Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I'm Watching on TV This Fall

This is normally the time of year when I recap new episodes of Mad Men and rate them between 1 and 5 razor blades, but the show's not airing again till next February (!) so I instead I'll I'd devote this post to the fall TV season.

I'm choosing what programs to watch based solely on whether they have ties to the late, great Lost.

Just kidding. Or am I? With help from IMDB, here's my probable DVR schedule of new shows:

Best Potential Epic:

Once Upon a Time (Modern-day fairy tale from Consulting Producer Damon Lindelof, a Lost alumni who apparently wrote more eps of Lost than anyone else; starring Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin)

Best Opportunity for WB Nostalgia:

Ringer (starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as evil and possibly eviller twins, with Nestor Carbonell, aka Richard the creepy immortal from Lost)

Best (Future-)Crime Drama:

Person of Interest (starring Michael Emerson aka Ben/Henry from Lost)

I'm also interested in Awake, but it's a midseason replacement.

What new shows are you watching this fall, and how did you decide on them?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three Things I Did Wrong to End up Where I am Today

1. Worked for free.

What a chump, right? Let me explain. When I graduated college in 1999 and moved to L.A. to work in entertainment, I applied for dozens of entry-level jobs. All of them required experience, and the only way to get experience was to intern. It's an inherently unfair system that stacks the deck against people who can't afford to work for free, so I felt a bit guilty about going that route, but I was lucky to have parents who were willing and able to support me for three months while I worked at a talent management company at precisely $0/per day. The internship led to a job in TV production, and the TV production job led to the job I hold today.

Cut to 2009. I was researching lit agents online and sending off queries when lo and behold, I noticed one of my bosses from the internship ten years before was affiliated with an agency I really hoped to impress. The boss and I had kept in touch, so I asked if I could use her as a referral, and I included her name in the email subject line of my query. The agency I hoped to impress was Nelson Lit, and I got a partial request the next day. If my writing sample had sucked, none of that would've mattered but I do think name-dropping a trusted source helped speed up the process.

2. Wrote in the wrong genre.

I spent four months turning a college-set screenplay into what I thought might be a YA novel. Halfway through adapting it, I heard about a panel at a local bookstore featuring a Q&A session with established YA authors. I decided to go, so I could ask them about my story and have experts confirm how brilliant it was. Ha! Every single writer there told me in no uncertain terms you can't write about college in YA books.

Shocked, I scrapped the "brilliant" project and began writing something entirely different (the book I would eventually sell, with my wonderful agent at the helm of course). At the panel, I met people in the audience who would go on to become friends and critique partners of mine. If I hadn't done the wrong thing (and naively sought to have it validated), I wouldn't have met people who ended up being integral to my journey, nor would I have started a new project.

3. Took a day-job as a writer.

I recently read an article in a writing magazine that named the best jobs for writers. Teaching was listed first. Also recommended were office jobs and temp work, something you can leave behind at the end of the day. The only job they specifically advised against was the one I have: reading and writing. I read screenplays and create character descriptions for a living, and then I go home and read and write novels.

The article stipulated it was a bad idea because I'd have nothing to draw from and no clear cut break from my two jobs. I'll admit I get a bit tired of typing, but I love reading regardless of the format and I love my day job, and if I had to spend 8 hours a day (plus the commute) doing something I didn't enjoy, it would be very difficult to muster up the ability to create.

So there you have it. Three bad things I did that ended up leading (eventually...) to publication. Following the "rules" is overrated.

Or maybe I'm just a slow learner.

In your writing journey, have you made mistakes that later turned out to be blessings?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Night Writer

The other week, my friend and agency-mate Natalie blogged about writing something every day, regardless of how much time you have, and not worrying whether you write a sentence, a paragraph, a page or multiple pages.

I took her words to heart because I realized I've been throwing in the towel way too easily on days that aren't "perfect" for writing. I've gotten it into my head that I AM A MORNING WRITER AND CANNOT WRITE AT NIGHT. IT MUST EVER BE THUS.

I'm fine with doing research at night, or brainstorming in a notebook, but actually opening up the (gasp) document and adding to it is off limits for some reason, so for years I've stuck to morning-only typing. In the morning, my mind seems clearer and more open to creativity, uncluttered by the events of the day because there have been no events. At night, I'm tired from work, and tired from my commute, and I really just want to curl up on the couch with a Millionaire Matchmaker marathon (the episode I caught recently with Patty's parents was priceless).

But some mornings I want, or need, to sleep in. Unfortunately, I also want to finish what I'm working on, and if I'm not writing as often in the mornings, how am I supposed to do it?

Two weeks ago I dared to break my No Typing at Night rule. I know, I am crazy adventurous.

The first few tries were tough. I splashed cold water on my face, sat in my desk chair, shut my ears to the TV's siren song, and managed to barely, and painfully, churn out 500 words over a two hour period. Slow but steady progress was made.

After another week or so, I got the hang of it, and last weekend, I wrote 6,000 words, all in the afternoon/evening. In fact, I finished the draft! But if I'd stuck to my Mornings-Only rule I'd still be floundering, and beating myself up for not being done yet.

Do you have rules about when and where you can write?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Weekend of YA Events

Wow hey this weekend is jam-packed with YA and MG writing events.

If I'm feeling ambitious, here's what I'll be up to*:

Friday Night, Century City - Crash the SCBWI Summer Conference and meet up with some fellow Apocalypsies

Saturday, 9am PST / Noon EST, at the computer - Marbury Lens book chat with author Andrew Smith (read the book a few weeks ago and can't get it out of my mind. Plus I have questions. I think). Follow along at Evil Editor's blog.

Saturday, 2 pm, Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena - Elise Allen is signing copies of her new book Populazzi

Sunday Night - Kidlit Drinks at Pink Taco, back in Century City.

*No guarantee of ambitions, but I'll definitely be at Vroman's and definitely at the Marbury Lens chat