Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Brenda Novak Note on Auction

**Thought my writerly friends would be interested.**

I'm trying not to bug you...but I'm just so darn excited! The auction starts in THREE days. And there's a lot I need to tell you!

1. There will be prizes! Each day I will draw a name of at least one shopper who has placed a bid that day and give him/her something fun.

2. The person who places the most bids during the first week will win an Apple iPad, an autographed Advanced Reading Copy of my new book, WHITE HEAT (which won't be out until July 27th), and a VIP invite to my cyber launch party.

3. To celebrate the auction, I'm currently giving away a trip for two to Curacoa on my web site. The prize includes air transportation from any major airport inside the US and a four-night stay at the brand new Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in the luxurious Santa Barbara Plantation between natural harbor Spanish Water and the romantic Caribbean. Enjoy beautiful white-sand beaches and spectacular sunsets, gourmet dining and a full service spa. Drawing will be held July 1st and winner will be notified by email. Enter at

4. I'm currently the featured author at a new and wonderful site called Books On The House. I tell you this because I'm giving away two $25 gift certificates to the auction. It's just a simple drawing, no need to comment on a blog or anything. Visit Misa Ramirez, one of our fabulous category captains here at the auction, is giving away a $25 gift certificate via a sister site for kids

5. Please make sure you’re registered with the auction only once and that your shipping information is up to date. We don’t want to send your goodies to a previous address (which happened to someone last year).

6. To make sure everyone gets their items in a more timely fashion we’re limiting payment options to Paypal and credit card. But I consider you all my friends, so I’ll do my best to accommodate you if you must pay by check. Just let me know before the auction closes so I can make a note of it.

7. On the raffle tickets, billing will work a bit differently from last year. We will be invoicing for raffle tickets once a week and processing payment for them every Friday.

8. The One Day Auction category has been stocked, but please keep an eye on this category as we will be adding more items all the time. There was some confusion about this category last year because it's different from all the others. This is the only category where items go up for auction and close ON THE SAME DAY. You can’t bid on something in this category until it opens and you should be ready when it closes to make sure you take it home. You will be billed for these items at the end of the auction along with the regular items.

9. If you referred a friend who registered for the auction, and they put your name in the blank so that we have a way of tracking it, we owe you a $10 gift certificate. I’ve made a list of these go-getters. After the auction is over, if you think you should have a g.c. coming, just check with Anna. She’ll refer to the list and deduct that amount from your invoice. This offer is still good, by the way. So encourage your friends to join the fun.

10. And last…if you have any questions or problems, please do not hesitate to email us. My assistant Anna can be reached at If she can’t help you (and I’m betting she can because she’s pretty darn good at problem solving) I’ll jump in.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon

Okay, I admit it, I am completely and absolutely a rabid fan of the movie How To Train Your Dragon. I have seen it three times in 3-D no less. Each time I go I enjoy it just as much as the first time. Not only does the hero's journey of Hiccup always touch a cord with me, I still get teary eyed at the end (I'm such a sap), but I can't get enough of the dialogue. It is the dialogue that makes me want to watch it over and over, and yes, I do want to go see it again.

The dialogue in this movie is great. No word is wasted. Every word reveals character. Oh, to be able to write like that is something I aim for.

I remember in one of my screenwriting classes we had to evaluate a movie on the dialogue alone. Watch the movie and read the script. How was it that the writer's were able to convey so much information and character to the viewer in the opening sequence through dialogue. I picked American Outlaws while the rest of my classmates picked Oscar winners. Yes, my rebel behavior tends to turn up wherever I go. It's been several years (shoot probably over 5) since I did that assignment. But I still remember the basics of the assignment. I believe you were supposed to evaluate the first five or so minutes of dialogue and see how the writers reveal back story, character information, and world information through dialogue alone. American Outlaws taught me a lot.

Soldier: Get me the James boy.
Second Soldier: Jesse?
Soldier: No, the one that can shoot.

Did you catch it? We have just been told that Jesse is not the one that can shoot. We also know that both Jesse and Frank (the one that can shoot) are in the military and in the middle of a conflict when this opens. A super cool cowboy/soldier scene follows revealing that though Frank is the one that can shoot Jesse is the one that will take the outrageous chances and will live to tell the tale. The rest of the dialogue reveals just as much as those three short lines, but I'm afraid they are no longer branded into my memory.

Want to learn how to write good dialogue? Check out some movies that do dialogue really well. Not wasting a single word. Check out How To Train Your Dragon and listen to Hiccup's dialogue with those in his tribe.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Win a Mentorship with Brenda Novak

In case you didn't know, Brenda Novak has an online charity auction every May to benefit diabetes research. Lots of trips, books, and other writerly items are auctioned off, including reads and critiques by published authors, editors, and agents. She just sent out a note to my writing chapter to let everyone know she is adding on a mentorship with her. I've heard from others that she is an excellent mentor and really takes a lot of time to help whoever she is mentoring at the time. Here's her message and please feel free to forward to any writerly friends or groups.:

This year I'm offering something new at my online auction for diabetes research (which starts in less than two weeks!). It's a writing contest, the winner of which will win a six-month mentorship with me, including guaranteed reads from my agent and editor. The entries will be judged by national bestselling authors, including Barbara Freethy, Dianna Love, Susan Mallery, Karen Rose, Karin Tabke, and Debra Webb. I'll read the finalists and select the winner based on who I think I can do the most for. So it's a fabulous
opportunity for the price of a contest entry. Check it out and register for the auction at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Big Trouble

If you've never seen Big Trouble, you really should. It's a super funny movie based on the book of the same title. Though I guess I should add that reviewers and viewers either love it or hate it. It's just one of those movies. Be prepared for subtle, very sarcastic, and slapstick humor all rolled into one movie. Ever since I saw the movie the first time a couple of years ago I have wanted to read the book which I finally did last week. The book did not disappoint as sometimes happens. Interestingly, really good movies often were not so great books and really good books often make not so good movies.

One of my favorite hobbies, I guess you could call it, is to watch a movie, read the book, and read the script. It's a great tool to teach you basic storytelling and to see what is changed and what is the same. If the movie isn't based on a book try to read the original screenplay and see what has changed between the written word and what made it on screen.

Back to Big Trouble, the first half of the movie is pretty close to the book, but it's as you head into the second half that the smaller changes from the first half really begin to show. One being making one character more of a smart ass, making villains more stupid-scary than scary-stupid, turning two small roles into one larger role, giving the movie a central protagonist to play the part of the narrator from the book, and giving an overall theme that wasn't in the book.

None of these changes were bad, in fact they made for a better movie, because often what reads well does not translate to screen well. Very rarely does a book have what it takes to translate directly to screen and often times it actually isn't very good when they try to do that. I've analyzed each of the changes I noticed in Big Trouble and figured out why "I" think the screenwriters made the choices they did, but I realized shortly after trying to write this post yesterday that it would take pages and pages of writing to explain each change and why it made the movie more cohesive.

I highly recommend this exercise to anyone that wants to understand what works and what doesn't. One of my favorites is, watch the X-men movie (the first one) and then read the original screenplay. Check out the changes that were made. Do you think they made the movie better or weaker? What do you notice about the changes (hint, the hero's journey)? I freely admit that I haven't read many x-men comics so can't comment on the difference between the comics to the screenplay to the movie, but just the movie/screenplay combo is a great lesson on how small changes can really change the tone of a movie and make a reluctant hero more heroic.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Creating a Logline

I'm working on a submission package for one of my stories and I've hit a block. It's called the logline which is a one sentence description about your book. Generally speaking, I like loglines, I learned how to write them in my screenwriting classes where you HAVE to have a logline. Usually that is the first assignment in the class after you introduce yourself. What is your book/movie about? And no ramblings responses allowed.

One instructor, wish I could remember who so I could give credit, referred to it as that line in the TV Guide that describes what the movie or show is about. In fact, as I recall, our homework was to go study the TV Guide to figure out how a logline works.

My ya fantasy's logline is a sheltered princess discovers her remarkable gifts with horses on a dangerous quest to find her father’s murderer.

My space opera's logline is a space pirate almost loses everything she cares about when she’s blackmailed into running a dangerous mission for the military.

I am trying to work up a logline for my paranormal novella and it is not wanting to come. Interestingly the 3 sentence pitch came easy with this one and usually it's the reverse. I struggle with the 3 sentence pitch (well, maybe not struggle but spend a lot of time rearranging and moving words around) and the logline seems to just come mostly formed from that pitch. But not this one. 

So, how about you? Do loglines comes easy or hard?