Thursday, August 27, 2009

Script Contributor Ray Morton Responds to Blog Question!

Hello Readers of Five Scribes,

I didn't know how to answer Audra's question regarding the blog I did on Script Magazine, and specifically Ray Morton's article, so I went straight to the source!!

What a great guy, he didn't even blink---metaphorically of course, since I emailed him my request.

Read on.....

Hello Leslie, Audra and Five Scribe Readers,

Reader Audra Harders posted this question in response to your blog entry about my SCRIPT magazine article Going Global: Screenwriting in the International Marketplace:

"Also, you mention remakes of our movies as hits in foreign countries. If that happens, does the original screenwriter get any compensation?"
To answer Audra's question -- under the terms of the Writers Guild of America's Minimum Basic Agreement, the credited writers of a movie that’s being remade (no matter where that remake is being done -- in the US or overseas) are entitled to compensation depending on their final credit determination (e.g. "Story by," "Based on a screenplay by," etc.) on the new film.

For example, if the writers of the original film end up receiving a “Story by” credit on the remake, then the Guild’s MBA requires that they receive (or share with others if the credits determine it) the minimum story rate.

In the past, most remakes used the original script as a departure point to work up an entirely new approach to the material. In these days of rather (IMHO) unimaginative remakes, in many instances much more significant pieces of the original screenplays are often used, earning the original writers a more significant credit (for example, Phillip Dunne, author of the screenplay for the 1936 version of Last of the Mohicans, received a co-author credit on the 1992 version and Halsted Welles shared credit with Derek Haas and Michael Brandt on the 2007 version of 3:10 to Yuma, which was based on his 1957 original).

Sometimes so much of the original screenplay is used that the original writer ends up receiving sole screenplay credit on the remake (e.g. 1998's Psycho and the recent redo of The Omen). In these instances, the writers (or their estates) were entitled to the minimums for those credit levels.

However, many writers have what are called “overscale” terms in their original contracts which guarantee them a higher-than-minimum rate for their story if their work is remade. That rate would be negotiated at the time the writing contract for the original film is negotiated. This is usually is something "getable" only by upper echelon screenwriters -- it's unlikely that a first timer would have the clout to negotiate such terms.

Hope that helps.


Ray Morton is a writer and script consultant.

His books Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film and King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson are available in bookstores and on-line at and Barnes and, among many other sites.

Morton analyzes screenplays for production companies, producers, and individual writers. He is available for private consultation and can be reached at


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing for Multiple Publishers

Each time I see Beth Cornelison's signature line, I have a good mind to lie down from exhaustion ;) How does she write for so many publishers? And win so many awards while she's at it? Please welcome Multi-published Author Beth Cornelison.

Looking at my publishing credits might lead one to believe I'm a smorgasbord author (as one friend put it). I've done a little bit of everything, publishing in many formats and with several publishers. This scattershot approach to publishing was not my original intent, but along the way, each publishing choice was, at the time, what met my needs for my books. Before I tell you what it is like for me to write for several publishers, let me first explain briefly how I ended up with six publishers in eight years.

My publishing story isn't much different than that of most published authors. I wrote for several years, submitting and getting rejected as I learned the ropes in the publishing world and honed my craft. Along the way, I wrote a variety of books of different lengths, different styles, different focuses as my wandering muse gave me a myriad ideas to test out. While Silhouette Intimate Moments was where I made my first print-publisher sale (second overall sale) and where my publishing focus has been since then, I had stories that didn't work for the shorter category line.

My single title romantic suspense Chasing A Dream (2000 Golden Heart finalist) was the first non-category book I shopped to single title houses. I received good feedback from these publishers, but because CHASING A DREAM had been epublished in 2000 (publisher 1), many of the New York publishing houses were reluctant to take it on. Five Star Press, however, buys only selected rights, and I was able to sell the hard cover rights to the Five Star Expressions line for publication in 2006 (publisher 3). By keeping my audiobook rights, I was able to sell the audio rights for CHASING A DREAM last fall, as well, to Books In Motion (publisher 4). Five Star met my need for Chasing A Dream, but as a publisher of primarily library books, distribution and marketing was limited.

So a couple years later when I was looking for a home for my single title romantic suspense UNDER FIRE, I suggested to my agent that we submit to Samhain Publishing. Having epublished before, I had been keeping an eye on the growing epublishing market and had talked with several epubbed friends about what they liked and disliked about their publishers. Samhain had several things going for it that I liked— primarily their print release program and a reputation for publishing books with elements outside the normal parameters of books published by New York houses. So for UNDER FIRE, a book that had too much suspense for this publisher and too much romance for that publisher, Samhain (publisher #5) fit the bill for UNDER FIRE.

Not long after that, I met Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks at a conference. I liked what she had to say about Sourcebooks and their unflagging support of their authors and emphasis on marketing. I'd heard great things from other Sourcebooks authors about the publisher, so I took an appointment with Deb. I pitched a book I'd written years ago, one of those not-right-for-Silhouette-Intimate-Moments books I wrote when I was still figuring out what I wanted to focus on (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense). She loved the pitch and the book, and I ended up with another publisher (# 6).

At present, I'm actively publishing with three different publishers. And how's that working for me? It's great...and sometimes chaotic. While it is wonderful to have several avenues to reach readers, publish books and get to know other authors and editors, juggling multiple deadlines, line edits, author blogs, and marketing demands can be daunting at times. Publisher X couldn't care less what deadlines and edits I have due for publishers Y and Z. They need their edits back when they need their edits back so that they can keep their production schedule. Publisher Y needs their art fact sheets when they need their art fact sheets regardless of what author blogs I'm scheduled to write for that week. Keeping three sets of deadlines and publishing schedules straight can be a juggling act as well.

As far as royalty statements from three different publishers, coming in at different times of the year... well, thank goodness for my awesome agent and the staff at the Knight Agency who keep financial matters straight for me! Finances are not my forte.

Writing for multiple publishers offers me first person knowledge of how different aspects of the evolving publishing industry work. By epublishing UNDER FIRE (now also available in trade paperback), I learned a great deal about issues unique to digital publishing and the current emphasis on online marketing through blogs and reader-oriented email loops. For example, ebook piracy is a growing concern for ebook authors, but ebook authors are not the only targets of this online form of theft. Print published authors, whose books are being reformatted to be sold through Amazon for the Kindle, are also finding copies of their books available for electronic download through these pirate site— whether or not their print publisher has officially released an ebook version.

Publishing through Five Star taught me a great deal about how libraries choose books for their inventory. (A good review through a national trade journal or patron requests helps a lot!)

So my experiences with multiple publishers are giving me a hands-on tutorial in the many aspects of publishing and marketing of books.

As with any venture, balancing the needs and schedules of more than one publisher is a mixed bag. While it can get chaotic, I love the broader audience I'm reaching, the industry contacts I'm making, and the education and experience I'm gaining. Writing for several publishers and publishing in multiple formats (Audio, ebook, trade paper, hardcover, category and mass market) was what worked for me.

Is it right for you? Only you can say.

Award-winning author Beth Cornelison writes from her home in North Louisiana where she lives with her husband, one son and a constantly changing number of cats. Her romantic suspense UNDER FIRE recently won the grand prize for best overall novel in the Lories Best Published Novel contest as well as finaling in several other contests in 2009. Watch for three new releases from Beth Cornelison in Fall 2009- HEALING LUKE (September), THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER (October) and STRANDED WITH THE BRIDESMAID (part of the BLACKOUT AT CHRISTMAS anthology- November).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trust: Why bestselling authors can and we can't

I've got my hands full. As an aspiring author, I'm expected to write the very best book that I can, know the market, keep abreast of the break out novels and authors out there, as well as keep up on my reading of best selling authors and why they keep ending up on that best selling list time after time. I'm also expected to hone my craft, get my name out there and support my fellow writers, both published and unpublished. Simple, huh?

It is if you have unlimited time, don't have a day job or don't require much sleep at night.

At RWA National this year, the Golden Network did an outstanding job of preparing a panel of experts to review query letters written by Golden Heart finalists. The moderator would read the query letters and the agent or editor on the panel would say *stop* whenever she would lose interest in that particular query letter. It was widely illuminating and instructive, and, at the same time, disheartening. Because as the moderator read some well-written query letters, I found myself thinking, That's a book I would love to read.

Unfortunately, I may never have the opportunity. Here's what I discovered. Chances are if your story revolves around sports figures, Hollywood stars or rock musicians, an editor or agent is going to deep six your query with very little chance of perusing your partial or full.

And that's a darn shame. Because some of the most unforgettable stories I've read involve those very characters. In Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer, she not only has a pro athlete as the protagonist, the protagonist's father is a rock star!

In Sandra Brown's Play Dirty, her protagonist is a down- an-out quarterback who has served five years in prison for throwing a game.

Why do these best selling authors get away with writing a novel that most editors and agents wouldn't represent -- er -- if they were paid to? Probably because we're talking about Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Sandra Brown.

Phillips and Brown have already earned the readers' trust. If I pick up a book by these authors, it's pretty much implied that I'm in for several hours of quality escapism. As an unpublished author, and as unjust as it may seem, I haven't earned that right or that trust. I also wonder after these marvelous books are written, how many not-so-hot stories involving celebrities land on an agent or editors' desk--enough for them to so vitriolically holler, "Stop!"

In the meantime, perhaps we aspiring authors should keep studying the market, learning our trade, and writing the best book that's in us. Just be aware if your protag is a pro athlete, Hollywood star or a rock musician, it could be a long shot, and may be the book that comes out after you *arrive*.

Why not instead make our protagonists handymen.

Oh, wait -- Linda Howard's already done that one.

Keep the faith, fellow writers. It's all about trust. Write the best book that's in you.

Intriguing Editor Blog

I found a new blog that intrigues me.  I mostly read blogs by industry professionals, hoping to get a better understanding of this crazy business, and the editor's blog at Author’s Magazine written Bill Kenower, Editor-in-Chief, really hit a chord with me today.  It’s filled with tons of comments that really made me think and, most often, nod my head in concession of a terrific point.  Check it out the following tidbits:


Most of we unpublished authors are “driven” to get published.  Here’s what Bill has to say. A driven artist is focused, is not easily distracted, is committed – all things necessary to do what you want to do.  But a driven person is always driving, and if you are driving you are not resting . . .  you can never be anywhere but where you are . . . We can call where we’re driving whatever we want, but it is always the same destination: certainty. . . Neither I nor anyone else has ever been racing to get anywhere, rather we are speeding to catch up with time, hoping that with enough hard work, by sacrificing enough vacation days, by getting up an hour earlier, we might snatch a glimpse of the always receding future and finally know enough of what’s to come to pull our foot from the gas and rest.  His message being, the proven adage of  ‘all things in moderation’?

The World Is You-

Michael Connelley must have told us three times during his interview that while writing he “keeps his head down.” It was his way of reminding himself that he must keep his eyes on his own page, as it were. If he worried about trends and what other writers were writing, it would only serve to distract him.  So he kept his head down . . . the knights are said to become lost if they follow in another knight’s footsteps. This seems in direct conflict with perhaps the most common piece of advice the writers I’ve interviewed have shared, which is to read as much and as often as possible. But this reading is not for imitation, but for inspiration, and to teach you the rhythm of story telling.

You are inspired both by what you love and don’t. The goal is not to recreate the exact experience, word for word, of reading, say, The Great Gatsby—rather, reading The Great Gatsby inspires a feeling in us we would like to recreate in our way, with our own words and stories. Likewise, when we read something we don’t like, we think, It should have been this way, and off we go again.

Keep your head down. All the world, the books, the movies, your marriage, your divorce, your job, your parents—all of it is fuel for what you might write.  So you walk about, eyes and ears open for what is interesting, but when you arrive at your desk, put your head down. Now the world is you. Forget everything you’ve seen and heard and read, it’s already inside you.  Put your head down, and let it through.

Wonderful reminders and inspiring to this author.  For more go to the Author Magazine Blog.

Friday, August 14, 2009

And The Winner Is...

The winner of a copy of Deadly Intent is...

Helen Hardt!!

Helen please post your email address and Camy will contact you!!!

Thanks and enjoy!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Welcome Camy Tang

Audra here : )

I'm please to host Camy Tang on Five Scribes! Camy is not only a wonderful friend, but a phenomenally talented writer, too. She has created her own niche in a business always looking for fresh voices and fresh writing. If you haven't read her Sushi Series by Zondervan books, you're missing an absolute treat! Camy's unique style and knowledge of all things Asian leaves you laughing, crying and wanting more!

Camy continues her Asian touch in her current release
Deadly Intent, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for Deadly Intent. Winner will be announced at the end of the week.

Welcome Camy!

Hi there! This is Camy Tang, and I'm really jazzed to be guest blogging at the Five Scribes today!

I got a chance to visit my wonderful Audra a few weeks ago! Now, just a disclaimer, I am not a country girl. I didn't live in the city, but I wasn't exactly in the countryside, either. There was no 4-H where I grew up (although now that I think of it, our neighbors had chickens).

So I was eager to see real livestock. Laugh it up, furball, I'm serious! I'd never seen a real goat or sheep before in my life. Danica drove me out there, chortling the whole way at my wide-eyed staring.

First off, Audra gave GREAT directions to her house. We found it without a hitch, surrounded by fields. Beautiful countryside!

Next, I heard a turkey but thought it was a chicken. (Remember, non-country girl????) Danica and Audra got a hoot out of that. Then I saw the honkin' thing. Talk about a tank. Wouldn't want to have to catch HIM for Christmas dinner, that's for sure.

Audra had made lunch for us—fruit and nuts and nachos. She's such a great hostess. We had a great time doing writer-talk!

Then we got to see the animals. I petted her bunny, who used to be a blue ribbon winner. I also saw some wild cottontail rabbits, which I had only seen once before at Sharon Hinck's house in Minnesota, so that was cool.

Her goats were neat! I'd never seen goats up close before, except maybe when I was five and went to a petting zoo. Audra got her long-suffering son to help, and I milked one of her goats! It was so awesome!

(The reason I needed to milk the goat is for research—those of you on my newsletter YahooGroup know that the fourth book in the Sushi series will be a free ebook download for my YahooGroup members. The blurb on my website talks about a goat in Jenn's backyard. 'Nuff said. :)

I also got to pet her sheep. They're skittish but kind of sweet, although Audra would probably beg to differ about the sweet part.

We then used Audra's computer to look up yarn shops in nearby Boulder, Colorado and go to see her writing sanctuary. Very cozy, plus all her contest winning certificates are up on the wall just to affirm how much Audra rocks!!!

Thanks for letting me visit your home and your blog, Audra!

Camy Tang


The Grant family’s exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation—not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon’s reputation is at stake...and so is Naomi’s freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect—Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim’s ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn...and whom can she trust?

About Camy:

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 24 copies of her latest release, DEADLY INTENT.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blake Snyder's Final Blog--A Great Reminder

Copied from CS Weekly:

"We leave you now with Snyder's own words, taken from his final blog post on I can't think of a more fitting eulogy.

"10,000 Hours Today's Blog -- at 4:54 pm on August 3, 2009 -- I love writers. And I especially enjoy helping young writers who email with the big question: When? When will I sell my first script? When will I "get on the boards"? My patient reply is always the same: Don't worry about that right now. Have fun! The most important thing to do is to love what you're doing. That way, getting better at it isn't a struggle, it's a pleasure.

Blake Snyder, 1957 - 2009"

The Dreaded Deadline

Published veterans, newbies and industry professionals explore the reasons why meeting a deadline is about more than fulfilling a legal clause in your contract.

Yep, it's deadline time. Glue your backside to the chair, chain yourself to the desk in the dungeon, give your kids, Fido, and your telephone to your critique partner (sorry, but this includes the cell phone, all other means of outside communication, and . . . oh, no!!! the e-mail), buy your husband sports tickets or your wife a trip to the day spa, turn off the TV, turn on the coffee maker, put your fingers to the keyboard and get it done. So now that you know how to meet your deadline, this article is finished.

Just kidding. Nobody can tell you how to meet your deadline. It's an individual thing, and there's no right or wrong way to do the dreaded D. So, forget the how-to and skip over to the why-to, which, in many cases, including your editor's estimation, is more important.


"Meeting my deadline is a sign of professionalism. I'm very new at this . . . way too neurotic not to meet my deadlines," says Harlequin author, Laura Iding. It's just as important as meeting any other business-related deadline. Would you routinely miss deadlines in a normal day job if you were due for a performance review? Why would writing on a deadline be any different?"
Good question! Why would it be any different? "This isn't unlike starting a new job, where you're an unknown factor," says author Stephanie Feagan. "Are you the type of employee who arrives on time, works hard all day, and leaves only when the work is done? Or are you the type who slides in twenty minutes late, takes a two-hour lunch and leaves ten minutes early? First impressions are hard to undo, and as a first time author I found it of supreme importance to prove I had what it took to be a second time author . . . and third, and fourth, etc!"

True story time. Years ago, a struggling new writer was trying to make his dent in the publishing world. Lucky guy got the contracts easily because he was writing in an untested niche, meaning a wide-open field for him. Problem was, he blew on by his deadlines, and not by a little. He shot way past the 6-week extension option in his contract and went on and on and on... Just think pink bunny beating on a drum, that's how far he went. Two books, and he was out. Another publisher risked a contract on him. One book and finito there, too. In his writing niche he earned a reputation and today, of course, he's not a writer.

"I think meeting deadlines at all times is essential," says author Jennifer St. Giles. "When you put your name on a contract and make a promise to a publishing house, you've given your word to produce a certain product by a certain date. This is your business and now your integrity is on the line. Everyone interested and involved with your book at the publishing house will be aware of how reliable you are in fulfilling your obligations."

Raelene Gorlinsky, Managing Editor for Ellora's Cave Publishing, knows the lasting effects on an author who doesn't get to the job on time. "An author who develops a reputation within the industry for not meeting dates is sabotaging herself or himself. Editors won't want to deal with them. They will set deadlines way into the future or add lots of padding in the schedule because they don't trust the author to meet dates, which basically means the author will be waiting a longer time for the book to be released." Apart from getting the reputation as a deadline sluggard, there's also the money end of it. The longer your book is put off by the publisher, the longer you have to wait for the royalties to start rolling in. Gorlinsky describes her ideal author as, "One who works out a sensible schedule with me at the start of the process, and sticks to it."


Chris Keeslar, Senior Editor at Dorchester, echoes Gorlinsky's description of an ideal author. What he wants to see is someone who is, "Self-aware in terms of ability to produce, early and honest." Sounds simple, doesn't it? Know your capabilities and be honest about them in your discussions with your editor. "Because Dorchester is a smaller house and we have a quick turnaround, we're probably a bit more lenient on deadlines than at other places - - at least in terms of originally setting them. At the same time, it's probably a bigger deal to miss them here, as we don't have a huge margin of error. Usually, I simply ask a writer what he or she feels comfortable with, share any pertinent information (like, if turning a book in earlier or later would be helpful, and for what reasons) and then we set a date."

So, how do you establish a deadline for yourself? (And for those who haven't had their first contract yet, almost all publishers will work with their authors on deadlines.) Says harlequin/Silhouette author Kylie Brant, "I think it's all about knowing yourself - - how you work, how fast you produce. Then factor in your family obligations, adding extra time for those unforeseeable emergencies, to come up with a deadline that you and your family can live with."

RITA winner and harlequin Medical author, Marion Lennox, certainly knows the value of including the unforseen extras in your deadline schedule. "I always add three weeks panic time when negotiating a deadline. Panic time depends very much on family commitments. I add one week per kid and one for the dog. My husband says (sadly) that I ought to factor him in somewhere, but I point to our joint overdraft and tell him we'll have our joint crisis outside of my writing time."

Rebecca York finds herself dealing with deadlines between two different publishers. "Since I'm working for both Berkley and Harlequin, I'm working on books for both at the same time. I have some leeway in my schedule. I try to schedule books far enough apart so I won't go crazy getting them done. I also try to make sure that I don't have two books due the same month." Rebecca warns, "Don't forget to factor proposals into the (deadline) mix. If you want to keep having work, you need to turn in proposals." Excellent point, and one that sometimes gets lot in the deadline shuffle.

Silhouette Executive Editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey recognizes that expectations go both ways when deadlines are set. "When going to contract, we ask the writer to set the deadline for when the book will be done. For a one book contract, figuring we have the proposal already, we expect the deadline to be three or four months. We would also figure in due dates for future proposals, completes, or leave time for allowances to deal with other projects due to us--and also with some life issues. Some authors have less time to write in the summer as their kids are out of school.

Some authors ignore the month of December, realizing they will not do work then. Some authors find May and June to be their most difficult writing months. Hopefully the author will be honest with herself and allow some time to write the project, let it rest, and then revise it before sending it in for the editor's review."


For whatever reason, your deadline is looming and you're simply not going to make it. Will your editor notice?

All the way around, the answer is a resounding Yes! "Does an author want to run the risk?" asks Keeslar, who admits that he is always juggling deadlines and authors. "I've built in a tracking system to keep myself informed about who's turned in the projects and who hasn't." Ditto from Hussey. "Editors follow different ways. When I go to contract, I put all the delivery dates for proposals and completes in a log by calendar date. And I'll be able to tell when something is overdue."

In other words, you're not going to slip by. Editors do notice, and when they do - - "Well, depending on the seriousness of the failure, they wouldn't get bought again," says Keeslar. "At least, not by me. Of course, this is if the author didn't warn me and have a good excuse." Hussey, like Keeslar, looks at a failure to meet a deadline in terms of future projects. "One deadline can be understandable, though we much prefer honesty as soon as possible as to when the book will actually be in. An author who consistently misses deadlines will less likely be scheduled until the book is in house, meaning longer delays between publication." Aha! The money thing again.
"She's more unlikely to be considered for special projects- - in particular those which need a guaranteed delivery date." That all translates into both status and reputation on the decline, which is a serious risk in an industry where there are hundreds, maybe thousands of writers lining up to take your place.

So, what if you're teetering on that deadline tightrope and about to fall off? "If an author knows she's going to blow a deadline for whatever reason, my advice is to let your editor know as soon as possible, so she can make arrangements on her end," says Harlequin author, Nicole Burnham "Let her know when you will get the project in, and stick to it (and beat that date, if at all possible.) And realize that, as in any profession, if you constantly miss due dates, you risk looking unprofessional and/or losing your job." Recurrent theme? It sure is. "Tell your editor early," says Lennox. "Don't wait until the last minute. You might be tearing your hair out but the way to kill your career is to make your editor tear hers out as well."

Editors will be sympathetic if you're honest. "I believe that all editors understand that life doesn't always cooperate with deadlines," says Linda Kichline, Senior Editor & Publisher, ImaJinn Books, "so letting the editor know as soon as possible is the best etiquette. We'd much rather have a late manuscript than one that appears to have been hurriedly written. You can generally tell when an author has either hurried to make a deadline or hasn't taken the time to proof their manuscript." Sounds like they might catch on if you'll pulling together five chapters the night before the book's due, doesn't it? Says Keeslar, "All of us have unforseen circumstances crop up in our lives. And I'm fairly flexible about a deadline, as long as I've been warned in time. I have a million tasks and I have to schedule my time effectively. So the trick is: Let me know as soon as you know you're going to be late - - and BE HONEST. It's worse to have someone be late and keep lying to you about when the book is really going to come in. Then there's no way to get done everything that needs to be done."


Worst case scenario - Keeslar puts it bluntly. "If a book isn't turned in on time, it can be pulled from a list and not printed. The publisher fails to produce the book that hundreds or thousands of stores have ordered, money is wasted and everyone looks idiotic." For a smaller press, like Ellora's Cave, where one person may wear several hats, Gorlinsky sites, "much stress and work and annoyance" as part of her worst case scenario when a deadline is missed. "If the book comes in too late to be prepared for its scheduled release date, it will be bumped to the next available release slot that does not conflict with other releases from that author or with similar books. Then the managing editor has to find another book that is ready ahead of schedule to replace the late one." Definitely much stress and work, with a heavy emphasis on the annoyance.
Hussey certainly agrees with that. "The scenario will depend on whether the book is series, single title, and what stage the manuscript finally does come in. In one of the worst case scenarios, the book goes straight to print without ever being edited, copy-edited or reviewed by the author. There's no time to correct errors, make changes or do more than a spellcheck on the manuscript-which doesn't catch all errors." Glaring grammaticals! This may be a rare occurrence, but is that how you want your book to appear? "If the book is able to be pulled, another will usually replace it which means tightening all the deadlines of that book--and finding another book to replace that one in a ripple effect."

Besides a ripple effect on the publisher, there's a trickle down effect on the author. Says Kichline, "If an author doesn't meet their deadline, then they end up disappointing readers who are waiting for the book. Disappointed readers will start looking for others to read, and you can lose fans." Fans are a terrible thing to waste! According to Brant, "As writers, our name is our brand. We want to assure readers that they can consistently associate our name with a quality read. We also want editors to associate it with someone who is a brilliant writer (hey, we can dream, can't we?) and one who is consistently dependable."


"Once you've established a career you'll be scheduled into production slots," says Lennox. "Your editor will be expecting you to play your part. If there's a brilliant new author just been discovered and your editor is frantically waiting for your overdue manuscript, it makes it very easy to drop you. I've fought hard for my slots and I'll defend them to the death!"
Harlequin author Wendy Roberts echoes that! "Failing to meet deadlines could easily stall my career or kill it. The competition in this business is too fierce to play Russian roulette with your deadlines." In other words, there may be only one round in your chamber, so when you squeeze that trigger, make sure you're aiming at the right side of the deadline because there's no assurance if you hit the other side that you'll be given another shot at a slot. "Meeting my deadlines has been important because they have literally moved me beyond being published someday to being published today. Above my computer I have Harvey MacKay's words: A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline. This bit of wisdom moves me to always reach for the next level."

The next level, for someone newly published is to find name recognition and Brant sees name recognition as a huge issue in missing a deadline. "In order to build a name we have to have multiple books out a year. If it becomes known that you don't deliver on time, you aren't going to get multiple book contracts, which is about the only way to guarantee you're going to have release dates fairly close together. Your publisher may begin to plan your release dates a couple of months later than really necessary simply because they can't count on your work being handed in on time. That means a bigger gap between books, which hurts your attempts to build name recognition." Which could translate into the difference between affording a plush vacation suite on a beautiful tropical island and a no-frills room under a viaduct somewhere.


So, why meet your deadlines?

"I do everything in my power to meet deadlines," says Burnham. "It's simply a matter of professionalism on my part. Knowing I meet my deadlines means I can poke my publishers about meeting theirs. It also means that they know I'm a 'go-to' author - - one they can go to with projects that might be of a time-sensitive nature - - because I've proven that I'm reliable. I appreciate having those opportunities."

Says Feagan, "Silhouette thought enough of my writing to offer a contract. In return, I will give them the best book I'm capable of writing, on time, with all my heart and soul wrapped up in a Fed-Ex envelope. Seems like a fair deal to me."

Sure, it may seem easy to squiggle on by the deadline a little. Maybe your editor won't notice, or maybe it won't make much of a difference if he or she does. But as Keeslar asked, "Does an author want to run the risk?"

Rebecca York sums it up best: "If you are a professional writer, you should strive to stay professional - which means getting your work done when you say you will do it. A professional novelist meets her deadlines."


Simona Salter, Senior Product Manager for Harlequin, has a unique perspective on what missing a deadline can mean in terms of the entire publishing process:

a. Impact on Other Authors - Each month's lineup is balanced and when one title needs to be pulled out it affects scheduling, as we need to find another book to take its place. In this case, a missed deadline directly impacts other authors as they are asked to shift and accommodate.

b. Impact on Production & Printing - Production deadlines may be missed and / or delayed as the replaced title is readied. As new covers may need to be created, copy written, etc., the risk to not meeting printing deadlines is high and has both financial implications as well as the doubling of efforts required by our teams to ensure another title goes out in its place.

c. Impact on Readers - Due to lead times in publishing, a title is promoted to readers and the trade far in advance of publication. Readers eagerly await the next title from their favorite author, and follow the scheduled publication dates. Unfortunately, when a deadline is missed, a reader does not have the opportunity to buy that title and can be disappointed.

d. Impact on Marketing & Promotions - Titles can be featured in specific promotions to the reader & retailers that are advertised well in advance of on sale dates. When a title misses its deadline - although the promotion must still occur - a new title needs to be selected and fast tracked through the production process in order to fit within the promotion. This can prove to be challenging as promotions are tailored to specific titles resulting in the missed title not being featured & having to adjust the promotion to fit the new title.

e. Doubling of Effort Required - A deadline only has to be missed by two weeks for there to be an impact on the effort required to get the book on shelf and on time. For one spot in the publishing calendar, everything needs to happen twice when a deadline is missed - from editorial to production to marketing. Although efforts on the missed title will be realized once rescheduled, the impact of a missed deadline is immediately felt as timelines are shortened and teams have to start over again to ensure we deliver to readers' expectations of having a great book on sale at that point in time.

So what does Doin’ the Dreaded Mean? Two words - Your Career!

(This article originally appeared in the Romance Writer’s Report, 2004) Dianne Drake is dotting the i's and crossing the t’s on her 23rd release from Harlequin, happy to be meeting her next deadline with a few days to spare. Dianne also is hard at work planning a new venture with award-winning author and literary agent Lois Winston (Ashley Grayson Literary Agency). In September, Dianne, Lois will launch Beginning Writer Workshops, a series of monthly online workshop, aimed at helping beginning and newer writers find their way in fiction and nonfiction writing as well as the publishing world. Their website Watch for it! In the mean time, look for Dianne’s latest releases:Dr. Velascos' Unexpected Baby - Harlequin Mills & Boon Medicals - hardback 4/09, paperback 6/09 ; Found: A Mother for His Son - Harlequin Mills & Boon Medicals - hardback 7/09, paperback 9/09. And, coming in the spring of 2010 - The White Elk Series. Visit Dianne at or email her at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Script Magazine

I received a complimentary copy of Script Magazine along with my Final Draft Screenwriting software order (my old program and Vista fought constantly.) The magazine sat around for awhile, b/c I was absorbed learning the new screenwriting software--you know, software death has to happen at deadline time, right. Then one night I brought the mag to bed for reading material as I absolutely cannot go to sleep without first reading something.

I was hooked! The magazine is filled with industry information, opinions, HOW-TO's success stories...writers on writing.

So I subscribed.

Then serendipitously, I inadvertently gave them the wrong charge card and received a very pleasant phone query from the office. After giving them the correct charge card number, I gathered up my nerve and asked permission to blog on the mag.

A few emails swapped with editor Maureen Green and the answer was YES!! Thank you, Maureen.

I was blown away. Now my dear readers, I'm able to blog about this great resource and use excerpts.

This issue is currently on the stands, and get THIS, you can go to their site and read the current issue's main articles. It's very generous of them to offer this, and I asked Maureen how they could afford to do it.

She said honestly, once they read it, they want it. Additionally the issue is available to read online only while it's available on the stands, once the next issue comes're out of luck. (click on the magazine image and it'll load it in PDF format.)

The major articles are timely, thus keep you abreast of current writers, films, issues, sales and film-makers. BUT there is a WHOLE lot of content in the magazine that isn't available online, so mostly, that's what I'm going to blog on.

So after you read this, or now if you must :) check out their website, sign up for their newsletter and read their e-articles. But come back...please.

First off, I always read the Editor's Note by Editor in Chief Shelly Mellott. She's been editor for the past 15 years and her insight is great ..."Specs (in the 90's) were no longer viable commodities but started to be referred to as 'writing samples. Why? Because the bottom line at the studios had started to shrink. With shrinking profits came fear and conservative business practices."

She goes on to talk about "pre-sold" properties, like comic books, vid games and the like that a studio could bank on. Her notes are always insightful yet realistic about the craft. I'll bring you some her past letters in a later blog.

The Art of the Rewrite by Carol Phiniotis is interesting. She gives examples which always help. Carol's article is available using this link:

Scene Fix: is a feature of Script giving aspiring scribes the chance to have their scenes evaluated by master screenwriters. (I want to do this!! If I'm good enough and gutsy enough.) This issue written by Jenna Milly, looks at Kellie Rice's Andromache. I've posted a few of her questions: "I want the audience to invest in the motivation of the antagonist...." and "Is the tension between the two character well-built? They should be letting down their guards a bit in the scene." And "Are the descriptions/scene descriptions over-done? If so, where should they be cut?"

Great answers by Derek Hass and Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma, Wanted, 2Fast 2 Furious, Invincible)! Additionally the feature has a workshopping section at the end of each question so you gain additional insight. Follow the link to see Kellie's rewrite of the scene: but you gotta read her first attempt...get the mag!

Another article that nabbed my attention was Going Global: Screenwriting in the International Marketplace by Ray Morton. He begins: "Twenty-five years ago, the markets outside of the United States were only a small part of the Hollywood picture. American movies and television were made in America, the majority of a film's gross came from the domestic market, only a few of our most popular television programs were shown overseas, foreign films played just in a small number of art theaters in major cities, and imported television programming was limited to a few British mini-series and endless reruns of Monty Pythons' Flying Circus on PBS.

That's all changed, however. American films now make most of their money overseas, Hollywood is venturing into numerous modes of worldwide production, foreign producers are making inroads into the commercial U.S. market, and television programming is crisscrossing borders in significant ways. Given all of this furious change, Script thought now would be an ideal time to take a look at these new permutations and what they mean for American screenwriters."

Don't you want to know where this is going? I kept on reading, even while shaking my head in misery and nodding in agreement. Continue reading....

"Remake Out
Traditionally, Hollywood has always been an exporter—our movies play in every market in the world and our television shows have been dubbed into most known languages. Lately, we have even begun to export our history as a number of U.S. film companies have licensed remake rights to some of their movies to overseas producers. For example, in May 2009, Viacom made a deal with Studio 18— India's largest film company—that will allow the Bollywood studio to do a Hindi-language remake of The Italian Job, an arrangement that also allows Studio 18 to pursue redos of other titles from the Viacom library. Groundhog Day and 12 Angry Men have also been remade—in Italy and Russia respectively—and plans for many others, including an Indian reimagining of Cellular, have been announced.

The formats to U.S. television programs (as well as rights to remake individual episodes) have also been licensed—at least 10 different versions of The Nanny have been mounted worldwide, a Russian adaptation of Married... With Children was the most popular program in that country's history, and local-language versions of various iterations of Law & Order have been produced in France, Russia, and the U.K.

Obviously, this is all good news for the writers that penned the original films and shows since, under the terms of the WGA Minimum Basic Agreement, they get paid whenever their work is redone.

Remake In
The quantity of remake rights Hollywood is exporting pales in comparison to the amount it is importing. There's been a long tradition of studios that remake foreign films for an American audience (examples include movies as diverse as Intermezzo, The Magnificent Seven, Three Men and a Baby, and True Lies), but while in the past this practice was something that was done on occasion, in recent years foreign remakes have become a regular component of most studios' development slates.

Since 2000 alone, well over 30 films released by American studios were remakes of foreign originals, including Vanilla Sky, Swept Away, Solaris, Insomnia, Alfie, The Ring, The Grudge, The Lake House, The Eye, Funny Games, Shall We Dance?, and the Academy Award'-winning Best Picture for 2006, The Departed.

Likewise, although adaptations of overseas television series have always been a minor staple of American television (most notably in the 1970s, when shows such as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and Three's Company were based from popular English programs), since the success of The Office and Ugly Betty (both remakes of foreign series), this trend has been multiplying exponentially. In the past several seasons, over a dozen American shows, including In Treatment, Survivor, Big Brother, Life on Mars, Kath & Kim, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and America's Got Talent, have been adapted from hits based in other lands. With many more redos for big screen and small already announced for the coming seasons— including a remake of the notoriously violent Korean action film Oldboy and another of the highly regarded Colombian telenovela Sin Tetas, No Hay Paraiso (Without Tits, There is No Paradise), this movement shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

For many observers, the increasing reliance on foreign material is a sign of two distressing developments in the U.S. entertainment industry. The first is how risk-averse the big entertainment companies have become— rather than take a chance on any original material, they seem to be interested only in pre-sold properties that have already proven themselves to be successful in other markets, be they best-selling books; remakes of old U.S. movies and TV shows; classic toys, games, and comic books; or popular material from other nations.

The second is the apparent loss of American creativity. "From a writing standpoint, what gets me is that we've stopped innovating," opines screenwriter Don Handfield. "We've stopped being the ones who are creating entertainment that the world is coming for. It's like we're out of it. I wish these networks and the studios would take more chances on homegrown entertainment, stuff that might be a little more off the wall,
instead of saying, 'This was a hit in a foreign country so let's adapt it.' It's the foreign countries that are actually the ones that have the freedom to do the innovation because they're not as constrained."

Despite its dire implications for the industry's ambition and creativity, the remake trend provides a lot of work for established American screenwriters because they are the ones who get hired to adapt all of this material. Of course, it bodes less well for the authors of spec scripts since it means that there's less and less market for original material.

There's more to the article, I only stopped here, because it mentions spec scripts (Shelly's Editor's Note) and the sad reality (IMO and apparently I'm not alone) that there original material is a dicey gamble for studios. Yet I hear complaint after complaint from friends and writers..."Another remake? You've got to be kidding..." Sadly, my friends, they are not kidding.

Andrew Sherer (Nicholl Fellow) blogs about this article and others at:

You've got to go online and read the Writers on Writing article by Mark Boal, scribe of The Hurt Locker. YOU HAVE TO.

More later, I think this post is long enough and I didn't even get to the cover story! I hope I've whetted your appetite to read more. And, please, comment pro or con. Open, non-viral, dialogue is always welcome on Five Scribes.

You can subscribe to Script online:

Great search option for past articles...not all are available, but I'm certainly excited to read what they have listed now.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blake Snyder's Death

For those of you who haven't heard yet, tragically, Blake Snyder passed away yesterday of cardiac arrest.

What a tremendous loss for the screenwriting community. He will be missed.