If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Selling an Option for Film

Before I could publicly announce it yet—while the lawyers on both sides were negotiating the contract—I told my blog buddies here in confidence that I was in the process of selling an option on a story I’d written for the purposes of making a film from it. At that time I was asked and agreed to write a post about that process when I could. So here it is.

My short story, “The Good Neighbor,” was published in Kansas City Noir by Akashic Books as part of their famed international “noir” series. There it was read by someone with extensive experience in the movie business and past successes in Hollywood. He contacted me about the possibility of making a film out of my story. This person, Mitch Brian,  and I have taught at the same writers conference, and I’ve sat in on his classes and been quite impressed with him, so I took it quite seriously from the beginning—and I might well not have if I hadn’t developed some real respect for him. I was inclined to agree right away because I felt he would respect the characters and stay true to the story within the constraints of dramatic writing for film, which has different demands than a work for the page.

I didn’t realize how successful he had been until my kids looked him up and told me. What sold me on the idea of signing over rights was a long talk we had about what Brian intended for the screenplay and the realization that the very things that drew him to the story were the things I cared most about keeping intact. We even walked the neighborhood in which the story is set, so he could see the setting. It was at that meeting that we came to the real agreement, but it took many weeks of his people in Hollywood and his lawyers drawing up a contract and my agent and the agency lawyers looking for problems and suggesting changes.

Eventually, however, all was arranged successfully, and the company Cerberus Limited had an option on my story with Brian committed to write the screenplay. That—the screenplay writing—began in January. I know the chances of this option turning into an actual movie are slim, based on the reality of film options. But I also believe that, if the film is finally made, it will stay true to the story and the characters, and that’s what matters most to me. Daniel Woodrell turned down big studios who wanted to do Winter’s Bone. Instead he gave the rights for very little upfront cash to a small woman-owned company who stayed true to his vision and finally got the money to make the Oscar-nominated movie. I feel I’ve made a similar choice.

So that’s the story of the film option, not nearly as glamorous as people might think, but something I’m very excited about. If it actually comes to be a film, I know it will be my vision on the screen and not a miserable mish-mash of commercial Hollywood tropes.


E. B. Davis said...

How wonderful, Linda. Thanks for letting us know the outcome. I sure every writer has dreamed of seeing his work carried into another medium. The fact that you knew the screenwriter and were reassured by his offer makes the option--meant to be. I hope that your story is made into a film. I can't think of a more satisfying venture. Congratulations!

Jim Jackson said...

Networking pays off again.

A writer friend of mine once told me that one of the great things about Hollywood options is the option runs out and, since they are afraid someone else might snap it up, they have to pay you a second or third time.

Less likely in the case where you know the person writing the screenplay and more likely we'll see it in film.

In fact, with Elmore Leonard's passing, I'm thinking they'll make your story into a made-for-TV series with you as the executive consultant .

Congratulations and all the best for continued success.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, yes, you're right about it being a dream of every writer, but I know enough more established writers who've been through the process and been burned by it that I knew I wanted to take my time and not just jump at it.

Fortunately, I'd had a chance as a fellow faculty member to sit in on Mitch's workshops and was very impressed with his artistic vision.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Linda,
What wonderful news! And the best part is that you feel confident that your characters are in good hands.
Congratulations and best wishes!

Warren Bull said...

Excellent! I've read your short story and it is cinematic enough to make a wonderful movie. Congratulations!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Ha, Jim! I'm not interested in going the Elmore Leonard path. He wrote a number of his screenplays. I have folks ask me why I don't just write the movie myself. But screenwriting is a whole different field. To think that I'll walk off the street and write a good one is tantamount to all those non-writers who believe they can just toss off a bestselling book during their two-week vacation. Most screenwriters have degrees in it and have worked at their craft for many years--just as we novelists have. I'm happy to let them do what they do best and do what I do best.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Shari! Yes, I do feel it's in good hands. The story will form the first 2/3 of the movie with some changes that we discussed that will allow an action final act. Necessary for film success, but it will arise out of the story as it is and not be some alien thing grafted on.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks so much, Warren! I tend to write visually, and I've learned that that works well for film, which is concerned more with images even than the dialogue or words.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

FABULOUS! Whatever happens, congratulations! xxoxo See you on the red carpet.

Edith Maxwell said...

What a thrill, Linda. Thanks for sharing your path. It sounds like you pulled off the deal in a wise and considered way. I hope to be able to see the film!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Hank, you are such a sweetheart! If it does open, can I get you to substitute for me on the red carpet? That way I'll look fashionable and really attractive and poised without having to get out of my jeans. :-)

Linda Rodriguez said...

It is, Edith. I actually just did what Daniel Woodrell said he'd done and had such a happy outcome of--after being burned with earlier books made into films he didn't like.

Barb Goffman said...

Very cool. Congratulations! And keep us informed, of course, if the film becomes a reality.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Barb! I will.

Gloria Alden said...

Congratulations, Linda!!!! That is so awesome and the fact that you know the screen writer and know he'll stay true to your characters is a real plus. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it will actually make it to the big screen.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Gloria! I think the chances are better than most film options because the company plans to do a small-budget indie film if they can't get studio interest (which is unlikely because it's not a blockbuster with lots of CGI action). Then they'll do the festival circuit, hoping for awards and recognition that can bring a distribution deal. (Keep in mind, however, that even a small-budget film needs hundreds of thousands or even several million dollars.)

Gigi Pandian said...

How exciting! And thanks for sharing the process of how this happened for you and that you feel good about how the movie would be carried out. Movie options are such a mystery to me, so it was both cool to read about your success and to learn something :)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gigi, I'd suggest to anyone considering a film option that they try to have conversations such as this. However, the reality of the business is that, if you don't know the people involved and if the screenwriter doesn't have a stake in the company (which is rare), you probably won't be able to. *sigh* But I know I was glad that Daniel Woodrell had talked about his process because it informed my own--and perhaps mine can help inform someone else's.

Anonymous said...

What exciting news -- and well-deserved reward for hard work. <3

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks so much, Mary!

Kara Cerise said...

Congratulations, Linda! How exciting. Thank you for sharing your story. I'll keep my fingers crossed that we'll be able to see your vision on the screen one day.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Kara! From your mouth to God's ear!

Reine said...

Linda, thanks for posting the story of your process of selling an option. You're absolutely right to be careful. I hope this sells and is produced, Because I'm sure it will make a great film. xoxoxo

Linda Rodriguez said...

Reine, I don't know for sure if it will ever make it to the screen, but I do believe if it does, it will be something I can be happy with. (It helps that the screenwriter is also Cherokee, even though there are no Cherokee characters in this story. but it means he has a similar worldview.)

Reine said...

Linda, I understand, and I think that first hurdle was admirable. All kinds of things may or may not happen, this was well done and worthy of congratulations. World view—so important in everything.

KM Rockwood said...

Congratulations, Linda. What a wonderful project!

I admire your integrity in wanting to stay true to the story. I always wondered what was going through Lawrence Block's mind when he ended up with a movie with his Bernie Rhodenbarr played by Whoppee Goldberg. Although I did think that if Whoppee Goldberg could play a middle aged Jewish man, she must be even a better actress than I'd thought.

I wish you all the bes with this adventure.

Polly Iyer said...

How exciting, Linda. Sounds like you did everything right. I tried my hand a writing a screenplay of one of my books for a contest. It was a learning experience as words are cut to the minimum, but I'm glad I did it. My very first editor had a few options, and he said what Jim said. They kept reoptioning (if that's a word) the material and kept paying him every time. Best of luck. I'll look forward to hearing more about the movie. Crossing fingers.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Reine!

KM, Lawrence block probably had no say over who played Bernie Rhodenbarr, much as happened with Lee Child and Tom Cruise. I won't have any say in who they cast. I won't have any say in the final version that's filmed. My optimism is because the screenwriter who shares my vision is a partner in the company (very rare in Hollywood), and I think that will protect me from things like that. But there is no legal protection against it.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Polly, I know folks who've made a lot of money from options and never had a movie actually made from their work.