Adaptation Alert

Just about every writer has one or more projects on tap — a novel, short story, or play — that seems like a great candidate for TV or film. If you’re one of them, then you may want to check out this opportunity pronto: The deadline is August 15. The fee: $55.00.

The 4th Annual Book Pipeline Competition is on the hunt for material for film or television adaptations. Building on the success of the Script Pipeline writing competitions, which have discovered hundreds of new writers over the past 17 years, Book Pipeline’s goal is to get unique, compelling stories on the fast-track to film and TV production. The contest accepts any genre, fiction or non-fiction:

* Novels
* Non-fiction
* Plays
* Graphic Novels and comics
* Book proposals or pitches (fiction or non-fiction)
* Short stories

One Grand Prize Winner receives $10,000 and circulation to Lakeshore Entertainment (Million Dollar Baby, American Pastoral), QC Entertainment (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Good Fear Film + Management (Polaroid ), Silent R Management (Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins), in addition to other leading production companies, managers, and agencies best suited for developing the selected projects.

Most recently, Book Pipeline contest winner I am Ray Washington was optioned by Zero Gravity Management (Beasts of No Nation) in July 2017. Book Pipeline circulated the material to several production companies before the biography was picked up. Zach Fortier, the author of I Am Ray Washington notes:

“Prior to the option agreement, Book Pipeline pushed my book week after week, month after month to anyone who would listen to the potential Raymond Washington’s life story held. I am hopeful now that one day soon ‘I am Raymond Washington’ will on exist on either the small or big screen so audiences can learn of this amazing person….”

Finalists and semifinalists also receive personalized circulation to Script Pipeline’s network of over 100 producers and agencies, with long-term, ongoing assistance for the winner and finalists. Book Pipeline does not take a percentage of any future option or sale. All rights remain with the author, regardless of their final placement in the competition. Any genre is accepted, including children’s books and animation projects.

For more information visit: Write on!

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Striving Valiantly

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph, and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place will never be with the timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”    Theodore Roosevelt

What wonderful, inspiring words! They’re the words of a fighter, someone in the arena, who’s been flat on his back more than once and fought his way back. They were written more than 100 years ago, but they are as fresh and timely as if they were hot off the presses,
written just for us.

For each of us. Because all of us are in that arena along with Teddy. We may be battling life challenges that make it difficult to write. Or we may be battling writing challenges that make it hard to go forward and write on. Wherever we are and whatever we’re facing, we can take heart from Teddy’s words — and also remember — that we can read and rise to them because he wrote them down. He gave them to us as a fighter and as a writer.

So what wisdom is Teddy passing on to us? To my mind, he’s telling us:

The world belongs to those in the arena — those who are out there every day, battling for what they believe. We need to be “doers of deeds” — not standing on the sidelines.

When we strive valiantly — when we make things happen — it’s going to be messy. We’re going to be buffeted. We’re going to be bloodied. It’s the price we pay for being in the game.

Whenever we push forward and make the effort to do something worth doing, we’re going to take missteps, have false starts, and come up short — we’re going to face tough times, trials, reversals of fortune. Making progress means making mistakes.

If we spend ourselves in a worthy cause, though we’ll experience failure, we’ll also taste triumph — we will know victory. And it will be sweet!

Bravo, Teddy. Inspired and emboldened, let’s get out there in the arena — and write on!

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Whittling Words

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very.’ Otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” C.S. Lewis

Wordy writing — we’ve all been guilty of it: We are carried away with a description or an idea and before we know it, our prose become pudgy. I’m dealing with this right now in the latest revision of my children’s novel. I’m making major structural changes that involve building up some of my characters and well, some of my paragraphs are getting overstuffed. Right now, I’m just steaming ahead, but sometime soon, I’m going to have to trim it down.

When I do, I’m going to turn to Gail Radley, an English teacher and the author of 23 books. In “Cut the Fat: How to make your writing lean and mean,” a recent article in The Writer magazine (July, 2017), she offered some helpful tips:*

Don’t cut prematurely: “Targeting and removing excess is an essential revision activity — but worrying about it as you compose can choke the flow of thoughts.”

Cut in Waves: “Because we are used to speaking, seeing, and writing excess, it usually takes multiple passes to notice and cut the fat from a manuscript. These passes are best done over several days, so each scan feels fresh. If you can set aside the manuscript for a month, all the better.”

Adhere to a word count:  “Having to adhere to a strict word count is helpful as it forces you to question each word and phrase (So, by the way, does writing poetry; I recommend it as an exercise even if it isn’t your preferred genre.)”

Cut strategically and incisively:  “Cutting excess may allow for more ideas. Even if you don’t have a word limit, challenge yourself to cut 300 words from a manuscript of 1,000 without losing content.”

Use words, not phrases:  “Make it a rule to substitute a word for a phrase.” Example: Change “You and I see the same movie” to “We see the same movie.”

Revision is challenging, but the leaner our prose is the easier it is for our readers to absorb our ideas and keep moving through our stories. Write on!

* For more helpful revision tips, check out the full article, “Cut the Fat” in the July 2017 issue of The Writer.

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Outside Influences

“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.”    Henry David Thoreau

When the weather’s balmy, I really enjoy sitting on my porch and writing. If it’s quiet (a challenge in suburban New Jersey!), I find that being among green, rustling leaves and
chirping birds lifts me up and slows me down. And since “a relaxed mind is a creative mind” (my favorite Yogi teabag quote), I find that new ideas often come to me that enrich and embolden my writing.

While some of us find that creating in our own writing space works best, taking a break to work outside in a park, on a porch or by the water — whether at home or while on vacation can be a fun and enlivening way to keep your creativity juices flowing. In a recent post on “En Plein Air” — the French phrase for “the act of painting outdoors” — Writer’s Relief* captured some of the benefits of writing outside:

Focus improves: We all fight against distractions when we write — especially social media. But those nagging piles of laundry or To-Do lists can also chip away at our creativity and writing resolve. When we’re outside, these should-do’s and distracting digital distractions aren’t part of our literary landscape. This can not only help with focusing, it can also reduce fatigue and allow us to write with greater energy and staying power.

Senses are more acute: When we’re outside and surrounded by nature, our sensitivity to sounds and sights often intensifies. Freed from our inside work spaces, where everything is familiar, we can listen more closely to the songs of birds or watch a squirrel jump from tree to tree or feel the soothing touch of a breeze against our skin. This heightens our awareness and provides sensory experience that can enrich and enliven our stories.

Creativity is enhanced: Break free of routine and resituate yourself geographically, and you may find that you become unmoored, freer, less constrained. Under the vastness of the sky and surrounded by trees that have survived and thrived with timeless ease, you can find yourself thinking more expansively and entering brave new worlds that might not open themselves to you in your everyday environment.

One of the pleasures of scrivening is that it’s a portable pursuit. So, why not pack up your writing gear and head outside, where the livin’ — and the thinkin’ — are easy. Write on!

* Writers Relief is a well-established author advisory and submission service. If you need help with publication, check it out:

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“All Inventors”

“We are all inventors, each sailing our on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, Ralph, Ralph! What an intrepid troubadour of the spirit you are and how your words sparkle and shine, lighting our way!

We are “all inventors” and “the world is all gates” — what an uplifting, inspiring vision of our role and the page. Let’s take Ralph at his word and meet today with him as our navigator. What would the day look like if we did this? Here are a few guideposts:

As inventors, we’d have we’d be curious and willing to tinker and try different approaches until we found the one that worked best.

As inventors, we’d bring a spirit of playfulness to our day, a kind of joyful expectancy that a baby has, when everything is fresh and new and amazing.

As inventors, we’d bring ingenuity and creativity to the page, spinning out sentences and then lassoing them and whirling them around this way and that. We’d come up with three or five different ways to advance our plots and a raft of juicy words to describe our characters and the conflicts we plunge them into.

As inventors, we might take Edison as our model and remember that “Inspiration is 99 percent perspiration” — and once we generated lots of ideas, we’d keep working at them with patience and persistence until they yielded gold.

And if the world were “all gates,” how would we feel about it?

When “the world is all gates,” it’s a friendly, welcoming place and we can find our way through it with clarity and calm rather than angst and struggle.

When “the world is all gates,” anything is possible — the sky is the limit. No avenue for getting our work out into the world is closed to us. No gatekeepers bar our way.

When “the world is all gates,” we have ease of being — we know the right path for us. Our inner guide and the opportunities we pursue are in harmony — and all is well.

What a pleasure it would be to labor in the vineyards of a world so open and inviting — and one in which our inventiveness meets opportunities without struggle or strain!

What’s your story about all this? If Ralph has a better one, why not embrace it and see what happens? Let’s choose to be inventors today and see the world full of open gates. Write on!

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Something Wonderful

Where Go the Boats?

Dark Brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castle of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating —
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

Robert Louis Stevenson, from
A Child’s Garden of Verses

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Poetic Prose

“You’re only as good a writer as you are a reader of poetry.”    Natalie Eilbert

“And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.”    Pablo Neruda

In a recent issue of The Writer magazine (July, 2017), an interview with author Rion Amilcar Scott caught my eye. Rion teaches English and his story collection, Insurrections, won the prestigious PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

When asked what the most important thing he’d learned as a writer is, Rion said,  “I read at least a poem a day even though I no longer write poetry…. Reading poetry every day makes your language more fluid. It makes you more attuned to the weight of words and more conversant with image and metaphor. I watched in horror at the stiffness of my sentences until this little trick thoroughly remade me.

“Right now, I’m reading a collection called, Let it Die Hungry by Caits Meissner. Some poets I return to are Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Martin Espada, Derek Walcott… there are more. Oh, and [Pablo] Neruda. Neruda always.”

What a  joyful way to enrich our writing! The compact worlds poems create can help us conjure up our own.  Consider this short but precise gem by Christina Rossetti, shared with my Poetry Appreciation Group by author and cherished KWD reader, Toby Stein:

Sea-sand and Sorrow

What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? to-day and to-morrow:
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep? the ocean and truth.

Isn’t it amazing how much meaning and emotion are packed into these handful of words? To enjoy a poem every day — what a delicious treat! There’s even a fabulous online site called Poetry Breakfast I was alerted to by gifted poet and cherished KWD reader Ron Bremner. Sign up for free and it delivers a daily nourishing poem to your digital doorstep.

So, here’s a little ditty to inspire you to add poetry to your daily menu:

A poem a day/ Is a joyful way/ To feed your words/So they dance and sway. Write on!



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