Building an Empire: Movies, TV Shows, & Graphic Novels

Just call me one of those wanna-be pop stars who think it's not enough to sing, but they must share with the world how pathetic their acting skills are and just in case we forget their anorexic you know what...they need to inspire a designer perfume or their own line of jewelry. I get it. Building an empire is a good long term strategy. God help me if this comes out a little narcissistic, but I don't just want a novel on a shelf. I want my books to take up an entire shelf. I want full displays in the front of the store. I want movies posters with hot actors and a prominent line that reads, "based off the novels of..." I know it's a lot to ask, but I sort of want to be iconic.


You never knew that about me did you?

It's not that I want to be super famous. No, I just want a nice safe cult following. I want to be respected by my peers and invisible to the world at large. I want to walk into a store, flip on the TV or walk into a movie theater and know that I helped make that possible.

I think this is why I'm spending so much time on this first novel. In the publishing world, you kind of only get one chance to enter the arena. I know a lot of authors who published just to publish. Some of them did self publishing (which is another rant I won't get into) and others downplayed their work, choosing to use a lesser known publisher or even write in a genre they don't like in order to just break in. But this isn't necessarily like the movies. In acting, you have to be in something to get into the guild and you have to be in the guild to get any roles. But in Publishing...if you're work is good enough, it will sell, whether you have a masters of English and were deemed a writing prodigy by a national competition, or if you wrote in your basement on weekends for ten years. If it's good, they will take you. But if you bomb on your first book--well nowadays, you might as well be blacklisted. There's no time for taking chances, no risk. The publisher wants to see dollars. They want the numbers to get higher with each book. If your first numbers are low and your second are lower, you're out of luck.

I just want to look at this manuscript and know that it is as good as I can make it at this moment. I want to know that the world on the page clearly mirrors the one in my head. I want to be able to sit back at the end of the day confident that somewhere out there, someone is reading my words, falling into my world and falling in love with my characters. When I get to that point. Then I'll be ready.

Manuscript Update: New Plot Takes Hold

Well, I am still making edits. It is taking a lot longer than I originally thought. But part of that has to with the fact that I am making some major plot changes along the way. The idea would horrify me, if the changes weren't so good. I spent about two hours researching the Crucifixion of Christ today. Who knew a novel about vampires would take me there? I'm going to have to stop though, because I can't afford to get caught up in research. I'm going to roll with this and keep hunting for answers along the way.

Twilgiht The Movie...

This might as well be the Stephenie Meyer Fan Site. I've got more to say about the Twilight books. Turns out they are making a movie...scheduled to go into production in February of 2008. They announced the actress who will be playing Bella Swan. She's perfect. Just what I imagined. She also looks familiar, although I can't put my finger on what she has been in. Her name is Kristen Stewart.

I also finished Eclipse last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been trying to figure out why. Isn't that silly? I just fell in love with the books and got this giddy feeling that I haven't felt in years. It's that fresh, puppy love, sheer intoxication that you get from discovering a new author, a new set of characters to put into your collection of favorites. It's such an exciting feeling. One that fuels my desire to write and see my books published. I love the idea of giving someone else that much joy. I love the idea of my characters calling to them...nagging them to hurry back and explore the world with them.

Maybe I am crazy. My dad thinks so. He recommended that I join a recovery program for readers. So what if everyone doesn't take a book with them to the movie theater. I had a logical reason for doing so. And it's a good thing to, because we saw Enchanted. Yuck.

Anyway...a toast, to new books and new loves!

The Twilight Series

I am reading a new book called Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I should be editing my own but I am too far into the book and now I can't stop reading. I read for about six hours yesterday and loved it. It is the greatest feeling in the world when you get so drawn into the story that the world around you passes by in a blur. For a moment all your problems go away and you can experience a new world, a new life.

This is actually a young adult series. I stumbled upon it at BN when looking for the Harry Potter books on tape. The books are huge--400 pages and up. Hard cover too. I didn't buy them then, but I reserved some at the library and the most recent book came in. So I started in the middle of the series, but I am okay with that. That is usually how it happens. Then I go back and re-read the rest.

This series is supernatural, like most of the stuff I read. It has a little light romance (which is good--it's the romantic chemistry and tension between characters that makes a story good. Not sex. ah hem.

I'm not sure what the plot is yet and I am 200 pages in. I know that this girl is in love with a vampire. I know that her childhood friend is a werewolf. I know that there is some treaty between the wolves and the vamps that keeps them from playing nice together. Unlike many of the paranormal romances on the shelves, this is not simply a teen novel with a vampire or witch thrown in. I wonder why it is that publishers think we want that?? Kind of like it's just a career choice. Make the protagonist a doctor and everyone who likes medical thrillers will read this book. Um no. They won't. Like wise, make the character a witch or a psychic and paranormal lovers will want to read this...isn't a strong enough motivator.

Stephenie has created a fabulous world. Not Harry Potter fabulous, but she has interesting histories behind the existence of vampires and wares. She doesn't simply play by the traditional rules...long fangs, dark eyes, garlic and tombs... This is fresh...and that is--well, refreshing.

It's also kind of nostalgic to remember what it was like being a kid again. The characters may have big supernatural problems, that the world around them can't understand, but they don't have to deal with the things adults do. And they are not necessarily as complex as adults. They act on their instincts, and their emotions. They aren't stressed with work and careers and sex and babies, and bills and all the things adults (both real and fictional) seem to be stressed with. They don't get all grown up and simply suck it up and do the right thing. Adults will sacrifice their heart to be mature and grown up. Do the responsible thing. Or if they don't, they at least worry about it. Teens, not as much. I don't know. That's just my general observation.

Minus the lack of is definitely a better read than some of the adult paranormal fiction out there.

Stephenie Meyer Talks About Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse

A closer look at Stephenie Meyer

Tales of a Black Friday...

Black Friday. Some people get it. Others don't. I don't mind though. That's one less person between me and the best deal of the year. You're probably surprised that I participate, given my aversion to mobs. And yes, I may get a little cranky because people don't seem to move as fast as I would like. But you may be forgetting one thing. I was practically born in a mall. Shopping is in my blood, and there is nothing my family likes more than a good deal. It's a bit like crack I would imagine--the rush you get from walking out of a store with a bag in your hand an knowing that you saved 50 bucks. And a good bargain hunter doesn't mean cheap, tacky or off-brand. A good bargain hunter knows how to find hot deals on quality product. And a true bargain hunter knows when to make sacrifices. Pre-dawn sales is just one of the many things we will do.

So what did I do? Where did I go? How did I get out alive...

Step 1: Plan Early, Plan Well.
Black Friday is not for the weak. We're talking 50-80% off of regular prices. So if you are going to run with the big boys you've better be prepared. It starts with an early morning thanksgiving trip to the grocery store. Why? Because one paper is just not enough. Every female in my family gets a paper. Including the dog. (Seriously. It's like cooking potatoes...g-ma says one for each person and two for the pot. You never know when someone is going to need an extra coupon.) My mother prefers to sort her ads be store type. This way she can look at all the electronics stores together, all the department stores, etc. Normally I would say she is crazy, but for a day like Black Friday, a little organization can make sure that you find the store with the best price.

Side note: If you are going to go searching for newspapers on Thanksgiving day be sure to turn off the sweet potatoes! We had a near catastrophe when my mom and grandmother left the potatoes on high and went to the gas station for papers. Why they both had to go...I'm not sure. But all of the street newspaper stands were sold out. My sister called me around ten to tell me that the house was full of smoke and the stove was sparking. My dad was in the shower...and she got the flames to go out, but just imagine if both of them had been sleep. The stupid smoke detector didn't even go off. Who knows where the dog was. Lesson here: don't be cheap and try to take two papers for the price of one out of a self-serve newspaper stand. Go to the store. And while you're there pick up extra sweet potatoes, just in case.

Step 2: Build an Entourage
It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes one to conquer the infamous door buster. Let's face it. The laws of physics do not change. You cannot be in two places at once. This presents a problem if you want to get high ticket deals at more than one store. An entourage/posse is the key to success. Last year I went to Best buy in search of some great deal...and was all on my own. I was doing well, stood in line, made it quickly into the store, find my item and then had to wait to check out. That's when disaster struck. My stomach started cramping up from the coffee I had drank at four in the morning. I was in desperate search of a bathroom, but I could not, under any circumstances get out of line. I tried calling for back up but my parent's had turned the ringer on the house phone off so that they could sleep undisturbed. I made it home...but it was not a pleasant situation to be in.

Aside from emergency situations, a companion has many advantages. One, it is a great bonding experience. You stand in line with friends, gossip, people watch...there is always something to laugh at. Once in the send one person to the check out line and one person with the gather the items. If you both go after things, you may have to wait an additional 30-60 minutes to check out and you certainly won't make it to the next store.

If you have a size able entourage, you can tackle multiple stores using this same strategy. The key here is having a list, staying mobile and always relying upon a cell phone. Once my mom and I had all of our packages at Circuit City, I left her in line and headed over to Target. I got her deals and mine and was in line by the time she arrived. With several people small groups can take on multiple stores. They can also give you a status update which can save you money, gas and a serious headache. Instead of having to go to a store that clearly doesn't have the one item you were looking can head straight to the one that does. Even if your friends refuse to get stuff for you, just getting the scoop is priceless. You might find out that the smaller circuit city on this side of town is at maximum capacity and they are letting people in one at a time as others leave. With this in mind you can go to the larger store where everyone is getting though the door.

Step 3: Become Techno Savvy.
With WiFi all over the city, there is no reason you shouldn't tap into the power of the Internet, from finding the best black Friday deals before turkey day, to making purchases online...this is your biggest advantage to date as not everyone is aware of or recognizes the benefit. When I went to buy my plasma TV, I knew all of the deals that were going to be offered this week and thus knew that I could get the TV I wanted on sale last week for the same price and not have to deal with the lines. I also knew that at some places, like circuit city, they will reimburse you for any price decreases within 30 days of your purchase. So I could have gotten the 50 inch samsung TV for $999 last week and been reimbursed this week when the Black Friday sale came out. If you frequent the websites that post the ads in advance you can research your purchase and even buy some in advance.

You can also buy many of the same deals online without leaving your home on Black Friday. I know that many of the Walmart stores were out of a digital camera, but what several people didn't know was that the item was still available online. And now, several sites allow you to check the availability of any product at a given store. I was looking for a video game and I could see that the only store that still had some was in an area of town I did not want to go to. So i don't need to waste my time or feel stressed about visiting several stores in search of this deal. Especially if the store I am in has the product but at a slightly higher price.

So how did I make out. This year I only bought a handful of things. That's because I got the TV last week. I am so happy I did not have to try and fight those crowds today for a TV. I am glad that I knew what I really wanted. I got my TV for $750 and it is 42 inches. With the money I saved I got three new Wii games. What good is a TV if you have nothing to watch.

Bottom line is you can't get angry or depressed because you missed out on a deal. Think of it more as a lottery. Sometimes your odds are better than others. You win and you lose. But if you don't get in the game you will never win. Keep it fun, eat breakfast together. Dress in layers. Make fun of the sales clerk. In a few hours it will all be over.

Power to the People: WGA Strike

Go baby Go! I love that the writers are striking for the first time since 1988. Good for them. Maybe I am a little biased, because I write for a living. Maybe the average person doesn't get it, because writing is not a blue collar job and they aren't out working in mines, or in factories or 24 hour nursing shifts. But writing is a field that is often underrated and unappreciated. I used to get very angry when the studios complained that pirating and copying DVDs was hurting them. Who gets all the publicity, the attention and the money...the actors. The faces that everyone sees on the big screen or in their home every week. I would argue that people don't fall in love with actors themselves. Haven't you loved a star and gotten really excited to see they had a new TV show coming out, only to be disappointed because the show wasn't any good. That starts with the writing. The writing is the heart of it all. (Kind of like Ohio.) It starts with the script, the screenplay.

I also wonder if people really understand what this strike is all about. I do not believe it is about selfishness, that these writers have the audacity to ask for more money. It is about new media. Do you think musicians only get paid for the CDs they sell but not for the mp3s? No way. In TV writing, you not only get paid for the number of episodes you deliver during a given season, but you get paid for the number of times the show is aired. If your show goes into syndication, just like the actors, just like the studio, just like the producers, you continue to get money. It is called a residual. It is similar in some aspects, to an author's or musicians royalties. So my point is, just because the media is changing doesn't mean that the writers don't have a right to their residuals. The studios don't want to increase the rate for which writers get paid based on Internet viewers, even though the viewership has grown dramatically in the last year itself. I believe there are also some concerns about DVD sales, but I couldn't find any terms explicitly referring to that on the WGA website (Writers Guild of America).

Regardless, I say go writers. This is why we live in America. Way to fight for your rights.