now playing on wordplay

July 23, 2013


I am a guest on Wordplay stop by and hit the Scripts forum to chat about the biz end of film writing.

Wordplay Screen shot  PM




BEYOND TOP SECRET TNSSG is a private invitation only forum for the crazy movers and shakers behind all things TNSSG who have participated in mad cap TNSSG antics like the book meme, Going Banksy, the book trailer

And may be seduced in the near future into whatever other fun stuff we think up. Yay!

The plan is have fun, brainstorm more TNSSG shenanigans, and have a damn good time while we do it.

There might even be live chats. Ooh la la. And prizes. Yay!


To participate in BEYOND TOP SECRET, you must be registered with the AFW forum and you must be given the private handshake and keys. Hit the forum and register. And to get that private handshake and keys? :::POST HERE:::



question_markI had a bit —

Of a blow up at my second father the other day. I’ve been killing myself posting about the book on social media sites. That’s what you have to do if you’re an author, just to make people aware a title is out there. That or rent a billboard in Times Square, which is sort of not in the budget. This has been going on a while, and there have been other all book fun things going on to help promote the book. The meme competition. Going Banksy. The book trailer. And now the book just came out in paperback and is up on Amazon. Cool, huh? And I share the link.

Not one member of my family ever shares the book link. Not one. Friends do. Fans do. But the family? Never.

So I’m feeling bruised and sharky, especially since he just posted a link of a cousin’s CD on his FB page. And I’m thinking, Really? My cousin rates? But not your daughter? And I snap at him. At which point he immediately posts a book link and I feel kind of bitchy and like maybe there was a better way to say it.

The thing is, lots of people, and not just the clueless-about-the-way-things-work-for-writers crowd, lots of authors too, have absolutely no clue about the impact social media has or how important it is to freaking help or even how to help an author struggling out there in Promotion Land. If they did, the people who say “I love you” on a regular basis would actually get behind you and your book and help you push. I am convinced of this.

So. A little help for those of you out there who would like to help a writer, you just don’t know how.



1. Buy the book. This would seem like a no brainer but it must be said. Sales help numbers and sales rankings and also, you know, that’s how the writer gets paid. The book sells and the writer makes a royalty. Also, a little known fact: Writers pay for their own books. So if you are sitting back thinking, Hey, I’m family, that writer should give me a free copy? News flash. It’s not a “free” copy to the writer. Just to you. Because the writer paid for it just to give it to you. Greedy! Go buy the damn book.

2. Write the review. Reviews places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and iBooks and Good Reads count. A lot. They’re word of mouth. They tell someone else considering buying and reading the book that someone else out there liked it and thinks it’s worth buying and reading. Reviews do not have to be long or erudite. This isn’t being written for The New Yorker. They just have to be there and say, “Hey, I liked this, I think you will too.”

3. Blog the book. Lots of people out there have blogs. You have a favorite writer? Post their book. Say something nice about it on the blog. I don’t care if you only have ten visitors a month on that blog, every little bit helps. You can get fancy. Here’s a blog post about the book by author and editor Nancy Bilyeau. But it can also be short and sweet. Here’s a short blog post by writer and blogger Kym Kemp. And another short one from Patricia Burroughs. They all work. It counts a lot that they are out there. [Thanks Nancy and Kym and Pooks. You rock.]

4. Share the book on social media sites. Facebook? Twitter? StumbledUpon? A web community you visit regularly? Share the book. Post about the book. Talk about the book. This means more than simply hitting a like button when the writer posts the book. It means keeping the fire going by passing the link forward in the social media chain. Don’t just hit like. Hit “share.”

5. Talk about the book. This would seem like another no brainer, but apparently it isn’t. Talk. About. The. Book. That will be much more interesting at the next cocktail party than one more diatribe about Ayn Rand. Trust me. We have all heard the Ayn Rand diatribe. Time for something new. Yay!

6. Ask about the book at your favorite book store. Suggest the book store carry the book. [Do not special order the book and not pick it up. The book store people do not just shrug and put those special order books on the shelf, they return the books to the publisher — which sucks for everyone. Just ask them if they carry the book and tell them you like it a lot and why maybe they should.]

7. Hit Amazon and add tags and like the book. This is more important than liking the book on Facebook, this is liking the book at the source, with a seller. It effects ranking. And tagging helps other people interested in the book’s subject find the book. I’ll stick a short tutorial in here to help you go about that.

8. Belong to a book club? A writing group? Suggest the club or group cover the book. Sometimes books are available at discounted rates if purchased in bulk by clubs or groups too so find out, everyone wins on that one because the group gets a better price.

9. Host a book event. Say a reading/book signing. This counts double if you, say, work at a book store. But it doesn’t always have to be a book store. My first book reading was at an art gallery. Some groups meet regularly and need speakers, well, surprise, the author is a speaker. Be a little creative here.

10. Post comments on author or the book’s Facebook pages and other websites. On Facebook, a page doesn’t get points because of how many people are hitting like buttons, a page gets points because of discussion happening on the page. So don’t just hit like. Say something on the page. It goes a long way.

That’s ten. Feel free to suggest more in the comments section. [Yeah, the comments section, we just covered that right?] Now here’s the video clip:



Now go forth and help an author. It doesn’t have to be me, though that would be greatly appreciated. But help an author today. You’ll feel good about yourself, and the author will like you too. Yay!

Also, here’s another great post on helping authors with promotions from Mike Duran:


Hit that baby, it’s good reading.





Self publishing is not for the weak of heart. If you had told me how much freaking work this was and how hard going in?

I would never have done it.

Then again, that applies to everything I have ever done.

I think there is a certain angelic magnificence to just being too stupid to know something is impossible.

I’m lucky to have been bathed in that angelic stupidity and magnificence more than once in my lifetime.

It’s how I survived childhood.

How I made it to college.

How I finished college.

How I made it to Hollywood.

How I finished this book.

And how I finished it again.


Final galleys are approved.

Let’s print this mother.


:::the book:::




:::THE BOOK:::


goals and end points

May 23, 2013


white_chain_cb_250I was telling —

A student today, the goal isn’t to figure out how the writer wants a story to end and build a story towards that —

The goal is to figure out how the character wants the story to end and then throw the biggest obstacles in the way of that you can.

It’s up to the character to make the story end right.

It’s up to the writer to make it harder than hell for the character to pull that off.



May 17, 2013




I think sometimes I know too many secrets. That they will overrun me one day and crowd out everything else until there is nothing left but the echoing light and thunder of all these secrets leaving me paralyzed with no words —



With secrets, words are forbidden.



I think this is how writers are made. People who are bound by secrets so long one day in place of silence something new is born, something made up, something fiction, anything, everything, just to fill that void of non-sound.



Writers tell the truth through lies.

How messed up is that?



where the art work comes from:
:::the society of historical curiosities:::




The New Screenwriter's Survival Guide by Max Adams

go julie go!

February 28, 2013



Julie is one of my students. I would love to take credit for everything she has accomplished, but I can’t. I am her teacher, I guide. I’m a good teacher and a good guide. Hell, I’m a good writer, if it comes down to that. But. A guide can only guide someone willing to be guided who has drive to push through. I could be walking someone up Kilimanjaro, but it would not do any good if that person said, Oh I’m tired now, I think I’ll turn back. And it wouldn’t do any good if I said, Hey, try to avoid that edge. And the person being guided didn’t listen to me and walked over the edge. So there is this fine line of taking credit for the student’s accomplishments. Because, if the student isn’t special, well all the guiding in the world won’t stop that student from quitting or walking over that edge.

That said? I’m mad cap proud of Julie Howe. Here is her recent post on the Austin Film Festival blog:


I know what you’re thinking. “She must be directionally confused, poor thing.” But hear me out because I actually do own a compass and know the difference between north and south.

When Matt Dy first rang me back in 2010 to say Joyce San Pedro, a producer based at Sony and an AFF judge and panelist, wanted to meet with me about my script, I was thinking he must have meant to call someone else — some OTHER writer who may have had the same last name as me — and he hit my number by mistake. Happens, right? Thankfully, it wasn’t a butt dial.

I’m one of those lucky writers who caught a break thanks to Austin Film Festival; as well as to an army of fellow writers who were generous and kind, brutal and honest, and most of all just plain supportive. As a result, my 2010 AFF comedy script is in development with Joyce San Pedro and Alex Siskin. It’s not a studio deal; it’s a handmade independent production deal. And I didn’t leave the baby on the doorstep and walk away. Instead, I made an arrangement with the producers that included involvement from start to finish. I wanted to learn, I wanted to know what it was really like to make a movie, to be part of a team. I didn’t know if I would be chewed up and spit out like a stale Chiclet or be able to hold my own. Not to mention being able to hold my tongue when necessary while still holding true to my vision.

As luck would have it, I was taken under the wings of the good guys and I’m thanking the gods of screenwriting I didn’t end up stuck to the bottom of somebody’s Nike. Those who championed the script from the beginning, Joyce San Pedro. Michael-Ryan Fletchall and Alex Siskin, opened the door for me and I ran through it like my hair was on fire. Let’s face it, I’m not a kid. I’m staring down the point-blank barrel of middle age. I want my shot before Medicare kicks in or I start thinking my purse belongs in the refrigerator.

I owe my tenacious attitude not only to the opportunity afforded me by Austin Film Festival but also to an amazing writer’s group called 5150 whose founder Max Adams, won the screenplay award when AFF was a pup. From the beginning of my tenure in the group, Austin Film Festival was touted as THE festival. Everyone in the group aspired to place well in the screenplay competition. Needless to say, winning was unbelievable and surreal. Like I had brought home 5150’s version of the Stanley Cup (yeah, I’m from a hockey state!). I would not be where I am without the help and guidance of these wickedly smart, talented peeps.

Although this all sounds like rah-rah cheerleader fluff…


:::continue reading:::



christmas_presentWriting is —

One of the few professions linked directly to screaming ads at Christmas time. Or at least that is a definite impression I get. “What to get the writer on your Christmas list!” You don’t see that with a lot of other professions. “Say, got a coal miner on your list? How about this nifty new pick axe?” “Got a pilot on your list? How about an altimeter?” “Here is the perfect gift for that nurse on your list, support hose!” I do not see those ads. And this may be the result of me just hanging out more places “writer” than places “coal miner/pilot/nurse.” But I suspect not.

I am not sure what this says. But I have suspicions. See, the other area that has big screaming advertisements directed specifically at an activity is –


“What to get the rock climber on your list!” “What to get the knitter on your list!” “What go get the cyclist on your list!” You see lots of ads directed at buying people specific gifts for their hobbies. And I find this a little concerning. The implication being, perhaps, that writing is still being considered a hobby and not an actual profession?

I’m not sure I like that.


*By the way if anyone is wondering what to get this writer for Christmas, she could really go for a case of Stag’s Leap merlot. I know! Not even writing related! Crazy, right?

*If you simply must get a writer something writing related? A MacBook Air is always a nice choice or, barring anything quite so nifty? Give a gift certificate. Writing IS a profession and a writer can write off purchases made on a gift certificate.


%d bloggers like this: