Movie 1? Script 1? Hey. Why not?

So it occurred to me: between changing jobs, changing a lot about my health and life and living in general, and chasing a lot of music…I’ve neglected to update on my books!

That is a remission that must be remedied expeditiously, and my announcement is thusly: In due time, hopefully well before NaNoWriMo 2013, I will have a second edition of my first book, Mages, available in paperback and Kindle formats, as well as its screenplay twin.

Yes, the screenplay will be live as well.

Now, you may ask, “Why a screenplay on sale? Why not just pitch it?”

One step at a time, folks. I am going to pitch the movie version of the entire series, but really, what I want to do is tap a new readers’ market. People love screenplays. They may not want to read a 350-page brick of a novel, but they may not be so fastidious about a movie script that runs through, effectively, everything in the book but in 1/4 of the time. Unfortunately, in today’s go-get-’em digital rush, the speed’s the thing. If the book doesn’t read quickly – and I tend to run on the verbose side of authorship – then it will greatly lose in its audience, which I cannot afford to do.

Moreover, the books for the second arc will take some time in editing, and I have been priding myself on releasing a book per year so far. And you know what, I want to keep that up. Between working on the second arc’s edit and laying down the groundwork for NaNo 2013’s project, which shall be the Origins arc, I want to ensure that I have a continued presence in the publication market. So far, one novel a year has been enough, but this is now a year that I’ve not released a book -YET. That, to me, won’t do.

The interesting thing about it is, I’ve been experimenting with Scrivener for file conversion, and find that the e-book variant is an amazing thing. I can format everything I need perfectly in novel format. Screenwriting on this one is a breeze. 

What I’d like to do, especially in this little experiment, is to marry two readership groups: screenplay fans and sci-fi fans looking for a new story.

What I’m also doing, by systematically releasing the books as screenplays, is also re-branding the series. So far it’s been an arc, but a kind-of-disconnected arc, and it’s in need of some reworking. So this is why the first two books will have new cover art – to be revealed at publication; although if you’re on my Facebook page for the books, you may’ve glimpsed it – and the marketing material will be revised. I think it’s safe to say that the books do have a logo to go with, and it’s time to put that to good use.

Until next time…



Do It Again

This is something that many of you may have wondered about, but this time, I’ll actually do it.

I’m going to revamp Books 1 and 2. Outside and in.

Bear in mind this: I am not rewriting the story. This is not a negotiable factor. The storyline, especially of Arc 1, has been set up in such a way that to rewrite it is 1. impossible, 2. impractical, and 3. just outright not worth it. However, I will not deny that the layout needs work, and considering that the second two books are nowhere near in congruence with the first two, both in terms of quality and outward appearance, I think that I need to focus on it in further depth.

In other words, it’s rebranding. I have a certain style that I have developed by this time, both in terms of writing and the appearance of my books, and I think that it would do justice to make them consistent.

If you’re on The Index Series’ Facebook page, then you would’ve seen my new cover for Book 1. Tiffany Chaney is headlining Book 2 art, and Books 3 and 4, starring Marion Meadows as cover artist, will remain as they are, but for minor additional revisions in the interior.

I will apprise you on the progress of each as things unfold, but that is the battle plan as of right now. Book 5 is in the Editing Stages, and considering that I’m rewriting the entire arc simultaneously for consistency – all three books of it – it may be a while before that is released. Plus, I am brushing up on my royal fiction, if only for tips on how to frame the politics of the storyline. Take it as a spoiler or not, that’s up to you. :)


The Real Author Solution is Research.

David Gaughran, who is a brilliant and prolific blogger as well as author, hosted Emily Suess in this post about Author Solutions.

We’re in 2013. At this point, self-publication has evolved to where it is not only taken seriously, but is seen as a very viable alternative to traditional publication, especially for new authors. And at this point, we as authors have learned enough about the ins and outs of the publication process, and we learned the cardinal rule. The rule is simple: money flows to the author.

What people usually tend to get confused about is the fact that there are publishing mediums that you pay money for. They are called vanity presses. And again, the effect is the same as self-publication: your name is in print, your book is out there, and you still end up doing the bulk of the work yourself. Problem is, with a vanity press, you’re also out some money.

Seriously, guys. If you’re thinking about publishing a book, I cannot say this enough: you have to do your research. Ask around. Ask people who have published through the press you’re considering. Ask people who did it self. Ask people who have gone small-press, Big Six, anthology, or web magazine for their publication. Ask. Ask often. But do not, under any circumstances, go into something half-cocked. You absolutely must know certain very basic things about publication.

And, considering that this is 2013 and people expect authors to have e-versions of their books on a regular basis, now’s a really good time to get real about self-publication, what it is, and what it isn’t..

Let’s begin with the obvious: a self-published author is a detriment to a publishing house. Why so? Because the same author is showing that he or she doesn’t need the publishing house to release the book. An outside editor can be hired. An outside cover artist. A print-on-demand press that withholds a nomminal percentage to reimburse for costs. And presto! you don’t need a publishing house. Similarly, if you go through PubIt!, KDP, or Smashwords, why in the world would you need to pay someone a fancy upload fee in order to be distributed to the exact same mediums that, let’s face it, you can do at no cost with, again, a nominal percentage held to counter delivery and hosting costs?

Using this logic, why exactly would you think that a publishing house offering a “self-publishing” solution has any of your better interests in mind if you are their direct competition?

Seriously. Beware of Trojans bearing gifts. No one ever disputed Homer, and now’s not the right time to start.

Listen up, people. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if a major publishing house, especially a Big Six, is offering a “self-publishing” solution, go the other way. You have nothing to gain from it. Their logo won’t be part of your book jacket. The publishing house itself will not market your book past offering you another service, which will invariably cost you more money. The fine print in their contract will not benefit you. You will lose more than you will gain, and on top of that, the money that they will take from you is much better off being in your own pocket. I can guarantee you: there is nothing that Author Solutions, Book Country, iUniverse, or whatnot offers that you cannot reasonably to on your own and on your own terms.

If you want a hard copy of your book to be available to print, go to CreateSpace or Lulu. Neither of those will claim rights, neither of those will claim exclusive distribution rights on your hard copies. They will take anywhere from 30 to 50% of your price to cover printing costs, but that half-split on a royalty is yours. Yours and anyone whom you may have subcontracted for a royalty percentage, i.e. editor and graphic artist.

This is the thing about self-publication: you do have to do the work yourself. The money you will shell out if you do not will go for services rendered. Can’t self edit? Pay for an editor. Not good with Photoshop? Pay for a cover artist. This is the real grist of money leaving your hands: services rendered. Not paying an up-front fee to publish, but handing over money in order to have a service performed. If you’re handy with the ‘Shop and know how to self-edit impartially, then hey, you’re saving some cash.

Let’s also get real and acknowledge a certain truth, which a lot of those so-called “self-publishing options” from the Big Six will never tell you: the actual process of formatting and uploading is a one-time thing. It is also free. That’s right: free. If you check KDP – not KDP Select, which does expand your distribution in exchange for having exclusive distrib rights, but regular KDP – and PubIt, you’ll find that they are free to upload and free to host. You get, based on the price you set, either a 30% cut or a 70% cut – benchmark is usually $2.99, which is underpricing for an e-book, really, at this stage. So what does that mean, in terms of your royalties? It means that you turn a profit from your first sale. No up-front money, and immediate profit.

Gee, I wonder why none of those Author Solutions will tell you that. Oh yes, that’s right: it will cut into their profit margin.

As my editor Gayle and I have said before, on multiple occasions, why in the world would someone pay money for a one-time expense that can be done at no cost? Answer: lack of research. Other answer: because they believe that going through a publishing option backed by a Big Six house, they may have something extra. They will get cruelly disappointed. Not only will they be out some serious dough, but they will be exactly where they would be if they would’ve gone the freebie path: with a book, and needing to market it.

I am likely to shell out some money for someone to market my books. Why? Because I hardly have the time, and honestly, I suck at it. I’m a writer, photographer, and designer, not a publicist. So I’ll have to hire one. Still a self-published author, still have turned a de facto profit by not using a vanity press backed by a publisher, still in complete and total control of my distribution, and most of all, still dooing my research before even thinking about going in any other direction with my publishing. So far, KDP and CreateSpace have met both my markets (e-reader and print) admirably. I see no reason to discontinue my current path.

I can’t say this enough. Do. Your. Research. Do your research, and not only will you save some serious dough, but possibly your ownership rights. And in this day and age, your master rights are your holy grail. Under no circumstances, unless there’s a Hollywood movie with your book as a basis and even then put up a good fight, should you give up your masters.


Back on Nook for Christmas!!!!

Ladies and gents, a small announcement.

Because in part I got tired of having only one digi-medium, and in another part because it’s Christmas, I’ve temporarily disabled my subscription to KDP Select. Don’t get me wrong: I love my KDP Select a lot. It’s garnered me a lot of exposure, and more sales than I’ve seen so far. However, it’s not enough right now.

In other words: I’m back on Nook now through Dec. 31st!

Nook lovers, rejoice, for this one is all for you. Grab my books while you got ’em on there, and don’t be afraid to review.

Kindlers, your link is here:

And of course, you can find the hard copies through either medium as well.


An Open Letter to Simon & Schuster

This is why I’m writing it.


Dear Simon & Schuster,

Whom, precisely, do you think you’re fooling by your so-called self-publishing solution? Do you really think that we have that short a memory, us indie authors, from the time that Penguin had decided to jump on the bandwagon with Book Country?

I didn’t.

And not likely to forget.

So I would like to know, once again, Simon & Schu: whom do you think you’re fooling? Do you really think that we cannot tell the difference between self-publication and a vanity press?  Oh wait. That’s exactly what you’re thinking because you’re making this service available to the public. Here’s a big hint: most authors who are going to self-pub are not going to fork over $1,599 for your services. Why? Because they can achieve the same thing for. free.

No love,

A self-pub who has done her research.



I’m sure you got the gist just based on this short little open letter, but long story short, S&S is presenting a “self-publishing” option to the world, with a package price from $1,599 to (and I’m not kidding) $24,999 (see article linked in first sentence for reference). Okay…what the HELL? I understand that the sundry services with the most expensive one are top-notch, but let’s be realistic for just a minute and ask ourselves: what self-publishing author has that kind of money?!


Let’s revisit a cardinal law of publishing a book. I shouldn’t have to repeat it by this time, but I have to. There is only one single cardinal rule when it comes to having a piece of writing hosted in a readable medium, be it in print, digitally, etc.

It’s a simple little rule. It’s been around for centuries.

What is it?

Money flows TO THE AUTHOR.

This is non-negotiable. You may pay a little for services rendered in the production of your book (i.e. pay an editor, a graphic designer, etc) but when you publish, you should never, ever, EVER pay money up front to publish. The terms of the royalty splits should leave you with getting some cash as well. Under no circumstances are you to pay money to publish up front, especially when it comes to digital edition.

Moreover, what’s the catch about copyright with this option? You’re shelling out all this money to go through Simon & Schu; are they letting you retain distribution rights? Are they claiming distrib rights? For how long? Are they claiming your master copyright? If so, run the other way. Remember this, ladies and gents: your master copyright is your lifeblood. You will thank me later for not selling it for an advance that you’d never earn out or break even on because a publishing house hadn’t delivered its marketing as promised.

In the previous rip-apart of Book Country (linked above), I also mentioned Writer Beware as asserting that there’s no difference between vanity press and self-pub. WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Self-publishing does not take money up front, unless it is for reimbursement of production costs, i.e. hard-copy proof. If you believe to contrary, then you may have either been reading the misinformed writings of Victoria Strauss, or you just hadn’t done your research.

Seriously. Smashwords, KDP, and PubIt are all free to use. I’ve used them all at one point or the next, and stuck it out with KDP Select, which had turned out to be the best venue, since most of my sales are Kindle. I might un-enroll from Select just so I can go for the Nook market again for a stretch, and see how I do. But really, have I shelled out money for KDP or PubIt? No.  And get this: CreateSpace introduced an online proofing system, which…eliminates the need to order a printed proof. It’s something I still recommend; it’s worth the $8, but it’s no longer a prerequisite. Guess what this means: if you go through CreateSpace, the cost to publish your book through them is zilch. 

Sure, go ahead and tell me how there’s no difference between vanity press and self-pub. Vanity presses charge you up front. What they offer varies, but they all charge you. Self-pub doesn’t, so you automatically turn a profit, however meager. With a vanity press, you have to at least make enough in your sales to break even on the costs of what you paid to use their service. The max cost is about 24K. Let me ask you this, realistically: do you expect your work to make that much money quickly enough so that you can turn a profit? If you’re hesitating, you’re doing so with good reason. A lot of self-pub work doesn’t make much money. I’ve not made much money, even though I tripled my prior year’s revenue from my books. But I shelled out all of $10 to publish my current work, and that was the proof copy rush shipping. And I more than recouped it. I even recouped the cost of the sets of books that I had printed up as giveaways. But again, I shelled out $10. If you, say, shell out $1,599 – first of all, can you afford to invest that much? – and you have absolutely no guarantee that it’ll break even, how do you expect to make a profit?

This is just plain Business 101 here.

And Simon & Schuster, of all the houses, is thinking that hey, we’ll make a mint off the authors if we can no longer make a mint off the readers!

Uh, no. No thank you. And Simon & Schu, I’m quite disappointed. Of all the houses to jump on the bandwagon of vanity presses, I didn’t expect you to be in that number.


NaNoWriMo Post Time!!!

Whew! What a week…well, what two weeks it has been.

I will make no bones of it; Hurricane Sandy screwed NY up but good. I can’t say it enough: DONATE TO RED CROSS. Donate things to the local charities, whichever one will get your donations to the East Coast. People need your help, a lot. We had a hurricane and the regularly scheduled Nor’Easter  one after the next. This is NOT a good one-two punch, and highly reminds me of the Katrina/Rita slam in New Orleans. Right now, it’s just bad in NY…. I’m OK, but so many people are not.

That said, it’s November. And like every November, I do NaNoWriMo. This will be my seventh year doing it, and every year so far, I had won. This year, because of a huge number of factors playing a distraction, hurricane aftermath being one of them, I have no idea whether or not I’d be able to make it a 7-for-7 streak. If I do, then hey, hurrah!

But right now, even though I am distracted to high hell with moving (yes, Mom and I got a new apartment and I’m VERY happy about it) and my photography business (I am nowhere near done, ladies and gents, with the cruise photos!) what I am super-happy about is the fact that I’m getting right back into my story. Book 5 has been great to write, but Book 6 was a bit of a chore, mainly because even now, I had little idea as to which bits and pieces needed to go where. Right now, I’m only two chapters into getting Book 7 drafted, and I am feeling that excitement when I sit down and ask, “Now what happens?” – and I have an answer.

That’s the beautiful thing about writing a multi-arc story. Even if and when you feel it’s losing steam, it picks itself right back up and says, “You know it’s going to be interesting!” It might mean re-watching some old DVDs (ahem, Kill Bill) to get a good idea of how to write the tournament again, yes, that was a little spoiler right there, but I can manage that part easily enough.

I’m not sure how the story will end up going, and I probably won’t know until I write the final piece. But I do know this: Script 1 needs an edit. Script 2 needs to be written. And yes, both will be available for sale sooner or later. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have these made into film, but man, would I love to.

There’s a lot of possibilities, and a lot of work to do, and I’m just excited that, ten days in, I have a word count of almost 16,500, and there’s more left to write. :)

But first, to prep to move…


Women in Writing, and Strong Female Characters

Considering that I’m a woman writing urban fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal fic/whatever you want to call my brand of writing, I think it’s time I sounded off on this.

Bear in mind that this will be a lot more of personal observation than article analysis. Just letting you know in advance.

First things first, women writers have been around for centuries. George Sand had published best-sellers before anyone realized that it was a pen name for Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. In the 19th Century, to be an author was unheard of, and to do so was considered “unwomanly.”

Of course, times have changed, and women of all ages have ventured and secured themselves in the writing world. We read Jane Austen. We read the Bronte sisters. We read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Amy Tan. Toni Morrison. This is just to name a few, and this is proof positive that women can not only write, but entrench themselves in the world of classic literature. Me, I’m not anywhere near that level. I don’t know if I’ll ever be anywhere near that level. However, I write, and reasonably well if the Amazon reviews are any indication, but what I write is science fiction/fantasy.

What I’ve never been told is that, “Girls can’t write sci-fi” is still a pretty prevalent mindset.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I have nothing against women writers, but women just can’t write as well as men”? Because I’ve heard it, and each time I asked the person how they know that the male authors they’re enjoying are not women using pseudonyms and a model for photo. But at the core,  this sentence is an oxymoron. If you don’t have anything against women writers but still think that they’re inferior, then guess what: you have something against women writers. It’s called prejudice. That’s what it looks like. Dressing it up in a backpedal within the same sentence only makes you look more prejudiced.

While some sci-fi written by women contains elements of romance, it doesn’t mean that a female sci-fi author would necessarily put romance as the first plot arc of the story. Because there we go again with the presumptions.

To quote a good friend of mine, writers write. Period. What they write isn’t subject to discussion, necessarily, and what they write varies. Gayle, my editor, defines strength in her characters as taking the same bumps but getting up after them, and this brought up a curious point. Strong isn’t meant to translate into “untouchable and invulnerable” – that just strips the characters of their believability. The definitions of strength vary from person to person, but the general consensus is that if strength is written well, then the gender of the character or of the author isn’t relevant.

One of the best ways to put it is that if you’re reading, what exactly are you measuring its merit by? Are you valuing it by the way the characters are portrayed? The formatting? Vernacular? What are your priorities in evaluating a book?

For me, just personally, it’s the plot. I don’t stop and  refuse a book because I think that one author or another can’t write something; 999% of the time, that’s simply not the case.

And not for nothing, but some of the best fantasy/sci-fi I read has been written by women.


Author Interview – Robert Downs

Robert Downs messaged me while I was on Goodreads one fine day, and despite various things happening, I am hosting him here.

Mr. Downs is the author of Falling Immortality, which, despite its title, is a very intense mystery-thriller starring PI Casey Holden. This goes without saying: I love any sort of mystery. So while I peruse the book, I bring to you the author!

1. First things first, you describe your latest release as MANfiction, and define it as the opposite of chick-lit. Did you start out planning to write in that genre description, or did the book direct itself?

Honestly, I’d never even heard of MANfiction until I read an article in Entertainment Weekly by Stephen King, and that was after my publisher and I were already into the marketing phase of Falling Immortality. My main character, Casey Holden, was very much in the driver’s seat of his storytelling, and I was the happy passenger, or medium, through which he told me his stories. I’ve been told I’m an excellent listener, and that was what I did throughout the entire rough draft, or at least when the writing was going well. I had decided early on that I wanted to write a first person mystery, as I’d had difficulties in the past of veering off in too many directions with my writing: creating too many characters and storylines. By placing a fortress around my creative abilities, I allowed the central character and story to shine through. I knew I needed a strong male lead to make it work (and I don’t really do anything halfway once I set my mind to a task), so I created the strongest male lead I could possibly imagine.

2. Walk us through Casey Holden’s head. He’s a PI; it’s a more intense and hands-on job than the average cop. Let’s get to know him.

Well, he’d probably beg to differ with you on the intensity of being a PI. Sure, he gets into roof fights and ends up in Dumpsters, knocked over the side of the head and dumped off a yacht, has sawed-off shotguns pointed at his head, and was shot by a doped up druggie with gold teeth and a lisp, but that’s because he’s a better detective than most people like to admit. He just has trouble with his focus at times, which isn’t all that different from the author. His moral code may differ from yours and mine, and his filter may appear nonexistent, but if he gets cut, he’s still going to bleed the same as everyone else.

3. Have you ever worked in law enforcement?

No, I’m a financial specialist for the government. Another gift I’ve been given is an extremely analytical mind, probably to my detriment in some cases. But it does come in handy when I write. I’m a huge fan of mystery and thriller novels, action movies, and detective TV shows. On some level that I’m not even aware of, I channel all of this knowledge, pull out the different parts that I like the best, and hopefully create something brand new. I haven’t found a character like Casey Holden yet, and so far neither has my publisher.

The greatest license a writer has is the ability to make stuff up. I take this license very seriously, and I use it to the full extent of my abilities. The thought of escaping into another world beats reality the vast majority of the time, which is why I enjoy writing, reading, and movies.

4. Let’s now shift gears a bit and discuss your method of publication. How did the story go from first draft into final?

The rough draft came rather easily, easier than any other story had up to that point, but as I realized later, the fun had only just begun. I went through two additional edits the first round, and I thought I had a completed story ready for publication. However, the agents and publishers told me otherwise. So I set it aside for a few years, wrote other stories, worked on my master’s, and improved myself as well as the craft of writing. I had my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, review my manuscript, and she discovered it needed a bit of additional work. I completed two more edits, and when she was satisfied, I sent it out for a professional critique, along with my submissions to agents and editors. This time I was more successful, and actually landed my publisher, Rainbow Books, Inc., who was crazy enough to take me and my book on. Incidentally, this same publisher passed on my book the first go round. Luckily for me, they didn’t remember me or my book.

5. What do you have planned for Casey Holden?

Did I mention that I never do anything halfway? A few of those stories I had worked on were actually sequels to Falling Immortality, and while most people might write one sequel, as they find a publisher, I had actually begun fairly extensive work on two of them, both of which are now with my publisher. Graceful Immortality will be the first of those two sequels.

Because Casey and I still have unfinished business together, I have begun work on three more novels in the series. But I haven’t put an expiration date on Casey yet. As long as I enjoy writing him and readers enjoy reading him, I’ll continue to tell his stories, but I do have an end book in mind, and I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.

6. So. Tell us more about your writing routine. If you have one, that is.

I wish I did have one. That would probably make my life easier. Whenever I hear writers talk about writing a thousand words a day, or working for three or four hours at a time, I should start applauding, because that’s just not me. I tried the thousand words a day routine for about three
weeks, and I realized I was probably worse off than missing a day here and there.

I write when my head is in the game, and I stay away from it when it’s not. With that being said, though, I can certainly force myself to write, or at least put words on my computer screen, so I haven’t experienced writer’s block yet. But I have found that I need to input a certain
number of words into my brain before I can start spitting words back out on paper. Now that I’m in marketing mode, that’s taken the majority of my time and focus, so my writing has been sporadic at best these past six months. But I have produced words for interviews, blog posts, and
Facebook status updates, just not as many of the ones that I can place in a manuscript.

7. Casey already comes across as an intense character, but you said a curious thing in #5. To quote you, “I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.” Not asking for a spoiler – seriously, I’m not! – but considering you know Casey best, what scenario would qualify as him overstaying as
opposed to coming out on top, in his frame of mind?

If there comes a point when he becomes less relevant, then he needs to have told his last story. And, ideally, we’d both like to hand in our car keys before that date. When readers don’t enjoy reading about him anymore, and when I don’t enjoy writing about him anymore, then he and I
have agreed we should end the charade. Like milk, he has an expiration date. But that doesn’t mean he’ll go down quietly, and he certainly has a few more stories to tell in the meantime.

So there you have it, ladies and gents, and while you’re at it, pick up Falling Immortality here on Amazon.

For more about Robert Downs, visit his site at


Whew. Now what?

So. The screenplay is finished.

*sigh of relief*

I’m a little surprised at how it turned out. This is still the first draft; I’ve not subjected it to an editor, and I’ve written the entire thing in shooting style, which is only permissible if you’re going to direct. Which I’m not. But it makes for very good reading; it’s very visual, especially considering that the camera angles effectively tell you how to see a scene.

This is, in a certain sense, the key difference between the novel version and the screen version: a screenplay doesn’t give you as much flex of imagination as the novel. Screenplays are much more direct.

Now, of course, this begs the question of how I feel now that I’ve done a new style of writing that I was, prior thereto, unfamiliar with.

And you know what, I’m not sure how I feel now that I’ve finished a full-scale feature-length screenplay. Good, yes. I am now familiar with a new writing form, and it’s a completed challenge. Will I do this again? Definitely. I’ll be transforming my books into screenplays, for sure. But now I need to go forward with marketing them, and marketing is going to be the weird bit. I have never done film marketing, never took a course on it, and have little idea as to where to start. I do know a film agent, though, and I may have a chat with him. I also know more than a few authors who have film and agent connections, so I may well be able to go from there.

It’s a now what? sort of a feeling.

I’ll figure that out as I go along, and if I happen to get something started up for the film version of the series, then we’re in business.


Adapting an adaptation

So, after reading the full Suzanne Collins trilogy, I went to see The Hunger Games on the big screen.

I will admit that the adaptation is pretty solid. It cut out very little, and kept enough of the original story. The camera angles were good, the acting by the cast was superb, and the script had minimal alterations.

This is the thing, though: when you’re adapting a novel for the screen, how do you decide what stays and what goes?

I will be frank: the movie version ending of The Hunger Games was a major deviation. I won’t spoil; if you read the books, you will know what I mean. That’s what disappointed me in the production, but considering that I’m currently standing in the same dilemma, I’m hardly one to judge. As it is, the bits that were cut from the novel were minimal. Except, of course, the ending, because that was completely out of alignment with the book. Same with a very, very key conversation between Haymitch and Katniss.

How does this relate to what I’m doing? As I’m templating Book 1 to adapt to screen, I have to do two very major things:

1. Ad-lib. Most of Book 1 is action, a good bit of contemplation, but not much on dialogue. I’m finding myself re-doing the existing dialogue, and ad-libbing the rest. To say that it’s a challenge would be right about appropriate; I have never realized just how much I’ve under-written in the novel form that I’m now finding that I have to put together in screen form. Minor, minor dialogue – it becomes relevant.

2. Direct. This is iffy. I’ve been told so far, by more than one person, that I should cut the cues and score sounds from the script. And you know what, I will. But before that, I need to finish the script, because it actually holds a pretty solid purpose. The purpose? To guide the adaptation. In novel form, everyone pictures the flow and sequence of scenes differently, but the script and the consequent film put the story forward in only one visible way. That is where the screenwriter’s skill at interpreting one medium into the next comes in.

You’d think it’s easy, if I’m working on the adaptation of my own piece, but that’s actually the most difficult aspect. How would I translate a story that everyone interprets for themselves into something that’s to be represented only one particular way?

3. Trim. And the opposite: insert. Because as I’m seeing now, there has to be a higher emphasis on continuity. I could get away with a highly choppy Book 1 in novel form, because the other books would gel it together. With writing a movie script, you do not have that sort of a flex. You have to trim the excess and add whatever you have to add – however minor or major – to make it gel.

The challenge I’m facing now, towards the end, is how to write/engineer some of the needed special effects needed to make some of the interstitial scenes work. That is, indeed, a pickle, but nothing I can’t work through.

Onward and upwards…just a couple scenes left to Script 1!