MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scribblers' Retreat Writers' Conference 2009

Literacy is our purpose.
Fulfilling dreams is our goal. www.scribblersretreatwritersconference.com
1-800-996-2904 (Registration/Reservations)

@ Sea Palms Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia

February 12-15, 2009 – History Fiction/Non-Fiction/Romance
Elizabeth Blahnik, Ernest Gilbert, Pam Mueller, Kathy Kerr, Maggie Toussaint, Dr. Jim Outlaw, Lee Carter, Millie Wilcox, Monica Simmons, Roger Pinckney

May 14-17, 2009 “How To…”
Dickie Anderson (F), Ed Ginn, Harlan Hambright, Holly McClure, Cappy Rearick, Dr. Ervin Williams, Constance Daley, Bud Hearn, Mary Wagner, Dr.William Rawlings

August 13-16, 2009 “SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, Inspirational- This World and Beyond”
Linda Armstrong, Charlotte Babb, Maggie Carter-de Vries, Nina Munteanu, Tom Dent/Andy Lamon, Jaclyn Weldon-White, Dr. Thom Brucie, Daniel Black, Victor DiGenti, Jack McDevitt
November 12-15, 2009 “Novels, Short Stories, Etc.”

Chris Rumble, Lois Ruby, Len d’Eon, Prof. Richard Krevolin, Julie Grimm, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Patricia Patterson, Prof. Tom Williams, Gary Ferguson

Scribblers’ Retreat is a non-profit organization established with the goal of reaching writers of all ages to inspire and promote their hidden gifts and talents.

By involving the local community, authors, publishers, editors, journalists and all forms of the literary world, we are opening their minds and bringing hope where there was doubt.

Scribblers’ Retreat is not the typical classroom setting. It was designed to bring world-class authors, literature professors, editors, journalists, and publishers one-on-one with those who are hungry for the power of the written word. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for someone who has had a manuscript in a desk drawer for 40 years or who has an outstanding poem that simply must be read.

Scribblers' Retreat Writers' Conference
“Where “can’t” is not in our vocabulary.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"The Thrillionaire" Founder and CEO of the Financial Freedom

Go to The Napoleon Hill Foundation, click through the pages to authors, click on Nik Halik.

NIK HALIK IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM INSTITUTE, Money Masters Global and co-founder of The Intelligence Group of companies. He is a global wealth strategist, successful entrepreneur, international speaker, astronaut, high adrenalin adventurer and best-selling author. Nik Halik became a multi-millionaire and amassed great wealth through savvy investments in property and the stock market in his late 20s. His group of companies have financially educated and life coached over 200,000 individuals globally. He is the real deal, creating millionaire clients across the globe.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

AEI CLIENT DR. NICOLAS BAZAN’S UNA VIDA REVIEWED ON READERVIEWS.COM

FROM: Reader Reviews

Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind

Nicolas Bazan, M.D.
Five Star Publications (2008)
ISBN 9781589851122
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (3/09)

Let’s see – what would you think of if I threw these few words at you: lagniappe, beignet, Maspero’s and Central Grocery? If you do not immediately think of New Orleans, that just means that you most definitely need to come back and visit the Big Easy again… All of those, as well as a few good others, such as the Marsalis family, the mules, the Preservation Hall, a nice jambalaya, the famous Cornstalk fence, a jazz funeral Barq’s, Angola, Lead Belly and more make an appearance in the beautifully written “Una Vida” by Nicolas Bazan. More than just scenery, all of those items are part of an intricately woven story with a cadence all of its own.

“Una Vida,” a so-called “Fable of Music and the Mind,” reveals a fascinating story of a jazz musician and singer, known only as Una Vida (one life in Spanish) to the handful of people who care for and about her. Although she’s clearly suffering from Alzheimer’s, her music abilities kept part of her mind relatively lucid. This, as well as Una Vida herself, intrigue Dr. Alvaro Cruz, an immigrant neuroscientist, who sets on the convoluted path to discover Una Vida’s true identity. The quest will ultimately lead him to several significant revelations, not only about Una Vida and her life, but about himself as well.

Dr. Bazan’s book is beautifully written and reveals the width and depth of his interests as well as his obviously extensive education, not only as a scientist but also as a well-read and erudite individual. Just as an example, during the course of the story, he elaborates on such diverse individuals as Dante, Edison, Goya, Aristotle and Marquez, not to mention a number of jazz greats. His insights into music and culture of Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, are perceptive and enlightening. Even taken purely as a fiction, this would be great reading, and when we add to this mix his insights into human psyche and musings on the human brain, dreams, memory, and more, we end with a truly powerful book on living, loving and forgiving. I would highly recommend it to anybody whose life has ever been touched by Alzheimer’s or any similar disease which affects human brain, as well as to any reader who enjoys intelligently written and relevant fiction.

Buy Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind on Amazon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Foreign Rights to Royce Buckingham’s Demonkeeper


Royce Buckingham’s Demonkeeper and Demon Eater, in a two-book deal, to Bragelonne (France) by Baror International for Atchity Entertainment International which is producing “Demon Keeper” for Fox 2000, with Sam Fell (“Tale of Despereux,” “Flushed Away”) now attached to direct. Ken Atchity kja@aeionline.com

Buy Demonkeeper on Amazon

Goblins! An Underearth Adventure book trailer

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AEI CLIENT DAVID ANGSTEN LISTED ON FANTASTIC AUTHORS

About David Angsten from Fantastic Fiction

David Angsten was born in Chicago, attended Grinnell College in Iowa and American University in Rome and Paris, and graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. He initially worked in Chicago, traveling internationally as a writer-director of videos, documentaries, fiction shorts, and animations. His half-hour drama, Notes From a Lady at a Dinner Party, was selected for competition at Cannes.

Since 1990, David has lived and worked in Los Angeles as a screenwriter and video director, and is a story analyst and senior editor for Atchity Entertainment International.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thrillionaire Nik Halik and many more at Cash Flow

Brand-launch division of Atchity Entertainment International, FINISH LINE

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 from 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
Garden City, NY

Event Details


David Hancock and Rick Frisham will be interviewing Dr. Ken Atchity about his new brand-launch division of Atchity Entertainment International, FINISH LINE (www.aeionline.com--click on AEI's Brand Management).

Based on AEI's experience launching Ripley's Believe It Or Not! books and film, the Noire franchise, Meg, Demon Keeper, and 3 Men Seeking Monsters, Ken founded Finish Line a few months ago to partner with storytellers with franchise potential and aspirations. His ideal client is someone who intends to launch a life-long BUSINESS around her or his brand, and who knows that experience and contacts can focus and accelerate the launch. Currently Finish Line has partnered with Nik Halik, The Thrillionaire, to launch the Thrillionaires brand as well as working with Ian Holt & Dacre Stoker's Dracula: The Un-Dead to re-launch the Dracula brand worldwide.

As Ken says, "We're living in the most exciting era possible for writers and creators-a time in which intellectual property has become even more lucrative than real property. Who would you rather be, Bill Gates or Donald Trump?"

Join us to hear Ken's views on the importance of branding, and to ask him questions about what the process involves.

AEI's "FINISH LINE" BRAND & FRANCHISE MANAGEMENT

According to bestselling author Robert G. Allen, an info-preneur's goal is to create multiple merchandise licensing revenue streams that flow from your book (and book title). Your focus is not just creating a bestselling book, but bestselling book by-products.

If you envision your contribution to the world of entertainment or edutainment as a major franchise, FINISH LINE, the new Finish Line Division of AEI, can help you turn your vision into reality. Our years of experience with the franchises listed on the opening company page have provided the experience, expertise, and connections to provide you with:
  • Brand focus & definition
  • Brand evaluation
  • Logo
  • Website design and launch
  • Publishing & book line focusing and launch via major publishers or entrepreneurial publishing, both in the U.S. and foreign
  • Documentary planning, sponsorship, design, and implementation
  • Television program development and production
  • Feature film development and production
  • Music
  • Speaking career
  • Travel
  • Merchandising & licensing - video games, board games, apparel, calendars, toys, and other products suited to your brand
Essential to launching a brand is bringing it into focus. We will help you identify, develop, and financially evaluate that focus, use it as the foundation for building a memorable and lucrative brand identity, and create the elements that will introduce your original brand in all media to your target audience.

Guest Post: NOTE TO CLIENTS: THIS ISN’T JUST ABOUT VAMPIRES— IT’S ABOUT AEI’S SEARCH FOR YOUNG ADULT NOVELS!

The Next Twilight?
by Isabel Wilkinson

Gayle Forman’s young-adult novel If I Stay won’t be published until April, but it’s already being adapted for Hollywood by the studio behind the blockbuster vampire movie. Will it eclipse Twilight?

The night before Twilight opened in November, teenage girls all across the country pitched tents outside of movie theaters. Summit Entertainment—the film’s distributor—knew it had a goldmine.

The film enjoyed a $70 million opening weekend, catapulting the best-selling book series into an even higher stratosphere. To date, the Twilight books have sold over 22 million copies, author Stephenie Meyer has been named USA Today’s Author of 2008, and her four books locked down all four top spots on its best-selling book list.

“There was a question that haunted me for years,” says author Gayle Forman. “What would you do if the rest of your family had died, and you could choose to go with them? What would you do?”

As the dust settles from the film’s tremendous success, another tween star is looming: If I Stay, a forthcoming novel by Gayle Forman. Forman is an upbeat, Brooklyn-based mom who used to write social-justice stories for Seventeen. She has published one young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, and a travel memoir, You Can’t Get There From Here. Continue reading The Next Twilight? on The Daily Beast.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Guest Post: MORE ON WRITER’S BLOCK: WRITING HASTILY PAYS OFF IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO WRITE BEFORE YOU START

The following article in The Spectator [sent along by AEI client David Angsten] may confuse those who are committed, as I always recommend, to discipline in writing and to the long haul. But remember what William Saroyan responded when he was asked if it was true that he wrote The Human Comedy “in three days above a drugstore”:

“I typed it out in three days,” he said. “It took me my whole life to write it.”

Writer’s block goes away forever if you follow the simple rule: Never sit down to write until you know what you’re going to write when you sit down.

It’s worth waiting for the inspiration and the vision. When you allow it to crystallize in your mind, writing it down becomes “automatic writing.”

Sunday, March 22, 2009

DIRECTOR SAM FELL SIGNS ON FOR AEI CLIENT ROYCE BUCKINGHAM’S DEMON KEEPER


Sam Fell to direct 'Demonkeeper'
Fox taps 'Despereaux' helmer for live-action pic
By MICHAEL FLEMING


Sam Fell, director of the animated films "The Tale of Despereaux" and "Flushed Away," is attached to direct "Demonkeeper," a live-action adaptation of the Royce Buckingham novel for Fox 2000.
Script is being written by Laeta Kalogridis, who scripted the upcoming Martin Scorsese-directed "Shutter Island" for Paramount and "Battle Angel," which James Cameron will direct for Fox.
AEI's Ken Atchity and Chi-Li Wong are producing "Demonkeeper."
Story follows a Seattle teen who inherits responsibility for a house filled with demons. When the youth finally breaks free of his charges to go on a date, he returns to discover that kids have broken into the house, unleashing its most vicious demon, the Beast, Killer of Lost Children.
Studio bought rights to the book before it was published by Putnam (Daily Variety, Jan. 25, 2006).

Buy Demonkeeper on Amazon

Saturday, March 21, 2009

AEI CLIENT CINDY VILLAREAL-HUGHES ON COVER OF CHEER COACH MAGAZINE




Her YA novel series (with AEI client Alaya Johnson), Cheer Fever, will be co-repped with Manus Lit in San Francisco, and going out to publishers soon. AEI will develop the series into low-budget films for the 24-million strong cheerleading market that Cindy’s soon-to-be-launched World Cheerleading Hall of Fame will also serve.

Friday, March 20, 2009

TWO OUT OF THREE MEN SEEKING MONSTERS ON NEW ZEALAND TV


video

Crypto-zoologists seek to discover the unlikely

The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and Mongolian Death Worms may just be flights of fancy for some, but for others they require serious scientific investigation.

Cryptozoology is the search for hidden animals. At one end of the spectrum it might mean hunting for a new species of bat, and at the other it might mean globetrotting to find Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

Richard Freeman and Jonathan Downes are two men who have dedicated their lives to finding them.

Their latest trip had Mr Freeman searching for Russia's equivalent of Big Foot.

And while there is no solid evidence of its existence, the team has managed to collect eyewitness testimony.

"One farmer who said one of these large creatures had killed his dog with a club," Mr Freeman said. "It just walked non-chalantly into his house and picked up a large Bulgarian cheese. What it wanted with the cheese we don't know. It looks and tastes like rubber."

The passion for cryptozoology caught both men at an early age. For Mrr Downes it was when he was just seven-years-old.

"It blew me away," he says. "I already liked animals and to think there were monsters in Loch Ness, it was one of the big three epiphanies of my life. The other was when I learnt boys were different to girls, and the other when I heard the Sex Pistols."

Some of Earth's contemporary creatures such as Big Foot or the Almasty are too big for many to swallow - there is simply not enough evidence.

But for Mr Freeman, Mr Downes and many others, they live for this stuff.


In Mr Freeman's case, he reckons that he almost had an encounter with an Almasty at 2:30am in a small, secluded Russian cabin.


Buy Three Men Seeking Monsters on Amazon

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guest Post: AEI CLIENT GLEN PITRE HAS WRAPAROUND MOVIES


Here’s where you can see the work of Glen Pitre & Michelle Benoit over the next couple of months.

ON STATEWIDE TV IN LOUISIANA: Good For What Ails You, written, produced, & directed by Glen Pitre, co-produced by Michelle Benoit. “Alligator grease relieves asthma, a buried potato cures warts, and "smoking a baby" eases the pains of colic as respected Cajun, Creole, and Houma Indian "treaters" gather wild teas, brew home-made cough syrup, invoke the saints at home altars, and most of all, heal the sick.” Over the LPB network, Saturday, March 14 at 1PM.

SCREENING IN NEW ORLEANS: Belizaire the Cajun, written, produced, & directed by Glen Pitre. “Rich, often explosive… superbly paced and brimming with period detail” Hollywood Reporter. “delightful, often irresistible… a tangy, spicy movie” Dallas Morning News. “one of the looniest hanging scenes ever committed to film” Variety. Sunday, March 22nd, 2pm, at the Historic New Orleans Collection, 410 Chartres St. Free, but reservations recommended: 504-523-4662 or email wrc@hnoc.org

NOW ON DVD: The Man Who Came Back, written & directed by Glen Pitre, co-produced by Michelle Benoit. Starring Emmy winner Eric Braeden, Billy Zane, Armand Assante, Sean Young, Carol Alt, Ken Norton, and Oscar winner George Kennedy. “Glen Pitre has helped to reclaim the American western” Home Theater Info. Christmas week, we charted as America’s best-selling direct-to-DVD title! Available nationwide (and in many foreign countries) at all the normal outlets.

NOW ON BLUE-RAY: Hurricane on the Bayou, written, co-directed, and line produced by Glen Pitre. Produced & directed by Greg MacGillivray for the Audubon Nature Institute. Narrated by Meryl Streep. Filmed in giant screen IMAX, winner of international awards, takes you through the flooded streets of post Katrina New Orleans as if you were there yourself, while it also explains the ongoing coastal crisis that contributed so much to the storm’s destruction. Featuring musical performances by Tab Benoit, Amanda Shaw, Allen Toussaint, Marva Wright and others. Available through all the usual outlets.

SHOWING DAILY AT THE LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM, PATTERSON, Air Racers, written, produced, & directed by Michelle Benoit & Glen Pitre. Wraparound screens and wind effects put you in the cockpit at the 1932 air races. We’ve done lots of films for lots of museums, but this is our most recent & certainly one of the most fun. Continuous showings 9-5 Tues–Sat on US 90 adjacent to Patterson Civic Center. Admission $3 adults; $2 students, seniors & military; free to kids under 12.

A PLAY COMING IN MAY, Floating Palace, written by Michelle Benoit & Glen Pitre, a comedic murder mystery aboard a 1920 vaudeville showboat, will world premiere at the Bayou Playhouse, a new regional theater on the waterfront in old Lockport, LA, under the direction of Perry Martin and produced by Karissa Kary. During the play’s run, the theater will also host a festival of some of our films, including rarely seen early works like La Fievre Jaune and Huit Piastres Et Demie. For details, visit the website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AS HITTIN’ THE BRICKS HITS THE STANDS AEI CLIENT NOIRE’S PREVIOUS NOVELS CONTINUE HER BESTSELLING STATUS


Candy Licker has gone into its 7th printing, with 123,876 books in print. Her Thug-A-Licious, into its 6th, with 75,596.

Buy Candy Licker on Amazon

From Publishers Weekly
If there was ever any doubt that pulp was alive and thriving, Noire's highly sexy, highly vivid G-Spot dispelled it. This follow-up delivers everything that lovers of this emerging micro genre—black urban erotic chick lit—are coming to expect: cribs full of music, sex, drugs and criminality; many dollars flying by; and an honest, often abused girl just trying to make it through. When Candy Raye Montana hooks up with Harlem rap don Junius "Hurricane" Jackson, she's expecting little more than a respite from serving as bait for stickups for her well-meaning but desperate mother and her mother's junkie boyfriend—and maybe a little luxury. But 'Cane turns out to be a major sociopath (with violent perversions that may be compensations for a small dick). Candy, unhappy and horny, turns to Internet cam mutual masturbation, but when Percy "Knowledge" Graham, Cane's lawyer, comes into her life, the love is real—and deeply satisfying. But Cane knows something's up, and Candy's life is more and more in the balance as Knowledge schemes to find a way for them to make a life together. Candy's first person and Knowledge's third begin to alternate chapters: both are completely absorbing and rarely miss. The cast of bling and trash extras are well-done and well-named. The most direct means to Candy's heart provides the novel's title. (Dec. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Buy Thug-a-Licious on Amazon.

From Publishers Weekly
Following street lit sensation Candy Licker, Noire returns to gangsta Harlem to tell the tale of Andre "Thug-a-Licious" Williams, a "Dawg-4-Lyfe" whose death is announced in the preface and whose life unfurls in a series of dark, stop-start flashbacks. At the time of his death, Dre, or Thug, was, improbably, "the baddest NBA rookie in the league," who was, at the same time, a rapper with a "club-banging album with triple platinum potential." Noire doesn't show us much of Thug's practice on the court or time in the studio (though a number of his rhymes are strewn through the narrative): the action is concentrated on his dick (which is big) and his exploits (nine children by nine different mothers by page 257, along with herpes). Through it all, Dre loves Carmiesha "Muddah" Vernoy, with whom he's hoping to settle down. He shields her from his criminal activity with cousins Pimp and Smoove (Carl and Todd Williams). It's Pimp who does the worst of it, and who also does time in jail while Thug accepts a basketball scholarship to Syracuse. Meanwhile, Muddah, who has gone to college and started her own beauty salon, Locks of Love, is keeping a secret that will eventually catch up with her and with Thug. The plot sputters, and the lives of all concerned are unrelentingly grim, but the sex really is hot. (On sale Aug. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Guest post: New Yorker Dracula article


From The New Yorker

In the Blood
Why do vampires still thrill?
by Joan Acocella

“Unclean, unclean!” Mina Harker screams, gathering her bloodied nightgown around her. In Chapter 21 of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Mina’s friend John Seward, a psychiatrist in Purfleet, near London, tells how he and a colleague, warned that Mina might be in danger, broke into her bedroom one night and found her kneeling on the edge of her bed. Bending over her was a tall figure, dressed in black. “His right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.” Mina’s husband, Jonathan, hypnotized by the intruder, lay on the bed, unconscious, a few inches from the scene of his wife’s violation.

Later, between sobs, Mina Mina relates what happened. She was in bed with Jonathan when a strange mist crept into the room. Soon, it congealed into the figure of a man—Count Dracula. “With a mocking smile, he placed one hand upon my shoulder and, holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he did so: ‘First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions . . .’ And oh, my God, my God, pity me! He placed his reeking lips upon my throat!” The Count took a long drink. Then he drew back, and spoke sweet words to Mina. “Flesh of my flesh,” he called her, “my bountiful wine-press.” But now he wanted something else. He wanted her in his power from then on. A person who has had his—or, more often, her—blood repeatedly sucked by a vampire turns into a vampire, too, but the conversion can be accomplished more quickly if the victim also sucks the vampire’s blood. And so, Mina says, “he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he . . . seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the—Oh, my God!” The unspeakable happened—she sucked his blood, at his breast—at which point her friends stormed into the room. Dracula vanished, and, Seward relates, Mina uttered “a scream so wild, so ear-piercing, so despairing . . . that it will ring in my ears to my dying day.”

That scene, and Stoker’s whole novel, is still ringing in our ears. Stoker did not invent vampires. If we define them, broadly, as the undead—spirits who rise, embodied, from their graves to torment the living—they have been part of human imagining since ancient times. Eventually, vampire superstition became concentrated in Eastern Europe. (It survives there today. In 2007, a Serbian named Miroslav Milosevic—no relation—drove a stake into the grave of Slobodan Milosevic.) It was presumably in Eastern Europe that people worked out what became the standard methods for eliminating a vampire: you drive a wooden stake through his heart, or cut off his head, or burn him—or, to be on the safe side, all three. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, there were outbreaks of vampire hysteria in Western Europe; numerous stakings were reported in Germany. By 1734, the word “vampire” had entered the English language.In those days, vampires were grotesque creatures. Often, they were pictured as bloated and purple-faced (from drinking blood); they had long talons and smelled terrible—a description probably based on the appearance of corpses whose tombs had been opened by worried villagers. These early undead did not necessarily draw blood. Often, they just did regular mischief—stole firewood, scared horses. (Sometimes, they helped with the housework.) Their origins, too, were often quaint. Matthew Beresford, in his recent book “From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth” (University of Chicago; $24.95), records a Serbian Gypsy belief that pumpkins, if kept for more than ten days, may cross over: “The gathered pumpkins stir all by themselves and make a sound like ‘brrl, brrl, brrl!’ and begin to shake themselves.” Then they become vampires. This was not yet the suave, opera-cloaked fellow of our modern mythology. That figure emerged in the early nineteenth century, a child of the Romantic movement.

A new Dracula novel, co-authored by the fragrantly named Dacre Stoker (a great-grandnephew of Bram), will be published in October by Dutton. The movie rights have already been sold.

Read the entire article on The New Yorker website.

Visit the Dracula the Un-Dead website.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guest Post: ALTERNATIVE PUBLISHING GROWS WHILE TRADITIONAL MARKET CONTINUES TO CONTRACT

From Publishers Weekly [via David Hanock, Clint Greenleaf]

Against All Odds, Small Presses Prosper
Indies find ways to work through a tough economy
By Lynn Andriani and Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 3/2/2009

Despite brutal economic conditions, several independent publishers managed to find ways to grow both their sales and profits in 2008. How did they do it? They are not afraid to be frugal—forgoing advances in favor of offering higher royalties, for example; and they practice innovation—“mining data” for new audio prospects, in the case of Tantor, or teaching authors how to self-promote, as Morgan James does. These 11 presses have adopted a combination of strategies that have helped them not only survive in the recession, but prosper.

Ever since Todd Bottorff acquired Turner Publishing in 2002, his goal has been to convert the Nashville publisher from a company focused on specialty books and calendars to one firmly based in the trade market. Bottorff began the makeover in earnest in 2006 by adding more trade-oriented titles, and accelerated the process in 2007 when he closed the calendar operation and reduced the specialty business. The result has been a 321% increase in trade sales between 2006 and 2008.

Turner's list blends nonfiction with fiction titles (under the Iroquois imprint) as well as works with books of strong regional appeal and others that have a national audience. One of his big books in 2008 was The History and Stories of the Best Bars of New York. A series devoted to historical photos has also sold well and Bottorff is betting that the addition of more series will spur growth in the future. One new line is “21 Things” that will kick-off in May with the release of Bottorff's own 21 Things to Create a Better Life, which the publisher says features pragmatic tips for easing stress. Six other titles are signed, and Bottorff is building a twentyonethings.com Web site to promote the line. A number of merchandise items set around 21 Things is also in the works. Bottorff also hopes to grow his fiction line over the next few years and is keeping an eye out for acquisitions. In early February, Bottorff added depth to his list by acquiring the inventory and option rights for 432 titles published by Cumberland House. Turner handles its own distribution and has seen good gains with selected bookstore chains and the warehouse clubs.

Efficient production is at the root of Tantor Media's explosive growth over the past two years. CEO Kevin Colebank says that an improved recording process has helped the company produce more audiobooks at a lower cost than most of its competitors are paying. The Connecticut company—which was PW's fastest-growing publisher in 2007—brought its production from 145 titles in 2006 to 387 in 2008. An audiobook recording software program that it developed in-house has been key to efficient production, says Colebank.

Increased output has also influenced how Tantor selects which audiobooks to publish. The company has developed what Colebank calls title selector software, which helps it “data mine,” i.e., search thousands of records and pull together pertinent information for Tantor that helps Colebank and his colleagues make decisions about which titles—out of the tens of thousands published every week—it should produce in audio format.

As Tantor reported last year, quick turnaround has continued to boost development. One recent last-minute addition that turned into a hit was A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media by Bernard Goldberg, which Tantor took from licensing to bookstores in less than two weeks. Tantor's library sales force launched a direct library sales campaign in 2007, and Colebank says the company now has six reps out in the field talking to libraries directly. A “Hotlist” e-mail goes out weekly to national accounts, library customers, industry publications and Tantor's narrators and has “really helped sales,” says Colebank.

Six years after its founding, Morgan James Publishing is making its first appearance on PW's fast-growing small press list. The “entrepreneurial publisher” operates under a model that's becoming increasingly common: no advances and high royalties. Yet Morgan James makes an extraordinary effort to help its authors to grow their own business—whether an author is a self-help guru or a financial advisor—through promoting their books (the house specializes in business, self-help, inspirational and health books).

Founder David Hancock, a former mortgage banker, says the company helps its authors sell books by hosting educational events. “Our book sales are up 52% over last year, and that's because we try to teach authors how to market their books. It's had a significant impact on book sales.” Advertising and marketing are generally the authors' responsibility; Morgan James markets to bookstores and an e-mail list it has. But ultimately, publicity and promotion is up to the authors, “and we teach them how to do it,” Hancock says. Plus, if authors use a public relations firm that Morgan James approves of, the publisher will pay a percentage of the cost.

When Morgan James launched, it required its authors to pay for book design, and did some custom publishing as well. “But we've since moved from that,” says Hancock—although the house has a self-publishing imprint, Persona Publishing, which Hancock says will positively affect the house's bottom line for this year. The company partners with Author Solutions for Persona titles.

“I'm a miserly CEO,” says Clint Greenleaf, chairman and CEO of Greenleaf Book Group. “We're very careful with our money. We save our reserves and don't spend where we don't have to. We've been profitable since '02.”

Greenleaf began in 1997 as a distributor and began developing a publishing program in 2000. In 2006, it started trimming the number of publishers it represented while taking on more publishing projects. It upped its output from 45 titles published and distributed in 2006 to 85 titles in 2008—and out of those, about 10 titles were distributed. Greenleaf's net sales climbed from $4.64 million in 2006 to $8.12 million in 2008.

Of course, in order for Greenleaf to save its reserves, it must first build them up. One of the key contributors to that reserve last year was a bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity by Garrett B. Gunderson. The book makes some bold suggestions—e.g., “don't contribute to your 401(k)”—that caught on with the media: Gunderson got on CNBC, Fox Business and other major news networks, and sold about 60,000 copies of the book. “When we get a big book like that, I throw all that money into our reserve accounts, which helps us get through times like today,” says Greenleaf.

Another factor in Greenleaf's success: its 28-person staff is in Austin, Tex., which is “a lot less expensive than being in New York,” says Greenleaf. The house also skips advances in lieu of a higher-than-average royalty rate.

Brooklyn art publisher powerHouse Books had a good year, with net sales up 45% from 2006 to 2008. CEO Daniel Power says the house has managed to grow in a weak economy by taking its “production expense budget bull by the horn.” That means carefully negotiating and preparing lower print runs but keeping the same high quality, which resulted in lower overall budgets. Additionally, Power says, the house doesn't “front load” its advances with the trade, so release figures matched up with the company's 18 month- to two-year inventory targets.

Additionally, powerHouse has reduced some PR expenses, like blanket review copy mailings. It also completely cut out book trade convention expenses, including booth spaces at London, Frankfurt and BEA. “They were nominally effective at best as long ago as four years ago, and over the last few completely worthless,” Power says.

PowerHouse's biggest hit last year was Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History-Making Presidential Campaign by Scout Tufankjian; it has shipped 80,000 units, and the publisher is currently out of stock. The book includes more than 200 color photographs by Tufankjian, the only independent photographer to cover Obama's entire campaign from before he announced his run through the Election Night celebration in Chicago's Grant Park.

Peace Hill Press, founded in 2001, is split between Virginia (editorial) and Seattle (business). The eight-person, family-run educational press has tapped an underserved group of customers: parents who are either home schooling or supplementing their child's education—and who are doing so for academic rather than religious reasons. Vice-president Susan Wise Bauer says that increasingly, even home educators with deep religious convictions are turning away from the traditional, conservative Christian materials that have been home school standards, and are looking toward nonsectarian books aimed at home education—which Peace Hill publishes. And parents who teach one or two subjects at home after school are seeking these books out, too.

Peace Hill's distribution through W.W. Norton (where Bauer and her mother published a book on classical home education in 1999) has been a boon to sales. Many of the publisher's competitors sell only through specialty catalogues and Web sites, or through attendance at home school conferences, so the Norton deal gives Peace Hill increased visibility. Bauer says the home education and home tutoring markets are proving to be recession-resistant. The house's 2008 bestsellers included four books that make up the Story of the World series, a chronological world history narrative, with each book increasing slightly in difficulty; and First Language Lessons, a beginning grammar and writing text.

Square One Publishers, a regular on PW's fast-growing small publisher list, is now in its ninth year of business. As he did last year, publisher Rudy Shur points to special sales as a major reason for the company's success, but other factors include a drop in returns and a boost in foreign rights sales.

Square One's gross trade sales for 2008 equaled those of 2007, but there was an unexpected 25% drop in returns, which resulted in “a reasonable net growth,” says Shur. Also, the nonfiction publisher saw its foreign rights sales more than triple over the past year. Shur says it took time for the press to solidify relationships with foreign publishers, but at Frankfurt last year, it became clear that “we hit a critical mass with the number of people who'd been noticing our titles.” Shur credits Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte, published in 2007, with helping put Square One on the map for international publishers; Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee will direct an adaptation of the book, about a Catskills hotel manager and interior designer who helped make the Woodstock festival a reality.

Square One remains dependent on special sales to boost its bottom line; it will partner with Macy's for an April title, Macy's: The Store. The Star. The Story. by Robert M. Grippo. It also recently published The New Art of Negotiating, a revised edition of a book that has already sold more than a million copies.

How does environmentally minded Vermont press Chelsea Green Publishing handle the recession? A few things are going its way, not the least of which is its editorial focus on books that help people become more self-sufficient and survive hard times. Sales are up 21% from 2006 to 2008, and net sales with its Green Partner stores are up more than 100% compared to an equivalent prior period.

A national bestseller (Naomi Wolf's The End of America) helped land Chelsea Green on last year's fast-growing list, and this year Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency by Robert Kuttner did the same. Chelsea Green crashed the book in time for the Democratic National Convention last August, and—in a move that angered independents—made the book available early on Amazon.

Chelsea Green has “pretty much jettisoned printed galleys” in favor of e-galleys, says president and publisher Margo Baldwin. It may do the same with its catalogues, starting this fall. CG is not going to BEA this year, says Baldwin. She prefers to attend green consumer shows like Bioneers and the Green Festivals. However, CG will attend ALA in July, where it will unveil a new library program. It is also ramping up its academic marketing in view of sustainability commitments and interest in green issues demonstrated on college campuses. Other initiatives include a new Web site, with a blog and video component.

Fox Chapel Publishing's diversity has helped the company through the recession. Its book business continues to drive growth, but two magazines—Woodcarving Illustrated and Scroll Saw Woodworking and Crafts—as well as a distribution deal for woodworking and craft titles from other publishers, help provide cash flow, market research, access to future authors and a connection to a targeted community of crafters. That, in turn, leads to direct sales.

Paul McGahren, v-p of sales and marketing, says Fox Chapel operates under a fiscally conservative model: all book costs are covered within 90 days of a book's publication date—“or we don't publish the book,” he says. That approach has ensured that the company has cash on hand to acquire content and assets during lean times. One recent acquisition was more than 36,000 pages of Time Life material covering the crafts and hobbies of woodworking, home improvement, fiber arts, boating and collectibles.

Publishing partnerships have also helped the house's success. Relationships with the Smithsonian, Winterthur Museum, New Track Media/American Woodworker and Center for Furniture Craftsmanship have helped Fox Chapel reach larger, targeted audiences. Fox Chapel also looks beyond its core focus for some titles; for instance, it realized tattoo enthusiasts were purchasing its pattern books featuring dragons and Celtic images—so it bound its existing content and published The Great Book of Tattoo Designs, which has sold 20,000 copies.

After solid gains in 2007 Red Wheel Weiser Conari managed to consolidate that increase in what was a difficult 2008. The lifestyle and body-mind-spirit publisher has also held steady in its staffing, maintaining a 20-person staff. President Michael Kerber says the Newburyport, Mass., house has been able to maintain stable sales by concentrating on its core publishing categories of new age, self-help/recovery and alternative health. It released two fewer titles in 2008 than it did in 2007, and even a small change like that helped improve Red Wheel's bottom line.

Last year's lead titles—Serpent of Light: Beyond 2012 by Drunvalo Melchizedek and Essential Laws of Fearless Living by Guy Finley—did well. Kerber said its backlist also continues to perform strongly, in particular Weiser metaphysical books and Conari books on kindness and gratitude.

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Skyhorse: Small and Fast

Skyhorse Publishing's first titles came off press in March 2007, so the house is too young to qualify for PW's list of fast-growing small publishers. Yet its growth over nearly two years is impressive; 2007 net sales were $2.7 million, with 120 titles published, and in 2008, those figures climbed to $4.7 million and 140 titles. Publisher Tony Lyons says one of Skyhorse's key strengths is its size—with 12 employees, “we can move very quickly,” he says.

The New York City house has excelled with titles in the areas of sports, narrative nonfiction, history and military history, nature and conservation, reference, house and home, gambling, hobbies, rural living and business. In the past 12 months, Skyhorse has done exceptionally well with quickly published books targeted toward the economic crisis. A junior editor came up with the idea for No Job? No Prob! How to Pay Your Bills, Feed Your Mind, and Have a Blast When You're Out of Work by Nicholas Nigro, and Skyhorse published the book in about a month, releasing it last October. Another book that came together quickly was 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget by the Writers of Wise Bread, which the house will publish in May. Skyhorse also made a speedy decision to bring back a long out-of-print title, Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition, edited by Abigail R. Gehring, last year. It sold about 50,000 copies in hardcover. Lyons says operating with a small staff makes it “easy to have a meeting and change the way you're doing things.”

Skyhorse has also published a number of titles recently at lower price points. “If we were a bigger company, we'd probably worry about the margins not being as good,” Lyons says, “Whereas at a small company, we were able to recognize that if the book isn't going to sell it doesn't matter how good the margin is.”—Lynn Andriani

Saturday, March 14, 2009

AEI in Variety


Informant makes Diehl deal
Company options 'Hooligans' novel, script
By MICHAEL FLEMING

Informant Media has optioned "Hooligans," a novel by the late author William Diehl, whose books include "Sharky's Machine" and "Primal Fear."

The sale includes both the novel and a script that Diehl wrote before he died. Novel is the story of a band of rogue cops who reassemble to settle an old score in a Southern coastal town that is changing as it legalizes gambling.

Informant Media's Judy Cairo and Michael A. Simpson will produce with AEI's Ken Atchity and Chi-Li Wong. Simpson, Diehl's longtime screenwriting partner, is refining the script. Informant Media most recently completed "Crazy Heart," which stars Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall and Maggie Gyllenhaal, with Butcher's Run Films and MTV Films.

Separately, Diehl's "Sharky's Machine" is set up for remake at Warner Bros., with Phil Joanou attached to direct and Mark Wahlberg exec producing.

AEI, which reps the Diehl estate, also recently optioned his 1990 novel "27" to Breaking Ball Films, whose Scott Abramovich is writing the script. AEI is producing a screen version of the Diehl novel "Eureka" with Neil Canton and Danny Davids.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Guest Post : TIME PREDICTS THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING FAVORS THE BOLD & ENTERPRISING


Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age Reshapes Literature
By Lev Grossman Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009

BOOKS UNBOUND. The forces of a new century are shaping a new kind of literature. It’s fast, cheap and out of control

This excellent feature from February 2, 2009, TIME magazine predicts that the increasing trend to self- or entrepreneurial-publishing is already transforming the way readers read books and may be as significant as the invention of the Internet or of Gutenberg’s printing press.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attention Screenwriters, Storytellers, and Writers


“My approach was to find good writers that didn’t necessarily have the most commercial instincts and marry them to my commercial instinct by giving them ideas and working together with them on scripts.”—Neil Moritz, Produced By

It was delightful to run across this quote from producer Neil Moritz (“Cruel Intentions,” “Fast & Furious,” “Made of Honor”), which reinforces the approach we’ve been focusing on at AEI. It’s as frustrating to us as managers as it is to our storytelling clients that good-to-excellent stories have such a hard time making their way into the marketplace. When we can convince our writers to take the marketplace seriously, we hook them up with concepts we know are low-resistance to buyers. At the very worst, this approach gets our clients’ work in front of the buyers so they can appreciate excellent writing and storytelling ability. At best, it leads to sales and financing progress.

Whether you’re a client of ours or not, think high concept. Think how you can make a buyer look at your project out of all the others that are raining down on the desk every day. One way we highly recommend: find a classic that is in public domain (so there are no rights issues). ADAPT it to today. On your title page, put, “Based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky,” or “Based on the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.” It’s hard for editors and creative execs to resist a story that retells a classic. It’s what they call

a “pre-sold” concept.

If you’re a screenwriter with a fantastic script, consider writing it as a novel, then sell it to a publisher. It then becomes an “underlying right,” which gives the studio exec the incentive and security needed to acquire it.

Think outside the box!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Guest Post: AEI ASSOCIATE MIRANDA KWOK PREMIERS iMURDERS MARCH 14 ONBOARD QUEEN MARY


My latest film iMURDERS is having a red carpet premiere held aboard the historical Queen Mary in Long Beach.

I am playing one of the leads in an ensemble cast. Most of my scenes are with Charles Durning who received the 2008 SAG Life Achievement Award.

The film is screening Saturday, March 14th at 6:00pm at the first annual Paranoia Fest.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.


iMURDERS

Saturday, March 14th
6:00pm
The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Hwy
Long Beach, CA 90802


View the
iMURDERS Trailer

**iMURDERS won the Audience Choice Award at the The Down Beach Film Festival**


Hope to see there!

Miranda
miranda kwok . shadowdance pictures
mirandakwok@shadowdancepictures.com
www.mirandakwok.com . 310.383.5563
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Sunday, March 8, 2009

PUBLICIZING YOUR BOOK Suggestions for Success: Part 5

Continued from part 4

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.

Read Rick Frishman's 50 page resource directory:
Author 101™ Million-Dollar Rolodex


MISC. ADVICE

Top 10 Telephone Tips to Make Your Radio Talk Show Pay Off

by Joe Sabah

1. Have a glass of water handy (room temperature). When your throat is lubricated it's easier to talk. Plus the water serves as a "cough button" if needed.

2. Stand while speaking. Pretend you're presenting a seminar. Your voice will carry further. And you'll sound more animated.

3. Have a copy of their state map on your wall. Refer to cities in the radio station's surrounding area. This helps make you feel like you are "one of them." I once made the mistake of referring to South Bend as "South Bend, Indiana." The host reminded me that I was talking on a radio station in South Bend, Wisconsin. Oops!

4. Listen to their weather and traffic report. This allows you to personalize your presentation.
For example: When I was being interviewed on WHIO in Dayton, Ohio I noticed during the breaks they were referring to their metro area as "the Miami Valley." So it became a natural for me to say "I believe we can help some folks in "the Miami Valley" get their perfect job this afternoon." What a difference the right words make.

5. Get your listeners involved. For example, before the last commercial break I ask them to get pencil and paper to write down the three tips I guarantee will turn every job interview into a job offer. Then they have pencil and paper ready when I later give out my 800 number.

6. For those who are driving around without writing tools handy, ask your host if the listeners can call the station for the 800 number. As soon as you're off the air, you call the station's receptionist and give her or him your 800 number plus the title of your book.

7. Give the host some quotes from your book to use as segues. I offer quotes like: "Are You Singing The Song You Came To Sing?" And "If You Do What You've Always Done, You'll Get What You've Always Gotten. Is That Enough?"

8. After the host uses these Inspirational Postcard Quotes on the air, I also offer them to listeners who order my book. Another bonus to increase orders.

9. Always thank both the host and the producer for the good job they are doing. After the show, also send each of them a handwritten note of thanks and an offer "Let's do it again."

10. You may also want to record your show by using a device available at most phone center stores, that will record both sides of the interview. Then listen to your show to see how you can improve the next one. Keep on learning.

Read PUBLICIZING YOUR BOOK Suggestions for Success from the beginning.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

INTRODUCING AEI'S FINISH LINE BRAND LAUNCH PROGRAM AT MEGA BOOK MARKETING AT LAX WESTIN HOTEL

The exciting thing about the announcement, for me, was that fourteen brand aspirants came forward in the next twelve hours to discuss working with us to organize, focus, and launch their brand ideas. Of course only a handful of them showed the global potential we're looking for--but it was another definite sign that we're onto something exciting with Finish Line.

Friday, March 6, 2009

EXCITING NEW COVER OF ALAYA JOHNSON’S RACING THE DARK


Racing the Dark
Alaya Dawn Johnson. Agate Bolden (PGW, dist.), $24 (352p) ISBN 978-1-932841-28-2

From Publishers Weekly: In Johnson's bold debut, a young woman faces sweeping changes to the ancient traditions and culture of her tiny island home. When 13-year-old Lana recovers a rare sacred jewel from a dying mandagah fish on her first solo dive, she hides it rather than accept the responsibility of becoming a mystic. Within six months, the mandagah are dying due to changing water conditions, destabilizing the island's economy, which depends on the fish and their jewels. To pay for her family's passage to the city-island of Essel, Lana becomes an apprentice to the sorceress Akua. When Lana learns Akua gets her powers from blood sacrifice, she's appalled, but soon she must strike her own terrible bargain to save her mother's life. Johnson's story is reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books.. As Johnson…gets a better handle on her island culture, economy and magic system in future books, this proposed series could be a stand-out. (Oct.)

Buy Racing the Dark on Amazon

Thursday, March 5, 2009

AEI FINISH LINE CLIENT NIK HALIK --THE THRILLIONAIRE—REVEALS THE TEENAGE LIST THAT GOT HIM STARTED TOWARD ‘BEYOND THE SKY IS THE LIMIT’

Here’s the outline of the screenplay of my life I set down when I was a teenager:

1. TO SET FOOT ON THE LUNAR SURFACE OF THE MOON
2. TO ROCKET TO OUTER SPACE AND RESIDE ON A SPACE STATION
3. TO BECOME AN ASTRONAUT
4. TO OWN EXOTIC PRIVATE HOMES AROUND THE WORLD
5. TO EXPLORE AND TRAVEL TO OVER 100 COUNTRIES
6. TO BECOME A DEEP SEA EXPLORER AND HAVE LUNCH ON THE TITANIC
7. TO BECOME A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER AND SUMMIT THE HIGHEST PEAKS IN THE WORLD
8. TO RUN WITH THE BULLS IN PAMPLONA, SPAIN
9. TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE
10. TO BECOME A ROCKSTAR MUSICIAN

GREEN = COMPLETED
RED = IMPATIENTLY WAITING


Visit The Thrillionaires website:
thethrillionaires.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guest Post: Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference 2009

Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference 2009

Literacy is our purpose.

Fulfilling dreams is our goal.

http://scribblersretreatwritersconference.com/

@ Sea Palms Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia

May 14-17, 2009 “How To…”
Dickie Anderson (F), Ed Ginn, Dr. Ervin Williams, Holly McClure, Cappy Rearick, Harlan Hambright, Constance Daley, Bud Hearn, Mary Wagner, Dr.William Rawlings

August 13-16, 2009 “SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, Inspirational- This World and Beyond”
Linda Armstrong, Charlotte Babb, Maggie Carter d’Vries, Jack McDevitt, Tom Dent/Andy Lamon, Jaclyn Weldon-White, Daniel Black, Victor DiGenti

November 12-15, 2009 “Novels, Short Stories, Etc.”
Chris Rumble, Lois Ruby, Len d’Eon, Jackie Cooper, Julie Grimm, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Patricia Patterson, Stephen Doster

Scribblers’ Retreat
is a non-profit organization established with the goal of reaching writers of all ages; to inspire and promote their hidden gifts and talents.

By involving the local community, authors, publishers, editors, journalists and all forms of the literary world, we are opening their minds and bringing hope where there was doubt.

Scribblers’ Retreat is not the typical classroom setting. It was designed to bring world-class authors, literature professors, editors, journalists, and publishers one-on-one with young and old alike. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for someone who has had a manuscript in a desk drawer for 40 years or who has an outstanding poem that simply must be read.

Scribblers' Retreat Writers' Conference
“Where “can’t” is not in our vocabulary.”


Jeanie Pantelakis

Secretary/Treasurer

Scribblers' Retreat Writers' Conference
620 Sea Island Road, Suite 329
St. Simon's Island, GA 31522
1-800-996-2904
912-230-2207
jeanie@scribblersretreatwritersconference.com
http://scribblersretreatwritersconference.com/

Monday, March 2, 2009

Guest Post: AEI CLIENT MARILYN HOROWITZ TELLS CHARACTERS TO FIND PAST

A great way to challenge yourself to be more creative is by asking yourself what if your hero or heroine could go back into their past, define and then change one thing that has prevented them from achieving their dream? How would your story change? You might find an amazing twist or an unexpected ending, like the one in the film, Back To The Future. In which Marty McFly hates his life because he is tarred with the same brush as his "loser" father George, who in the present is still being bullied by Biff, the same person who did so when his father was a school child. Marty blames his father George for his own failure as a musician. What happens to get the story started is that Marty has the chance to rearrange his future by getting sent back to the past.

While in the past, in order to make sure his parents to fall in love so that he can be conceived, Marty succeeds by getting his father to stand up against Biff. Because Marty has actually changed history, from having a father who's a wimp, to one who is a hero, when he returns to the present, Marty discovers that his father has become the successful and confident man Marty always wanted him to be. Marty is then able to realize his own dream of playing his guitar at the prom. By allowing your character to actually change their history, it naturally changes their present and future.

I'm not suggesting that you actually use the idea of going back to the past in your script. Instead, take the idea as a game of the imagination where you borrow this concept as a process to help you improve and deepen your own original conception of your main character.

Here's the simple 2-step technique:

I teach writers to borrow a basic principle from Actor's Craft, which is to think of ourselves as the primary character in their story. Stanislavski, the great acting teacher tells us "Behavior is character." If we understand what we would do in such a situation, we can then know what our characters would do.

Step 1. Ask yourself to think about the one major thing in your life that you would have like to have changed because you feel it has interfered with you achieving your goals in life. This could be a sports injury, a love affair, or something closer to Marty's problem with his dad. If this hadn't happened, where would you be today? How would your life be better or worse, the same or different?

Step 2. Now, set a timer for 15 minutes and writing as your character, create a monologue about what you, as the character, would have altered if you could have gone "Back To The Future." Write out what actions you would have taken to change the past and then write about how your life (as the character) changed as a result. For example, if your character were Marty, you might have written, " If only I could have changed my dad. So I went back to the past and found a way to change my father' s life by getting him to fight the bully. As a result, my father has become more confident and successful and so have I." It is helpful to go into a little more depth when you're writing than I have in this example, but you get the idea.

By imagining how your main character wants to change his or her past, you will add depth to your character and improve your script.

Good luck and happy writing,

Marilyn Horowitz
www.marilynhorowitz.com