MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT
For Every Author Who Wants To Make Their Dreams Come True And Finish Writing Their Book! ...
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Excerpt: One of my favorite seminars to teach is "Writing the Treatment" because this rarely taught skill is invaluable for the creation of new material, to analyze and improve current scripts and a compelling way of getting your ideas read. Many times, the treatment can be more difficult than writing the script, so it's important to learn a foolproof method for writing a strong treatment every time.
If you feel you're at a point where a treatment will be helpful, I recommend picking up a copy of Ken Atchity's Writing Treatments That Sell: How to Create and Market Your Story Ideas to the Motion Picture and TV Industry.
Go to Marilyn Horowitz's website here.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Author: Rod Lott
After nearly seeing death by sea creature in the waters of
OTHER BOOKGASM REVIEWS OF THIS AUTHOR:
• DARK GOLD by David Angsten
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Whether it’s betrayal for ambition, power, love, sex, and money, or even envy, story patterns spun from this violent myth hover over the history of the cinema as they do over the history of humanity. Dancing among themes of trust and treachery, deception, desertion, and disloyalty, some of the most dramatic villains are its greatest betrayers—from Brutus and Iago, to Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr.
In the betrayal story a close bond is established between the subject and the one who betrays him, the bond must be jostled by some irresistible motivating emotional force that becomes the betrayer’s obsession; the obsession leads to the betrayal, which threatens to destroy--and often does destroy--the subject. Finally the betrayer is either punished for his perfidy or not. The betrayal myth shapes such diverse films as:
• Samson and Delilah (1949): Personal strength is stolen by deceitful love, and a nation is jeopardized;
• Phaedra (1962), where misplaced lust, instilled by the gods, explodes a marriage and a family;
• Body Heat (1981), where weakness is the entry point for duplicity and betrayal;
• Betrayal (1983), where love and betrayal deconstructed, are revealed as inevitably interlocking reverberations;
• Fatal Attraction (1987), where a moment of weakness unravels a lifetime of happiness;
• Brave Heart (1995), where Robert the Bruce, motivated by political ambition, betrays Mel Gibson’s William Wallace twice;
• Othello (1995, 2001), where the force of Desdemona’s alleged betrayal is the mirror reflection of Iago’s betraying envy.
• The Ice Storm (1997), where betrayal springs like evil flowers from the soil of suburban ennui.
• The Passion of the Christ (2004), where the poster boy of betrayers wreaks vengeance on himself.
One hero’s passion is another’s betrayal. For bringing fire to mankind out of sympathy for our plight, Prometheus is chained to a rock for all eternity. Antigone must choose between betraying King Creon or betraying her dead hero brother. Betrayal stories focus on the thread that binds the individual and “the other,” generally illustrating the moral that unrestrained self-interest is always in danger of unraveling the social fiber. “Othello was not jealous,” Alexander Pushkin pointed out. “He was trustful.”
In one of my all-time favorite betrayal stories, All about Eve (1950), Bette Davis plays the actress that Anne Baxter’s Eve betrays by working her ambitious way into every corner of her life--until Margo realizes that Eve has set the stage for taking over her career. The comely ingénue is the pivotal character of the story--villain as protagonist. When Eve is called to task by Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), she’s devastated to realize that, unwittingly, she’s made a pact with a devil even more sinister than she is—because, unlike her, he has no ambition except to serve up gossip. The movie ends with a dramatic reminder that the cycle of “betrayal for ambition” is never-ending, and that people of power should never trust new friends. Eve’s Promethean rock is having to live not only with herself seen clearly in DeWitt’s journalistic lens but also with undergrad Phoebe, the “next Eve.”
The mythic theme “love betrayed by lust” traces back at least as far as Homer’s Iliad—in stark contrast with The Odyssey, where Penelope’s refusal to betray her absent husband leads to a violently happy ending. Adrian Lyne reprises his fascination with the repercussions of fatal attractions in Unfaithful (2002)--based on Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidele (1969). Here the betrayal is flipped to the distaff side. Happily married Susan (Diane Lane) is struck by Eros’ thunderbolt borne on the winds of chance. In a scene that sizzles almost as successfully as the seduction scenes, husband Richard Gere takes retribution on the irresistible Frenchman (Olivier Martinez). Drawn on the intimate canvas of domesticity, the film literally brings home the deadly consequences of betrayal.
One of myth’s characteristics is that it can move audiences just as powerfully when portrayed on the widest as well as on the smallest story screens. Whether contracting or expanding, the violent myth of betrayal can instill equal awe. But when working on the wider canvas, if the emotional catalyst that leads to the betrayal isn’t dramatized effectively the failure of the mythic retelling is all the more painfully obvious. Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy utterly falters in making us understand how the launch of a thousand ships could be caused by the insipid dalliance of Orlando Bloom’s Paris and Diane Kruger’s Helen. When you don’t bring to life the emotion at the core of a myth, all the visual magnificence and tiling in the world still leaves the audience feeling hollow.
A wide spectrum of 2004 films focused on betrayal story patterns. Mike Nichols’ Closer (from Patrick Marber’s play) is an interesting contrast with the 2005 Woody Allen Match Point’s coldly amusing cynicism. Where Allen’s film suggests that betrayers can get away with murder in our amoral times of relative values, Nichols’ victims and perpetrators sleepwalk their way through a muddle of despair and inevitable ennui. The moral of this disturbing tale seems to be that passion, even love, are best avoided altogether.
Much more joyful, though much more violent (oddly enough), are Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 & 2--where +betrayal is yoked to the exhilarating high energies of rampant revenge--and Yimou Zhang’s House of the Flying Daggers, where the same symbiosis between love and violence and betrayal play across the big screen with infinitely greater complexity but much less emotional impact. Both films are choreographed admonitions of one thing we never cease learning about betrayal: It unleashes the all-consuming power of the heart.
First published in Produced By, the official magazine of the Producers Guild of America
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Rule 1: Take the time to become familiar with the agents and editors that you want to represent you.
Consider the literary property that you want to sell and try to choose an agency or editor that has a good track record in selling or publishing that type of work. There are several good resources to refer to for this information, i.e. Jeff Herman’s “Writers Guide to Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents” (Prima) or “The Writers Market – Online Edition” (Holm & Lucyszyn).
For instance, if you have a novel that you think would make not only a bestseller, but also a blockbuster at the movies, then try to find an agent that sells both to publishers and studios. Some agencies only represent writers for publishing, others only represent writers for feature film screenplays or television series or movies, and some do both.
If you are going to submit directly to editors, then you should have a sense of what the publisher has published in the past and what they are looking for now. For instance, if you want to publish your bathroom humor non-fiction book, don’t send it to a publisher that primarily publishes literary fiction. Or if you have a literary fiction manuscript, don’t send it to a publisher that only handles only commercial fiction. It’s really worth it to take the time to research the agents and editors that you are considering submitting to. You can avoid wasted postal fees, rejections and good will by taking the time to do this.
Rule 2: Familiarize yourself with the submission policies of the agent or editor that you want to submit to and abide by these policies.
When doing your research on agents and editors, you will run across submission policies for each. These are helpful guidelines that should be paid attention to. For instance, some agencies and editors do not allow email or fax queries and only accept hardcopy, mailed queries. Most agencies and editors require queries to be sent before they will request a submission of the entire literary property. Unsolicited submissions are almost always returned. Jeff Herman’s guide and the Writers Market guide, which can also be found on www.writersmarket.com, lists specifically what the requirements are for almost all agents and editors. If the policy is not listed, don’t hesitate to call the agent or editor to clarify.
Also, in specific reference to agents and managers, these guides will usually tell you if there is a reading fee required to be paid to have the agent or manager consider your work. If a reading fee is required, this usually means that the agent or manager is bunk. It is a good idea, to base your estimate of an agent or manager on their sales track record, which is usually listed on their website or that they will gladly share with you if you call to ask.
Rule 3: YOU are as important as the work that you are submitting. The quality of your work is not the only element evaluated by an agent or editor considering a business relationship with you – so, SELL YOURSELF as much as your work.
You may have the next bestseller, but if an agent or editor doesn’t want to work with you, there’s a good chance that you won’t get signed. So many times, writers sabotage their own efforts by behaving arrogantly or being overly demanding, aggressive, impatient or even rude. Ironically, new writers, who have no credentials or marketing platform, are usually the biggest abusers of this rule. Remember that it is not only your work, but also the entire package of your work and you, and how you are to work with as a person, that sells an agent or editor. If it looks like it’s going to be a difficult process to work with you, editors and agents will usually opt not to, no matter how good your writing is.
You don’t want to get on anyone’s “Life is Too Short” list. And this is what usually happens to writers that look like they will be difficult to work with. For most editors and agents, life is too short to work with difficult personalities, and there are plenty of writers out there who have great projects and are capable of working well with others. Successful relationships with agents and editors are like successful relationships in life. They are long-term. Aggressive, difficult behavior has no place in a long-term personal relationship, nor does it in a long-term business relationship.
Rule 4: Consider the appropriateness of a phone call before dialing your agent or editor.
There are appropriate and inappropriate phone calls that are made to agents and editors everyday. If an agent or editor has not responded within the response time listed in the market guides or directories, then it is appropriate to call to check on your manuscript. But it’s not a good idea to keep calling. Call during business hours and politely ask the agent or editor if he/she can provide you with information regarding the status of X project, written by X author. Most likely, the agent or editor will give you the response right there and then on the phone, by indicating that he has “passed” on the project, i.e. he doesn’t want to represent it or buy it, or that he needs more time reading it. If the agent or editor wants to sign you and your project, they will call you, without a doubt. If an agent or editor needs more time to read your project, they will usually give you a timeframe within which they will respond to you. If they don’t, don’t feel uncomfortable asking them for a timeframe. This will guide you on when the next appropriate call can be made.
Other phone call rules:
a. Don’t call your agent or editor at home, unless specifically requested to do so.
b. Don’t call an agent or editor to discuss why they passed on your project.
- This will only work against you with future submissions. Sometimes reasons for “passing” are provided in the rejection letter. If they are not, and you definitely want feedback, be very polite in the way that you request it and the way that you respond to it.
c. Don’t call to ask “Did it get there yet?”
- It is safe to assume that a publisher will get back to you in the time specified in the directories or market listings. Calling before this time has elapsed will only annoy agents and editors. Also, this question can easily be answered by including a self-addressed-stamped postcard along with the manuscript. If your project is rejected, it will be sent back to you. If it is accepted, you will be called without a doubt.
Rule 5: Gimmicks don’t work.
Sometimes writers will change the names of their lead characters to the name of the agent or editor that they are submitting to in order to endear the agent or editor to their project. This usually backfires and many times sacrifices the integrity of the story.
Sometimes writers will try to put pressure on agents and editors by telling them that their project is being offered a deal elsewhere or by indicating that they must have an answer immediately or else they will be forced to sign with someone else. This kind of pressure rarely works and can be easily verified. So be careful what you say. It can come back to haunt you if you’re not telling the truth!
Check back soon to read the last five tips in more depth.
Click on book image to buy How to Publish Your Novel on Amazon.
October 15, AEI client Jodi Wagner (right) and I attended the "Literary Death Match" at The Kitchen in Soho, invited by novelist and tennis genius Katherine Taylor (left). Got to be one of the most original face-offs I've ever seen, ending with a sudden-death laser tag fight between the two runners-up!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Of course many of the major publishers require that you approach them only through a representative, which can be a literary agent, manager, or attorney. So how do you find the right agent or manager?
Writers’ representatives are as eager to find you as you are to find them because without writers they have no business. They make finding them relatively easy—it’s getting their attention that’s difficult. Here are the best ways to start your search.
Nothing takes the place of a personal recommendation from a writer, especially if he’s willing to make the contact for you. Don’t be bashful about approaching writers of your acquaintance, and asking them for their advice. I don’t recommend asking them to read your novel—that’s a different issue entirely, and usually produces a glazed look and awkward demur from the victim. Use professional editors for that purpose, but your writer friend simply for his advice. The word “advice” normally triggers a beneficent response, primarily, I think, because it doesn’t involve responsibility. It’s something the writer can give you effortlessly, and still feel good about it. There’s a difference between a “referral” and a “recommendation.” The latter implies that he’s read your work, and will recommend it. The former, only that “you can say I referred you.” Of course if the relationship is a close one, and/or you’ve prevailed on the writer to serve as your mentor, a recommendation to his favorite agent or manager is the best of all possible worlds. But a referral is a strong second best.
With that in hand, approach the representative with a cover letter that says,
Dear Mr. Adashek:
Vincent Dressman referred me to you, and I’m enclosing, as requested in your directory listing, the first fifty pages of my novel, Drive Down to Dixie, along with a five-page synopsis.
I appreciate your consideration.
If you’re fortunate enough to have your writer acquaintance recommend your work, normally you’d wait to submit it until he’s gotten back to you with the information that he’s made that introductory call, and the representative is expecting your submission. Then your cover letter would read something like this:
Dear Mr. Adashek:
Vincent Dressman told me he’s spoken with you about my novel, Drive Down to Dixie, which he was good enough to read and recommend. I’m enclosing, as requested in your directory listing, the first fifty pages, along with a five-page synopsis.
I appreciate your consideration.
It’s not necessary to say, “Let me know if you’d like to read the rest of the book.” If the representative is impressed by what he’s read, he won’t hesitate to let you know he wants to read the whole manuscript.
A number of directories are published in revised editions each year for no other reason than to make it easy for novelists to find representation.
Of course the Internet, especially if you’re hooked up to cable, provides the fastest of all resources for finding the right representative.
In their ongoing effort to reach out for talented new novelists, authors’ representatives regularly attend writers’ conferences and give lectures and workshops at universities and continuing education programs. You can go and meet them in person, give them your card, and say, “I’ll be in touch.” They will appreciate the businesslike approach, but don’t be too shy either—if they weren’t open to listening to your story they wouldn’t be there in the first place. Many conferences offer attendees the opportunity for a one-on-one session with the visiting agents and managers. This is your chance to pitch your novel live, and there’s no better way to get someone’s attention, assuming you know how to pitch. Practice makes perfect!
Now that you’ve scoured the resources listed here, sit down with pad and pencil and begin a target list, drawing from all the resources listed above—and others you’ve devised on your own. Don’t forget that the representatives on your list may have their own websites, which makes approaching them relatively easy. And don’t forget that no one appreciates an approach that shows no knowledge of what that representative requires for submissions. When he has taken the trouble to make his information easily available, in directory listings and/or websites, a submission that breaks his rules from the get-go only indicates a novelist who isn’t interested enough in the marketplace to do his basic homework.
TEN RULES TO MAKE WORKING WITH AGENTS AND EDITORS A SUCCESS FOR YOU
Rule 1: Take the time to become familiar with the agents and editors that you want to represent or publish you.
Rule 2: Familiarize yourself with the submission policies of the agent or editor that you want to submit to and abide by these policies.
Rule 3: YOU are as important as the work that you are submitting. The quality of your work is not the only element evaluated by an agent or editor considering a business relationship with you – so, SELL YOURSELF as much as your work.
Rule 4: Carefully consider the appropriateness of a phone call before dialing your agent or editor.
Rule 5: Gimmicks don’t work.
Rule 6: Make your manuscript or screenplay easy-on-the-eyes.
Rule 7: Always make sure that the formatting for your manuscript or screenplay is correct.
Rule 8: Don’t overdo the packaging!
Rule 9: Don’t send queries or submissions via email or fax, unless specifically requested to do so.
Rule 10: It’s a good idea to thank your agent or editor in your acknowledgements of a book that they have worked on with you or sold for you.
I'll be posting more in depth about the Ten Rules so be sure to check back.
Click on book image to buy How to Publish Your Novel on Amazon.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Myth to Movie
By Ken Atchity
The formula of the perennial family of stories inspired by the redemption myth:
Because of a previous failure, a hero has withdrawn from the world. Faced with the opportunity to test himself again in the same arena where’s he’s failed before, he refuses, having lost his confidence. But when the stakes are raised and allies and/or provocateurs force his hand, he’s inevitably drawn into the situation that forces him to reenact his trauma. This time, overcoming his own fears, he succeeds.
Films as distinct in flavor as Reign of Fire (2002) and Seabiscuit (2003) draw story pattern from the core myth of redemption.
Analyzed with reference to this “underlying mythic story structure,” two 1993 films, Cliffhanger (directed by Renny Harlin) and In the Line of Fire (Wolfgang Petersen), for example, are retelling the identical mythic pattern. Though one appeals to the popcorn crowd and the other to the smart set, they deliver identical satisfaction to the audience’s universal longing for self-redemption--for getting a second chance, and succeeding.
In the Sylvester Stallone thriller, Gabe Walker has retired from a mountain-climbing rescue team because he believes his recklessness, shown in the breathtaking and perfectly ambiguous opening scene, led to the death of his best friend’s girlfriend; the mythic protagonists we relate to the most seem always to be ones with the greatest hubris, taking the weight of the world on their shoulders. When a plane is downed in the inaccessible Rockies by a daring midair heist engineered by madman Eric Qualen (John Lithgow), even the pleas of Gabe’s former girlfriend Jessie (Janine Turner) fail at first to move him to action. Only Gabe’s knowledge that he alone can pull off this rescue finally triggers his decision to join the purported rescue team, face the antagonist and his own fears, complete the impossible task, and earn back his self-respect. Testimony to the power of a movie story well-shaped by its underlying myth was Roger Ebert’s comment, “True, there’s not a moment in the plot that I could believe. That didn’t bother me for an instant.”
Line of Fire’s Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) has been nursing his failure to protect President Kennedy with alcohol for nearly three decades when an antagonist straight out of his nightmares, John Malkovich’s Mitch Leary, draws him out of his loser-stupor by announcing that he’s going to kill the present President (played by Jim Curley)—and that Horrigan and Horrigan alone can stop him. Tightly wrapped agent Lilly Raines (Rene Russo) shames Mitch into action and, in a well-orchestrated final sequence, the failed hero relives his past but this time throws himself between the assassin and the President--and rises to a new life.
More recently, The Legend of Bagger Vance shows the redemption and rebirth of Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), an Old South protagonist whose previous failure came from being bested by the brutalities of war, a game with no gentlemanly rules about how it’s played. Despite his engagement to blue-blood Savannah belle Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron), Rannulph can’t bring himself to face life and disappears into a self-imposed limbo of smoke-filled back rooms. But, like the plane crash in Cliffhanger and the assassin in Line of Fire, fate—this time in the person of Adele, who misses her handsome and absent beau—intervenes to give him a second chance: a golf tournament, a game that “you don’t win, you can only play.” Junnuh’s redemption is assisted not only by the charming connivance of Adele but also by unlikely allies in the person of Bagger Vance (Will Smith), a wise caddy who walks straight out of the mists of myth, and the young boy (J. Michael Moncrief), who believes in Junnuh almost as much as he believes in the game of golf.
Most recently, we see redemption reworked in two 2004 films Alexander Payne’s Sideways, and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. In the former, Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is a failed San Diego writer biding his downward spiral as a disaffected English teacher. His pal Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is an almost-as-failed hero whose few moments of fame have allowed him a faux joie de vivre that leaves Miles in his pale. Their road trip to Santa Ynez explores not only wine country but their own discontent; their allies, Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh), lead them through oenophilia to sex to self-awareness, self-acceptance, and the hope of a new, more honest life.
In contrast to the rosé- and Pinot Noire-colored glasses of Payne’s film, Million Dollar Baby is equal parts noir and noir. The redemption of Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), drifting rudderless through a meaningless life, is accomplished through young Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) and ally ex-boxer Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman). Maggie’s indomitable dream combines with the wisdom Eddie has distilled from forty years of rejection to reenlist Frankie’s motivation. Though the film ends with a tear-jerking trauma, Frankie emerges reborn with the courage to accept, if not embrace, life one day at a time.
We love redemption because it leads to rebirth, so redemption stories should be classified as a branch of the rebirth family tree. Other rebirth stories that aren’t motivated by redemption include Ron Howard’s Cocoon (1985), where the rebirth of old folks choosing a stellar journey has nothing to do with their merits; My Fair Lady, discussed in a previous column, where Henry Higgins’ rebirth comes from willfully taking on an impossible challenge; or even Rocky (1976), where Rocky Balboa is reborn as a winner through the strength of his inner vision backed by sheer determination.
Among Atchity’s other films in development, John Scott Shepherd’s Henry’s List of Wrongs (New Line Pictures), is based on the redemption myth.
October 18, 2008
It wasn't a stake through the heart that killed director Ernest (Demon Knight) Dickerson's follow-up to Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (entitled The Un-Dead), it was financing.
"We couldn't get funding," Dickerson explained to ShockTillYouDrop.com last night at L.A.'s Screamfest. "Maybe something will come up later but I don't know."
Dickerson, in early 2007, was attached to helm Un-Dead for Atchity Entertainment and Jan De Bont's Tulip Productions. Written by Ian Holt, and given the blessing of the Stoker Estate, the story picks up 25 years after the events of "Dracula." John Hurt, Monica Bellucci and Javier Bardem were, at the time, considered for the project. And they were not the only prestige names Dickerson had on his wish list.
"We were looking at Ralph Fiennes," he said. "We had interest from Isabella Rosellini, who wanted to play Countess Bathory. She read the script and wanted to make sure we were not going to do a parody. And we assured her, this was the real deal, a real sequel to Dracula. We were trying to find a good Basarab and my first choice was Javier Bardem, I thought he would've made a great one, but then we started hearing about this movie called No Country for Old Men and he got a little bit away from us."
How far along was Dickerson in pre-production? He told me he was "doing conceptual sketches, putting together the bible, working with the writer, scouting locations. We were getting photos of locations in Ireland because that's where we considered shooting it."
Now Atchity Entertainment and Tulip Productions have resurrected the film and are moving ahead, it appears, without Dickerson. A press release was sent out earlier this month announcing the Un-Dead novel and a 2009 production start on the film adaptation.
Next year is a busy one for the director anyway. He'll begin work on a remake of RKO's '40s gangster film Lady Scarface written by Tom Puryear. The redo, said Dickerson, will take place in modern day. "Where we started with is Griselda Blanco, the godmother who was talked about in Cocaine Cowboys. That's where we started in terms of creating the character and we just want to put something together an operatic and interesting, edgy love story."
By Stephanie Dunnewind
Special to The Seattle Times
Fall brings several sweets — and a few frights — for young readers.
• Bellingham author Royce Buckingham ("Demonkeeper") targets Artemis Fowl fans with his fast-paced "Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 240 pp., $16.99, ages 10-13). Teens Sam and PJ catch a goblin and discover a hidden passage to an underground world where a small band of humans battles goblin hordes. With giant bugs, a smart-aleck hero and a goblin named General Eww-yuk, the novel packs its sometimes-violent action in with a tongue fully in cheek. As the not-so-bright goblin Slurp notes, "It was like the old goblin saying: 'The rocks will outlive we beasts who think too much.' The saying had originally been simply 'Argggh,' but using the human language had made it longer and more complicated."
Former Seattle Times staff reporter Stephanie Dunnewind is a graduate student in library science at the University of Washington.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Where did we ever get the idea that the heartland was filled with ignorant, bigoted, intolerant morons? This video of a Palin rally in Ohio should put that misconception to rest.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Suzuki describes an encounter between a Zen master and a Western philosopher. In response to a four word Zen proverb, the Westerner launched into an hour long conceptual analysis. The Zen master listened patiently and finally stretched out his hand, palm down. "What does that mean?" asked the philosopher. The master replied, "When the cup is full, stop pouring tea."
In other words, as Robert Frost said, “Less is more.”
Monday, October 13, 2008
It’s not courage, Dr. Joe, it’s sincere gratitude. In this frenzied world of minute attention spans, when someone takes the time to read your work carefully and the further time to criticize it, gratitude is the only response I consider to be professional. I wrote just that, nearly twenty years ago, in A Writer’s Time: “Finding a writer you can take objective criticism from is a rare discovery in a writer’s career…If criticism angers you, allow yourself to be angry, but put your anger on hold until you have a chance to consider the criticism at a cooler moment.”[click here to order A Writer’s Time]
I was reminded of the evening I spent chatting on a South Florida beach with my old friend Mort Ransen, director of Falling Over Backwards. We had just come from the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, where the film had played to sincere applause from the opening night audience. Afterwards, at the lobby reception, people stood in line to congratulate us and shake Mort’s hand. All were positive, except one man who went on and on about something or other that bothered him about the film. I was about to come to Mort’s rescue and usher the critic away, when Mort stopped me and proceeded to give the man his full attention.
“I’ve never seen anyone in my life,” I said, later on the beach admiring the Gulf Stream’s gentle lapping at the frantic South Beach scene, “who takes criticism as well as you do.”
“It’s the only way to learn,” he replied. “I learn nothing from praise.”
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Fey has taken up Palin’s schedule seamlessly, without the need for a briefing, and will continue the campaign filling in for McCain on days when he is too angry or confused to complete the planned itinerary himself.
The switch occurred yesterday morning, at nine a.m., when Palin was escorted by four ear-phoned, sunglassed men, disguised Secret Service into a waiting red pickup and driven by a circuitous route to Memphis International. Ten minutes later the Vice Presidential candidate’s limo pulled up at the bus station where Fey alighted to join McCain in his humongous campaign bus along with her own makeup and hair. Within minutes, according to reporters, the Senator from Arizona was laughing again, though he later admitted he didn’t “get” what Fey-Palin was talking about.
According to the Morris Office, who represents Palin, her deal for the prolonged impersonation, which includes weekend breaks so she can appear both as Fey-Palin and Palin-Fey on “Saturday Night Live,” was “in the mid eight figures”--but was tucked away in Clause 383e of the Bail-Out as a service to the public that both Republicans and Democrats agreed upon immediately.
Neither Fey’s agent nor her publicist could be reached, though their assistants reported they were “laughing all the way to the bank.”
One can only hope the bank wasn’t Wachovia.
Los Angeles author David Angsten (http://www.davidangsten.com) has followed up his best-selling Mexican treasure-hunt adventure, DARK GOLD, with a sequel set in the Greek isles, called NIGHT OF THE FURIES (Thomas Dunne Books). The contemporary story is loosely based on "The Bacchae" of Euripides, the classic Greek tragedy of madness and horror. Angsten is a screenwriter and video director, and a senior story analyst for Atchity Entertainment International. "...an instant author to watch." Rod Lott, Bookgasm "…a stylish, intelligent writer…" Publisher's Weekly
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) - PUBLICATION DATE: Oct. 14th
"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
We think of ourselves as more rational and enlightened than those ancient believers in the gods and myths. But the truth is we're just as susceptible to irrationality and hysteria as the civilized women of Athens and Delphi, who once a year danced themselves into madness on the slopes on Mount Parnassus.
In Angsten's exhilirating new thriller, wandering hero Jack Duran is off to the Greek Isles with his wild and woolly brother Dan, and Dan's alluring girlfriend Phoebe, a young Dutch archeologist. The trio uncover a mysterious, ancient cult of Dionysus, and an orgy of sex and violence ensues.
"There are incidents in The Bacchae that are as shocking today as they were 2500 years ago, when Euripides wrote the play." Angsten says he hesitated to recreate the more outrageous scenes. "But finally, it was irresistible, because deep down, you know they're true."
According to the author, the socially-sanctioned madness of the ancient Bacchus cults are still visible in much of our contemporary world, from college binge-drinking and Burning Man raves to the mob hysteria of the recent cartoon-protests in Pakistan and Indonesia. The "Dionysian impulse," as Angsten calls it, is alive and thriving in the modern world. "We think of ourselves as more rational and enlightened than those ancient believers in the gods and myths. But the truth is we're just as susceptible to irrationality and hysteria as the civilized women of Athens and Delphi, who once a year danced themselves into madness on the slopes on Mount Parnassus."
The author says many of the classic Greek tragedies were shaped like a cinematic thriller. "My favorite scene in Aeschylus's Oresteia is set in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The bloody-minded Furies are slowly awakening after having been cast into a spell by Apollo. The hero, Orestes, tries to escape before they arise to tear him apart. As the women slowly awaken, they moan and hum a tune in unison, searching for the scent of his blood. At the play's premiere, in 458 B.C., this scene struck so much fear into the audience, that a pregnant woman named Neaira suffered a miscarriage and died on the spot."
A former film and video director, Angsten created a sensational two-minute trailer for the book that's getting a lot of attention--and not just from writers and readers, but from Hollywood producers as well. The mystery, the romance, the excitement of FURIES seems tailor-made for the movies. See the trailer and judge for yourself at Angsten's website, http://www.davidangsten.com.
Praise for David Angsten's debut novel, DARK GOLD:
Like Benchley's Jaws, David Angsten's debut will once again chase swimmers out of the water. Fraught with shivering suspense and a hauntingly eerie atmosphere, Dark Gold grips with feverish intensity. As literate as it is frightening. Read it with both a silver cross and a speargun at your side.
--James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Black Order and The Last Oracle
What's hidden inside [this book will make your eyes widen.
--David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Creepers and Scavenger
[A pastiche of Crichton, Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and Robinson Crusoe.
…a page-turner that will take readers back to the days when a good book meant you stayed up all night under the covers with a flashlight . . . Screenwriter Angsten's tall tale is for grown-up boys who lust for swashbuckling literary adventure set in tropical climes. Extra batteries for that flashlight are recommended.
DARK GOLD marks an awfully polished debut, making Angsten an instant author to watch.
--Rod Lott, Bookgasm
I sat down with Angsten's thriller in the afternoon, and I was still reading at 2 A.M. DARK GOLD builds to a frantic and explosive climax.
--Royce Buckingham, author of DEMON KEEPER
…taut and well-crafted. I couldn't put it down.
--John Scott Shepherd, author of Henry's List of Wrongs and The Dead Father's Guide to Sex & Marriage; screenwriter, Joe Somebody and Life or Something Like It
Sunken treasure, exotic locations, adventure and intrigue on the high seas, and a dark and disturbing undercurrent of mystery that H. P. Lovecraft himself would have been proud of, are all key ingredients of David Angsten's first-class rollercoaster-ride-of-a-novel.
--Nick Redfern, author of Three Men Seeking Monsters.
Thrills and chills . . . sunken gold, black magic, sea monsters, a beautiful Brazilian in a bikini--what more could you want from a summer thriller?
NIGHT OF THE FURIES
By David Angsten
Fiction • Hardcover
320 pages • $24.95
Publication: October 2008
Thomas Dunne Books
Here's Wik on Phryne's trial: "...she was defended by the orator Hypereides, one of her lovers. When it seemed as if the verdict would be unfavourable, he tore open her robe and displayed her breasts, which so moved her judges that they acquitted her. ...The judges' change of heart was not simply because they were overcome by the beauty of her nude body, but because physical beauty was often seen as a facet of divinity or a mark of divine favor during those times."
The girl who held my eyes now was stepping lazily through the surf, gazing down at the frothy water, seemingly lost in herself. She was wearing a bikini with sailor stripes and the emblem of an anchor embroidered on the cups. Her hair was a rich black, cut to her shoulders, and tangled from drying in the wind. Her mouth was slightly open, and her downcast eyes were dark. She looked like a sated panther, moving with a kind of languid grace, dragging her toes through the water. Something about her—maybe the strength of her profile, or the whiteness of her skin, or the way she peered with quiet intentness at the strangers parading around her—told me she was different than the rest, that this was not the sort of place she came to very often. There was an air of youthful innocence about her, but an air intriguingly tinged with darkness, a sort of sensual contentment. I found the very sight of her arousing.
Friday, October 10, 2008
1) He presented a clear and incisive outline of how our current financial crisis occurred (or was allowed to occur, under the present administration). Unlike John McCain, who prides himself on being anti-regulation and still maintains that tax cuts to the wealthy will prompt movement in the economy, Obama stated convincingly his belief that in a complicated global economy, there is a role for government in providing appropriate oversight.
2) Obama emphasized that the government rescue plan, though flawed, was crucial if we were going to solve the credit crunch. Cracking that logjam is vital, since both the average citizen and the small business owner relies on credit to secure a car loan, or maintain employee payrolls.
3) As a baby-boomer, I well remember JFK's call to the nation to pull together, to set lofty goals, and to understand that each of us had a stake in America's future. I thought both Obama's rhetoric and the content of his speech reminded us of that shared vision, shared responsibility, and shared goals.
4) He spoke vigorously against fear and panic, and in favor of the value of leadership in the face of crisis. Quite a contrast to the fear-mongering approach of a desperate McCain-Palin campaign.
5) Overall, he spoke as someone whose time has come. Despite McCain's best efforts in the debate the night before in Nashville, he was unable to convince voters that Barack Obama was not fit to be president. And since the only remaining weapon the
McCain-Palin ticket has in its arsenal is attacks on Obama as a person, it's apparent that Obama is surviving that onslaught pretty well.
That's why my favorite line of Obama's speech, in reference to these personal attacks, was, "I can survive four more weeks of John McCain; but this country can't survive four more years of Bush's policies."
Tell me about it!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF
Count Dracula, the great-granddaddy of vampires, is poised for a comeback (not counting any previous incarnations in which he was portrayed by Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, George Hamilton or Udo Kier). That Transylvanian bloodsucker will return in a new novel whose authors include the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, the author of the original “Dracula,” the novel’s publisher announced. The new book, “Dracula: The Un-Dead,” by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, a Dracula historian, was acquired for United States publication by Dutton Books. It is scheduled for an October 2009 release and will be the first Dracula project authorized by the Stoker estate since the 1931 film that starred Lugosi. Film rights for “Dracula: The Un-Dead” were also acquired by a group of producers that includes Jan de Bont, the director of “Speed” and “Twister.”
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Abraham van Helsing and his intrepid band of vampire hunters may have disposed of Bram Stoker's creation Dracula more than a century ago, but a sequel to the novel co-authored by Stoker's great-grand-nephew will see them under attack from the undead once again, it was announced yesterday.
Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)
Dacre Stoker, who formerly coached the Canadian Olympic pentathlon team and now lives in the US, delved into his ancestor's handwritten notes on the original Dracula novel to pen his sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead - the original name of Dracula before an editor changed the title.
The new book - the first Dracula story to be fully authorised by the Stoker family since the 1931 film starring Béla Lugosi - has provoked a storm in the publishing world, selling for more than $1m (£575,000) to Dutton US, HarperCollins UK and Penguin Canada.
Dacre Stoker wrote the novel with the screenwriter Ian Holt, and a movie is also planned.
The new novel, which is due to be published next October, draws on excised characters and plot lines that were cut from Stoker's original, first published 111 years ago.
In the new book, set in London in 1912, Quincey, the son of Stoker's hero, Jonathan Harker, has become involved in a troubled theatre production of Dracula, directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself. The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents' terrible secrets.
Stoker said that he had not got around to reading his great-grand-uncle's novel until he went to college. "Word got out about my family connection to the old vamp and I grew tired of being unable to answer people's questions. So I chose to finally break down and read the novel for a research paper on Bram and his possible motivations to write the story," he said.
"I had seen so many film versions of Dracula and was terribly surprised that very few of the films had any resemblance to Bram's original novel. Because the novel was so good and had stood up so well over the years, I found it exceedingly sad that all of the trash Hollywood had put out monumentally sullied Bram's and my family's literary legacy."
Stoker later met Holt and the pair decided to work together to resurrect Bram Stoker's original themes and characters. "Our intent is to give both Bram and Dracula back their dignity," Stoker said.
Bram Stoker's original Dracula has never been out of print since it was published in 1897.
Monday, October 6, 2008
"The Un-Dead", the official sequel to Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula", has sold English publishing rights to an alliance of Dutton U.S., Harper U.K. and Penguin-Canada.
Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew and blood descendant, Dacre Stoker, along with award-winning Dracula documentarian and historian Ian Holt accessed Bram Stoker's hand-written notes for his novel. The story this time around is set in 1912 London and has someone stalking the heroes who defeated the vampire Dracula a quarter-century ago.
The book, due for release in October 2009, also includes "characters and plot threads that had been excised by the publisher from the original printing over a century ago." It is the first Dracula story to enjoy the full support of the Stoker clan since the original 1931 movie starring Bela Lugosi.
Jan de Bont, Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong, and Michael T. Kuciak will produce the film adaptation which Holt co-writing the script with Alexander Galant. The pair have apparently finished the script and shooting is slated to begin next June.
Los Angeles author David Angsten (www.davidangsten.com) has followed up his best-selling Mexican treasure-hunt adventure, Dark Gold, with a sequel set in the Greek isles, called Night of the Furies (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). The contemporary story is loosely based on The Bacchae of Euripides, the classic Greek tragedy of madness and horror. Angsten is a screenwriter and video director, and a senior story analyst for Atchity Entertainment International.
“…a stylish, intelligent writer…” Publisher’s Weekly
In Angsten’s new thriller, wandering hero Jack Duran is off to the Greek Isles with his wild and woolly brother Dan, and Dan’s alluring girlfriend Phoebe, a young Dutch archeologist. The trio uncover a mysterious, ancient cult of Dionysus, and an orgy of sex and violence ensues.
“There are incidents in The Bacchae that are as shocking today as they were 2500 years ago, when Euripides wrote the play.” Angsten says he hesitated to recreate the more outrageous scenes. “But finally, it was irresistible, because deep down, you know they’re true.”
According to the author, the socially-sanctioned madness of the ancient Bacchus cults are still visible in much of our contemporary world, from college binge-drinking and Burning Man raves to the mob hysteria of cartoon-protests in Pakistan and Indonesia. The “Dionysian impulse,” as Angsten calls it, is alive and thriving in the modern world. “We think of ourselves as more rational and enlightened than those ancient believers in the gods and myths. But the truth is we’re just as susceptible to irrationality and hysteria as the civilized women of Athens and Delphi, who once a year danced themselves into madness on the slopes on Mount Parnassus.”
The author says many of the classic Greek tragedies took the form of a cinematic thriller. “My favorite scene in Aeschylus’s Oresteia is set in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The bloody-minded Furies are slowly awakening after having been cast into a spell by Apollo. The hero, Orestes, tries to escape before they arise to tear him apart. As the women slowly awaken, they moan and hum a tune in unison, searching for the scent of his blood. At the play’s premiere, in 458 B.C., this scene struck so much fear into the audience, that a pregnant woman named Neaira suffered a miscarriage and died on the spot.”
A former film and video director himself, Angsten created a sensational two-minute trailer for the book that’s getting a lot of attention—not just from writers and readers, but from Hollywood producers as well. The mystery, the romance, the excitement of FURIES seems tailor-made for the movies. See the trailer for yourself at Angsten’s website, www.davidangsten.com.
Praise for David Angsten’s debut novel, DARK GOLD:
“Like Benchley’s Jaws, David Angsten’s debut will once again chase swimmers out of the water. Fraught with shivering suspense and a hauntingly eerie atmosphere, Dark Gold grips with feverish intensity. As literate as it is frightening. Read it with both a silver cross and a speargun at your side.”
—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Black Order and The Last Oracle
“What’s hidden inside [this book] will make your eyes widen.”
—David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Creepers and Scavenger
“[A] pastiche of Crichton, Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and Robinson Crusoe.”
“…a page-turner that will take readers back to the days when a good book meant you stayed up all night under the covers with a flashlight . . . Screenwriter Angsten's tall tale is for grown-up boys who lust for swashbuckling literary adventure set in tropical climes. Extra batteries for that flashlight are recommended.”
“DARK GOLD marks an awfully polished debut, making Angsten an instant author to watch.”
—Rod Lott, Bookgasm
"I sat down with Angsten's thriller in the afternoon, and I was still reading at 2 A.M. DARK GOLD builds to a frantic and explosive climax."
—Royce Buckingham, author of DEMON KEEPER
“…taut and well-crafted. I couldn’t put it down.”
—John Scott Shepherd, author of Henry’s List of Wrongs and The Dead Father’s Guide to Sex & Marriage; screenwriter, “Joe Somebody” and “Life or Something Like It”
"Sunken treasure, exotic locations, adventure and intrigue on the high seas, and a dark and disturbing undercurrent of mystery that H. P. Lovecraft himself would have been proud of, are all key ingredients of David Angsten's first-class rollercoaster-ride-of-a-novel."
—Nick Redfern, author of Three Men Seeking Monsters.
“Thrills and chills . . . sunken gold, black magic, sea monsters, a beautiful Brazilian in a bikini—what more could you want from a summer thriller?”
Sunday, October 5, 2008
[Source] by: Jared Pacheco
You know that book with that story about that vampire guy? His name is Dracula and supposedly he's some big deal... Alright, I'm talking about the vampire grandaddy himself, Bram Stoker's legendary novel DRACULA. Apparently we've got a sequel heading our way!
I'm not kidding you. We got a press release today from AEI announcing the purchase of DRACULA: THE-UNDEAD. Why is this a big deal? Well this novel comes from award winning Dracula documentarian Ian Holt and Dacre Stoker, who just so happens to be the great-grandnephew of one Bram Stoker.
I'm sorry, but I found that a bit mindblowing. We're talking about a book that's over a century old! You know how long a century is? A pretty long time! Laura Shin, who's the senior editor of one of the buyees, had the following to say:
"I was thrilled by this page-turning story and loved spending time with those greatcharacters --Stoker and Holt did a fantastic job melding the old with the new, and I found the work to be a virtually seamless continuation of the original. The story has all the hallmarks of a historical novel, but with a modern sensibility that gives it wide-spread appeal."
Dutton U.S., Harper U.K., and Shin's Penguin-Canada are the groups that were part of the deal. The author's even used Bram Stoker's hand-written notes for THE-UNDEAD. That's pretty intriguing right? The book is set to hit shelves October 2009. Stoker had the following to say: "Our story includes characters and plot threads that had been excised by the publisher from the original
printing over a century ago."
So is that it? Hell no! With something this big you know we're not done yet! There will also be a DRACULA: THE-UNDEAD film in the works, of course! Holt penned the script alongside Alexander Grant. AEI's Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong, Michael T. Kuciak and Blue Tulip's Jan de Bont are all producing. They're hoping to get cameras rolling around June 2009.
Obviously this is some pretty huge news so we'll be keeping a close eye on this one and fill you in on any updates along the way.