Didn’t see as many costumes as usual this year, but Comic-Con was still a lot of fun.
It was definitely the “Year of the Woman” as panel after panel celebrated women’s accomplishments and featured female artists, writers, filmmakers, producers, and executives.
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor Mark Zicree shared an episode of his epic show Space Command. It was great to see, especially having read about it in his Now Write! article.
In this high-value, low-cost empowering series, participants will receive a big running start to writing or completing a screenplay.
Award-winning screenwriter and Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson is packing this workshop with valuable insights and tools to help take your screenwriting to the next level.
Olmos Perk Coffee
5223 Mccullough Ave
Olmos Park, TX 78212
Dates and Times:
Wednesday eves, 6-8pm
June 5, 12, 19 and 26
Throughout the 4 weeks, we will discuss seven crucial steps for developing an organic dramatic story structure, and apply them to pitches/projects of participants and existing movies for deeper understanding.
We will also explore some of the most common screenwriting problems, with creative ways to address them.
Laurie will lead some of her favorite writing exercises culled from three of the Now Write! books to directly address these pitfalls, help you get out of your own way, get your creative juices flowing, and benefit your screen stories.
All four meetings, only $45 paid in advance.
Sign up on Eventbrite
(or Venmo directly to @Laurie-Lamson)
A lifelong student of creative and dramatic writing, Laurie’s natural evolution has been to bring support and encouragement to fellow and sister writers. Laurie is an award-winning screenwriter, editor of three of the Now Write! creative writing exercise anthologies and the former International Screenwriters’ Assoc. telecon host. She enjoys supporting fellow and sister screenwriters and is highly experienced in consulting on screenplays with both writers and producers.
Harlan Ellison left the earthly plane on June 28, 2018. He was a beyond-prolific writer and legend, and probably one of the most notorious contributors to the Now Write! series. When I consulted film industry friends on approaching Mr. Ellison about contributing to Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, the response was invariably, “Don’t bother.”
Harlan’s philosophy: “We’re all stupider than we should be.”
Harlan had a reputation for being, er, um, ah, difficult. He once sent a dead gopher to a publisher (an incident he recounted with glee during my visit.) He’s also known in the entertainment industry for being lawsuit-happy, most famously settling out of court with James Cameron over Cameron’s admitted use of one of Harlan’s Outer Limits episodes for TERMINATOR.
Despite the warnings, I was undaunted in my quest to include him in the book. Still, I was a little surprised when he graciously agreed to allow a reprint of an article he wrote in the seventies, with the new addition of a writing exercise that would make it fit for our Now Write! format (“First, There Was The Title” in the Theme and Meaning chapter.)
I honored his specifications – including the registered trademark symbol after his name – and we never had a problem.
After the book came out we had a phone conversation in which he gave me a lot of good advice as an editor. He then invited me to his home for a face-to-face visit – an offer I couldn’t refuse.
THE LOST AZTEC TEMPLE OF MARS
“Harlan’s home, high in the hills above Sherman Oaks, is a work of art and a wonder to behold. My meager talent at tippy-tapping out words falls far short of coming to grasp with the idea of the concept of describing Harlan’s home. Even Ray Bradbury would pause and frown in thought. This is Ellison Wonderland, and evidently, it has undergone a re-christening, as Harlan’s address, as listed in _Contemporary Authors_ Vol. 46, New Revised Edition, 1995, reads ‘The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars, CA.’”
(Quoted from his website, where you can find a lot more Harlan FAQs.)
MY VISIT WITH HARLAN
He had suffered a recent stroke, and I found Harlan physically weak, but mentally quite strong. He wasn’t able to give me a tour but still allowed me to roam his domain, which really is a work of crazy art: the décor and mind-boggling collections of books, art and kitsch, custom ladders, odd-shaped rooms, secret entrances and Aztec exterior made this a fitting home for a one-of-a-kind eccentric genius like Harlan.
These pictures can’t possibly do it justice, but may serve to give you some idea:
Harlan can quote from his thousands of stories and books, as well as rattle off how many of each glass, knife, comic book or action figure he’s collected. Despite his recent stroke, the man’s mind remains sharper than a steel trap, which he claims is both a blessing and a curse. I believe him.
During several hours of candid conversation we hit it off better than I expected, including an in-depth discussion of philosophy and relationships.
I learned he had a close friendship with Robin Williams, who he said was too gentle and kind to ever be at ease in the cutthroat entertainment industry.
He spoke glowingly of Roger Dean, designer and artist best known for fantasy posters and album covers for conceptual rock bands, and who shared a common experience of suing James Cameron – in Dean’s case it was for his paintings being the inspiration for much of the look and feel of AVATAR.
Harlan also introduced me to Pen World Magazine, which we both sort of drooled over before his lunch arrived. I had been invited to stay but didn’t want to wear out my welcome.
Harlan is a true character, a bit of a curmudgeon, definitely not the type to suffer fools. I’m grateful he didn’t deem me as such – it was a surprising and memorable visit indeed!
Michael Ajakwe was an Emmy-winning writer, producer, and director as well as a produced and published playwright. His credits are too numerous to list, so I invite you to explore his IMDB page.
I met Michael at a film industry meet called Coffee Chatter and we quickly became friends. I greatly admired his always-positive, can-do attitude, and truly appreciated his encouragement.
I invited him to contribute to Now Write! Screenwriting, which, of course, he did. He was also kind enough to participate in the first Now Write! Screenwritingpanel shortly after the book was published.
When we met, Michael was making his hilarious web series “Who…” (now adapted as Beauty and the Baller on BET.)
Michael Ajakwe was the visionary who created the world’s first live web series festival.
I watched in amazement as his next move was to create L.A. Webfest. He generously offered me a pass and I attended all day every day of the first fest. He put together quite a program, including a wide range of web series and panels. I learned a lot and enjoyed discussing some of the web series with him over the years. I was so happy to see the festival grow, and some of my friends win awards. I also appeared on one of the panels as a moderator.
(If you’re a web series creator you may want to check out the Web Series Network on YouTube, where you can find lots of informative interviews and roundtables with Michael and others.)
I hung out with Mike several times when he was working on his Unsung episodes and organizing the webfest, so I got to witness first-hand his incredible work ethic. He was truly a man with a mission and I will never forget how inspired I always felt around him.
I attended the screening party of his first Unsung episode about Deniece Williams. It was fantastic. He was such a compassionate filmmaker and storyteller, and had an enviable network of supportive friends and colleagues in attendance.
Over the years, Michael became more and more in demand, and I deeply regret not having the chance to see him one last time in the past few years.
Being unaware of his illness, I was truly heartbroken to learn of his death on May 31.
What a painful reminder how important it is to stay in touch with people we care about.
I take some comfort in knowing he had his wife Tammy by his side. My prayers and condolences go out to her, and all Michael’s friends and family.
As he was preparing for the third Webfest in 2012, Michael took a break so I could interview him for my Soul Connect podcast (see below.) Listening to this interview again, I was deeply moved to be reminded of his greatness, his vision, his warmth and generosity. What a beautiful spirit.
Michael, I’m so grateful to have known you. You are missed – by many.
Friday, Feb 23, 3:15pm Great Beginnings Openings – Your First Line, First Page, First Three Pages
You hear from editors and agents that if the first paragraph of your story isn’t strong enough, they won’t read the first page, let alone the first fifty. Separate fact from fiction and remain true to your story. Writing a first line that will grab an editor and immediately announce your authority as an author. A unique opportunity for you to learn how real pros consider the merits of the material and the intent of the author, then offer improvements covering everything from glaring grammar errors to story-structure flaws to the overall storytelling and more. Bring 5 copies of your first 3 pages. Selected pages will be read aloud, so the audience can follow along and learn how the panel reviews and may suggest improving the samples. Sara Anne Fox (Moderator), Mike Robinson, Whitney Davis, Deanna Brady, Laurie Lamson (Panelists.)
Friday, Feb 23, 5:45pm Writing Secrets from Masters of the Speculative Genres
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror provides rare access to writing secrets from masters of the speculative genres. Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson will lead a creative writing workshop using an exercise from the “Ideas and Inspiration” chapter from one of the most celebrated contributors.