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September 12, 2005

How Hard Can It Be? Part One


As you may know, Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters novels have been optioned for television and are in development. Now, that’s a great thing, but lately I’ve begun to think it’s also an astonishing thing. Actually, this week it seems right up there with the Virgin Birth.

Because I’m trying to do the same thing. With one small difference. Instead of selling my novel DATING DEAD MEN to a network to turn into a TV series, I’m turning it into a TV series first (with my friend Wendy) in the hopes of selling that to a network. It’s the difference between having an
architect build your house and heading to Home Depot to do it yourself (with your friend Wendy.)

As Sarah Strohmeyer would say, “Why the hell not?”

As my sister Ann would say, “How hard can it be?”

I’m finding out.

I blame Wendy. Wendy, who pointed out what a TV producer earns, relative to what a novelist earns. Wendy, who promised to create this series with me,knowing that I’d never find the time to do it on my own. Wendy, who knew when to call and e-mail (just as I was giving up) and when to not call and e-mail (holidays, when the kids were sick, when I was on book tour.) Wendy, the perfect production partner, except that Wendy knew no more than I did about how to turn a novel into a TV show.

Being clueless, we did what any pair of neophytes would do: we bought a book.

“Writing Treatments That Sell, or, How to Create and Market Your Story Ideas to the Motion Picture and TV Industry” is written by Kenneth Atchity and Chi-Li Wong, who assure us that “success comes through individual effort combined with access and luck . . . . ” Well, hey. That’s got Wendy and Harley written all over it.

So flash forward a year. Yes, it took Wendy and me a year to write the treatment—or bible, as Kenneth and Chi-Li tell us it’s called in television. Put that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. How long do you suppose King James spent on his bible? Anyhow, that brings us to this week, the week that we began to Take Meetings. With no time to waste, because deals are falling into place all over town, and soon every network will already have a Greeting Card Detective series in development for the 06-07 season, just as the current season has Aliens that Live Underwater series about to debut on three networks.

Taking Meetings—there is no advice from Kenneth and Chi-Li on how to do this, let alone how to dress for it—was my life this week. Well, that and persuading my children that waking up in the dark to get ready for Kindergarten and preschool, and then actually going to Kindergarten and preschool, and staying there by themselves is a good idea. One thing I’ll say about TV producers is that I’ve yet to have one wrap his arms around my waist and scream, “Don’t go! Don’t leave me here with these people!”

What TV producers do tend to do—at least two we met with, but since I once had sex with both of them (well, more than once) (although not at the same time)—oops. In the interest of writing shorter blogs, since you all have a lot to do on Monday mornings, I’ve imposed a word-count on myself, and it’s just been exceeded.

That being the case, HOW HARD CAN IT BE? will continue next week.

Just like a television series.

Happy Monday!



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Terrific way to start the week!

I think the fact that both former sexual partners did NOT scream or grab you is a very good sign for the next installment. Although, if you really want people to tune in, perhaps an across-the-room eye lock and a whistful sigh into the camera would help...

Quick, quick, please get it done and on the air (yeah, I know--so simple). I *loved* DDM and want to see who you cast for Doc/Gomez Gomez. Still laughing at that.

I was going to make a blue pun on your choice of words, but backed off. Thanks for a rare insight into this bizarre, tin foil world of TV. Treatment as a bible you say...interesting. No wonder the Christian South thinks you all are headed for fire and damnation. Money burning in your pockets.
Okay...we want to hear more. Now!

Wish you a lot of luck with this, since Wollie would be great and very refreshing on TV, since she's so original and those TV/movie people seem to be serving up only the same old/same old these days.

I also applaud you on your self-imposed blog word count. It IS liberating, isn't it?? (Great to talk to you at B'con...)

Only problem is that Wollie on TV would be so good she'd cause all networks to implode. Speaking of which, did you ever do that "they're going to make my head implode in Texas" movie? You were so busy making gracious major-award acceptance speeches at Bcon that I didn't get a chance to ask you.

Was thinking of you last night--went to my writing group's fourth-anniversary celebration at the Claremont here in Berkeley, wearing my gold Harley boots. I have now officially willed them to you, with a codicil that if I should die unexpectedly, they need to look for your fingerprints.

I see you have already mastered the art of the cliffhanger!

Harley, I really want to know what you wear when you Take Meetings. Because every time I talk to anyone in Hollywood, I imagine them in Armani (something not quite black, but that sorta charcoal color with the silver finish that is even more chic than black but when I try it on it just looks like it's been dry cleaned too many times) while I'm inevitably wearing my Chico's stretch pants and a t-shirt from Eddie Bauer. Sometimes I wear shoes. Basically I feel like I can't put together an intelligent sentence.

So, does having slept with producers help your chances, or lessen them? (I guess that all depends on...oh, never mind.) Just making notes for future reference.

Yeah, really, could we have more details about the sleeping with producers step here? Was that in the how-to book? Come on, you can't leave out the important stuff.
Mark Terry

I think it's a real coup that you could actually GET meetings with previous lovers. Many of my past inamorati would pull a quick trip out of town. But those triplets on the other hand ...


So not fair. I haven't started the fall TV season yet, and I'm already dealing with cliffhangers.

You'd better be working on next week's installment already.


PS. Congrats on your recent wins for DDM. Hoping to get to the sequel next month (after reading Susan's first book assuming she gets her revisions done on time.)


Mark, Mark. Oh, ye of little faith.

Cornelia, the Imploding Head movie is still in the works, but, as with all indie films, delayed for reasons of financing. My head is not scheduled to implode in the spring of 06. As for what to wear to pitch meetings, I'm saving that for How Hard Can It Be, part 2, but let's just say that I'd kill to have Cornelia's boots. Which is not to say that I'd kill Cornelia. Cornelia, you are not to get yourself murdered anytime soon. In this town, good shoes are in fact a valid motive for murder.

oops -- should read "my head is NOW scheduled to implode . . ."

So producers have casting couches too.

Harley, you are a truly evil woman and I'm proud to know you.

Now, finish the story!


Of course producers have casting couches, Margery. You don't suppose there are any actresses out there naive enough to sleep with . . . writers?

Okay, and I forgot to say how damn great it is that you just said "yeah, and I slept with two of them," because I thought it was only me who had A) usually slept with at least two people in the room (usually a LONG TIME ago, now, but still) and B) would have no compunction blogging about it.

BUT, we must FORCE Louise to ante up with the triplets story, speaking of cliffhangers, here...


Cornelia, one of the great things about having Harley as a friend is that she's already done everything ten times over. I mean, you tell her, "Man, I screwed up!" And she'll say, "Sweetie, no biggie. I did that before, upside-down and backwards, and I'm fine. You'll be fine, too." Not one to hold back, that Harley. She's a keeper. ;-)

Susan, it's true I've done it all, but I haven't done it in shoes as great as yours. And would you guys stop already? You make me feel like a cross between Grandma Moses and Courtney Love.

tsk tsk...leave us hanging like that :)

I am glad also that I am not the only one that can walk into a room and see a couple of been there done that guys :) :) Of course, for me it was a LONG time ago now too!! Somedays I wish I could again...but wow it was hard being single...not that it is any easier being married either!

I am really loving this blog site...I am glad Carla got me over here :)

Grandma Moses and Courtney Love, huh? Talk about crossing genres! Whoa.

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