Join me at Pitchfest!

Leo and Carey Great Gatsby

Hey, if it happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald, it can happen to you.

One of America's most celebrated authors died penniless, his greatest opus, The Great Gatsby, nearly forgotten…

Except by Hollywood.

Since his death, his book,  has been adapted for the screen an extraordinary five times.

It's also been an opera, a ballet, a musical, a straight play, and get this: two video games.

 Can you increase the odds that your book will find its way onto the silver screen?

Is a novel an alternative route to get your screenplay into the hands of producers?

The answer to both these questions is a resounding yes. To find out how, join me in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 1, 2013, where I'll giving a workshop with the incomparably divine Laurie Scheer at Pitchfest called, "Adapting your Screenplay as a Book" .

Details are below.

It'll be worth it,

— Josie

 

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan
in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby 

Adapting Your Screenplay as a Book
4:30pm – 6:00pm – Academy Five
with Josie Brown & Laurie Scheer
So, you’ve pitched your screenplay and a few agents have said, “I could sell that idea if it were a novel.” Know that you’re not alone. So, what should you do? Josie Brown, best-selling novelist and Laurie Scheer, d-girl extraordinaire and publishing mentor, guide you through a workshop presentation that includes in-class exercises, tangible examples, and an extensive Q&A segment to help you determine how your screenplay will look as a book. With the majority of studio projects being produced from existing properties and franchises (books, comics, games, apps, etc.), adapting your screenplay into book form is an option many screenwriters have found success doing—and many others are considering it. Before you begin the process of writing prose vs. script, there are a few elements you need to know.

 
Click here to register for Pitchfest 

Click below to see a trailer from the movie, THE GREAT GATSBY


Olivia Luccardi has been added to the cast of NBC’s Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Secret Lives ahb This just in, from The Hollywood Reporter! Another new castmember has been added to the NBC drama, based on my novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. (I know my son will ask me to set him up with her…Hey, I'm just the writer of the original material. He'll have to go to someone with "producer" in their title…)

Click here to order the book, on Amazon…

–Josie

 

Olivia Luccardi has joined the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced project starring James Tupper and Martin Henderson.

Olivia Luccardi Headshot - P 2012
Olivia Luccardi

NBC's The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives is welcoming a newcomer to the mix.

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama pilot has added newcomer Olivia Luccardi to the main cast, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

Based on the Josie Brown book, the project is described as a thriller/dramatic soap about the lingering aftermath of a murder. Luccardi will play India Deaver, the angry and uncommunicative daughter of Danielle (Perrey Reeves) and Richard Deaver (James Tupper). Martin Hendersonand Jesse L. Martin will co-star.

Husbands and Wives marked Luccardi's first pilot audition ever.

From Warner Bros. Television, Bruckheimer will executive produce alongside Sascha Penn, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed. Penn will write the pilot.

Luccardi, repped by One Entertainment, will guest star in a season two episode of HBO's Girls when it returns Jan. 13. Her previous credits consist of two short films.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube

 

Lauren Allen joins the cast of the NBC TV show based on my novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

Love it! Another actress has been cast in Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. I loved Lauren Allen in Awake, so I'm sure she'll be great in the show.

Check it out below, from Deadline Hollywood…

— Josie


Laura Allen Joins NBC’s ‘Husbands And Wives’

Laura Allen has been cast as one of the leads in NBC’s pilot The Secret Lives Of Husbands And Wives. The thriller/dramatic soap is from Jerry Bruckheimer TV and writer Sascha Penn and revolves around the lives of several couples. Allen, repped by Gersh and Impression Entertainment, will play Alison Dunn, a grounded and levelheaded mother and wife who happens to be hiding the darkest secret of all. It’s a return to NBC for Allen, who was cast in a supporting role then bumped up to female lead on the network’s Awake.

Nellie Andreeva

REVENGE’s James Tupper is another new cast member in the TV show based on my novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

This just in, from Hollywood Reporter! Love it! — Josie

'Revenge's' James Tupper Joins NBC's 'Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives' Pilot (Exclusive)

6:28 PM PDT 10/10/2012 by Lesley Goldberg

The "Grey's Anatomy" alum will play Richard Deaver, a family man with a secret troubled and dangerous personality.

James Tupper Portrait - P 2011

James Tupper is heading to NBC.

The Revenge and Grey's Anatomy alum has joined the network's Jerry Bruckheimer drama pilot The Secret Lives of Husbands and WivesThe Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

STORY: NBC Pilot 'Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives' Finds Lead in Martin Henderson

Based on the Josie Brown book of the same name, the pilot is described as thriller and dramatic soap about the lingering aftermath of a murder. Off the Map's Martin Hendersonwill star as Kyle Dunn, a former flight surgeon and astronaut who returns from a long absence to find something is different about the life he left behind.  

Tupper will play Richard Deaver, a likable and fun guy who moves to town with his wife and daughter to open a real estate business, but underneath his nice exterior is a troubled and dangerous personality.

STORY: Jerry Bruckheimer Soapy Thriller Gets Pilot Order at NBC

From Warner Bros. Television, Bruckheimer will executive produce alongside Sascha Penn, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed. Penn will write the pilot.

Entourage's Perry Reeves and Rent'Jesse L. Martin will co-star in the drama.

Repped by ICM Partners, Untitled Entertainment and Jackoway Tyerman, Tupper's credits also include Mercy and Men in Trees.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

 


OUR EDITOR RECOMMENDS

 

SECRET LIVES TV Show — Jesse L. Martin Added to the Cast

I'm so glad to hear Jesse L. Martin has been added to the cast of the TV show based on my novel Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, since I love him on SMASH. Check it out in Deadline Hollywood.

— Josie

 

Nellie Andreeva Jesse L. Martin To Star In NBC’s ‘Secret Lives Of Husbands & Wives’ Pilot

Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin is set to star opposite Martin Hendersonin the Jerry Bruckheimer-producedNBC drama pilot The Secret Lives Of Husbands And WivesIt is described as thriller-dramatic soap that centers on a murder and the secrets and lies within a tightly woven group of three suburban couples and their families exposed in its aftermath.

JesseMartin__120914173927Martin will play half of one of the couples, Greg Cooke, a perpetual frat boy and former hedge fund manager whose faltering finances force him into partnering with an unsavory business associate. Also starring in the pilot are Perrey Reeves and Nicole Ari Parker. Martin, repped by ICM Partners and manager Bob McGowan, is recurring on NBC’s Smash this season, and he signed on do the pilot after the schedules for the two NBC projects could be worked out. Helping the matter is the fact that both Smash and Secret Lives are shooting in New York.

Enter my contest for The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-FinalYippee, skippee, the second book in my Housewife Assassin series has launched: 

The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing

Buy it from 

Amazon

Donna and Jack are in to all kinds of trouble–the kind of hot mess that can cause an  international incident:

A nuclear arms summit, hosted by a politically-connected American billionaire industrialist, provides the perfect opportunity for a rogue operative to assassinate of the newly-elected Russian president on US soil. Acme operative Donna Stone's mission:

Seek and exterminate the shooter, before all hell–and World War III–break loose.

Not to mention what happens when Donna files for divorce.

Throw in a couple of off-the-map school field trips and a few naughty neighbors, you've got a whole lot of fun.

To celebrate, I'm doing two things:

First, I've lowered the price of 
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook to 99 cents! 

Also, right now I've got a brand new contest going. 
On Midnight PT, on Sunday, December 15, 2012, 
I'll be drawing the name of some lucky winner 
for a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice.

To enter, all you have to do is read the excerpt here, then answer this question:

What is the name of the song Prince Harry is dancing to, and who sings it?

All correct answers, must be emailed to be at MailFromJosie@gmail.com to be automatically be entered.

I'll be posting the potential winners here…

And guess what? 

Gift-cardYou can add bonus points! Each point equals an extra entry for you. Here's how:

– Click the "Like" button for The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, on either Amazon (1 point) or BN.com (1 point).

– If you've read it, give a review for The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, on Amazon (1 point), on BN.com (1 point), and iTunes Bookstore (1 point). Also, you can review it on Goodreads.com (1 point). 

(If you haven't read it already, you're in luck! It's only 99 cents, during this contest period!)

– If' you've read it, give a review to The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing on Amazon (1 point). Soon it will be up on BN.com (1 point), and Apple iTunes Bookstore. So you can do it there, too. Also, be sure to put up a review on  Goodreads.com (1 point). 

– If you haven't done so already, sign up for my eLetter (1 point). If your name is already in my eLetter list, you'll automatically get a bonus point, as soon as you correctly answer the question above.

– Friend me on Facebook (1 point) at http://www.Facebook.com/josiebrownauthor

– Friend me on Twitter (1 point) at http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA

Remember: each bonus action means an additional point! 

Email me with any bonus points, and I'll be sure to include them.

You. Will. Love. It,

— Josie

*Cover design: Andrew Brown, ClickTwiceDesign.com. Thanks, Andy, for another great cover!

Martin Henderson joins the cast of SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

Once again, Deadline Hollywood has it covered!

— Josie


Deadline Hollywood
Martin Henderson To Star In NBC’s ‘Secret Lives Of Husbands & Wives’ Pilot

By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Thursday October 4, 2012 @ 2:00pm PDT 


Martin Henderson (ABC’s Off The Map) has been cast as one of the leads in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced NBC drama pilot Secret Lives Of Husbands And Wives.

It is described as thriller-dramatic soap that centers on a murder and the secrets and lies within a tightly woven group of three suburban couples and their families exposed in its aftermath. Henderson will play Kyle Dunn, a former flight surgeon and astronaut who returns home — after a prolonged absence — to live with his family and discovers that things are not as they seem.

Henderson, repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Warren Dern, joins recently cast Perrey Reeves and Nicole Ari Parker.

Another super fabulous actress has been cast in SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES!

Yes, I am BESIDE myself! Last week word went out that another super-fantastic actress will be starring in the NBC television show based on my book, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives: Nicole Ari Parker has starred on Broadway as well as films and television. Here's the deelio:

Nellie AndreevaNicole Ari Parker Cast In ‘Secret Lives’ NBC Pilot

EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Ari Parker has been cast as one of the leads in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced NBC drama pilot The Secret Lives Of Husbands And WivesIt is described as thriller-dramatic soap that centers on a murder and the secrets and lies within a tightly woven group of three suburban couples and their families exposed in its aftermath. Parker will play half of one of the three couples, Paula, a tough and strikingly beautiful trophy wife who, after 12 years of a troubled marriage, questions whether to stay with her husband because of love or respect… all while having no idea that he is financially ruined. She joins Perret Reeves, recently cast as another wife. Parker, repped by Gersh and KLWGN, is coming off a full Broadway run of A Streetcar Named Desireopposite Blair Underwood.

 

Fab news! ENTOURAGE’s Perrey Reeves has been cast for SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES on NBC!

Nellie AndreevaCheck it out in DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD:

EXCLUSIVE: In her first major series gig since the end of HBO’s Entourage, Perrey Reeves has been cast as one of the leads in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced NBC’s drama pilot The Secret Lives Of Husbands And Wives. The project written by Sascha Penn, was inspired by Josie Brown’s 2010 novel.

The project, from Warner Bros. TV and Jerry Bruckheimer TV,
is described as thriller-dramatic soap that centers on a murder and the
secrets and lies within a tightly woven group of three suburban couples
and their families exposed in its aftermath. Reeves will play half of
one of the three couples, Danielle Deaver, described as flirty and funny
woman with a tightly wound personality and a dark secret that not even
she knows about. Reeves, repped by Paradigm and Mosaic, is best known
for playing Ari Gold’s (Jeremy Piven) outspoken wife Mrs. Ari on all
eight seasons of the Hollywood comedy.

Secret Lives400   Yes you'll want to read the book, before the show is on the air:

 

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Books a Million

From Books Inc.

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #11: What It Takes to Write a Novel.

Chapterbook2008I got a very sweet email from a reader once, who asked if I could go to an online post where her sister had written a book, read it, and give her encouragement.

I have a sister. If I weren't already published, I could see her wanting to help me in this way.

I had to decline, for several reasons: I had a pending deadline to meet with my editor, and a book launch. When under deadline, I have to keep my head down, and doing my own plotting and scheming.

In fact, I shouldn't even be writing this post, but it touched me so much that one sister would reach out to a perfect stranger to help another.

There are other reasons published authors decline. For example, if they followed through on every request they got to the same question, they would never be writing at all. Others decline for legal reasons: they never want someone coming back and saying, "She used my plot!"

So did Shakespeare, and he's been dead for four hundred years. Go figure.

If she — or you — are  serious about her writing, that is, if you see writing fiction more as a craft (and possibly a livelihood) than a hobby, you should immediately join (or at least go to a first couple of meetings of) one of the many writers organization that nurture aspiring writers, such as Romance Writers of America or Mystery Writers of America.

Here's the beauty part; you have to write in these genres in order to join.

There are local chapters all over the country (and in RWA, they even have national online chapters for specific genres, such as YA, Paranormal, Regency, etc).

By doing so, you will learn from others the ins and outs of the craft (plotting, dialogue, voice, etc.) as well as the "business" end: how to team up with a lit agent, who will put you in front of an editor who "gets" your voice ; or how to self-publish, if you are anxious to see it out in the world in a shorter time frame. (Going the agent to editor to pub date could take two years or more, on average).

These organizations have guest speakers who are published authors who share with you their own bumps in the road on their journeys to publication. You'll take workshops. You'll listen to literary agents explain their end of the business.

And if they sell what you write, you can give them your elevator pitch. Who knows, it may be a match made in heaven.

This, my friend, is an aspiring writer's life.

(A published author's life is a whole OTHER post. But not for today. Like I said, I've gotta keep my head down. As if.)

Within a writers' group, she'll make friends with other writers, both published and aspiring, who may be looking for "critique partners:"  others who will read it and give advice on where she can strengthen a plot point, or her dialogue.

In other words, an ongoing support group.

Almost every published author I know (including me) has found some success in this route, so I want to pass it forward.

My very own RWA Chapter, in San Francisco, actually put together a book for aspiring writers. Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections, is filled with insightful essays of life in the trenches. You should check it out. In fact, you'll find an essay or two from me in there.

I've also written a slew of creative writing tips in celebration of last year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

If you don't have time to go this route, perfectly understandable. I wish you luck on your own road  to publication. I'm just hoping to pass along a shortcut in an industry which is changing so rapidly that you need a hovercraft to get to your destination: publishing novels, and being successful at it.

Warp speed, writer!

— Josie

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READ ALL OF MY NaNoWriMo TIPS, IN ORDER, HERE…

__________________________________________

I've got a question for you, and be honest:  Have you psyched yourself out about writing? If so, can you now psyche yourself UUP, and START writing? 

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

Time to spread more cheer! Enter my new contest…

Beautiful-christmas-tree
This year, I've had some blessings I'd like to share:

– THE BABY PLANNER tour was hosted by real baby planners, numerous sponsors, and retail stores all over the country. Thanks to all of you whom I met along the way. You can find a list of them, here…

-  SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES will produced by Jerry Bruckheimer as a new ABC TV series.

– Readers are rediscovering my debut novel, TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES. In fact, it's ranked below 900 on Amazon.com.

This contest is my way to say thank you. Just  read an excerpt of THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK, answer the question at the end correctly for a chance to win a $25 gift card from the any bookstore, with a personally autographed copy of SECRET LIVES. Two runners -up will also received personalized copies.

The deadline is midnight PT January 15, 2012, For details, go to www.HousewifeAssassinsHandbook.com

Wishing you a wonderful holiday, and a healthy and happy 2012,

–Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2
 Read an excerpt of
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 
 Today, on

 Nook-button AmazonKindleButtonItunes_01

 

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #25: Do you really need a literary agent? Maybe. Here’s when.

Ari Gold

Now that National Novel Writing Month is almost over and your novel seems so real to you (50,000 words will do that, right?) you must also be thinking about how your book will find readers.

Traditionally, you'd be tossed onto a publishing editor's slush pile and pray to be discovered. 

With the shrinking of publishing house staffs, that slush pile is now the domain of the literary agent.

But many an author will ask: are agents still necessary in a day and age of independent book publishing? 

I've been published both ways, and my thought is this:

Yes.

Many of the authors I know feel this way, too. Like me, they have their feet in both worlds: they still sell to “New York” (where most of the major publishing houses have their offices) but they also independently publish their solely-owned backlists, or novels that have never found homes, or a variety of experimental projects.

Frankly, it’s the best of both worlds.

Why? Because to publishing houses, you are only as good as the sales of your last book. I’ve known previously best-selling authors who have been kicked to the curb by their publishing houses, just because their sales numbers fell short of what they had done two years before.

Is it fair to blame the author? I don’t think so, considering all the marketing factors that are out of their control. Most don’t get any say-so on their covers. And the publishing industry isn’t as progressive as other industries in creating brands for their authors – let alone developing brand awareness with key target audiences. Rather, they have relied on a narrow retail channel (big chain bookstores for most books; and independent bookstores for a smaller, select group of books).

And sadly, they have been slow to build awareness to their own brands: their name, and the various imprints within their houses.

In the larger marketplace of the Internet, branding and name awareness is key. Knowing your audience and reaching it will make or break a brand.

Every author is a brand. You are the biggest cheerleader for your brand and your manuscript.

But no writer is an island. It takes a village to sell a book: you (to write it) an agent (to sell it) and an editor, or producer, or whoever to buy it, and (prayerfully) market it properly—

So that you sell lots of copies to readers.

Which brings up the question of the day: what is the role of the agent in this brave new world?

Here’s how I see it:

First and foremost, your agent will be making your deals with publishing houses. 
Doing so is an agent's bread and butter. They work on commission. The more sales they make – and the more costly the acquisition – the happier they and their clients will be. It is also the best way for them to grow their own reputations.

Agents know what editors are looking for.
Agents know what genres are aging out, and which genres are getting hot (again). For example, if you write westerns, you’re probably hitting the reader zeitgeist just about…

NOW.

Well, guess what? Even if you were bought today, your book wouldn’t be hitting the bookshelves for another eighteen months —  just when you’re genre is, hopefully, due to be hot again.

Your agent will have great insights on what will make your manuscript even stronger.
The best agents read what you write, and give copious notes on how to make it stronger. Why? Because you don't need a yes man. You need a partner in selling your book to an editor.  

Your agent will be making your deals with other media platforms.
The explosion of television networks is a great opportunity for authors. Even if your agent hasn’t sold you to a publisher, s/he may be able to get you in the hands of a producer who is actively seeking to adapt books for film or TV. In fact, most literary agents are smart enough to network and co-venture with talent agents who work in the fields of movies and television.

Here's a perfect example: my wonderful literary agent, Holly Root, thought my novels would translate well in other media. There were several talent agencies — and agents within those agencies — she could have paired me with. She felt the best match was CAA. She was right. My agent there was diligent in sending my novels out to producers whom he felt would see their potential. A year and two months after my novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, hit bookshelves, it was optioned by movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who promptly pitched it to ABC television as a dramatic series. It will be hitting the airwaves next year. That is pretty quick turnaround. Some novels take years to get that kind of notice from Hollywood. 

A great agent is a great sales person. S/he will always be looking for opportunities to sell your book. And your next. And your next. 

As technology forces the world of publishing to change, the role of the agent will change as well, too. The services they provide their clients will have to get broader. My guess is that these services will include all other things that help expand brands in other industries: name awareness (promotion) and  product positioning. 

So how do you get an agent? That will be tomorrow’s post…

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

Picture: You may not want ENTOURAGE'S Ari Gold as your agent, but your literary agent might co-agent with someone like Ari who can help you sell  your manuscript into television or the movies. It's the way we live now.

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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I've got a question for you: Have you already tried to get an agent? How did that go?

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Chapter doesn’t work? Fix it in “post.”

THE-HOUR
Both my husband and I have broadcast backgrounds. One very important lesson we learned in those previous gigs serves us well when we're editing text articles or, in the case of National Novel Writing Month, novels:

Should you feel something isn't working on your project, you can always fix it later.

Broadcast producers can always rely on post-production: the time spent in the production booth, editing the footage shot or recorded for the project. If, while shooting the segment, what you're getting on camera runs too long (exposition; needless scenes, etc), or the subject stutters or talks too much (dialogue) — you rarely say "Cut" and start over. Instead, you'd wait until you were in the studio and saw the raw footage to determine which scenes needed to be trimmed.

The same goes for your manuscript. You job over the next few weeks is to put the story on the page. Afterward, you'll go through it page by page, chapter by chapter. If something reads false, go ahead and chop and dice it, until it reads to your satisfaction. 

This won't happen in second draft either. You'll go through several drafts before you're truly pleased with your work.

Even after it sells to a publishing house (YES IT WILL SELL; YOU MUST BELIEVE THAT) you'll get notes back from your editor on how a scene or character should be tweaked. Then it will go through copy edits, where someone with a better grasp than you of grammar and syntax will take a shot at it, as well.

Because when it's ready for its public debut, your readers deserve the best story possible.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

The photo above is from the BBC TV series, THE HOUR, which is one of my favorite shows. It looks at broadcast journalism in London, during the 1950s.

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READ YESTERDAY'S  TIP, HERE…

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I've got a question for you, and be honest: How many times do you read a chapter before you write the next one?

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #6: When your “backstory” should be the story.

HarryPotter

During National Novel Writing Month, many an aspiring novelist will start with a great character. He will know his hero backwards and forward, as if he is his very best friend.

He'll describe how the hero looks, down to the cleft in his chin. He'll know about his childhood, his teen angst, his tribulations and his desires.

But now that it's time to give his hero something to do, the writer stalls out.

Why does this happen?

Because in this case, the backstory is the story.

So why not move it front and center?

If you can answer yes to these four questions, then the Muse is trying to tell you (HELLOOOOO!) that the better book to write starts where your hero first intrigued you:

1. When describing your book to others, do you find yourself spending more time describing your hero's past, but get stuck on telling what will happen to him in the book?

2. Is half of what you wrote in your synopsis his backstory?

3. Did it take all of Chapter One to describe your character before you realized you had nowhere to go with Chapter Two?

4. Do you find yourself rewriting the details of your hero's past, because it's more interesting than considering his future?

Take a broad hint: There is gold in the hills of his backstory.

Harry Potter is a perfect example of this. Can you imagine if J.K. Rowling had started her epic story with, say, Book 6 The Half-Blood Prince — when Harry was already at Hogwarts and just realizing his true role in a world turning darker, more sinister? Surely this book in the series and the seventh, could  have been tweaked to stand-alone…

But consider how much was gained by knowing so much more of Harry's backstory.

That's because it was never just his backstory. It was the story.

Bottom line: start at the real beginning: when you first realized that your hero intrigued you.

Maybe it was when he did that old-soul thing at age three. Or when he had his first kiss. Or when he accidently drove his parent's car into the lake.

Not all stories were meant to start where we want them to begin. Sometimes they start earlier, or later.

If you start your story at a point that is most interesting in your character's life, your readers will be sucked along on his journey, too.

So take them along for the ride. 

It ain't the prequel. It's the beginning of a wonderful friendship between your hero and your reader.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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I've got a question for you: Which character's backstory would you have liked to have read about, as a book?

For me, it is the character of Ethan Gage, in the wonderful historical suspense series by William Dietrich. We know that Ethan once studied under Benjamin Franklin. it would be a hoot to see his antics stateside, before we're introduced to him in Napoleon's Pyramids.

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #5: Show, don’t tell.



Because your goal each day of National Novel Writing Month is a word count, it's very easy to fall into a common trap: writing long passages of narration or exposition.

In other words, telling your readers, either via a narrator or the omnipotent third person, what is happening to your characters.

Do yourself a favor and FIGHT this temptation. 

Why? Because what you're doing is "telling," not "showing," your readers.

Instead, craft your scenes with dialogue. It is much more interesting to your readers to have your characters talk to each other. 

No doubt, narration or exposition is also important: for adding atmosphere, for setting up your scenes, for describing where the scenes take place, or how the characters look or feel.  

And it utilizes takes more words than dialogue.

But if your characters don't verbalize their thoughts to each other, they aren't interacting normally.

For the majority of us, telepathy isn't a human trait: all the more reason your characters need to open their mouths to express their feelings.

If you're having a hard time moving from tell to show, pretend you're writing a play. What dialogue would you add to each scene? 

Snappy dialogue. Snarky asides. Anger. Heartfelt revelations. All of these expressed emotions make scenes come alive, and make your readers laugh with — or more importantly, fall in love with — your characters. 

This NaNoWriMo first draft may not be on par with Arthur Miller or Edward Albee or William Shakespeare, but it will go a long way to being completed if it engages readers.

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? Certainly not you!

(c) 2100 Josie Brown.

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HERE'S YESTERDAY'S TIP…

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NaNoWriMo Tip #4: Meet your word count first; edit it later.

JacksonPollock
One analogy about the tips you often hear regarding National Novel Writing Month is to imagine your your sentences as strands of spaghetti that you toss onto the wall of your manuscript.

As with any wall that gets covered with wet noodles and tomato sauce, at some point it either looks like a mess—

Or, like a work of art. 

After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Remember: you are your own Jackson Pollock. This project is just the first of your many masterpieces.

You'll have a natural inclination to go back, re-read it, and edit what you wrote.

Don't.

Why? Because the whole purpose of NaNoWriMo is to put as many words on the page as you can in these precious thirty days.

If you''re spending an hour — or worse yet, a full day — honing a specific page (or paragraph, or sentence) you will NEVER make your word count. The sheer weight of writing — and endless re-writing — are like ankle weights strapped onto a marathon runner: well before you reach the finish line, you will collapse in exhaustion.

Right now, you have only one goal: those 50,000 words, which is about two-thirds or half a standard manuscript submitted for publication, depending on the book.

After your thirtieth day, having reached your 50,000 words, most definitely you should re-read your story.

And re-read it again. And again.

And rewrite it. Continually.

Take note of misspellings, phrasing that is awkward, scenes that are deadly, and characters who don't move the plot forward.

The time you take to reshape your manuscript is what makes it a masterpiece, not how many words it is, or that you even finished it.

Your characters have to be engaging.

Your plot has to challenge them, give them moral dilemmas.

Your story has to be satisfying to your reader.

But your first step is to move that story from your head to the page.

Because ultimately, others want to read your masterpiece, too.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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Okay, now, tell the truth: Are you meeting your word count? And tell me why, or why not…

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #3: Don’t give up.

Boogie-man
Despite the fact that it is only Day 3 of National Novel Writing Month, I'm willing to bet that, before the clock strikes midnight tonight, one-tenth of everyone who began with high hopes of meeting their writing goals each day will have missed today's deadline…

And by tomorrow evening, they will have completely given up the ghost on the ideal of writing their book.

Don't let that person be you.

The only one who can defeat you from finishing your novel, then pitching it to an agent who sees its merit and wants to present it to publishers is YOU.

Yes, you heard me: you are your Boogie Man.

Your voice is the one whispering those niggling doubts that anyone will love your characters as much as you do.

No one taunts you more about your quirky sentence structure.

Only you think that your dialogue sucks, and that your plot has nowhere to go.

Do you see a pattern here? 

Defeat comes from within.

Well, guess what? So does faith.

If you don't believe wholeheartedly in your book, no agent will, either. 

If an agent never sees it, neither will any pub house editor.

And The Book That Never Was will be your greatest personal defeat.

It doesn't have to be.

Writing a book is not easy. Drawing from deep within that fantasy world within your brain and pouring it all out on (digital) paper is a skill that is honed one sentence at a time, and many drafts later.

In time, you will weave those sentences into the tapestry of your great story: one with tightly-woven plot threads that will awe all who have the chance to read it: first your critique partners, then the right agent, then an editor who is just excited about it as you —

And finally, a legion of fans, all of whom will be hungry to read your next book.

My first novel was sold as part of a two-book deal. When I broke this wonderful news to my sister, she was very excited for me, for all of about twenty seconds. Then, in a hushed voice, she asked: "But–they can't make you write another one…can they?"

Make me? Write another book?

Hell yeah, twist my arm…

Because it's what I do.

Whether anyone else believes I can do it or not, I write.

Hey, trust me: I have my own Boogie Man.

He fills me with doubts that the muse will some day kick me to the curb.

He tries to convince me that I'll lose my ability to tweak some real-life situation into a great "what if."

And that, one day, I'll just not care; that I will give up the need to write, to practice my art.

His stale breath has been wheedling doubts in my ear through three agents, four pub houses, and at least a dozen unsold manuscripts.

In fact, he was there last night, taunting me about a book proposal that went out just yesterday. He wants me to believe that it will be laughed out of every publishing house it's been sent to…

Well, he's wrong.

I may not have a magic force field to keep him out of my life, but I have a silver bullet that stops him dead in his tracks, every time:

I believe in my book.

Just like I've believed in all my books, even when others didn't.

I've now got a body of work to prove it. My books have found avid, appreciative audiences.

Yours will, too.

How about you?  Do you believe in your story, your characters, about your vision of a life as a writer?

Then start writing it. Again.

Put those words down on the page. Set a daily goal for yourself, and meet it. Trust me, you won't be writing REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM over and over.

To paraphase Winston Groom, author of  Forrest Gump, writing is a bowl of cherries.

Now, in a paraphrasical mashup of Mr. Groom and Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather: 

Drop the Boogie Man. Take the bowl of cherries. 

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

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Here's yesterday's  Tip #2…

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— Josie

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #2: Outline the plot of your story.

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I am forever amazed at authors who tell me that they write their books without first outlining the plot of their stories.

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Would Be Author: "Plotting? NOOOOO! I'd never do that! I'd be crushing my muse! My characters take me on their journey, not the other way around…."

Me: "Yeah, right, whatever….Um, how long have you been working on that book?"

Would Be Author, after a long silence: "Well, let's see…I started it in the third year of W's second term in office…"

You get my drift.

Dear NaNo Newbie: I never want to have that same conversation with you.

I never want to see the pain in your eyes when you hear that NaNo Pal Such-and-Such just finished his novel/got an agent/sold his book to Random House. Why? Because I know you'll be thinking, "That could have been me, had I only (a) gotten beyond the first chapter (b) figured out where my story was going (c) hadn't run out of steam…."

By the way, "steam" is a euphenism for "plot."

Which gets us back to the iceberg at the bottom of this tip: Create an outline for your story — so that you actually have a plot.

Would Be Author is what we scribes call a "pantser": someone who writes by the seat of their pants.

Even published authors do it. Many of my writer pals, in fact (Hey! Yeah, YOU! You know who you are…)

They are the ones who (a) work 10 hours a day for the same 3,000 words it takes a plotter to do in, say 4 hours, or (b) turn in their manuscripts after their editors deadlines, and yet (c) still stubbornly insist it's the only way they can write….

WRONG.

Writing is a discipline, and plotting is the foundation in which your wonderful book will be built.

Don't get halfway through it, then kick yourself because it needs a character who should have entered 40 pages earlier, or because you have to substitute more action in place of all that middle-of-the-book navel gazing…

Admit it: YOU were navel-gazing, too…weren't you?

That's because you got lost in the wilderness of your wonderful mind…

The breadcrumbs are your plot.

You will still see all those wonderful characters on the way to your final destination, but your novel's outline is the map that takes you there.

This outline will route you through many twists and turns. Along the way, you'll write in many interesting characters that actually DO something in the story which moves the plot forward: up some very challenging plot hills, and down into scary abysses–

All the while allowing the reader to care–no, to LOVE–your hero or heroine.

Bottom line: give your story a great beginning, and page-turning middle, and a satisfying ending.

Think 30 chapters (estimate) in 300 pages (again, nothing written in stone) —

And write something on each page — in each chapter — to make readers want more of your hero(ine).

You may argue, "But doing an outline confines you to those plot points!"

I disagree! Your outline is the path that takes you from Point A (your first word) to Point Z (The End). Along the way, feel free to stop and smell the roses you find there, be they a character who comes to you out of the blue, or an incident that allows you to meander in a field along your way to your final desination–

The completion of your book.

(c) 2015 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP, HERE…

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Okay, now, tell the truth: Do you plot, or pants? And tell me why…

— Josie

 

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #1: Treat writing as if it’s your career.

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My first tip: Treat writing as a career.

Why? Because those of us who call ourselves writers don't see it as a hobby.

It is a way of life.

The term "avocation" fits it well, yes. But so does the word "vocation." That's because writing is also our chosen career.

It can be yours, too — if you choose to make it such.

Fate (zeitgeist, fairy dust, whatever) has a lot to do with any writer's success. But so does determination. That thing called inspiration happens to everyone–but not everyone puts in the hard work to take a high concept and develop it into a full-length story that plays out page after page, and keeps readers intrigued until the very last sentence. 

I truly believe that those of us who take the time and make the effort can be published. 

I believe that person is YOU.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

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TOMORROW, I'LL HAVE ANOTHER TIP FOR YOU…

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If you think so, too, comment below as to why. What drives you to write?

 

— Josie


Check out my website for my latest releases and contests…

 

When You Wish Upon a Star…

Abc-logo

They like me. They really, really like me.

Now I know how Sally Field felt.

Film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer – one of Hollywood's best at getting the job done – has optioned my novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, and sold it to ABC Television as a dramatic series.

You can read about it here…

People, this so RARELY happens. Yes, there have been some hit-it-out-of-the park novel-to-TV-series adaptations. Charlaine Harris's True Blood is a perfect example.

But they are few, and far between.

So, yes, I know: I could not be more blessed.

Wow. ABC! I remember Sunday evenings, sitting in front of our television set waiting anxiously for Tinkerbell to sprinkle me with some of that Disney magic.

 Better late than never.

And I could not have asked for a better Prince Charming to take me to my very first Hollywood ball.

Everything I've been told about Mr. Bruckheimer makes me happy that he's whisked me out onto the the dance floor. Through his production companies, he has built a great team of executive producers. He looks for strong, hardworking writers, and he builds stellar casts from actors who work hard to breathe life into their characters.

Now my characters — Lyssa, Harry, Ted, DeeDee, and their motely crew of neurotic neighbors — will be brought to life.

And if our show is lucky enough to catch the zeitgeist left in the final season stardust trail of ABC's very popular hit series Desperate Housewivesmy characters will have a chance to live long and prosper.

To all the readers who loved Lyssa and her story, I thank you for writing me to let me know, and telling me how much she (and I) touched your lives.

To all the book reviewers who sang the praises of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, I love you, too, and will always appreciate the role you played in encouraging readers to buy my book.

That said I'll let you know what I know, when I know it: who will star, when the show premiers, how well it does– hey, we can even watch together! You'll find me Tweeting and Facebooking every week a new show runs, so I hope you'll join me.

And I'll certainly be running a VERY SPECIAL CONTEST through the night of its premiere. More on that later….

In fact, if after doing so you answer this question correctly, I'll include your winning entry in a contest for one of 5 autographed copies of my latest novel The Baby Planner

Until then, I hope you'll  pick up a copy of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Start by reading an excerpt here and then write and tell me:

What is the name of Harry's son?

Email your answer to: MailFromJosie@gmail.com
no later than 11:59 pm PDT, Saturday December 10, 2011.

 

Thanks for helping me reach my star.

The clock hasn't struck twelve yet, so let's all get in one more dance,

 

— Josie

 

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores now!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." 

Jackie Collins, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives