Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d first say that since Starbucks is raising its prices, I’m going to lessen the number of times I go there. I’m branching out to Dunkin Donuts to economize. I realize prices go up but Starbucks doesn’t offer as nice a service in the US as you get overseas so I already felt that I was paying the same, but getting less than when I went to their outlets in Asia.

I’d mention that we had a big storm last night and when I woke up we had no electricity. So much depends on electricity. It was too gray to read. There was no cooking, internet, or laundry.  What was I going to do with my day? Luckily power was restored.

I’d also say I’m delighted with my new job. I’m working at a library and have only done orientation tasks, but it was a positive week. One highlight was a tour of the community. It’s a diverse village with a nice sculpture park, a new technology center for start ups, several synagogues, churches and mosques. There are a few Jewish schools and an Islamic school. Lots of business and industry add to the generous funding to this library. New week I’ll roll up my sleeves and begin to develop an online learning course.

I’m reading too many books, and need to finish a few. I am reading a biography of François Truffaut. It’s heartbreaking how tough his childhood was. His mother didn’t want him and did the minimum for him. It’s amazing how he was able to contribute so much to the world of film. I’m also chugging through Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove, which I’m going to discuss online with a friend who lives in Washington. We read and discuss novels online and are proceeding chronologically. It’s slow going and partly because James has a reputation, well-earned I’d say, for dense prose. I’m also reading a graphic memoir of a trip to North Korea and the novel Radium Girls. More on those another time.



Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

It’s a bit late for coffee, but I got mine because on this gray day, I’m feeling drowsy though I want to perk up and do some reading. I’ve just started The Wings of the Dove and it’s making me doze off. My friend Bill, who lives in Washington state, and I have been reading classic novels and discussing them online. Bill’s insights any book I read and I hope mine are at least half as good as his. We choose books more or less chronologically. Last time we read Germinal, which was my choice and now it’s his. I have heard that Henry James is rather dense and that reputation makes it harder to get into the story. By next week I do hope I report that I’ve gotten to say page 60.

Tuesday I found time for lunch with a friend from high school that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. She discovered she had breast cancer in September and I’m in awe of her strength and commitment to stay positive. She’s now almost done with all the treatments. So happy that she’s out of the woods.

On Wednesday I was stunned to learn that WordPress was suddenly quitting their popular Daily Post prompts. I would think they’d at least keep the Weekly Photo Challenge going, but despite the community’s sadness, they’ve dropped it.

I spent much of the week writing. Last week I mentioned that a theater agreed to read my play. I thought I could quickly polish a couple scenes and send it off, but one thing led to another between new ideas and more in depth editing. Anyhow, it was submitted on Tuesday. Then yesterday right before midnight was the deadline for the Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship program. I had one pilot done and polished (though it’s envisioned as a two hour special so that may not be taken well) and then I had to finish two act of a spec script. (A spec script is when you write an episode of an existing TV show as an example of your ability.) I chose to write a Madam Secretary as if there’s nothing good on PBS (like Poldark or Victoria) then I’ll watch that. I have quite a bit of experience working overseas and try to keep up on world events that aren’t widely reported. I did get my entry submitted in time. Hooray! However, I realize this is a super-competitive. I think only 8 or 10 writers are chosen.

I’m also glad to report that my mom’s back home after two weeks in rehab after knee replacement surgery. She’s still got a ways to go to be as good as new, but I’m thankful for the good care she received.


Tip for Writers

A friend posted this tip on Facebook and I thought I’d share it. My friend, who’s been a screenwriting for years and has been paid as a script doctor, advises writers to keep their notes and information used in a writing project. In addition to a Writers’ Guild registration or copyright document, these notes are good evidence should you run into the problem of someone plagiarizing your work.

Harry Courlander sued Alex Haley for infringing on his copyright and won. Presenting  his notes and outlines as evidence helped him prevail in this case.

Of course, we hope no one steals our work, it’s important have good evidence if we need it. Such documentation probably only takes up a few files in a cabinet or you could keep online documents, though I fear they can get lost easily.

My Saturday


I came to California to pitch my writing ideas and scripts to two producers and an agent. I was quite worried about choking. I made handouts for each of these professionals as a crutch. I couldn’t get them printed because my hotel the Sheraton in Pasadena didn’t have a business center. Friday I planned to go to FedEx Kinkos but got stuck in traffic for an hour more than  I planned and was just exhausted so that got postponed. Saturday I sought out a FedEx, but got lost. I figured I could find a FedEx by the site easily. Talk about wishful thinking. So I didn’t have my crutches.

The pitching event was held at a church near the Hollywood sign.

For some reason, I wasn’t that nervous. I spent a few minutes in the Green Room for the writers. Then I spoke with a representative of Parables TV, an organization I hadn’t heard of. I found the VP I talked with very personable so there was no nervousness. I’d decided to proceed as if I was telling a friend about the stories. I made sure I put some enthusiasm in my voice without sounding like a fake.

My meetings went one after another. My next meeting went equally well, I think. At least I felt like I was talking with an old friend. My next meeting went smoothly. In all cases, I was asked to send more writing.

So my view of the pitching might be wrong. My bar was low since all I cared about was to complete the pitches without getting overly nervous. It’s a long shot, but I do hope something good comes of this.


Wish Me Luck


I’m in Los Angeles now preparing for Act One Writers’ Upfronts event where I will pitch three different story idea to three different producers. I admit I’m a trifle nervous. Today I’m preparing for these meetings by printing up some handouts to leave behind and protect me from verbal stumbling, watching some how to videos on persuasion and pitching.

Later today I’ll pick up a friend who’s also presenting for lunch and practice time. Then I’ll get my printing done, practice some more before going to a reception for the event this evening.

Prayers for success are most welcome.

My Writing


I’m vowing to really get going with my writing. I want to push my career as a writer forward. I’ve gotten several television and film scripts in good shape. Now it’s a matter of getting them out into the world in spite of the Catch-22 that producers don’t want to read material from writers who don’t have an agent and agents don’t want to read material from writers who haven’t produced any work yet.

Yikes! What’s an aspiring writer to do?

In the past I wrote lots of letters and made lots of cold calls. I had some success because I did get a few agents to read my work and did get invited to pitch for a top sitcom, but that was years ago in the ’90s pre-Internet and pre-social media. Things are different now the Catch 22 remains.

I have gotten invited to pitch to producers via Act One’s Upfront program and will submit again once they open up submissions.

I’ve also entered contests, but there are few for television writers. I’ve written some producers and sometimes it’s hard to find the addresses of producers, who do want to limit submissions. One thing I’m glad I did was use my local library to get some addresses. They were able in a few hours to get the address for Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine, and to PBS. Their help saved me from wasting further time. Hello Sunshine, while incorporated, just didn’t show up in any business directories I had access to. So I’m grateful for the librarian who found something I couldn’t.

In addition to writing to producers who seem like a good match, I’m going to start writing a play. Tonight I’ll start an online course on Playwriting given by the Chicago Dramatists’ Workshop. My subject is a vibrant character from Chicago’s 19th century history.


Masterclass with Aaron Sorkin


I’ve just finished a screenwriting class taught by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing, Social Network, Steve Jobs, Sports Night, etc. fame. Masterclass offers the class for $90 and I found it to be a good deal.

Sorkin knows what he’s talking about and is frank about how some aspects of writing can be taught and others can’t. Even though he’ll sometimes go off on a tangent, I found the tangent worth the ride. He admits to non-linear conversational style up front so students are prepared. He shares the classic approaches to writing and swears by reading Aristotle’s Poetics. Some of what he said in the 35 lesson course, I’d heard before, but that didn’t bother me. I was glad to hear the wisdom reinforced.

After several sessions of lecture, eloquent, wise lecture, the course featured students working with Sorkin on story development, brainstorming, and pitching. I was disappointed by the homogenous age range in the group. I doubt anyone there was over 33. Some of these sessions lagged for me, but I did appreciate how respectful Sorkin was to the students. It would be easy for him to act supercilious, lesser teachers at say UCLA Extension sometimes do, but this Academy and Emmy Award winner did not. Kudos to Mr. Sorkin.

I think the class is best for those who’re a bit familiar with screenwriting so I advise people to either take a short course (nothing expensive is needed) or read a few screenwriting books. I will say I wish he’d offer suggestions on how to overcome the difficulty in getting a script read by people empowered to buy it.

I tried watching in China and Indonesia. The buffering was awful, while Coursera, TED and Lynda.com don’t have such a problem. So if you’re overseas, think twice before paying for this course.


Deadline Looms

A friend and I have been pounding out a script for a writing program we first thought had a June 1 deadline, and then discovered had an April 14th deadline.

We’ve finished the first draft and are polishing now. I do like the story, but am realistic and know that other writers are probably submitting stories they started years ago.

It’s been crazier than the April Script Frenzies where you had 30 days to write a script. Here we’ve had about 24.

Fingers crossed.