Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thursday, January 13: Gayle Lynds at Goleta Borders

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara
Presents


New York Times bestselling Author

Gayle Lynds

Thursday, January 13, 7 pm*

*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm

Goleta Borders
7000 Marketplace Drive
(805)968-1370

FREE and open to everyone!

Gayle Lynds is the award-winning author of nine spy novels and has been called the Queen of Espionage. Her newest, The Book of Spies, is the beginning of her first series. Gayle began her writing career as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, where her investigative reporting made such an impact that it led to changes in state legislation. Later she was an editor with rare Top Secret security clearance at a government think tank. Soon she began writing short stories, which were published in literary journals, and at the same time in what some considered schizophrenic, she also wrote male pulp novels in the Nick Carter and Mack Bolan series.

Her first Gayle Lynds novel Masquerade, was a New York Times bestseller and a People magazine “Page-Turner of the Week.” Others of her novels have been prizewinners. The Last Spymaster won Best Writers Society of America. The Coil won Best Contemporary Novel from Affaire de Coeur. Mosaic was Thriller of the Year at Romantic Times. Mesmerized was a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist.

With Robert Ludlum, she created the Covert-One series and wrote three of the novels. One of them, The Hades Factor, was a CBS miniseries. Another, The Paris Option, was People magazine Beach Read of the Week.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Mixer

Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara joins Indiecoop: Cooperative of SB Independent Producers and the SB chapter of The Table in presenting a

Holiday Mixer

Tuesday, December 21, 5:30-7:30 pm
Dargan's
18 East Ortega Street
Downtown Santa Barbara
(805) 568-0702

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Association convened at the top floor of Borders on this evening to meet, welcome and listen to Gary Byrne and Lance Mason, authors of Seven Paths to Poverty, speak on the topic of Financial Literacy for Writers.

General announcements were made prior to the presentation as follows:

There will be no formal meeting of the Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara in the month of December.

Screenwriters Association will regroup for the January 13, 2011 meeting at Borders with guest speaker Gayle Lynds, a suspense novel writer. Her latest book is titled The Book of Spies.

Attendees were invited to offer suggestions for possible February speakers. Please contact Rashi Bahri, SASB President, with ideas.

Dues of $25 will be up in January of 2011. These dues keep the group running. Dues can be given to Chuck Kent, SASB Treasurer.

Information on two other local groups was shared:
  • Indie Coop – focusing on independent production. Meets the second Tuesday of every month at Silvergreens restaurant on Chapala Street.
  • The Table – run by one of our previous speaker, Joe Palladino, will be meeting next Wednesday, November 17 at 6:30 pm at UCSB. The group will be reading a screenplay by Michael Reeves and a discussion with the writer will follow.
Proceeding the announcements, the floor was turned over to the featured speakers of the evening.

First up was Gary Byrne Ph.D., co-author of Seven Paths to Poverty. At the age of twenty-five, while in the Foreign Service, he learned the valuable lesson of knowing WHO you’re writing for. President Lyndon Johnson was in need of a speech to welcome the German chancellor. The others submitting speeches seemed to be writing speeches on what THEY might have said. Gary wrote a speech that he felt reflected President’s Johnson’s perspective and this was the speech that was ultimately chosen.

The idea of ‘Capitalized Value’ intrigued Gary at a young age; the idea of taking the money that you’re spending on one thing in your life and saving it.

The authors explained that Seven Paths to Poverty is a book about saving money. The duo hopes to write a follow up book about how, then, to invest that money saved.

The book is made up of essentially nine segments and was written as a map to a journey, one that makes the reader think about if what they’re doing financially will affect their goals and one that gives the reader the power by taking responsibility of their own finances.

Lance Mason, D.D.S. spoke about the challenges and advantages of self-publishing (which is how this book was published) and admitted that “You never learn anything as well as when you teach it.” The teaching of the concept of the book really affected the outcome of the content of the book, in this case, he reported.

The overview of the book spelled out by the authors included:

Chapter One – Introduction: goals, goal setting, values and goals tied to personal values instead of artificial goals.
Chapter Two – Guidebook: concept, origins, traditions, power and retraining the power to direct the reader’s life the way they want to go, not what others want. “Self-knowledge is the most important knowledge to have.”

The book goes on to veer down seven various paths that are some of the ways people lose financial control of their lives (i.e. internet, credit cards). The authors feel there is now a disconnect between the merchant and the customer, as opposed to relationships of the past when the merchant would possibly have to take responsibility if the customer didn’t pay their bill, tab, etc.

The authors pointed out that there are plenty of get-rich-quick books in the market today. The very title of their book, they pointed out, was a point of contention several times along the way in getting the book made. But they stuck to their title because they feel there are a lot more people afraid of poverty than people who believe that they are going to get rich.

Copies of the book were for sale for $14.95 at the discussion’s conclusion. The attendees departed the meeting in pursuit of their own paths, most likely a little more financially-savvy than when they arrived, thanks to the information imparted by the speakers of this evening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joe Palladino, former Production T.A., intern at Orion Pictures, a PA for infomercials, a vault archivist for a post-production house and for the last seven years, adviser for the Film Studies Department at UCSB, addressed an enthusiastic crowd at Borders and told them about an interesting new thing going on in Santa Barbara called “The Table.”

Based on a much larger group of professionals in Los Angeles by the same name, the purpose of The Table is to bring together writers, producers, directors, actors and other industry people, who may have projects they need help with or want advice on; while others in the group may be between projects and want to get involved in something.

Joe told meeting participants of his own project he was working on – a documentary of local radio station KTYD – and how people from The Table were getting involved with and helping him with his
project. He then said he would like to conduct a demo Table using the group gathered there that evening.

He said The Table starts with someone talking about their project and what they need in the way of help in taking it to the next phase. He then went around the room and asked people what they were working on.


SASB President,
Rashi Bahri, said she has completed several short films, one of which was included in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. A recent mom, Rashi said she has purchased a Canon 5D Mark II and for her newest project she wants to capture the world through the eyes of an infant. She wants to work with an editor as the project progresses.

Marjorie Shields
has written a few short pieces but not sure what to do next. Joe suggested getting a short story out there on the social networks and seeing where it goes. He said publishers, editors, producers, etc. are constantly combing the Internet looking for new talent.

Lisa Angle, SASB Vice President, is rebuilding her website and working on a novel that is part of a trilogy. She has been a camera operator and produced many television segments for local access TV. She’s hoping she can connect with someone to coach her.

Mary-Ann Vanover, SASB Event Coordinator, is working on a memoir/travel/historic book based on her many trips to Italy. She’s having trouble organizing her journals. Joe suggested she start a blog to show people what she’s up to and gain valuable feedback.

Guy Goldstein
is working on a screenplay about a Zombie detective. He has also created a computer program that compares your script to great scripts in hopes to answer the question “What’s so bad about my script.” Joe suggested he market his screenplay ideas directly to smaller production companies owned by actors that might be interested.

Mark Ravitz
is a filmmaker and wants to work with others in the group on projects. He said each project is like a duel.

Ellen Sherwood
, a caterer from Ojai, is shopping around a comedy adventure book and is working on a second book of interviews with fascinating people. She found a number of people in the group interesting.

One attendee wanted to know about self publishing a book, so the SASB Director at Large,
Ernie Witham, who writes a humor column called Ernie’s World for the Montecito Journal, talked about his two books which were co-published. Similar to self-publishing, except that he worked with a real publisher who has a distributor so his books are available anywhere. He has a memoir set in 1969 that he wants to keep true to the time period and he is looking for help.

Others talked about film projects they had worked on in different capacities and projects they hoped to get involved with.


Joe concluded the meeting by congratulating the group on a highly successful “Table” and invited anyone in the group to attend the Santa Barbara Table held at Max’s Restaurant on Wednesday evenings.

People stayed well after the meeting networking with each other about their projects.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, October 14: Joe Palladino

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents

Direct from the UCSB Film & Media Department

Joe Palladino

Thursday, October 14, 7 pm*
*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

Born in Burbank, not far from NBC, Joe Palladino has spent maybe too much of his life in front of a TV tube. Growing up in Santa Barbara, his early memory of film was watching super eight silent films at Rusty's Pizza Parlor on Milpas. This planted his great love for old films and Italian food. He graduated from UCSB as a Film Major. At one point or another he has worked as a Production T.A., an intern at Orion Picutres, a PA for infomercials, a vault archivist for a post-production house, a hospital cook, a manager of a comic book shop, and for the last seven years an advisor for the Film Studies Department at UCSB. In his spare time (when he finds it) he still watches too much TV.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, September 13, 2010

Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kurt Brown joined the Screenwriter’s Association on September 9th to speak on the topic of “Getting the Most Out of Your Writing.”

Preceding the evening’s presentation, general announcements were made as follows:
  • If you haven’t already joined the association e-mail list, please do so at screenwriterssb@gmail.com
  • The Connection: Creative Writing Workshops for Young Writers will be held at the Central and Goleta libraries. Please contact Janice Rorick, Program Coordinator or Marcia Meier, Creative Director for details.
  • Saturday, September 18 – Patrick Horton, The Story Coach, will be conducting a seminar entitled “Giving Characters Voice” in Studio City at the cost of $15.
  • Fred Klein will host Literary Gumbo, a half hour interview show about writing and publishing. Future shows will include many local writers as guests. The show can be viewed on the Internet and Cox cable Channel 17.
Following the announcements, Laure-Anne and Kurt, published authors and editors, addressed the crowd and invited attendees to weigh in on a wide variety of subjects, including why writers write, where the writing world is headed and how technology will affect that path.

As writers, what is our responsibility? To bear witness. What is it that makes you a writer? What is the emotion that makes you unable to remain quiet on your subject matter? Storytelling is our way of making noise before we croak.

Every story has been told, every love poem has been written. But nobody has ever been you. That’s the ground you’re standing on. You’d better really love what you’re doing if you’re a writer. You’ll be ignored, rejected and chances are you probably won’t make a lot of money.


Fundamentally, screenwriting is telling a story through imagery. It’s about the people, texture, fabric, passion for detail, curiosity.


The world is more of a visual culture now. It’s all about sound bytes. Everything is quicker, briefer. But people still just want to be heard, as has been the case throug
hout time. There’s still a passion, fervor and an electricity in using language to communicate. The world is finding different avenues to do it with the advance of technology: rapping, tweeting, texting.

No matter what direction technology takes, we will never get away from storytelling. The universe is made up of stories. Some say it is made up of atoms and molecules. But none of us have ever seen those things. We only know about them because of stories.


When movies came along, it was said that it was the end of radio; but it wasn’t. When television came along, it was said it was the end of the movies; but it wasn’t. There are some things that computers and digital books can’t give you. Don’t think that books are going to disappear. Bad books may disappear, but good books, literature, will survive, as it has over time.


In closing, the authors mentioned that they’d never heard a writer say, “If only I’d been a bookkeeper.” Something to chew on as the presentation wound down and the writers that had gathered scattered into the night…

Respectfully submitted by Danielle Greene, Association Secretary

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thursday, September 9 "Getting the Most Out of Your Writing"


Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents

Laure-Anne Bosselaar
& Kurt Brown


"Getting the Most Out of Your Writing"


Thursday, September 9, 7 pm*

*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

For our September 9th meeting we have two speakers who are award-winning, widely published writers and editors, Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kurt Brown. Come ready with your questions about the creative process, getting published, and attending writers conferences. These well-versed scribes will offer answers based on their vast knowledge and experience.

Laure-Anne Bosselaar grew up in Belgium, where her first language was Flemish. She is the author of a book of poems in French, Artemis (1973), and two collections of poems in English from BOA Editions: The Hour Between Dog and Wolf (1997) and Small Gods of Grief (2001), which won the Isabela Gardner Award. She is also editor of three anthologies, Outsiders: Poems about Rebels, Exiles and Renegades (Milkweed Editions, 1999), Urban Nature: Poems about Nature in the City (Milkweed Editions, 2000), and Never Before: Poems about First Experiences (Four Way Books, 2005). With her husband, she co-edited the anthology Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants and Bars (1997), also from Milkweed Editions. A new collection of poems, New Hunger, was published by Ausable Press in 2007. She taught poetry workshops at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York and was the Bruce McEver Visiting Chair in Writing at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia in February, 2008.

Kurt Brown is the editor of Drive, They Said: Poems about Americans and Their Cars (1994) and Verse & Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics (1998) both from Milkweed Editions. He is also co-editor, with his wife, of Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants and Bars (1997) also from Milkweed Editions. In addition, he has edited three books of lectures delivered at writers’ conferences across America: The True Subject (Graywolf Press, 1993), Writing It Down for James (Beacon Press, 1995) and Facing the Lion (Beacon Press, 1996). A fourth collection of essays, The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science, appeared from University of Georgia Press in 2001. His own first collection of poems, Return of the Prodigals, appeared from Four Way Books in 1999. A second collection, More Things in Heaven and Earth, was published by Four Way Books in 2002. A third collection, Fables from the Ark, which won the 2003 Custom Words Prize, was published by WordTech in 2004, and a fourth, Future Ship, appeared from Red Hen Press in 2007, followed by a fifth collection, No Other Paradise, in 2010. He is the founding director of The Aspen Writers’ Conference and Writers’ Conferences and Centers, now part of the Associated Writing Programs.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, August 12, 2010

Janie Hewson, owner of Marketing Creatives, spoke on the topic of “Powerful Marketing for your Writing Career” at our August meeting. She encouraged writers to give yourself the opportunity to become extraordinary; by submitting, competing, showing your work. Nowadays, a writer must compete for the chance to be published. You will most likely find yourself shut out at every turn. You need a plan to figure out where you’re going. That’s where good marketing comes in.

“It takes nine times of seeing someth
ing to remember it.” - a marketing saying.
Through marketing, you can define yourself as a business rather than just a ‘little writer’.

What is it to market? In marketing, you are seen and remembered. If you can’t find a way to be known or seen, you’re not putting yourself in the market where you can be sold.

Websites, blogs, and all forms of new media raise your status as a writer. These tools are changing and will continue to change. Find a new one every year. Learn it. Use it. Most people are not surfing the web to find you. You need to get them to go there. The Internet is a great place for editors, representatives, organizations and other writers to make connections with you.

Where are you? Where can they find you? See you? Who are you in the world? This is a marketing strategist’s job. Know who you are. What do you write about? Know who ‘they’ (the public) are. Who are you giving this to? What makes them spark to you as an individual? Remember, it’s all about being seen first. How can you be seen first?

Set goals. Move yourself from where you are. No one’s going to do all this for you. Your deal is to take responsibility for yourself. Make a list. Make goals and meet them. Get it together and make it happen. Important: when you set these goals, you need to meet them. If you’re not, you’re living by excuses. Give up your excuses.

In this business, you need clients; buyers; money. Develop relationships. Be friends with the people who are in the world you want to be in. The creative business also requires money. Know that going into it.

Persistency, consistency; all the things your mother told you about, are key in this business. Being seen and remembered means you do the same thing over and over and over again. That’s your job as a writer…

Janie Hewson is available for consultations. Her website is: marketingreatives.net.

Respectfully submitted by Danielle Greene, Association secretary

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thursday, Aug 12 "Powerful Marketing for Your Writing Career"

Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara
Presents

Janie Hewson


"Powerful Marketing for Your Writing Career"

Thursday, August 12, 7 pm*
*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

Janie Hewson, owner of Marketing Creatives, "loves" the creative mind and loves to do business. She has been in the business of marketing creative business entrepreneurs for 15 years. Hewson has met and guided the careers of hundreds of creatives beginning with her work as an Artist Representative, her years with the Creative Black Book and several stints as a Studio Manager for creative businesses, including photography and film.

For seven years Hewson was the marketing instructor for Brooks Institute of Photography and Film, where she taught classes to photography, film, graphic design and photojournalism students helping them to create powerful marketing for their careers. In 2004 she was named Teacher of the Year.


Hewson holds a Masters’ degree in Organizational Psychology, and a Bachelors’ degree in Communications. She is married to a filmmaker and they are the proud parents of an 20-year-old equestrian competitor, her high jumping horses, a high jumping dog, and the sweetest kitty ever.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Minutes: July 8, 2010

Adapting Sideways
“Some screenwriters are turning to novelization as another way to the silver screen.”

General announcements preceded the evenings’ dual keynote speakers, Jon James Miller and Charlotte Cook. Members were invited to share news, progress, and updates on their writing with the group. Rashi Bahri announced that our August 12 speaker will be Janie Hewson, speaking on the topic of powerful marketing for your writing career.

Did you know that readers want to be seduced? That they desire to know what’s going to happen next, which is what keeps them turning the page of your novel? That they thirst to know who this person is? And why is this happening to them? You as a novel writer bring along your strengths as a screenplay writer; you’re taking your commitment to story and moving it to another canvas in writing a novel.

Jon James Miller is a screenwriter/ novelist and Charlotte Cook is a publisher/story editor. They conduct a seminar-workshop and provide consulting and editing work. Their book is Adapting Sideways: Your Gateway to a Publishable Novel. At our July 8 meeting, tricks from the duo on how to segue from screenwriter to novelist were multitudinous. How do you seduce that reader? Take something familiar and bring it back in an extraordinary way! Blow them away with something they think they’ve seen before…then do something different with it. Balance is dull on canvas. Equal color is dull on canvas as well. Your novel is your canvas. You begin with a blank one. Fill it with the world. The reader willingly opens their mind and lets you, the writer, fill the canvas for them. The challenge is knowing what to fill it with.

A novel needs a compelling story, dialogue that sings, engaging characters and a setting in time. Use your screenplay (which should have all these components) as an outline for your novel…sometimes it only works best for the initial translation or sometimes it can help throughout the process. The bottom line is to have commitment to your story. When it comes time to add that dialogue that sings: take the strengths that you have in the screenplay…just because you’re writing a novel doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be more dialogue! Ask yourself; does my characters’ dialogue move art forward? Or inform art? Moving forward is key. Use back story ONLY as the reader needs it. Find creative ways to disguise back story, for example, in a character’s dialogue.


Once you’ve wrapped up that novel, move on to stage two: Do you want to take it public? And stage three: How DO you take it public? Publishing is a consignment business. It’s very hard for them to end up with their investment back. What you do get in publishing is a world where a certain amount of stability exists. If a large publishing house puts out one hundred titles a year, it’s a good chance they’ll do at least one hundred the next year. BUT Agents and Publishers are flooded by submissions. They are looking for the cream of the crop. There are more agents in publishing than there were two years ago. And they are very hungry for well-written work.


Remember: it’s a process if you’re serious about adapting your screenplay into a novel. Write something in your comfort zone. And you must first learn what this zone is. Ask yourself, “Why would I turn the page?” And don’t take any shortcuts. Just work as fast as you feel you can.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thursday, July 8 "Screenwriter to Novelist"

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents

Charlotte Cook & Jon James Miller

"Adapting Sideways: The Not-So-Straightforward Transition from Screenwriter to Novelist"

Thursday, July 8, 7 pm*
*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

Jon James Miller and Charlotte Cook will show how adaptation is a two-way street, doubling your odds of selling your story. Novelization is a realistic strategy extending the life of your script and publishers want well-conceived novels by committed writers. Story drives the process. These experienced novelists/screenwriters teach basic structure transitions and world building for a publishable novel.

Charlotte Cook is president and story editor of KOMENAR Publishing as well as a popular presenter at writers conferences and events, and a successful teacher and workshop facilitator. She has an MFA in Creative Writing as well as practical business experience in the book industry. As an acquisition and story editor, she brought to publication far more books, articles and stories than the six award-winning novels she published for KOMENAR. As a result, Writers Digest interviewed Charlotte about her career and publishing company in February 2008.

Jon James Miller worked for several years in cable documentaries for A&E, Lifetime and The History Channel while writing original feature length screenplays in LA. He’s had three screenplays optioned; two historical dramas and one dark comedy about the film industry. In 2008, Jon’s original screenplay “Garbo’s Last Stand” won Grand Prize of the AAA Screenplay Contest sponsored by Creative Screenwriting Magazine and was featured in the May/June issue. In 2009, the same script won The Golden Brad Award for Drama sponsored by the Movie Script Contest. Jon will be a juror at the 2010 Big Bear International Film Festival and a panelist at the 2010 CreativeScreenwriting Expo in LA. He is currently adapting his award-winning script “Garbo’s Last Stand” into a novel with an interested publisher.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

“The Four Trends Roiling Publishing” June 10 Meeting Minutes

Marcia pointed out that there has been an incredible amount of change in the publishing business over a relatively short period of time. She used her own long and varied career as an example. She started out as a newspaper reporter fresh out of college when newspapers were just moving from hard copy to computers. Reporters started having to not only write their stories, but also news summaries and sometimes even headlines. Then along came the Internet, and the 24-hour news cycle was born. Reporters suddenly found they also had to be, in some cases, videographers. Today, the printed news industry seems to be in the death throes. Marcia left newspapers in mid-1990s, and now not only writes books like Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World but she blogs for several online news magazines, as well as her own website and occasionally for The Huffington Post. She refers to herself today as a “content provider.”

But she is quick to point out that change also means opportunity. Writers just have to figure out how to take advantage of today’s market and be prepared for tomorrow’s as well. She said there are four trends today affecting the way writers work and get published:

  • Technology is Constantly Advancing
  • Big Publishing Houses Are Continuing to Cut Back
  • Smaller Publishers Are Starting to Step Up and Take On More Clients
  • Self-Publishing is Becoming the Choice For Many Writers

Publishers will continue to publish celebrity books and books by well known, popular authors, but they are also looking at new ways to survive themselves. They know that innovations like the iPad, e-Books and interactive books are becoming more and more commonplace. Penguin views the iPad platform as an opportunity to create an entirely new kind of book with streaming video, audio and gaming built in. For writers this means a greater emphasis on content and packaging. According to the people at Authorlink, the printed book is part of a total package that can be adapted into other formats.

This also means content should be shorter so it works in smaller chunks. As writers we should start thinking in terms of shorter chapters and quicker pacing while still telling a great story. Also in terms of what works online as more and more publishing will be done online.

Big publishers are in trouble and they will continue to decline. People are still reading but more and more online. This means an increase in interest in print on demand (POD) and self-publishing. Marcia shared some startling statistics: While the number of fiction titles dropped by 11% in 2008, self-published books increased 132%! 2009 figures were even more astounding. This will leave many mid-list writers unable to get published by the big publishers. However, great new opportunities exist with small, regional, and specialty presses.

The most significant trend for writers today is the increasing number of self-publishing options. There are many services like iUniverse and Lulu that allow authors to make and sell their own books and keep more profit than ever before, though they will have to do their own marketing, record-keeping, and selling utilizing their own websites, blogging, and social media.

Marcia’s new book Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World. Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders includes many more examples and tips on how writers can take advantage of today’s changing and challenging world of publishing.
- By Ernie Witham

Marcia Meier: Author and Journalist from dolphingal805 on Vimeo.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Writer & Teacher Marcia Meier

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents Writer & Teacher

Marcia Meier

"Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World"

Thursday, June 10, 7 pm*

*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

Marcia Meier is an award-winning writer, teacher, published poet and former director of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. She will speak about her new book Navigating the Rough Waters of Today's Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders(Quill Driver Books, 2010). Her last book was Santa Barbara, Paradise on the Pacific, a coffee table book (Longstreet Press, 1996). She has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Santa Barbara Magazine, Central Coast Magazine, OC Metro magazine, The Seattle Times, and Arizona Republic. She is a contributing writer to Miller-McCune Magazineonline and an occasional blogger with The Huffington Post. Her degree is in Journalism and she has taught a number of writing classes for various institutions in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo including Cal Poly, Westmont College, Brooks Institute and SBCC Adult Education. Marcia is a member of the Author's Guild and Pen USA.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 13, 2010 Meeting Minutes

Calling card. Validation. Examples. What you can do. Do’s. Don’ts. Context. What he has learned about writing. All these topics and more were broached during the Thursday, May 13 Screenwriter’s Association meeting at Borders Bookstore with author, SBCC screenwriting instructor, UCLA Film School grad and showbiz vet Jonathan O’Brien at the helm.

Association President, Rashi Bahri called the meeting to order at 7:30pm. She announced that the Association is considering holding screenwriting workshops in addition to continuing to host invited speakers. At next month’s meeting, scheduled for Thursday, June 10, the Association will host speaker Marcia Meier, author, teacher and published poet.

“The Shorter the Better”; How Writing, Producing and Marketing Your Short Film Will Better Prepare You To Write Your Feature-Length Screenplay—the theme of this evening’s discussion.

A short film isn’t just a film, it’s your CALLING CARD. It shows your style. Each new writer and filmmaker that has had any success has their own unique way of telling a story. Screenplay readers used to have ‘to read’ piles. Nowadays, they most likely have ‘to reject’ piles. If you can make a short film that shows your unique point of view that gets people’s attention, it could get your feature length screenplay to the top of the ‘to reject’ pile. When you submit a script, the person receiving it wonders “How do I know this person can tell a story that will get people to want to see more?” If a film is a marketing tool, your goal is to get people talking about it.

You need a way to VALIDATE your work. Instead of telling people you can tell a story, you can SHOW them with a short film that you have a unique, creative way of telling a story. You don’t have to compete with Hollywood, you just need to have a unique voice. How do you ‘get in’ to Hollywood? They don’t dump another artist and replace them with you, they make room for you if they like your work.

And, you don’t always have to be in love with your work. Just go out and do it. Don’t make excuses. No camera to film? Do you have a cell phone camera? Do you have an old Beta Max camera? Dust it off. Lone filmmaker? You’re here at a screenwriters meeting. Get a few people together to work on something.

EXAMPLES: Office Space, Boogie Nights, District 9, 12 Monkeys, Saw, Sling Blade, Sin City, Darjeeling Limited, Boyz in the Hood, Napoleon Dynamite, 9. Feature films that all started as short films.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: According to Stephen King, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Same holds true for short films. Make the time to watch them. Do this before you start making them. Go all the way back to the short, silent comedies. Learn how to convey emotions without dialogue.

DO’S FOR SHORT FILMS: Do have a high concept. Get your idea down to one line that stands out. Ask yourself what is going to attract people to it? Make it stand out? Can you tell a story in three minutes? Three or four minutes is a good time framework. You can develop fewer characters better. Try to come up with an idea that needs very little exposition. What’s happening is happening right there.

DON’TS: Dialogue in a short film is deadly. When you rely on dialogue in a short film, it’s a crutch. When you don’t rely on dialogue, you rely on emotion. Don’t make a documentary short film—‘they’ don’t consider it as storytelling. No experimental films. If you’re going to do something like a mockumentary short film, first ask yourself how you can make room for a new style. Something that HASN’T been done before. The industry rewards those for taking chances and thinking outside the box.

These days, think about writing and directing according to CONTEXT. Remember how films are watched. For example, at film festivals, your film will be advertised and chosen by viewers based on a one-line description. What is your emotional apex? What is it the characters want to say, but can’t? How good of a story can you tell with what you have? Convey emotions clearly and concisely. It doesn’t cost much to put heart into something. Get the value out of the motion, not your production cost limits.

WHAT HE HAS LEARNED ABOUT WRITING: What is the ‘secret of writing’? How do you help people figure out the essence, what is the apex and the point of the scene? Is the best line of dialogue no dialogue at all? Frank Capra’s secret was to find out whose scene it is and then heighten the point of the scene. Cutting film can help you discover this point. If you can tell a story in three to four minutes, it can help you when you go to tell a story in two hours for a feature length screenplay.

Remember, agents and producers are looking to get at someone talented before anyone else does. They’re not waiting for a well-written screenplay to fall into their lap. Find out how to get them to come to you. Make a short film and show them you can tell a story with a unique voice in three to four minutes. If you believe in your story, nothing is going to stop you from telling it. That will come across in your film.

Before the meeting concluded, attendees were treated to a viewing of an eight minute short film, George Lucas in Love.

Respectfully submitted by Danielle Greene, Association Secretary.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Shorter the Better

Jonathan O'Brien

How Writing, Producing, and Marketing Your Short Film Will Better Prepare You To Write Your Feature-Length Screenplay


Thursday, May 13, 7 pm*
*Come early to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent. The speaker presentation will start around 7:30 pm
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

Jonathan OBrien is a UCLA film school graduate, a former network program executive, creator and former co-host of NPR's Beyond Words, a former juvenile hall writing instructor, and currently an ever-popular adjunct screenwriting instructor at SBCC. He has combined 35 years of diverse creative experiences with his passion for teaching to create his groundbreaking program design method resulting in nonprofits winning more than $385 million in competitive grant money. One of his educational program designs is permanently enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution. Two of the charter schools he helped to create are in the top 100 Charter Schools in the nation according to the America's Best High Schools analysis as reported by US News and World Report.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 8th Meeting Minutes

Paul Levine, entertainment lawyer and literary agent, spoke on the topic of “Legal and Business Aspects on Writing Books and Scripts” to a packed third floor crowd at the April 8, 2010 Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara that took place at Borders Bookstore on State Street.

Mr. Levine shared with the audience how his trek to Los Angeles, in 1978, came about by way of York University (Toronto, Canada) and family responsibilities. He is an entertainment law attorney who mainly represents book authors and journalists.

Very important in his negotiations on behalf of writers is this guiding principle: Retain all rights that the book publisher doesn’t exploit. If the publisher is going to exploit the right, sell it to the publisher. If they’re not going to exploit it, retain for yourself. This way, for example, later down the line, you retain the rights for technology that may not exist now, but possibly could later down the line.

Another topic addressed for writers was how to go from fingers to keyboard to money, in regards to advances and royalties. Some publishers pay no advances, most pay small-to-medium advances, while top tier authors and celebrities like presidents are paid huge advances. The only time an author wouldn’t get to keep that advance is when the product isn’t delivered. Royalty payments to the author come into play after enough books have been sold to cover the advance against royalties, which the author has already received. In general, the book business operates on a fifty percent margin. If a book sells for $14.00, a retailer will pay a publisher fifty percent of what list price is (in this case, $7.50.) Also, he pointed out that reviewers don’t review soft cover books. So if you want your book reviewed, thus garnering more public interest, publish it in hard cover first. Also, libraries only buy hardcover books. Of the 17,000 or so libraries in this country alone, he said, most of those will buy at least one copy of the hardcover when it comes out, a great boost to book sales.


As a writer, he says that it’s very important to form critique groups to obtain constructive criticism from people who could care less about your ego. Your friends and family are great, but they generally just stroke the ego of a writer. Honest feedback is what a writer needs.


A suggestion for first time writers who have a book being published is to hire your own publicist. Also, a good reference book in searching for an agent is Guide to Literary Agents, which provides agent names, contact information and ways in which the agents preferred to be queried. The purpose of a query is to get the recipient to ask for more. So begin by giving them what they want to receive. Mr. Levine says he personally looks at a submission and considers: “Can I sell it?” not “Do I love it?” and “Do I know enough buyers who are going to want to buy it?” If the answer to either of these are no, he won’t take it on.


Some interesting statistics: According to Mr. Levine, seventy percent of all fiction books sold are romances. Eighty percent of all books are bought by women, generally annually between November 15 and December 26. If men do buy books, the majority of them are sports biographies and car books. The biggest sellers of nonfiction are “How to” and “Self help” type books.


In answer to the question “Should a writer write what is ‘trendy’ at the time?” Mr. Levine does not think so. He pointed out that by the time your book is ready to publish, more than likely that trend will have changed.


Another question was “Is it good for a writer to enter contests?” He suggests the writer consider the quality of the contest and not to enter just for quantity of submissions. If you can say you’ve won a prestigious competition, this could be a great asset to your writing resume.


As the meeting concluded and the Santa Barbara writers in attendance scattered into the night, one woman was heard to remark: “I learned a lot tonight.” Yet another enlightening, entertaining and insightful meeting of the Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara!


Respectfully submitted by Association secretary,
Danielle Greene.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Legal and Business Aspects of Writing Books and Scripts

Screenwriters Association of Santa Barbara Presents

Entertainment Lawyer & Literary Agent

Paul Levine


Thursday, April 8, 7 pm*

*Come a half hour before our usual time (7:30 pm) to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent.
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
FREE and open to everyone!

With over a quarter of a century of legal experience, Paul S. Levine began handling entertainment transactions and litigation directly out of law school. Now, through his private law practice, he represents a diverse clientele ranging from individual “creatives” to large production houses, in a wide range of media, including: film, television, music, visual arts, and book publishing.

Levine is one of the few lawyers on the West Coast who specializes in book publishing. As such, he offers comprehensive literary legal services and acts as a literary agent. He particularly enjoys assisting screenwriters who wish to adapt books into screenplays, as well as “reversing the process” by working with writers who have “reverse-adapted” their screenplays into books, helping them sell their novels to publishers, and finally selling the “movie rights” to those novels, along with their screenplays, to “Hollywood”.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, March 11, 2010

The meeting began at 7:25 p.m. with Lisa Angle, the association’s ‘PR Czar’, welcoming the attendees. General announcements were made in regards to the groups Twitter and Facebook Groups.

Rashi Bahri, the association’s president, was introduced and she then introduced the other officers of the association.

The evening’s speaker, Mary Rose Betten, a retired character actress, poet and playwright was then introduced. She was here to speak about humanity; how to work with the best of you.

“Look around you. Don’t wait. What are these things you know, that you see about other people? Be faithful to that. Do you really watch people? Do you watch how they react? In writing, you want to really capture a character. Anger isn’t interesting. Come back to humor. Begin to look for the goodness in things. This is where you’re really going to find humor. Open your humanity to really see other people. Living in the goodness of yourself. Humor is a condition most natural to childhood.

The four elements of humor are: surprise, reverse logic, exaggeration and conflict.

How can you bring humor into your life? Get the ‘room tone’. Feel the writing in the air. When you see somebody, see if you can get the room tone of them.”

As an exercise at the meeting, the attendees were invited to ‘go back’ to find comedy. The two options were:

Go back to when you were fourteen years old. Eighth grade going into high school? Go back for that feeling. Or look at the 1949 picture of the young teen girls provided. Go back to the feeling from that time or the picture. Who was your hero when you were fourteen? Write what comes from that feeling of those characters.

Take the short story about a priest and a prostitute provided to set the stage. What happens next? Write what comes from that feeling of those characters.

“Look into all these characters. When you are a writer, you can really keep going. Nowadays we don’t make the time to get to know people. Take the time to get to know these characters. If you begin to care, you’ll get to get insights that were never there before. If we care enough, we will see things other people don’t see and that will fascinate people.”

The attendees wrote for five minutes. At the end, Mary Rose invited attendees to volunteer to read their work. Brief examples were read and enjoyed by the group.

The meeting concluded at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Danielle Greene, Association Secretary

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writing Comedic Dialogue with Mary Rose Betten

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents Actress & Playwright

Mary Rose Betten

"Writing Comedic Dialogue"

Thursday, March 11, 7 pm*

*Come a half hour before our usual time (7:30 pm) to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent.
FREE and Open to Everyone
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
Email Us

Please bring a pen, paper and something to write on. Mary Rose will provide us with an optional writing prompt and give a few minutes for writing, then those who wish can share what they’ve written.

Mary Rose Betten is a retired character actress, poet, and playwright. She studied with the Los Angeles Playwrights at The Mark Taper with the late, Oliver Hailey. Her published and produced plays include: Mary M., A Visit with the Magdalene, People Of The Passion, Hildegarde 2000, Is Anybody Home? and she co-wrote The Bar Off Melrose, produced at The Melrose Theatre, published by Samuel French. Recently she was commissioned to write Holocaust theatre and after extensive research wrote and directed, Becoming Alleluia, available for purchase on DVD.

As a character actress she appeared on stage, screen and television and won three Clio awards for her comedic appearances in television commercials. As a stand up comic she was introduced as a new comedienne appearing at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas by the Dean Martin Comedy Hour, and went on to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show and The Merv Griffin Show and starred as a stand up comic on the Playboy Club Circuit.

At Ghost Ranch in New Mexico she serves on the faculty of “A Room Of Her Own,” for women artists and writers where she was a recipient of a scholarship to their original retreat in 2001. She teaches in Perie Longo’s Santa Barbara Poetry Workshop and with her husband, Dr. Patrick Mitchell, gives workshops on spirituality and the arts.

*Also this month we'll have a special give-away. And, as always, samples from the Borders cafe.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, February 11, 2010

By Chuck Kent

A large crowd of fans gathered at Borders Books for the monthly meeting of the Screenwriters Association to share a delightful evening of poetry readings and commentary by David Starkey, who directs the creative writing program at Santa Barbara City College and is Santa Barbara’s current Poet Laureate. He’s also the author of two textbooks: Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief and Poetry Writing: Theme and Variations.

He also hosts a popular local television show, The Creative Community, in which he interviews a wide variety of writers and artists. Lisa Angle, who works on that television show with him, presided over the meeting and introduced David to the crowd.

David read a selection of new poetry he’s recently written as well as selections from his published books, which include Starkey’s Book of States, Adventures of the Minor Poet, Ways of Being Dead. David Starkey’s Greatest Hits and Fear of Everything.

David answered questions and interacted easily and humorously with his assembled fans, making for a fun evening, at the end of which he signed books and visited individually with fellow writers.

Lisa announced that on March 11th our guest speaker will be funny actress Mary Rose Betten who will interact with attendees about "Writing Comedic Dialogue."

Borders Books, our monthly host at 900 State Street for about the eighth year, provides the Screenwriters Association with a great meeting space upstairs on the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm, and supplies free coffee and bakery snacks. The public is always invited for no charge.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Evening of Poetry with David Starkey

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents an evening of poetry with Santa Barbara Poet Laureate

David Starkey

"Poems About Writing & Reading"

Thursday, February 11, 7 pm*
*Come a half hour before our usual time (7:30 pm) to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent.
FREE and open to the public
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
Email Us

David Starkey directs the creative writing program at Santa Barbara City College. Among his poetry collections are Starkey's Book of States (Boson Books, 2007), Adventures of the Minor Poet (Artamo Press, 2007), Ways of Being Dead: New and Selected Poems (Artamo, 2006), David Starkey's Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2002) and Fear of Everything, winner of Palanquin Press's Spring 2000 chapbook contest. A Few Things You Should Know about the Weasel will be published by the Canadian press Biblioasis this year. Over the past twenty years he has published more than 400 poems in literary journals such as American Scholar, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cutbank, Faultline, Greensboro Review, The Journal, Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, Nebraska Review, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore, Poetry East, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, Sycamore Review, Texas Review, and Wormwood Review. He has also written two textbooks: Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008) and Poetry Writing: Theme and Variations (McGraw-Hill, 1999). With Paul Willis, he co-edited In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (Iowa, 2005), and he is the editor of Living Blue in the Red States (Nebraska, 2007). Keywords in Creative Writing, which he co-authored with the late Wendy Bishop, was published in 2006 by Utah State University Press.


Santa Barbara Poet Laureate David Starkey reads his inaugural poem at his installation at City Hall on April 7, 2009.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

President's New Baby

If you were at our January meeting, you probably noticed that our President Rashi Bahri was expecting a new baby. Well, two days after that meeting she delivered! Ayush Chitnis arrived on the morning of Jan 16th. He is 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19.5 inches tall. Congratulations to Rashi, her husband and her whole family! We always welcome new people at our meetings, but we are glad Ayush didn't arrive during the meeting.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meeting minutes for Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meeting called to order approximately 7:30 pm

Rashi Bahri welcomed returning and new attendees.

Lisa Angle made the following announcements:

  • If attendees want to be added to our list, please send your email address
    to screenwriterssb@gmail.com.
  • Next month’s meeting will be an evening of poetry with Santa Barbara’s
    Poet Laureate David Starkey.
  • Santa Barbara poetry series takes place on February 6 at the public library.

Tonight’s speaker: Catherine Ann Jones

  • Began her career in New York, pursing acting. Moved on to writing when she didn’t like the way she saw how modern women were portrayed, as either housewives or whores. Thought there must be something in between.
  • She enjoys writing strong female roles.
  • She likes to think of writing as a process, not product. Warns that commercial influence of art can be a very negative thing.
  • Encourages writers to stay true to your own vision.
  • “When you write what you think they want, you lose. Fashion is ever changing. Write from yourself, it makes it unique.”
  • Thinks of writing as a marriage. Once you really commit, it’s a long process.
  • Maya Angelou: “I write in order to discover myself.”
    Virginia Wolfe wrote every single day.
  • “The unconscious writer is always working.”
  • Catherine teaches “The Way of Story” workshops every six months in Ojai and around the world.
  • Screenplays that work/sell—write about ONE thing. “If it’s
    about everything, it’s about nothing.”
  • Suggests on the first draft of anything—let yourself run. Second draft-be ruthless!
  • “The most important part of dialogue is what you don’t say.”
  • “Most important part of teaching is when you see the light go on in a student.”
  • Works as a consultant, two tier levels: Story structure—before the writer sits down to write. If there is a first draft—she will edit and provide writer with notes.
  • New contact email: catherinejones@wayofstory.com or through: www.wayofstory.com

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm

Monday, January 4, 2010

Catherine Ann Jones "The Way of Story"

Screenwriters Association
of Santa Barbara

Presents an evening with actress, playwright, and screenwriter


Catherine Ann Jones

"The way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing!"

Thursday, January 14, 7 pm*

*Come a half hour before our usual time (7:30 pm) to join in interactive discussion, get to know each other, and network with local talent.
Downtown Borders (Upstairs)
900 State Street
(805)899-3668
Email Us

Catherine Ann Jones has played major roles in over fifty productions on and off-Broadway, as well as television (Great Performances, etc.) and film. Disappointed by the lack of good roles for women, she wrote a play about Virginia Woolf (On the Edge) which won a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Ten of her plays, including Calamity Jane (both play and musical) and The Women of Cedar Creek, have won several awards and are produced both in and out of New York. Her films include The Christmas Wife (Jason Robards & Julie Harris), Unlikely Angel (Dolly Parton), Angel Passing (Hume Cronyn & Teresa Wright) which played at Sundance and went on to garner fifteen awards here and abroad, and the popular TV series, Touched by an Angel. A Fulbright Scholar to India, she has taught writing at The New School University, University of Southern California, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Esalen Institute. Ms. Jones lives in Ojai, and leads "The Way of Story" workshops throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.