Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It Starts!

Yesterday I met with my new publisher. That's right, not my agent, or my editor, but my publisher. One of the advantages of being with a small press is you get to hang out with the big wigs. Over a light lunch we discussed the rewrite of my up-coming novel, Boyfriend From Hell.

As I drove to the meeting a feeling of dread came over me. I kept thinking he was going to tell me he'd changed his mind about publishing me. He'd had the holidays to think about it, and had invited me to lunch to give me the bad news. Even though I knew this was my paranoia kicking in, I couldn't stop thinking it.

When I got to The Spitfire Grill (that's the real name) he was already seated. He greeted me with a warm handshake, and said he was hungry. He hasn't mentioned my book. Uh-oh. My paranoia was suddenly turned way up.

After some small talk he pulled out a folder, removed some pages and proceeded to give me a few notes. *Big sigh of relief*

After several minutes of note taking, I said "So, we're good?"
He looked up a bit puzzled. "Yes. Of course."
"You still want to publish my book?"
"Yes. I'm very excited about it. I was wondering how you were going to feel getting notes from me."

At that point I was thinking: "If you're not firing me, you can give me all the notes you want." I also think that's when I relaxed and ordered a beer.

And so it starts. The rewriting process. The novel is still scheduled to come out in September. He even told me his graphic artist was reading the manuscript to get some ideas on cover art. You may recall I mentioned in an earlier post I'd be having a cover contest. I think we're going to get to see four covers, and you (along with me) are going to weigh in on which cover you think would make someone actually want to purchase the book. I'm not sure what the contest or prize will be. Something cool for sure.

The four book covers in the photo above are rejected cover choices for my first novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie. I saw the covers on Irene Gallo's website, art director for Tor, Forge and Starscape Books. I got news of the covers after Tor (my publisher) had chosen the one currently on the book. Now don't get me wrong. I think they made the right choice. I LOVE my book cover. But wouldn't it have been cool if I could have been included in the process? That's what's going to happen with my new publisher. I will have a hand in the process, and I will share that hand with you. WE will be the art department. I love it!

Okay, enough rambling. Gotta get to work. The rewriting process begins today. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's That I Smell?

... Oh, yeah. It's the winds of change.

A few days ago I read in the Los Angeles Times that The Mystery Book Store in Westwood will be closing at the end of the month. This is the last bookstore in Westwood, aside from the one at UCLA. While I didn't frequent the store, it is always sad to see book stores disappear.

Last week I had to make a doctors visit in Encino. I drove out early because whenever I am in Encino I stop by the big Barnes & Noble on Hayvenhurst. It's a great store, with the largest and most well stocked children's section I have ever seen. Their YA section is unbelievable. I drove into the outdoor mall parking lot and was surprised to find so many open spaces. That was unusual. But what was even more unusual is the Barnes & Noble was GONE. A big, hulking empty structure stood before me. It was like the book store equivalent of a ghost town.

Borders is in trouble as well. They are trying to cut a deal with publishers to accept notes in exchange for the money they owe them. Some of the money they owe the publishers goes to pay us--uh oh!

Truth is, it's a new day, people. A while ago I read the book Hit Men by Fredric Dannen, about the music industry. I was surprised to discover that when record albums came along the music industry didn't like them very much. They didn't like it when CDs came along either, even though, as it turned out, both record albums and CDs grew sales. When Television came along the movie industry feared it. But TV went on to help grow and promote the film business. To this day the biggest way films are promoted is on TV. If there was no TV, the film business would probably have died a long time ago.

Fast forward to when MP3s came along. The music industry fought them vehemently. And now the music business is in free fall. You see where I'm going with this? Change is inevitable. There is always a downside to change, but the more we resist it, the more it winds up biting us on the butt down the road. What we need to do with any change in our lives is figure out how to make it work for us--or at least coexist with it.

I grew up hanging out in libraries and staring in the windows of bookstores wishing I had enough money to buy a book. I loved book stores. I still do. But change is in the air. The internet is fast becoming a new generation's book store. I'm not saying give up on the old. I will always love book stores. But it is time to embrace the new.

We are readers and writers. The good news for us as readers is books aren't going away. In fact, even more books are being offered to us, at lower prices. And yes, there is even more crap out there, but there are amazing gems out there today as well, gems that we would not have been exposed to in the old model. As writers there is also good news. Books aren't going away. There are now more opportunities for us to connect with readers than ever before. We just need to figure out how.

I was very nervous a few months ago when I made my deal with White Whisker (an independent publisher) for Boyfriend From Hell. I wondered if people would think: "This one is with an independent because it isn't any good?" But that was my fear of change talking. So today I am going to be fearless. I am sniffing the scent of change, and you know what? It is sweet.

What are your feelings about the changes in publishing?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Purple Couch--Update

The Purple Couch is hitting the streets.

Last Tuesday I told you about Michael and Cheryl Johnson's wonderful project, The Purple Couch: stories from America's living room. I have an update. My uber agent, Jim Kellem, set a meeting for Michael, Cheryl and me to screen the presentation for Discovery Studios. We screened it for them, and guess what? They loved it! They want to take it into OWN--Oprah's new network.

This gives me a great deal of relief, because that is where Cheryl felt it belonged in the first place. So, step one is accomplished--we have a studio partner. In TV you need a studio AND a network. Simply put, studios make stuff, networks show stuff. Now we need to screen it for the network, and for them to like it.

Discovery wants to do a a tiny edit to the presentation before taking it in to OWN. Hopefully that will happen this week. Keep your fingers and toes crossed. Michael and Cheryl have worked so hard on this. This is not something that just came off the top of their heads. It's a project that has gone through a lot of development. Wouldn't it be neat to help make their dream come true and see them get their show on national television? I know the answer to that--YES!

If you haven't seen The Purple Couch trailer and would like to watch it, click: HERE. I'd love to hear what you think. And I have a special bonus. If you'd like to check out a very sweet story straight from the couch click on: Amanda's Story.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Purple Couch

I am a story junkie.

It’s true. But as writers and readers, aren’t we all story junkies? Everyone loves a good story. One that makes them laugh, or moves them to tears, or makes them think. That’s why we read; that’s why we write. We love stories.

Okay, so here’s my story about how I got involved with The Purple Couch. What is The Purple Couch? You’ll have to read my little story to find out:

About a month ago I got a call from my friend, Bruce Jones, telling me about a project he had been working on. It was a platform for telling stories. Bruce wanted to know if I could help the creators get the project on TV. Now Bruce knows I’m a story junkie, so he dangled just enough carrot for me to say: “Send it to me, and I’ll give it a look.”

Several days later a DVD arrived. It was a simple concept: A purple couch shows up on your street, in your mall, on the beach, at your school, and invites you to sit down and share a brief story about a defining moment in your life. Simple enough, right?

I popped in the DVD, watched the man sitting on the couch telling his story, and was moved to tears. I thought: “What a terrific story.” In days Bruce set up a conference call for me to meet the creators, Michael and Cheryl Johnson, over the phone. Yesterday they came to up LA, and over burgers I met them in person. They are sweet, kind, thoughtful. Not your typical TV producers. I fell in love with them instantly. I even love their log line: One Couch, Many Voices: stories from America’s Living Room.

Please click on the link (The Purple Couch Trailer) and check out the beautiful trailer they put together for the show, and let me know what you think.

I can’t wait to share some of these stories with you. So over the next few weeks I may post a video clip or two, along with a progress report on our journey to TV.

I have a lot to share with you this year, what with Boyfriend From Hell being published, the Never Slow Dance With A Zombie movie progress, and now this.

There’s an old saying that everyone has at least one great story in them. With The Purple Couch you are going to hear some of those wonderful stories being told.