Good News + Monday Music

I’ve just had a look at the final cut of Adverse Possession, the short film made from my play “Warm Bodies.” Rolling Circle Productions has submitted it to the San Francisco Independent Film Festival; I really hope it gets picked up, since I would love to see it on the big screen!

Nice way to start a Monday the 13th. (Well, and I did cross a black cat’s path this morning on my walk. I hope he believed I was good luck.)

Songs for today’s walk were:

1. “Change Your Mind” by The Killers
2. “Crawling in the Dark” by Hoobastank
3. “Human Wheels” by John Mellencamp
4. “Forever December” by Tabitha’s Secret
5. “Love” by American Authors
6. “Bullet From a Gun” by The Script
7. “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow
8. “Read My Mind” by The Killers
9. “December” by Collective Soul

Oh, and I also received the audio version of my short story “A.B.C.” from voice artist Noelle Messier. You can find a link to it on the sidebar. So flattered she chose to record my story!

‘Tis More Blessed Winners + Screenwriting News

Thanks everyone who entered the ‘Tis More Blessed Rafflecopter giveaway! The winners were Stephen R. (for the Peter Stoller novellas) and Kirsten F. (for the signed copy of The K-Pro). Congrats to the winners; e-mails have been sent to each of you!

In other news, two of my screenplays made Quarterfinals in the Richmond International Film Festival. I’m very excited! Semifinalists are announced next week, so please send up positive thoughts for me and my work!

And if you haven’t already, please take a look at the various covers for the upcoming Peter Stoller collection and either vote or leave a comment to let me know which you think is best.

Thanks, All, for your continued support of my work. My readers (hopefully soon to be viewers) mean the world to me!

It’s Happening Again

Remember when I fussed about writing competitions’ inability to meet their own deadlines? Yeah, well . . . Once again I find myself frustrated with such a situation. I mean, at least the competition/film festival in question has been very good about communicating. I’ve received e-mails and they’ve updated their Facebook status. But as of yesterday they had a countdown clock to notifications that were supposed to go out today. And then about seven hours ago the notice went up that notifications are expected “in the coming days.” Meanwhile the e-mail I received said “next week.” With the caveat that, if the decisions were finalized too close to Christmas, they’d post them after, on December 27.

So really what they’re saying is they have no fucking clue when the decisions will be made and notifications sent out. And people hoping to know in time for the holidays—either to celebrate or cry into their nog—may be left hanging until after the chief festivities are over (New Year’s notwithstanding).

Do we honestly believe these judges and/or readers are giving their all during one of the busiest times of the year? I’m not convinced the scripts and films will have all their attention. I feel like it’s very likely these people have other things on their minds.

Sigh.

There’s nothing I can do about it, and I can’t really be surprised (though I really thought these guys, of everyone, had it together) . . . But I can still be disappointed.

What We’ve Got Here Is . . .

For an aspiring screenwriter, one way to get some notice and buzz around your work is to enter screenwriting contests and submit to film festivals that have screenwriting awards. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have won one such contest and placed well in others, and to have been a semi-finalist in a film festival as well. But I’ve noticed one problem that seems to stretch across all these contests and festivals: A lack of communication.

Most places have you submit via Withoutabox. It’s awesomely easy. But it also feels like you’re dumping your script into a black hole. Although Withoutabox tells you when you should hear back from the contest or festival—that is, it gives a “notification date”—it has no power to ensure you do hear by then. If ever.

My general sense is that a lot of these contests and festivals are mismanaged, the festivals perhaps more than the contests. Maybe that’s because the festivals require a lot more work and are focused on the films more than the scripts. But please, don’t offer a screenwriting award if you aren’t prepared to have people read the work and decide by the deadline you chose. It is painful enough for any writer (or artist) to sit and wait and wonder and hope. I know we’re supposed to be working, and we do, but as a deadline for notification comes . . . then goes . . . our productivity grinds to a crawl.

And no news, we have all learned, is never good news.

As for the contests, some are very streamlined. Almost too much so in that they have armies of people reading and one can’t help wondering who is reading that first round and what qualifications they may have. Because when you get almost 10,000 scripts, you can no longer be picky about your readers. You just need to shovel them through. And the readers are tired and overworked, too. So it doesn’t help much to be a “big” contest.

And then again, smaller contests are often disorganized in their own rights. And so either way a writer is again left wondering and waiting. And a deadline is almost always passed without comment from the contest in question. Instead the writer ends up on some mailing list that sends out news of other contests but no word on the one to which they submitted. It is very frustrating.

As a writer, all I really ask is that (a) you keep me apprised of progress; (b) you have readers who are qualified to evaluate the work (and I know whether they like it will be subjective, but let them at least be from the industry) and also not so overwhelmed they cannot give every script due attention—and if that means putting a cap on your contest, do; and (c) you send out notifications when you say you will. I think, based on the entry fees for so many of these, that’s not so much to ask.

A Random Collection of Information

A lot has been going on. I have Screenwriters World Conference West to ready myself for this coming weekend. Must work on making all my pitches short, sweet, and smooth.

And I also have two scripts I need to be working on, plus the new Sherlock Holmes story. Because I am, after all, a writer. And writers are supposed to, you know, write.

But before I dart off, I’d like to share two of the cutest children on the face of the planet:

IMG_4760

(Yes, they’re mine.)

From Short Play to Short Film

So it looks like, barring any last-minute upsets (and this is me knocking on wood because with this business you just never know), my 15-minute play “Warm Bodies” will soon be moving into pre-production as a short film. I’ve spoken with the producer and director, and they are supposedly e-mailing a licensing agreement for the work. Hasn’t popped into my inbox yet, but these things always take longer than anyone plans for. Someone in an office somewhere has a stack of stuff to type and send, etc. And so it goes.

Of course they’ll probably have to change the title, since there was a feature film not too long ago called Warm Bodies . . . After talking to the producer and director, answering their questions about the script, I feel I can trust them to manage it properly. As it stands, they’re hoping to get on with casting sometime this weekend. I’m curious to see what the finished product might look like. And I wish them the best in submitting to festivals once it’s done.

ETA: Licensing agreement now in hand. And so the production machine trundles forward . . .

“Ladies of December” to be Workshopped

Ten Minute Play Workshop has invited me to workshop my play “Ladies of December.” It’s scheduled for June 2.

I know the play needs tweaking. I’m fond of the banter between Jane [Austen] and Emily [Dickinson], but the end probably needs punching up, and maybe the characters need to more fully investigate the reason they are where they are. Maybe I could turn them into sleuths! Hmm . . .

At least I find it easier to hear criticism when I’m ready for it rather than when I think the work is already pretty good as it is. That’s hard for me, because I’m a perfectionist at heart. I tend to think, by the time I release something I’ve written into the wild, that it’s as close to perfect as it could or will ever be. I must always remind myself that even the best writers are myopic in their visions of their works. There’s a reason one needs readers and proofreaders, &c.

People liken writing to giving birth, and it’s true. But try to remember that a baby, when born, is still something of a mess. Nurses take it and clean it and weigh it. They advise you how to care for the child. And then you take it home and feed it and change it and teach it to walk. There’s work in giving birth, even beyond labor. And that “child” is yours for life, so you want to teach it well and eventually send it out into the world as a solid, fully formed citizen that you can be proud of.

In other news, got this in the mail yesterday:

stpeter_script

The Sundance readers signed a copy of the script for me and sent an audio of the table read.

And though I’ve been a bit depressed lately, good things are foretold by my garden. The first tulip of the season:

And this outside my window:

January Recap

So, here are the stats for January. In the “wins” column:

  • My short script took grand prize in Table Read My Screenplay
  • . . . and had a table read at Sundance
  • Producers are reading my scripts now
  • . . . and one wants to chat with me next week
  • It was the best month yet for my Amazon Kindle books

As for “losses”:

  • Two rejections for my plays
  • Three rejections from literary agents
  • One of the publishers who was supposed to publish some of my work folded (and so my work will go unpublished, at least through them)
  • More of my work failed to make the finals in another competition

In short, the wins are more amorphous than the losses, which are rather concrete. It’s hard to get excited about the idea something may come of something; I like to have the bird in my hand before I celebrate having caught it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to cement some wins in February. Besides chatting with a producer, I’ll be attending the San Francisco Writers Conference. And The K-Pro will release some time in February, too, though I’m not yet ready to announce a date.

The Big Day

This is scheduled to post just as the table read of St. Peter in Chains should be getting underway at the Sundance Film Festival. I’m nervous and excited, of course, and emotionally exhausted as my hopes and fears play tug-of-war inside my chest. On the one hand, I hope it goes well. In my wildest dreams, someone picks up this screenplay and decides to produce it. On the other, I fear no one will attend the table read, or that the script will be met with indifference . . . That, after all is said and done, nothing comes of it. Is there anything sadder than an unrealized project?

I’m lighting candles. I’m sending up prayers. I’m crossing fingers and toes. I’ve spread the word as much as I’ve been able . . . Here goes . . .

“St. Peter in Chains” Table Read at Sundance

For those interested in attending, I wanted to let everyone know the table read for my St. Peter in Chains screenplay will be this Friday, the 25th, at 10:00 a.m. at the Waldorf Hotel in Park City, Utah. If you’re around and attending the Sundance Film Festival, please stop by!

Meanwhile, the novella on which I based my script is free for a couple more days on Amazon. Pick it up if you haven’t already!

And now for the bad news: my flash fiction that had been accepted to Pill Hill Press’ Daily Flash 2013 will go unpublished after all. The press has decided to close. I’m more than a little disappointed, but that is the nature of small publishers. There are pros and cons, of course, to small and large publishing houses; this just happens to be one of the big cons.