Monday, May 31, 2010

I love Ed Solomon

Ed Solomon has a great piece of advice in this snippet. I have the full series of The Dialogue Series Interviews and I listen to them over and over again for inspirations. I'll be sharing snippets of the interviews over the next few weeks.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

David Goyer - Screenwriting Interviews

This is just a snippet of a great series of screenwriting interviews!


Friday, May 28, 2010

New Credit Card Scam - Not Writing Related

New Credit Card Scam - Not Writing Related

This wasn't me, but I'm passing it along:
NEW SLICK CREDIT CARD SCAM
This really happens. I got the call on my work credit card after making a purchase online with Amazon.

Fortunately, I didn't give them the number. Instead, I called the Visa number and they cancelled my credit card on the spot and re-issued another one for me. Man they are getting slick!!! New Credit Card Scam Snopes.Com says this is true.To verify see this site: http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/creditcard.asp <http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/creditcard.asp>

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information,except the one piece they want. Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it...This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & Master Card Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.*

One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'Master Card'.. The scam works like this: Caller: 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497..99 from a Marketing company based in ?'

When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?' You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800 -VISA) and ask for Security.' You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession ofyour card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for somenumbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do, and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card. Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account.

VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason Richardson of Master Card' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.

Please pass this on to all your family, friends and neighbors.

By informing each other, we protect each other. Neighbors helping neighbors; always the best policy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plotting

Plotting is about more than just novels and scripts. Plotting is about life. In plotting my short term future I've decided writing isn't part of it. I've been letting writing get in the way of life, and I need to get my life back in order.
By life, I mean my businesses and my home. So I'm plotting out my short term goals. By short term I'm looking at the next 3 months. I need to get my house in order and clear it of all unnecessary crap. You ever try fung shui? Did I spell that right? anyway, I know that when I remove the clutter from my house, I can also remove the clutter from my brain and my life. Business runs smoother, my brain is clearer, and I generally feel better about myself. So one room at a time, I'm going to arrange my home into a cleaner, free flowing energy space that feeds the body, mind and soul. And hey, maybe there will be a book in it.
I decided to do this now because I've entered the contests I was interested in trying, and I've met my deadlines. I have a novel and a non-fiction proposal making the agent rounds. I think this is enough for now. And when my soul feels better I'll finish a few projects I've been working on for a long time.
This doesn't mean I won't be writing in my blog and also on www.bookendbabes.com. And I'll be keeping in touch via Twitter, but not as often. Twitter and Facebook are other time sucks I need to limit.
When ideas strike, or I hit an unusual plot point in my plotting journey, I'll be blogging about it here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Books on Writing

Here's the thing about books on writing: You buy them, then you read them, and it's a great excuse not to write. Books on writing (BOW) are for the evil self-editor in us all. We turn to BOW when our mind says, "What are you thinking? You aren't a writer, you'd better read about the craft some more before you decide you really want to do this." Our mind is doing its best to give us the excuse to not write. "Well, at least if I'm reading books about writing, I'm doing something to learn about my craft."

This is all well and good, but seriously, how many books to we actually need? Oh, god I can hear it now from the writers who make a living on our insecurities. If I was to be perfectly honest with myself, I'd say that I only need 4, maybe 5 of the BOW I have. Am I going to tell you how many I actually have? Hell, no!!! Not because I don't want you to know, but because I don't feel like tracking them all down and counting it up for you.

I have books at the restaurant to read in my down time, books next to my bed, on the bookshelves in both my office and our library, and of course I have more next to my chair in the living room. Have I read all of them? No, not all. But then there are those I've read over and over. And those are the 4-5 that I should have stuck with. But they weren't the first books I purchased, so it's like boyfriends, and dates, you try them and if they don't fit you get another. Come to think of it, I dated a lot!

I could (and will) name the books I feel I can't live without, but mine will be different from yours. And I'm certainly not trying to sell you on the books, so I won't give the Amazon links to them (though I should, so I can make money if you buy them from my link). Over the last few months I've come to realize that I buy a book or two every time I have grave self-doubts about my writing. So needless to say, I'm book poor. In truth, other than my few staples, I should only have 1 book for every full manuscript or screenplay I've written. And I probably have at least 7 per or more.

Once again, I realize that the books are my excuse for not writing. "I should write. But I really don't know what I'm doing, so I should read this book first." Then half way through the book, "Seriously, I know this stuff, I should just write. Why is this so hard? I love writing." And so it goes...

You've heard the saying, "Walk much, or just read about it?" And that's my point. Reading about writing won't make us better writers, writing will. Want to play golf? You read a few magazines, take some lessons, maybe read a book about technique and rules, then you get out on the course and hit some balls!

So instead of buying that next book on writing, hit some balls, and by that I mean WRITE! Write, write, and then write some more. Don't think you can do it? Your inner critic laughing at you? You cringe when you hear the word shank? Then go out and get some practice. Reading about writing is not practice. Writing is practice.

So my "go to" books...Save the Cat, Rewrite, Dialogue, Screenplay and  Conflict, Action & Suspense. Sure I have a few books on the business of writing, but those are only good after I've written something. And don't get me wrong, I've written a few things, but I always find an excuse not to finish, and that excuse comes in the form of another book to read.

Okay, I'm going to close my copy of Rewrite and work on my screenplay now. What are your go to books?

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's not often that a person finds their passion in life at an early enough stage to enjoy it. And to be lucky enough to make money while pursuing that passion is even more rare. Me, I have both.

First, I love to write, and for several years I was paid to write articles for a crafts business magazine. And it paid well. I love writing, and I learned from the articles I wrote.

At the time I was writing, I was making glass beads and selling them at bead shows and on my web site. I used what I learned to move of from just making beads to making jewelry and selling at art shows. I had quite a following after a few years. Each December I'd get to spend a week in Chicago (one of my favorite cities), and go to the theatre at night and see my loyal customers in the day time. Yes, the show days were long, but I loved working directly with my customers.

Then I once again used the research I'd done for my articles to move my jewelry business in another direction. I now sell wholesale. But in selling wholesale I had to learn a whole new lifestyle. I'd never done production work, and I had to come up with my own market niche to stand out from all the other jewelry. And I did.

I used sales reps to show my line and pretty much just worked in my studio.

But in all things, we move on. And I missed the personal relationship with my customers. So I'm selling retail and wholesale, and I'm selling my line myself. I mean who else is going to know my line as well as I do? And who would have more passion? Not that sales reps don't try, but with 20-50+ lines to rep, how passionate can you be about one line?

I just have my line to be passionate about, and I am. I love what I do, and I hope to never lose that enthusiasm. I thought it was lost, as I was burning out. But I realize I wasn't burned out, I was left out. I wanted to be a part of everything, and I missed the interaction with customers.

This year we have 4-6 trade shows planned, and I'm really looking forward to meeting current and future customers. And I hope I can give something back, by helping my customers better sell my line and therefore better their bottom line.

It is with utter passion that I built and designed this current line of jewelry. And as an artist that loves to draw and paint, I'm hoping to find a way to add that passion in a new line someday. For now, I'm happy. I've never been happier. I'm so very lucky.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Things First

It's always tempting to test out your story idea by pitching or sending a query before the novel or script is finished. Not a good idea. What if your query is accepted and the agent/publisher/studio loves the query and wants to read a partial or the full? You have just blown your contact. That's it, that was your first and only chance to make an impression.

Why? Because the agent (I'm just going to use agent from here out, to simplify) doesn't want to see your partial in one month, three months or a year, he wants to see it now. So what if he's going to take weeks or months to get back to you? That's his end of the business. Your end of the business is to be professional and send him a finished manuscript/script ASAP, while you are still fresh in his mind.

This may sound stupid, but you wouldn't apply for a job/career as a nurse without first getting your BS in Nursing. In any other field, you'd get an education, do your internship, and get some experience before applying for a job. And I'm talking about a professional job here, not flipping burgers (which I actually do for a living, as the owner of course). So why would you just flipantly jot off a query to an agent without actually having something to show them? And doing some research into your market?

So, you have your manuscript/script finished, can you query now? NO!!! If you haven't polished your pages to within an inch of life, you aren't ready to offer up your words to a professional. Writing is rewriting, and you have to rewrite, polish, put the damn thing away for a time, then come back with a fresh eye and start polishing again.

When you think you have done everything possible to make your words sparkle, and jump off the page, then it's time to write that query. And not a moment sooner!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pitching Your Screenplay

I've had pitching on the brain, since I was planning to attend the Great American Pitchfest at the end of June. This was a timely article.

http://thestorydepartment.com/pitching%e2%80%99s-holy-trinity/

Research or Write

As a former magazine writer, I'm all about research. But believe it or not, before my second try at college I hated writing and despised research. But when I was taking my classes to become an athletic trainer I had to do lots of research. In one such case, I was tasked with doing a case study on a Stanford football player. He'd had a neck injury and surgery in November and recovered quickly enough to start spring practice. He went on to become a NFL player for 7 years, as a right guard and eventually center.

What does this have to do with research? In the research I did for the case study, I found that his recovery wasn't the norm for his type of injury. I was fascinated with what I learned. And my work was so thorough that my professor submitted my case study for publication in Physician & Sports Medicine magazine. From that moment on, I was hooked on research. And not just for magazine articles either.

The research I did for Crafts Business Magazine helped me to grow my small business into a 6-figure income in just 3 years. Yes, I researched topics I was interested in, then queried the magazines I loved. I even wrote an article about shipping cooled semen for breeding purposes, when I was thinking of breeding my mare to a horse in California. I wanted to know about something for myself, so I researched it and was able to sell the related article. I had even gotten seasoned enough that I could sell an article on spec.

But now, with writing fiction, I see research completely different. I see it as an excuse to not write. I mean, hey, I was writing 1500-2500 words, I could crank an article out in an afternoon and then email it for deadline. So I researched until the last minute. With fiction I have no deadline, except a self-imposed one. (really, who keeps those?)

So I've had to treat research differently. Also I'm researching things like the adverse affects of using Meth, and how to murder someone using the mercury from an old thermometer. (ask me about that last one, it's crazy interesting and scary) Are throw away cell phones really not traceable? Don't think I'll be using what I learn for use in my real life.  I just keep researching and researching, and I have binders full of notes, but nothing actually WRITTEN.

The attack I use now is one I learned from a wonderful author from South Africa, Cherry Adair. Just write the damn thing. Highlight the places where the subject really needs some researching, then keep writing. Oh, and then, keep writing some more. When you are in the rewrite process, that's when it's time to pull out the Wikipedia (I'm kidding) and do your research. Research the crap out of it, because now you have a finished novel, script, whatever. It's finished!!! No excuses. Now do the research to keep yourself from looking like a dummy.

The great thing about this process? You have finished your novel, script, play and have saved yourself a crap ton of time by not researching for hours on end. Not to mention, you'll have more specific items to research and not have a bunch of facts you don't need and won't use. And you can move onto the next writing project. Oh, yeah, ain't it great.

This approach may not be right for everyone, but it works for me. And I love doing research. As with all advice/ideas in writing, take what works for you and leave the rest. Researching after writing works for me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When live gives you lemons, they say make lemonade. I say, make Lemon Drop Martinis. And I've had a lot of lemons in 2010. The first lemon was tossed at me as a seed in January 2010. And the seed has grown into a full blown tree in the last few months. So I've been making gallons of martinis.


But unlike lies, deception and lemons, lemon drop martinis have a hint of sweetness. The rim of the glass is dipped in lemon juice, then in sugar. The combination of vodka and sugar makes the lemon not so tart. And I'm all for that.

I'm not drinking a lot of these martinis (just making and freezing), mainly because I'm not a foul mouthed drunk, like some people I know. But I do like to sip one at the end of the day ever so often. And definitely have one during my chats with Twitter buddies. But then I also like POM martinis, and apple too. The vodka smooths things over and makes foul, nasty things not so bad. But too much and the next day you are sorry. Not unlike a lot of other things that I've had too much of lately. Thank god I'm not a foul mouthed drunk. Sometimes I'd like to be. But I strive to be a better person on a daily basis, and being a FMD would defeat the purpose.

Besides, what do I have to be depressed about enough to need to drink too much? I have two successful businesses which I love, and that I strive to run with honesty and professionalism. I have employees that have been with me for years, because we work as a family. I have GREAT customers, who I enjoy getting to know, and have developed great relationships within this last few months. And my last marketing campaign was a huge success, bringing in several new retail stores that now sell our Mommy Jewelry along with other designs.

Oh, and I have my writing, in which I can brutally murder FMDs, and not go to prison. lol

So I think I'll prune that lemon tree and make it a house plant. And I'll have a Lemon Drop Martini once in awhile, but not to drown my sorrows, to celebrate.

Navigating the Web

OMFG, it took me 3 hours to get this blog to set up on my web site address, and it's not even what I wanted. I wanted it to point to blog.jamielivingston.net, but NOOOO, that wasn't going to happen. So for now my web site is my blog. I wanted to write tonight, but now I'm not sure I'll have time. Arghhh!
No, no, I'm not a little frustrated. (in through the nose, out through the mouth).
So I'm one step further in my blogging process. I now just have to add some great content. Coming soon...

A Whole New Look

Worked on this for days. Ha, just kidding only hours. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Even though it's 20 degrees below normal this May, Spring is in the air. It's time to grow and learn and bring something new to the world, be it a new plant, an idea, or even a novel or screenplay.

Spring is also a time for cleaning up the dregs of winter. And I got pulled in so many directions over the last few months, that I have a lot of internal spring cleaning to do.

So be prepared for some crazy posts as I try to figure out what I'll be growing this spring. Hopefully it will be something wonderful and fun.