Monday, August 30, 2010

Louisiana Wave Studio



















Shark in the Tank





















Winslow Life Raft Tested in Wave tank




















Painted Up for Life Raft Testing

Sunday, August 29, 2010

AEI Client Royce Buckingham's The Dead Boys Reviewed


















The Dead Boys, by Royce Buckingham

Teddy Matthews has to move to a small town in the Washington desert when his mother gets a job at the local plant. But next door a creepy sycamore tree is growing, mutated by nuclear waste. The tree has lured boys in to feed from for decades. And the tree wants Teddy is next.

Teddy catches on right away that something is wrong in town. Every boy he meets ends up disappearing. And the landscape keeps changing from new to old. With a little detective work, Teddy soon discovers what’s going on. And while the reader knows a little about what’s going on, the build-up of suspense is intense.

This is a short, quick read for middle readers on up. The ambiance is spooky and dark, yet never over the top for younger readers. A highly enjoyable tale of mystery and non-stop creepy fun, I found myself caught up at once. The story was gripping from the beginning to its climactic ending.

http://scifichick.com/

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is Hollywood settling into a prolonged recession of its own?




The Big Picture



Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture

August 23, 2010

The_expendables No one needs any introduction to America's prolonged recession, which has put millions of people out of work and set the country on edge, creating an unprecedented level of angst, anger and political unrest. But even though this year's box office grosses are up a little over a year ago -- due mainly to higher ticket prices and 3-D -- Hollywood remains in the grip of a serious recession of its own.


Being Hollywood, it's a different kind of recession, since to the outside world, things seem to be humming along smoothly, with scrums of new films invading the multiplexes each weekend, stars touting their latest wares on TV everywhere and Oscar campaigning already beginning to gear up nearly six months before the awards unfold. But ask anyone inside the business, from agents and managers to writers and producers, and they'll give you an earful of unhappy news. "The Expendables" may have given Sly Stallone and his aging posse of action stars a new lease on life, but jobs are just as scarce in show business as everywhere else.


To hear people talk, this summer the industry may have hit the bottom of the market. That is, unless things get even worse. First off, there are fewer buyers than ever before. Most of the specialty divisions have been shuttered, New Line has been absorbed into Warners, MGM is in suspended animation and of the six remaining major studios, at least two -- Universal and Sony -- have spent all of their development money for the year, putting a big crimp in the marketplace. (The studios in question say they are still developing projects if the right one comes along, but according to every agent and manager I spoke to, the packages are awfully few and far between.)


Disney, whose new management seems determined to turn it into Procter & Gamble, is making fewer movies than ever before. The studio has zero interest in the kind of edgy or compelling material than would attract the David Finchers or Brad Pitts of the world. In fact, the studio recently told agencies that it had three types of "buckets" (Disney-ese for movie genres) that it wanted to focus on: tentpoles, comedies with heart and inspirational movies. How exactly that differs from the kind of movies that Disney has been making from time immemorial is beyond me, but it certainly speaks to how narrow the studio's aspirations are these days.


Warners and 20th Century Fox continue to make a lot of movies, as does Paramount, although Paramount seems more interested in distributing films than financing them, leading many insiders to believe that the studio is angling to make a deal to distribute MGM product when and if the studio comes back to life. But there is far less big Wall Street money coming into the business to bolster the studio's film slates, which has translated into far fewer movies being made this year than in years past. The result? Far fewer people are working than ever and the ones who are getting jobs are making considerably less than they were in the past.


Wherever you look, there is consolidation and financial stress as people have been forced to adjust to a Darwinian thinning of the herd. "You'd have to say that this summer we probably hit bottom, certainly creatively, with so many studios relying on so much pre-sold branded product," said one top agent. "It's really hard, because so much money has left the business, there are fewer distributors than ever before and many of the ones that are left have cash problems, so it's just agonizingly difficult to get a movie up and running right now."


Even worse, the kind of movie a studio will finance right now has narrowed considerably. Studios will spend fortunes on their big tentpole or franchise movies, because those are the movies that move the needle, both in terms of making the best use of studio marketing dollars and attracting audiences around the globe, which is where the biggest profits are these days. When it comes to the kind of films that talent want to make -- ones with slightly loftier aspirations -- the studios will only play ball on their terms and on their schedule, forcing everyone involved to work for what in Hollywood passes for peanuts.


On the other hand, Hollywood is full of salesman and hustlers, who are, by nature, born optimists. So it isn't hard to find a few people who offer some glimmers of hope. After all, Spyglass is coming in to run MGM, so it seems likely that it will have to put money into the marketplace to rebuild the ruined old lion of a studio. DreamWorks is finally starting to make movies again. Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity is looking more and more like a full-scale studio operation. And maybe when Comcast starts to clean house, Universal's woes will be over.


You could actually make the case that it's an especially good time to invest in the movie business. With studio releases down perhaps as much as 25%, films can play longer with less competition for the moviegoing dollar. (And with fewer studios to advertise, ad rates could dip as well.) Physical distribution costs are going down as well, thanks to the arrival of digital distribution. And best of all, at least to an investor, talent costs are way down, with only a precious few stars getting first-dollar gross, so a new investor could get to profit faster than ever, even if they are making a star vehicle.


But for now, the legions of outside investors who used to show up in Hollywood, magnetized by the glamor of the business, have slowed to a trickle. The big spenders have been scared away by all of the financial carnage that has shuttered the smaller distributors and sent investors fleeing. So it's easy to find a lot more bears than bulls in the Hollywood marketplace. For the people who make showbiz hum, from the carpenters and the craftsfolk to the screenwriters and the stars, times are tough. Turns out the movie industry isn't a recession-proof business after all.


Photo: Sylvester Stallone and Terry Crews from "The Expendables" ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“STORY MERCHANT” DR. KEN ATCHITY
OFFERS WRITERS AT ALL LEVELS
PERSONAL CAREER COACHING:


STRATEGY & TACTICS
FOR MAKING A GLOBAL IMPACT
IN A CHANGING
WORLD MARKET

Dr. Atchity has spent his lifetime helping writers get started with and improve their careers. For nearly twenty years as a professor of literature and teacher of creative writing at Occidental College and UCLA--then since 1995, through this thewriterslifeline.com and as a literary manager with aeionline.com Dr. Atchity has helped literally hundreds of writers find a market for their work by bringing their craft and technique to the level of their ambition and vision. His daily newsletter, inspire@storymerchant.com keeps thousands of writers inspired and informed.

The 30-minute coaching sessions are doubly proactive: (a) determining your “assignment” for the next session; and (b) Dr. Atchity taking action on getting you to the connections you need to keep your project on the strategic track you’ve designed together. Plus, you’ll get 3 free follow-up emails for each session.

The one-on-one coaching includes:

• NOVELISTS AND NONFICTION WRITERS
Moving into Markets Beyond Your Own Backyard
Creating a Presence in the U.S.
Translation Issues (and solutions)
How Do I Know If My Work Is Good Enough for the Global Market?
Plots that Sell Globally
Building Characters
Settings That Sell in the U.S.
Choosing Your Next Work

Effective, Economical Publicity
Self-publishing: Perils and Opportunities
How Do I Publish My Children’s Book?
How to Find an Agent (Dr. Atchity will refer you to his management company or an appropriate agent once your work is ready for presentation).
How to Approach Publishers Directly.
How Can I Get My Novel Made Into a Film?
What Do I Need to Know or Do about BRANDING?


• SCREENWRITERS:

Today’s 2 Hollywood Market s & How to Navigate Them
Do I Need an Agent?
How Do I Find One? (when your work is ready, Dr. Atchity will refer it)
The Value of Contests
How Do I Know if My Work Is Good Enough for Hollywood?
What Is Television Looking for?
Where Can I Find a U.S. Collaborator for My Work?
How Do I Stand Out from the Pack?
How Can I Accelerate the Process of Getting My Script Made Into a Film?
Becoming a Proactive Filmmaker

In some cases, coaching can involve representation.

What other writing coach is also…
An active producer, for major studios, television, and independent films
A literary manager for twenty years for screenwriters, nonfiction authors, and novelists—with over 15 bestsellers and nearly 30 films
An editor for fifty years in every imaginable field
The author of 15 books, including A Writer’s Time, Writing Treatments That Sell, How to Publish Your Novel, and How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Changing Your Career
An inspiring public speaker at dozens of conventions and conferences in the U.S. and Europe
A brand manager whose brands have included Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not! and thethrillionaires.com
A writer on every aspect of the creative process
Ph.D. from Yale, former Professor of Literature at Occidental College.
Fulbright Professor to the University of Bologna

Stay tuned with his latest activities at kenatchity.blogspot.com

For daily free inspiration and information for writers along with news of our latest deals, inspire@storymerchant.com

Inquire about one-on-one coaching now by writing to drk@storymerchant.com and receive further information about rates and benefits.

_____________________________________________


Career Coaching


Rates until October 15, 2010

One-off session

$125 : (30 min telecom + 3 brief follow up emails in following 7 days (more emails okay but on further hourly charge)

$1,250: (12 Weekly 30-minutes for 3 months + email f/us)

$2,500: (24 Weekly 30-minutes for 6 months + email f/us)


NOTE: for a translator on the line, add 25% per session.

All fees payable in advance.


The same basic fee is available for work provided outside the telecom, such as submissions of your project and/or making publicity connections to serve your project.

_____________________________________________________________

FAQ


Q: What is the difference between working with this service and the services offered by thewriterslifeline.com?

A: Writers Lifeline services are provided by our editorial/writing staff under my direction. With Career Coaching, you’re dealing one-on-one with me.

Q: Why did you start this Career Coaching service?

A: For two reasons: (1) My frustration at not being able to assist enough writers directly as I once did regularly as a professor; and (2) the changing realities of the literary management business where there is simply no more time available, as we increase our involvement in producing films and tv, to spend uncompensated time with writers.

Q. Can you help me submit my work to buyers?

A: Absolutely. When your work is ready for submission, I will either pick up the phone and submit it for you (no commission!), or I’ll suggest a representative who might be right for it.

AEI Client Kerry Valderrama's Memories of a Hundred Advances into the Semifinals of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AEI Client Nancy Freedman dies at 90; feminist had long and wide-ranging literary career






Among her most famous books are 'Mrs. Mike,' 'The Immortals' and 'Joshua Son of None.' She was known for extensive research and varied subject matter, and the bulk of her work is 'ardently feminist.'

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times


August 22, 2010




Nancy Freedman, a novelist whose wide-ranging books include the bestselling "Mrs. Mike," co-written with her husband, has died. She was 90.


Freedman died Aug. 10 of temporal arteritis, an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the arterial vascular system, at her home in Greenbrae, Calif., said her husband and frequent writing partner, Benedict Freedman.


In a literary career that began in the late 1940s and continued until her death, Freedman wrote or co-wrote 20 novels.


The first was "Mrs. Mike" (1947), the story of a 17-year-old Boston girl coping with living in Canada's northwest wilderness with her Mountie husband in the early 20th century.


A bestseller that appeared in 27 foreign editions and remains in print, "Mrs. Mike" was turned into a 1949 movie starring Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes.


Other novels written with her husband include "The Apprentice Bastard" (1966), the story of a disillusioned man who resolves to abandon his high ethical standards to succeed but keeps backsliding.


Among Freedman's solo efforts are "The Immortals," a 1977 novel that tells how oil came to dominate the modern world; and "Joshua Son of None," a 1973 novel in which a young doctor removes a tiny piece of tissue from the body of President Kennedy after his assassination and pursues a plan to clone the president.


Benedict Freedman said, however, that "the bulk of her production could be characterized as ardently feminist."


That includes "Sappho: The Tenth Muse," a 1998 novel about the ancient Greek poet, and "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary," a 1968 novel about the origins of the modern feminist movement in Britain in the late 18th century.


As a novelist, Freedman was known for her extensive research and wide variety of subject matter.


"She never wanted to do the same thing," said her husband, a retired professor of mathematics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. "Even in the case of 'Mrs. Mike,' the publisher approached us offering a fortune if we'd write a sequel. But at that time, we had used up all the usable material."


It wasn't until decades later — after they had made repeated visits to Alberta, the locale of the original novel, and had done a lot more research — that they collaborated on the sequels "The Search for Joyful" (2002) and "Kathy Little Bird" (2003).


The daughter of a surgeon father and a journalist mother, Freedman was born Nancy Mars on July 4, 1920, in Evanston, Ill. She had rheumatic fever at 3, the same age at which she began acting professionally in local children's stage productions.


As a teenager, she toured in director Max Reinhardt's productions of "Faust," "The Miracle" and "Six Characters in Search of an Author."


She was a leading lady in little theater in Hollywood when she met her future husband, a junior movie studio writer, in 1940.


When the Freedmans were married in 1941, Nancy had recently suffered a recurrence of rheumatic fever and had been given three months to live.


"Her father told me that it was insane of me to want to marry a girl who had at most three months to live, and I said that Nancy and I had talked it over and had decided that even if it was only three months, we would want to enjoy it," recalled Benedict Freedman.


Although she never completely recovered and always had to limit her activities, he said, "all these illnesses and so on have just never deterred Nancy from going ahead and doing what she wanted, writing her books, having children against doctors' orders and all that."


She was, he said, "a very strong but very gentle woman."


Freeman gave up acting after she was married, but never stopped writing.


"The day she died, she was dictating to me from her hospital bed changes in a novel she had in progress," said her husband. "She was about halfway through an anti-war novel, which is also a love story."


He said he has all of her notes and plans to try finishing it for her.


In addition to her husband, Freeman is survived by her son, Michael; her daughters, Johanna Shapiro and Deborah Jackson; her sisters, Mary Lynn Tolle and Susie Hamilton; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


dennis.mclellan@latimes.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing [via Michael A. Simpson]

Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle

from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series.

By ELMORE LEONARD


These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.


1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.


2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.


There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s “Sweet Thursday,” but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”


3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.


4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”


5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.


6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.


7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.


Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories “Close Range.”


8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.


9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:


10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.


My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.


If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.


Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)


If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character—the one whose view best brings the scene to life—I’m able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what’s going on, and I’m nowhere in sight.


What Steinbeck did in “Sweet Thursday” was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts” is one, “Lousy Wednesday” another. The third chapter is titled “Hooptedoodle 1” and the 38th chapter “Hooptedoodle 2” as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: “Here’s where you’ll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won’t get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.”


“Sweet Thursday” came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published, and I’ve never forgotten that prologue.


Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

Saturday, August 21, 2010





“STORY MERCHANT” DR. KEN ATCHITY OFFERS WRITERS AT ALL LEVELS PERSONAL CAREER COACHING:

STRATEGY & TACTICS FOR MAKING A GLOBAL IMPACT IN A CHANGING WORLD MARKET

Dr. Atchity has spent his lifetime helping writers get started with and improve their careers. For nearly twenty years as a professor of literature and teacher of creative writing at Occidental College and UCLA--then since 1995, through this thewriterslifeline.com and as a literary manager with aeionline.com Dr. Atchity has helped literally hundreds of writers find a market for their work by bringing their craft and technique to the level of their ambition and vision. His daily newsletter, inspire@storymerchant.com keeps thousands of writers inspired and informed.

The 30-minute coaching sessions are doubly proactive: (a) determining your “assignment” for the next session; and (b) Dr. Atchity taking action on getting you to the connections you need to keep your project on the strategic track you’ve designed together. Plus, you’ll get 3 free follow-up emails for each session.

The one-on-one coaching includes:

• NOVELISTS AND NONFICTION WRITERS
Moving into Markets Beyond Your Own Backyard
Creating a Presence in the U.S.
Translation Issues (and solutions)
How Do I Know If My Work Is Good Enough for the Global Market?
Plots that Sell Globally
Building Characters
Settings That Sell in the U.S.
Choosing Your Next Work

Effective, Economical Publicity
Self-publishing: Perils and Opportunities
How Do I Publish My Children’s Book?
How to Find an Agent (Dr. Atchity will refer you to his management company or an appropriate agent once your work is ready for presentation).
How to Approach Publishers Directly.
How Can I Get My Novel Made Into a Film?
What Do I Need to Know or Do about BRANDING?


• SCREENWRITERS:

Today’s 2 Hollywood Market s & How to Navigate Them
Do I Need an Agent?
How Do I Find One? (when your work is ready, Dr. Atchity will refer it)
The Value of Contests
How Do I Know if My Work Is Good Enough for Hollywood?
What Is Television Looking for?
Where Can I Find a U.S. Collaborator for My Work?
How Do I Stand Out from the Pack?
How Can I Accelerate the Process of Getting My Script Made Into a Film?
Becoming a Proactive Filmmaker

In some cases, coaching can involve representation.

What other writing coach is also…
An active producer, for major studios, television, and independent films
A literary manager for twenty years for screenwriters, nonfiction authors, and novelists—with over 15 bestsellers and nearly 30 films
An editor for fifty years in every imaginable field
The author of 15 books, including A Writer’s Time, Writing Treatments That Sell, How to Publish Your Novel, and How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Changing Your Career
An inspiring public speaker at dozens of conventions and conferences in the U.S. and Europe
A brand manager whose brands have included Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not! and thethrillionaires.com
A writer on every aspect of the creative process
Ph.D. from Yale, former Professor of Literature at Occidental College.
Fulbright Professor to the University of Bologna

Stay tuned with his latest activities at kenatchity.blogspot.com

For daily free inspiration and information for writers along with news of our latest deals, inspire@storymerchant.com

Inquire about one-on-one coaching now by writing to drk@storymerchant.com and receive further information about rates and benefits.