drapes, or even an eye mask. Any light at all during the night will disrupt your circadian clock and your ability to sleep, so keep lighted clocks out of your bedroom (use a clock that requires you to push a button on top to illuminate). Some people like to use a fan for white noise to drown out any other noises. Comfort can come from changing your sheets more often and investing in comfortable bed linens and pillows. Temperature is so important-- you need an environment that is around 64-68 degrees. Today there are great pillows like the down alternative gel pillows that are made from polyester that you can you buy 2 King size gel pillows for around 25$. And the deal with changing your sheets often is to reduce itching and feeling hot from things like dust mites. Fewer dust mites can also mean a difference in allergy symptoms. And you should change your pillow when you change your toothbrush, because 10% of the weight of a 2 year old pillow is dust mite droppings.

3. Food
--Eat your last meal at least three hours before you sleep and avoid sugars for bedtime snacks. A meal raises your blood sugar too high, inhibits sleep, and later when your blood sugar drops too low you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. Instead, have a snack that contains the amino acid tryptophan (a natural relaxant), such as a small cup of milk or some turkey, along with a small piece of fruit or other complex carb to help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier. Avoid eating foods that you might be sensitive to because the resulting indigestion or heartburn will keep you awake. Try a small snack of some whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta, yams, a mixed green salad, sautéed vegetables with a small portion of a healthy fat-containing food, such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts or seeds or -herb tea (especially chamomile or peppermint).

4. Schedule
--Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning in order to help regulate your body's inner clock. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and days off. Go to bed within an hour of your usual bedtime every night and if you have problems sleeping, avoid naps because they often interfere with nighttime sleep.

5. Light, exercise, and ritual
--Expose yourself to bright light daily and get at least 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin every day and get plenty of exercise. Work out regularly because exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and sleep more soundly. But sporadic exercise will contribute to muscle pain and discomfort that may keep you awake. And people who suffer from fatigue need to exercise in order to make their bodies physically tired enough to want to sleep. Exercise is different for everyone, a brisk walk can be enough to tire some people, other people need to start out more gradually, and others need very vigorous exercise. Bedtime rituals can include making sure you are not exposed to bright light within a couple of hours before bed, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed so that your body temperature can fall, deep breathing exercises, and reading something relaxing, writing out your tomorrow’s to do list so that your mind doesn’t have to worry you will forget something, praying, chanting, or meditation whatever you like to do for spiritual practices.


Whether you’re a future novelist, nonfiction writer, screenwriter, or producer, you can consult personally with Dr. Atchity on any phase of your writing career. $350 per hour by telephone; $450 in person in Los Angeles or New York.

Email bl (at) writerslifeline (dot) com to make arrangements and schedule.


What is the difference between “Something that happens” and a “scene.”

Many submissions from both novelists and screenwriters are filled with “non-conflicted” writing, passages in which “something happens” that is filled with emotion, description, and symbolism in which no conflict happens to change the character(s) and forward the story, from a dramatic point of view.

In professional storytelling, drama is all that matters—not just in general, but in each and every scene.

The “scene” is the unit of drama. What makes a scene different from an event, or “something that happens,” is that in a scene a conflict is introduced and/or resolved. It’s that simple. A scene has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end; the beginning’s purpose is to “set up” the conflict, the middle works through the conflict’s components or obstacles, and the end “resolves” the conflict and/or, in some cases, introduces the next conflict.

Is Screenwriting Your Dream?

More from my book How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream.

Excerpt from Chapter 3 "What's the Plan?"

Dreams come first. With the help of an operating plan, those dreams can become realities.

Making them come true requires two things: commitment and the plan itself. Commitment marries your dream to your mission in life; you are going to make your dream your mission. The German poet philosopher Johann Wolfgang Goethe made the most powerful statement about commitment I've ever run across:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed could have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

Decisiveness, according to Lee Iacocca, is the primary quality of a good manager. But without planning decisiveness is hamstrung. Now that we've begun, we need a campaign plan, consisting of general goals (strategy) and specific objectives (tactics). Like dreams, plans should contain deadlines but should not be governed by them.

Let's say your dream is to be a produced screenwriter. As long as you're moving generally in that direction, nothing can take the dream away. But the plan recognizes that dreams come true step by step, and it focuses on the first step: learning about, conceiving, writing, rewriting, and marketing the first novel.

A plan consists of goals reached by objectives to be accomplished within a specific time frame laid out on an agenda. Objectives and goals have deadlines. Dreams don't.

Click here to buy
How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream on Amazon.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge vs. The Oil Companies

With the Governor’s Palin’s willingness to sacrifice nature to oil, thought this article by AEI client Marty Essen might be of interest:

Visit to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
By Marty Essen - Your Turn - 08/31/08

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (pro-oil groups prefer its foreign-sounding acronym, ANWR) is ground zero in the War on the Environment.

If the oil companies win the fight to drill there, no place will be off-limits for them again.

The pitch to drill in the Arctic Refuge isn’t new. In fact, if it wasn’t for public outcry after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, oil wells would likely already dot its landscape. What’s changed is that artificially high gas prices have made it easier for oil companies and the Bush Administration to manipulate Americans into supporting an energy policy that will lead to even greater oil industry profits.

The best way to get beyond politics is to see things with your own eyes. On June 12, 2008, a bush plane carrying my wife, Deb, and I landed near the Jago River. We were 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and the landscape was treeless. This was the heart of the famed “1002 Area,” the one-hundred-mile stretch of Arctic Refuge coastal plain coveted by greedy oil executives and the politicians they control.

The Arctic coastal plain isn’t the wasteland oil drilling advocates would like you to believe it is. In fact, it’s amazingly beautiful. The stunning Brooks Mountain Range filled the southern horizon, and pale-blue braided rivers flowed north, framing the occasional butte. Covering the ground were mosses, grasses, herbs, and sedges, punctuated by tiny flowers. Never before had I visited a place where I could see and hear things so far in the distance.

The Gwich’in Athabascan Indians call the coastal plain the “sacred place where life begins” for a good reason. Not only is it the birthing ground for nearly 40,000 caribou calves each year, but it’s also where more than 50 species of migrating birds hatch their chicks. Many of those birds will migrate to a park, forest, or body of water near you.

We spent a week canoeing down the Jago River to the Arctic Ocean. Along the way, we encountered caribou, songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, Arctic ground squirrels, lemmings, grizzly bear, and both red and Arctic fox. We finished with an invigorating, 10-mile-long, iceberg-dotted, paddle to Barter Island.

Then, for the second part of our trip, we flew south to Fairbanks and headed north again. This time our destination was the Prudhoe Bay oil field, 120 miles west of the Jago River. To get there, we drove the Dalton Highway. The 414-mile long, mostly gravel, road parallels the Alaska Pipeline and serves as the supply route for the Prudhoe Bay oilfield.

Midway to Prudhoe Bay is the tiny community of Wiseman. Without access to the electric grid, Wiseman residents generate their own power with solar panels, windmills, and even a waterwheel. How ironic that such a good example of renewable energy use was on our way to a complex dedicated to feeding America’s massive fossil fuel addiction.

A sickening brown haze told us we were nearing Prudhoe Bay. Then, once the complex was in sight, we gaped at the sprawling expanse of buildings and machinery.

The Prudhoe Bay oil field takes up between 4,240 and 640,000 acres, depending on who’s measuring it. Oil drilling advocates commonly measure only the actual occupied ground, and environmental groups measure around the entire complex.

What’s the difference between the measuring methods? Image you come home from vacation and find cobwebs in every room, stretching from chair to chair and from wall to wall. You consult two friends — an oil company lobbyist and an environmentalist. The lobbyist says, “The webs are thin. Let them be. You’ll still have most of the house to yourself.” The environmentalist says, “My dear friend, you have a spider problem!”

The only way we could see the oil field complex up close was on an official Prudhoe Bay tour, which began with a short video. I listened as the narrator repeatedly stressed the oil companies’ commitment to the environment. Did they think we had arrived at Prudhoe Bay blindfolded? I guess if you repeat something enough, people will believe it.

Following the video, we boarded a bus and headed into the oil field. From horizon to horizon, the complex continued as far as we could see. The tour “highlight” was a stop at the Arctic Ocean, where our guide invited everyone to take a swim. Deb and I looked at the black guck alongshore — obvious remnants of a spill — and decided to stay dry.

As we headed back to Fairbanks, George W. Bush was making another pitch to drill in the sacred place where life begins. As much as the oilman turned president disappointed me, the American people have disappointed me more. Recent polls show that rising gas prices have made Americans much more receptive to drilling in environmentally sensitive areas. Are we really that gullible?

Because oil prices are set on the global market, we can’t drill our way to cheap gas. We can, however, with only a minor conservation effort, save more oil than we’d ever pump out of the Arctic Refuge. And if we put a full effort into weaning ourselves off oil, we won’t be passing the problem on to future generations. Truly, the most patriotic thing an American can do is support freedom — from fossil fuels.

We were almost to Fairbanks when the driver of a wide-load pilot car directed us onto the shoulder. I rolled down my window and exchanged smiles with him.

“We’re bringing a boat up to Prudhoe Bay to go water-skiing!” he chortled.

“It must be a big boat,” I said.

“Actually,” he said with a wink, “we’re bringing the boat up to do the oil exploration we aren’t supposed to be doing. Kinda like the pipe we brought up years ago for the drilling we weren’t supposed to be doing.”

A semi truck rounded the curve in front of us, pulling an enormous boat that spanned from shoulder to shoulder. As it passed, I saw two more trucks pushing.

The sight of three diesel trucks pushing and pulling one piece of oil exploration equipment was a fitting microcosm of our current energy policy. It was so backward, so wasteful, so shortsighted. In the past, America has led the world in progressive ideas and innovative solutions. It’s time for our country to take the lead again.

Marty Essen of Victor is a popular college speaker and author of the multi-award-winning book ‘Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents.’ His Web site is CoolCreaturesHotPlanet.com.

You can also see photos relating to the op-ed on his website.

Here's a link to the op-ed as it appeared this past Sunday in the Helena Independent Record (Montana's capital paper).

September FESTFLASH: Festivals to Enter & Attend!

Dowload the following schedule here.


AFI FEST 2008 presented by Audi, slated for October 30th to November 9th, brings the best of world cinema to the heart of Hollywood for 11 days this fall. Headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt, L.A.’s longest running film festival is packed with red carpet premieres, conversations with filmmakers and deep programming for a full sweep of the year’s best. Tickets on sale October 10. Passes on sale September 2. www.afi.com/afifest; 866/AFI-FEST.

Tickets are available for the ANGELUS STUDENT FILM FESTIVAL on Sept. 13! This festival honors future filmmakers as they create works that respect the dignity of the human person. Angelus-winning films reflect values such as redemption, spirituality, dignity, tolerance, equality, diversity, hope and triumph of the human spirit. Angelus alumni include Sundance winners Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves) and Tony Bui (Three Seasons and Green Dragon). Other winners include directors Greg Marcks (11:14, starring Hilary Swank) and Sabrina Dhawan (screenwriter, Monsoon Wedding). For tickets or more information, go to www.angelus.org or contact Monika Moreno at Monikka1@verizon.net or 800/874-0999.

Bold visions. Lovingly crafted. Cutting-edge. Artistically inspired. These are the kinds of films sought for the 47th ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL, the longest-running showcase of independent, experimental and artistically-inspired films in North America. All lengths and genres accepted and considered: Experimental, animation, documentary, narrative and combinations in between. + More than $20,000 awarded to films in competition. + Qualifying festival for annual Academy Awards. + Select films participate on international traveling tour. Standard deadline October 15, 2008 = $40. Late deadline November 15, 2008 = $50. The 47th Ann Arbor Film Festival, March 24 - 29, 2009. Visit www.aafilmfest.org or e-mail info@aafilmfest.org.

BENDFILM: Where Filmmakers Are Gods. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Cascade Mountains in Bend, Central Oregon. Now in its 5th year, BendFilm creates a memorable festival every October with more than $30,000 in cash awards including a $10,000 Best of Show Award. Additional cash awards are presented for Best Feature ($2,500), Best Doc ($2,500), Best Short ($2,500), Best Student Film ($3,000), Best Conservation Award ($2,500) and Excellence in Filmmaking By A Female Director ($4,000). Add that to the Audience Award, which takes home a percentage of ticket sales and you have a festival that filmmakers love. Deadline: June 30, 2008. Visit www.bendfilm.org. Executive Director: Sandy Henderson. Contact: info@bendfilm.org.

BIG BEAR LAKE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL & SCREENWRITING COMPETITION is held the weekend of September 11-14, 2008. Screenings of independent feature films, short films, student films, High School student films, documentaries and a screenwriting competition. Festival holds educational filmmaker panels, seminars and a Pitchfest. Visit www.bigbearlakefilmfestival.com or call 909/866-3433 for more information.

The BLACK MARIA FILM FESTIVAL seeks diverse, expressive and passionate short films and videos by independent makers. The festival is named after Thomas Edison’s motion picture studio and is known for its support of spirited, cutting edge, and otherwise singular film and video. The Black Maria is committed to works that explore the potential of the medium to illuminate, provoke, enrich and engage viewers. Imaginative and revelatory films and videos, which provide insight into the human condition and political, social, and environmental issues, as well as the lives of people with disabilities, or which investigate the aesthetic potential and eschew obvious conventions of the medium are also sought by the festival. www.blackmariafilmfestival.org.

The 8th annual installment of the CONEY ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL hits the shores of Coney Island Friday, September 26th through Sunday, September 28th. This annual festival features over 80 films from around the world; a stunning array of high and lowbrow fare, as diverse as the neighborhood it represents. The festival kicks off with an opening night party featuring performances from The Coney Island Sideshow and Burlesque Performers. An annual screening of The Warriors runs Saturday night where the audience is encouraged to talk back to the screen! For details go to www.coneyislandfilmfestival.com. Contact Rob Leddy 718/907-3409 or rob@coneyislandfilmfestival.com.

10th annual CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL, April 2-5, 2009, Jackson, Mississippi. Come challenge Mississippi’s creative class & still be showered in Southern hospitality. This is where the music of delta bluesman Robert Johnson runs straight into the home of the international ballet competition. Tennessee Williams, Morris, Welty, Faulkner, James Earl Jones, Oprah, Morgan Freeman; some of the world’s greatest musicians, quirky and creative folks. There’ll be cash prizes, Southern celebrities, workshops, daily receptions and nightly jukin’ with live music to toast you, the filmmaker. It’s all about your story. Share it. They’ll show you a great time. Entry Deadline Dec. 20. www.crossroadsfilmfest.com.

The 14th annual CUCALORUS FILM FESTIVAL is in the works! This "filmmaker’s festival" prepares for another rugged and rebellious celebration of filmmaking, taking place in historic downtown Wilmington, NC from November 12-15, 2008. Filmmakers from all over the world bring their independent visions to the screen with shorts, features, docs and motley mix of experimental films and events. Bring your brain and an extra set of eyes, Cucalorus is the real deal—a festival for filmmakers, by filmmakers. Full schedule for 2008 announced in early October, check out www.cucalorus.org to get the skinny and reserve your festival pass. Call 910/343-5995 or e-mail dan@cucalorus.org for more.

FIRSTGLANCE FILM FEST 9 HOLLYWOOD—Call for Entries Opens Deadline December 1, 2008. Calling for submissions from professional, student and first-time filmmakers from across the globe for their 9th annual event to be held in Hollywood April 2009. All Official Selections receive a distinguished award presented by our screening committee and compete for the Best of The Fest prize worth tens of thousands, plus a new sliding scale prize, the more entries the greater the prize package. FirstGlance offers more short films the opportunity to get visibility with their online contest for shorts they cannot program due to time constraints but that they feel have great festival potential, with a great prize package and screening at the Closing Night Screenings. For the first time they have opened their categories to Webisode Pilots. Visit www.firstglancefilms.com to apply.

The INDIE SHORT FILM COMPETITION is now accepting entries for its 2nd annual international short film competition. This innovative online short film competition is a great opportunity for indie filmmakers to advance their career, gain recognition in the filmmaking industry and receive international exposure. Open to shorts 40 minutes and under. $25,000 in cash and prizes. 10 categories to enter! Winners are determined by a judging panel of industry professionals. Sponsored by Sony Creative Software, Write Brothers, FrameForge 3D Studio, JellyPie Software, Media Servies, MovieMaker Magazine, Partners In Rhyme, Blackmagic Design, TwistedTracks.com, BoilerPlate and SmartSound! Deadline for entries is November 29, 2008. For more information visit www.IndieShortFilms.net.

L.A. COMEDY SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL and L.A. COMEDY SCRIPTS SCREENPLAY COMPETITION Call for Entries! The Early Deadline for the 2009 festival is October 3, 2008. Now accepting submissions in the following categories: Comedy Short Films (30 minutes or less), Comedy ‘Shortie’ Shorts (5 minutes or less), Animated Comedy Shorts (30 minutes or less), Feature Comedy Scripts (80-130 pages) and Short Comedy Scripts (30 pages or less). Over $35,000 in cash and prizes. Presenters and judges will include top names from film and television including “SNL,” “Mad TV,” “The Boondocks,” “Boston Legal,” Austin Powers and more. Enter at www.lacomedyshorts.com or through www.withoutabox.com.

The MAGNOLIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL was founded by Ron Tibbett in 1996 to celebrate his vision of Independent film in Mississippi. “The Mag” has been called the most filmmaker friendly festival by many past contributors. The festival takes place in mid-February, in Starkville, Mississippi, and welcomes all genres and all lengths in competition for awards. Receptions, workshops and luncheons are held in the Starkville and West Point, MS area. Housing, meals, events and local transportation are provided for filmmakers whose work is chosen for screening. To learn more about the festival see www.magfilmfest.com.

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL: October 2-12, 2008. 2008 marks the Mill Valley Film Festival’s 31st edition. A celebration of the best in independent and world cinema, MVFF annually brings together a community of filmmakers and film lovers to Mill Valley, San Rafael and beyond to experience great new films in the beautiful environment of San Francisco’s beautiful Bay Area. With its reputation as a filmmakers’ festival, this prestigious non-competitive event showcases international features, documentaries, shorts and children's films—something for every filmgoer. They invite you to join them in celebrating great film! For more information go to www.mvff.com.

The OMAHA FILM FESTIVAL is now accepting entries in the following categories: Narrative Features, Documentaries, Short Films, Animated Short Films, OFF the EDGE (Horror, Experimental, Dark Films) and Screenplays. Deadlines: Sept 8 (regular) and Oct 26 (late). Visit www.omahafilmfestival.org. With the creation of the festival's Film Education Initiative, ongoing learning opportunities have been provided to filmmakers during the annual festival and conference. Past participants include Shane Black, Mike Hill, Jon Bokenkamp, Josh Stolberg, Lew Hunter, Tom Elkins and Jeff Kitchen.

CALL FOR ENTRIES! The SYRACUSE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SYRFILM) is preparing for the '09 Festival. April 24, 2009 - May 3, 2009. Accepting films through December 1, 2008. Submit early for discounted entry fee. Visit www.syrfilm.com for submission materials. SYRFILM '09 NOT JUST AN EVENT—AN EXPERIENCE.

The 14th annual VICTORIA FILM FESTIVAL presents the most exclusive industry event of the year. Trigger Points Pacific has only 50 openings for producers who’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to meet with 25 top industry acquisition execs in 30-minute meetings for incomparable access and results. With historic architecture and fabulous vistas, downtown streets are lined with theaters, shops, museums and cafes that provide the perfect backdrop for the home of the boutique schmooze. A great package is available at the legendary Fairmont Empress to make your business trip unforgettable. Online registration and information at www.victoriafilmfestival.com.

Enter the 42nd annual WORLDFEST-HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL. Regarded as one of the best-conceived film festivals in the world. WorldFest gave first honors to Spielberg, Lucas, Ang Lee, Ridley Scott, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, Brian De Palma and hundreds more. They offer International competition and Remi Awards for Indie Features, Shorts, Experimental, Student, Screenplays, Documentaries, Music Videos, New Media, TV Commercials, TV Production and Film & Video Production. WorldFest is one of the oldest and longest running International Film Festivals in the world and the third oldest film festival in North America. "Before there was Sundance or SXSW, before there was Toronto or Tribeca!" Simply go to www.worldfest.org, click on FAQ, CATEGORIES, ENTRY FORMS and HOW TO WIN! They welcome your participation.

For more information on advertising in MovieMaker's FLASH e-newsletter, contact Ian Bage at 800/677-4424 or ian@moviemaker.com.

Author101 University is October 1 and 2 in Atlanta

Author101 University is in one month
Message from Rick Frishman

If you are an author or want to be an author your this the seminar for you

Mark Victor Hansen is the emcee of the event and Mark, Rick and I want to see you in Atlanta. If you are an author or want to be an author, I promise you - these two days will change your life!

We have an action packed two day program this time and I'm excited about what we have in store for you.

Our last event in Los Angeles was sold out, and I expect this event to sell out very quickly. (check out the testimonials from some of our more than satisfied attendees on the website...) We've assembled a great group of speakers who want to meet you - and share with you what it takes to be a successful entrepreneurial author.

Our program presenters include:

- Mark Victor Hansen
- Rick Frishman
- David Hancock
- Robyn Freedman Spizman
- Brendon Burchard
- Jill Lublin
- Alex Carroll
- John Willig
- James Malinchak
- Lynn Pierce

Our goal is to get you published, to show you how to sell and promote your book after its published and, to help you leverage it to make your business more profitable!

Make sure you bring paper for notes... there'll be lots of great ideas and tactics that you'll want to hold on to and use. This two day seminar will get you on your way.
The tuition for both days is only $399. So sign up today - and take advantage of our money- back guarantee. Seating is very limited... only 100 people. We take this seriously and want to make sure you get the personalized training and access you deserve.

Get all the info here for Author 101 University

If you have a list - please send this out to your list-

If you would like to become an affiliate sign up here.


After the Writers Conference, I continue to be convinced how important networking is to everyone who wants to succeed at reaching their dreams. I’ve even joined the All Cities Media Group to network for the financing we’re seeking for our clients’ films, and it’s already producing results. I’ll post ideas about networking in the next few months, but want to start by recommending Eric Shaw’s little book (he’s the president and founder of All Cities, Championship Networking. Written with his partner Joel Eisenberg, it’s filled with common sense (why is common sense always so surprising?) tips:

· Never stand or sit next to someone you already know.

· Every elevator is an opportunity.

· Look for what you can do to help, rather than asking for help.

The primary reason to go to a writers’ conference or gathering is to get to know (a) others who are doing what you’re doing and (b) those who can help you get it done. Leave your shyness at home.

I Made the Career Change to Full-time Creativity

As promised the following is the first excerpt from my book about making a career change to full-time creativity.

"What makes you an authority?"

Einstein: “The punishment fate has given me for my hatred of authority is making me one.”

Atchity: Authority comes from describing the clear pattern things reveal in retrospect.

Once upon a time I resigned my position as tenured professor of comparative literature at Occidental College in Los Angeles to pursue a new full-time career as free-lance writer, independent producer, and literary manager. I exchanged a thirty-year "comfort horizon" (how much of the future you can envision as being covered by income-generating contracts presently in hand) for one that has ranged from a mere 24 hours to nine months at the very best--normally hovering precariously between 45 and 90 days. When people told me that my mid-life career change was insane, I reminded them (and myself) of Salvador Dali's taunt:
"The only difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad." Regardless of how that struck my interrogator, it made me feel better.

My decision to resign from my tenured position became final in the middle of a December snowstorm in Montreal, where I was taking a leave of absence from Occidental College to supervise the production of the Shades of Love series of romantic comedies, which I had conceived and was producing, for Lorimar and Astral-Bellevue-Pathe. The decision followed on the heels of an event that brought the familiar sensation that everything happens for a reason: I was scheduled to play the Aextra part of a professor in Mort Ransen's
Sincerely, Violet, but had been delayed by a snowstorm. By the time I finally arrived on the set the scene had already been shot. I decided right then and there that I simply wasn’t meant to play a professor even in fiction--that it was high time to resign my tenure. My extra appearance was rescheduled for the next day: I ended up playing a graphologist.

Although the incident in Montreal provoked immediate action, the decision had been a long time in the making, first conceived 12 years earlier while I was serving as Fulbright Professor at the University of Bologna. On Valentine's Day of that year, I received a telegram from the Occidental Dean of the Faculty informing me that I'd been granted tenure. My immediate reaction to this news surprised me: I became depressed.

That depression continued for at least a year, compounded by a difficulty in finding colleagues who could relate to such a bizarre reaction to what everyone else considered good news. I should have been ecstatic.

I finally figured it out for myself: I felt trapped, suffocated. My oldest recurrent nightmare as a child was of being suffocated by an enormous blanket not of my own weaving. Yes, the box I now found myself in was a comfortable one; but it was still a box—a golden cage. As much as I loved teaching, as much as I had succeeded at it, I was having trouble with the thought that for the next 39 years I'd be able to predict my schedule 12 months in advance. I felt that my life was spinning out of control, coming to an end, and that without knowing how, I had prematurely become a zombie.

I knew I had to escape.

Click here to buy How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream on Amazon.

I’m happy to respond to questions from visitors to the blog.

Become a Writer!


And become a writer! Over the next months, I will bring you excerpts from my book about making the career change to full-time creativity. It’s a transformation that requires 110% of your resources, including your time. I hope what I went through personally can help you accelerate the process. Love
to answer specific questions you might have along the way.

The Author's Real Life Experiences and Real Answers for You!
By Donald Mitchell "a Practical Optimist" (Boston)

I always find self-help books to be the most useful when the author has accomplished something more difficult than what I am seeking to do. The lessons from a more challenging transition always seem to make it more obvious to me what I should do.

Top film producer, author and agent, Dr. Kenneth Atchity, has been there and done that. He turned his back on lifetime tenure as a respected professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles to become a creative force and deal-maker in both Hollywood and New York. Why? He wanted to live his dreams . . . rather than be merely secure.

As I often say to friends, I'd rather be exhausted than bored. Dr. Atchity seems to operate on the same wavelength. . . Continue reading the review and buy How to Escape Lifetime Security on Amazon here.

Screenwriting Info: More on How to Write a Screenplay

High-concept and log-lines
By By Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong, and Mike Kuciak

If you're truly angling for the big spec sale, start dealing with reality: The studios today are producing, for far the most part, two kinds of films: pre-established franchises (comic books, TV series, famous novels, toys, etc., like "Spiderman," "Charlie's Angels," "Prey," "Power Rangers")and high-concept scripts that are either conceived of in-house by executives, producers, managers, or agents who know what the market responds to - or by spec screenplay writers determined to break the bank.

Writing even the greatest screenplay that isn't high concept is choosing either the indie path or self-indulgence, or, ideally, both. We love those scripts and those writers at AEI, but that's not what we've been asked to talk about here.

Dealing with the concept of "high concept" is one of the most challenging and frustrating tasks of the Hollywood writer, agent, or producer - and reducing the story to a log-line is what high concept is all about. As a former academic not prepared for a world focused on marketing, it took me (Atchity) years to realize that the term "high concept" means almost its opposite.

Sometimes a title is its own high concept, as with Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel Gone with the Wind, the extended log line of which would be: "Against the backdrop of the great Civil War, a narcissistic Southern beauty, obsessed with idyllic love, struggles to reconstruct her life and finds her true love is closer than she thinks."

A more accurate term for "high concept" might be "simple concept," or "a story that will compel the broadest audiences to watch it after a pitch of only a few words":



"Anger Management"

"Sleepless, in Seattle"

"Liar, Liar"


"Unwanted Attentions"



"The Hunt for Red October"

"How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days"

"Four Weddings and a Funeral"

"Dumb and Dumber"

"Black Hawk Down"

"Panic Room"

"Runaway Bride"

"Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead"

"Home Alone"

"Die Hard"--

--are examples of high concepts projected by their very titles. It's enough to hear the title and know that Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson star to compel audiences to the box office for "Anger Management."

Titles like "The Fisher King," "Shallow Hal," "Seven Days in May," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "The Shipping News," as evocative as they may be are not high concept titles and, though they may be successful, generally are swimming upstream and against today's Hollywood current.

Nothing is more important to marketing your story than a "high concept log line" that makes it immediately stand out from all those stories that are subtle, nuanced, and difficult to pitch, and that depend entirely upon "execution."

Here are some examples that have led us or others to sales:

o "Jurassic Shark!" (the two-word description given AEI client Steve Alten's Meg by ICM-agent Jeff Robinov, who spearheaded a preempt from Disney for $1.1 million)
o The most obnoxious guy in the world realizes he's become an asshole on a false premise. (John Scott Shepherd's Henry's List of Wrongs, sold to New Line Pictures for $1.6 million).
o "'Die Hard' on a boat," allegedly the log-line line that led to the sale of "Under Siege."
o "Fish out of water - only she's a mermaid!" for "Splash."

The "log line" is a one-line description of the story, very much like the one-liners you would read in TV Guide ("Hollywood makes movies you can advertise on TV," says pro Joe Roth). Jaws can be advertised, visually or verbally, as "Shark bad - Kill shark!" After all, television is where you hope your work will end up eventually, so making buyers think it can fit there is the smartest first step to selling. Mike Kuciak in our office offers these examples of script AEI is currently marketing:

+ A pilot joins a Hollywood studio that fronts a secret alien-fighting command ("Studio Command" by Holly Wonder).
+ Ten years ago, an artist created a mosaic on the backs of four friends--now a ruthless collector is harvesting their skin to reassemble the artwork ("Skin Deep" by Stuart Connelly).
+ A brilliant scientist races to stop a renegade general from using her time travel device to empty the imperial Roman treasury ("War Gods" by John Robert Marlow).
+ A reluctant hitman becomes a miracle-working saint. ("Stronzo, the Good" by Paul Myers)

It's not necessary for your log line to mention character names. A strong character trait will do - with a dramatic teaser about the story. All log lines go back to that ancient storyteller's formula, "What would happen if a character like x ended up in a situation like y." Next add a specific catch word that quickly tell the reader what the story is about. Is it about love, greed, obsession murder, family turmoil? Once you're set on one or two words you can push out from there adding a few more economical adjectives and verbs to make up your long line.

* A woman or family in jeopardy?

"Cape Fear": A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jai

* An ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances?

"Erin Brockovich": An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply

* Men on a mission?

"Saving Private Ryan": US soldiers try to save their comrade who's stationed behind enemy lines.

"American Pie": Four teenage boys make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night.

* A man against nature?

"Castaway": A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive after a crash landing on a deserted island.

"Cliffhanger": A retired mountain climber must conquer an unclimbable peak to save the survivors of a plane crash from certain death.

or the system?

"People Vs. Larry Flynt": A pornography publisher becomes the unlikely defender of free speech.

"Class Action": A female attorney finds that her nemesis is her own father, and must choose between her corporate client and justice."

* A woman escaping from something or someone she loves.

"Enough": On the run from an abusive husband, a young mother begins to train herself to fight back.

Here's what we long to see, in our daily email submissions and by mail: A high concept log line that makes a story out of one of the most universal

* human emotions: fear, love, hate, envy, etc.
* deadly sins: anger, greed, lust, etc.
* plot motivators: betrayal, vengeance, discovery, rebirth, survival, etc.
* virtues: loyalty, faith, responsibility, etc.

and incarnates that element in characters we can care about, relate to, and root for to shape an "original story" that feels both fresh and relevant to today's global market. If you can do that, and your writing equals your vision, you're only steps away from financial success and recognition on the biggest screen of all.

Ken and Chi-Li, coauthors of Writing Treatments That Sell, newly revised Los Angeles Times Hollywood Booklist bestseller (Owl Books), are partners in AEI, a literary management and motion picture production company that represents writers who are "ready for prime-time." Mike is associate manager and creative exec at AEI, and can be reached at AEI's affiliate company, The Writer's Lifeline, Inc makes writers and novelists ready for prime-time.

Click here to read more about Writing Treatments That Sell and buy it on Amazon.

Writers, learn how to deal with rejection

Dealing with Rejection
by Kenneth Atchity
Reprinted from The Writer, February, 1995

If you can't stand - or can't learn to stand - the idea that your work may be rejected, you should give up the dream of writing.

Becoming professional means learning to deal with rejection with dignity and determination. Besides, rejection slips aren't so bad. Over the years, as I've listened to writers complain about them, I've come to realize that we surely prefer them to at least one alternative.

A dark Lincoln limousine pulls up in front of your house in the morning. Your hair is still in curlers as a woman in a severe tweed suit walks up the driveway with a leather attaché case under her arm. "Hello, Jan Matthews," she says, handing you an envelope. "My name is Ashburton Mary Calhoun, senior editor of Pachyderm Books. I wanted to return your manuscript in person to tell you we thought it was awful." She tips her hat. "Have a nice day."

The rejection slip is the industry's alternative to blatant callousness; it's not worth brooding over. Brood over a personal visit from Calhoun, but until that happens keep up your momentum.

Fear of rejection is inevitable for writers, since writing involves an extension of self. The ability to keep moving forward despite rejection distinguishes professionals from amateurs. Rejections can even become a badge of success. All successful writers have amassed a hill of them. The goal is to control the rejection slips rather than be controlled by them. Some people do this by burning them; others do it by using them to paper the bathroom wall. A famous composer is said to have written this letter:
"I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. Your criticism is in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

When an article or manuscript is returned to your mailbox, you already have your "linkage." Before even looking at the rejection notice, take the manuscript out of the return envelope and slip it into the addressed envelope for the next submission. Put that in the mail and only then, if you must, read your rejection slip. Record it on your submission list so you don't resubmit the same version of a manuscript to an uninterested publisher a second time. Above all, don't let your response to rejection delay getting the manuscript in circulation again. It's not going to get published if it sits around the house.

Rejection slips vary widely. A careful study of them can lead to building bridges with editors. A personal signature can mean more than a completely printed form. But the general rule among editors and publishers (who read countless manuscripts) is not to say more than their time allows. An editor is usually not interested in being addressed personally by a writer unless the editor has included specific comments about how to improve your manuscript with the response. One way of addressing the editor - building the bridge - is to write back asking why your piece was rejected, including a copy of the editor's letter when you do so. Most editors, if you read their rejection letters correctly and query them courteously, will take the time to answer such a question.

Many editors will distinguish between their rejection letters as follows:

1. Lowest level - a printed form - generally sent if the writer hasn't addressed a particular editor.
2. A note with a personal signature - it may still "sound" like a form letter. Polite but no particulars.
3. A note as above, but with particular details about rejection, brief suggestions about needed revisions, and an invitation to see further work.

When they have any interest in your work, they will say so, as in a #3 response. If they send you a #2 response, you may conclude that they found too many things wrong with the concept or execution of your story or manuscript to allow them time to respond in more detail.

The less work needed to make a manuscript publishable, the better the response from a publisher. If you have received less than a #3 response from an editor or publisher, it's improbable that asking an editor why your manuscript was rejected will build a bridge to the publishing industry for your personal network. If the editor didn't find it practical to analyze the shortcomings of your manuscript in the first place, you'll only put her on the spot by asking her a second time. Editors don't want to be hurtful, and the kind of letter they would have to formulate to avoid deepening a writer's rejection wound is also too time-consuming. One publisher relates:

I recently had a three-page, single-spaced letter from a writer reviewing the history of another writer's lack of success in publishing a book and, by implication, trying to get back at me for rejecting it. Did I understand genius and the writer's frustration? The author also wanted to take me to lunch to discuss the book in detail - it was some 800 pages.

Any personal correspondence from an editor is worth a follow-up on your part. But be cautious about how you interpret their language, and don't be discouraged!

Publishers and editors suggest the following guidelines for interpreting and responding to their comments:

1. Consider any editorial suggestions seriously, though you may feel bruised at first. Do they make sense? How could you rectify what's wrong?
2. Has the editor understood what you're attempting to say? How could you make it clearer?
3. If so, only if clarification (and suggestions for change) might change the editorial opinion, write an explanatory letter. But don't do so as a means of self-justification against the establishment.

Some editors may use the phrase, "We can't use it right now" merely to soften the letdown, and many writers take the words as literal truth. However, some editors may mean the phrase literally, so if an editor writes, "We can't use it right now," write back and ask, "When can you use it?" If you receive encouragement from an editor, ask "If I changed the ending (or whatever change the editor suggests), would you be interested in seeing it again?" If you do resubmit your revised manuscript to an editor, query first with a copy of the original rejection letter. Then be sure to note that the manuscript is a revision of one previously submitted.

It's not uncommon for a writer to receive 36 rejections and then be accepted - or 50 rejections in the U.S., and finally be published in England. Be patient. Suspense novelist Elmore Leonard's The Big Bounce was rejected 84 times before it was sold as a Gold Medal Original, with Warner Brothers making the film. Make a chart of submissions and fill in the blanks without thinking about it. Note any constructive feedback and suggested revisions. Modify your submission list if the comments or lack of response in an area you thought might be most marketable for your work indicate the contrary. Unless a half-dozen editors make the same criticism of your work, plan to send it out at least 30 times before you begin major revisions that require withdrawing it from your active file. Frank Herbert's Dune was rejected by some 20 publishers, Jerry Kosinski's Cockpit 36 times - three times by the publisher who eventually published it, once by that same publisher after the book came out!
(Kosinski sent a copy of a typed manuscript, with its title and author changed, to a different editor at the same publishing house; when that editor rejected it, Kosinski sent him a copy of the signed book.)

George Bernard Shaw said that he realized when he was still a child that nine things out of ten he attempted were failures.
"I didn't want to be a failure, so I decided I had to work ten times harder!

Fourteen Reasons for Rejections

"The suggestions made for revisions will often make the difference between acceptance and rejection..."

* You really don't want to write; you just want to be published.
* You haven't read widely the kind of material you are trying to write.
* You haven't mastered writing techniques.
* You've been too easily discouraged.
* You haven't studied the market.
* You failed to follow up leads.
* You can't take criticism.
* Your writing is commonplace or lacks imaginative spark.
* Your query letters don't "sell" your idea.
* You don't revise before submitting your manuscript.
* You are too concerned with writing for a specific market.
* You haven't learned the editorial requirements of a specific market.
* You make excuses for not writing.
* You may not have the talent or skill to succeed at the level you'd envisioned.