Want to write, but not sure how to get started? Having trouble completing a novel, story, memoir or screenplay?Overwhelmed with ideas? Just feeling stuck?
Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson is offering a 4-week creative writing summer workshop designed to get you writing with clarity and enjoyment.
Each class begins with Laurie’s Writer’s Yoga including a guided meditation/imagination exercise to get grounded, present and open to your own creative flow.
We’ll discuss the cultural purpose of storytelling and hone in on your own values and perspectives – a big part of developing a unique voice and staying motivated as a writer.
We’ll practice some of Laurie’s favorite writing exercises designed to to quiet the inner critic and get your creative juices flowing while exploring key elements of dramatic writing.
A safe creative environment will be established through a non-judgmental approach to feedback. This way we avoid premature criticism that tends to stifle good writing.
Join The Workshop and Get Empowered as a Writer
Schedule: Monday evenings, July 25 – August 15, 7-9pm
Location: Summer Studios, 2161 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717
Reserve your spot (limited to 8 participants): (310) 325-8801
Cost: $120 for series
Instructor: Laurie Lamson
Laurie is a professional writer, filmmaker and editor. She has completed several screenwriting assignments and currently has three of her own scripts in development with producers. Her short film Family Values in the Goddess Years played in festivals from Berlin to San Francisco.
Laurie has a passion for encouraging fellow and sister writers. For three years she was telecon host for the International Screenwriters’ Association. She designed and taught two creative writing series for teen girls. She was also editor of three writing exercise anthologies published by Tarcher/Penguin:Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Now Write! Mysteries and Now Write! Screenwriting.
Learn more about Laurie’s philosophy on writers and writing.
Neil is summoned to the apartment of actor Roddy Donaldson, leader of the “Diapered Dozen” gang of teenage movie stars, by condo manager Sharon Glenn. Roddy is in bed clinging to life alongside two dead girls, no memory of who they are or how they got there. Evidence points to him as their killer.
At the urging of Roddy’s mother, a prominent casting director, Neil chases after the truth, encountering a motley cast of suspects.
More bodies fall and Neil faces an ugly death before the killer of the two girls is revealed in this fast-paced mystery-thriller by an author who knows Hollywood’s many sins and secrets from the inside out.
Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption, and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time?
Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he’s sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sunil Singh, a South African transplant who specializes in the study of psychopaths. As Sunil tries to crack the twins, the implications of his research grow darker. Haunted by his betrayal of loved ones back home during apartheid, he seeks solace in the love of Asia, a prostitute with hopes of escaping that life. But Sunil’s own troubled past is fast on his heels in the form of a would-be assassin.
A heartwarming story told with Matthew Dicks’ signature wit, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a deceptively simple novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives, and the bravery of one woman trying to change her life and finds true understanding of her daughter, and herself, along the way.
Now Write! contributors have many offerings in the upcoming Greater Los Angeles Writers’ Conference, June 17-19 at Valley College in Van Nuys, California. (Download the Program Guide.)
The GLAWS Writers’ Conference presents individual tracks for Aspiring, Active, and Accomplished writers (what they call the 3-A’s.) Each offers a progression of educational lectures, panels, interactive workshops and special events, so attendees are immersed in an educational and inspirational environment all weekend.
Saturday, June 18, 4:45PM –Don’t miss this rare opportunity: accomplished contributors to three different Now Write! books come together on one panel to inspire and encourage you with their professional insight and Now Write! exercises that deal with creative brainstorming and ways to incorporate real life into fiction.
Screenwriter, novelist and writing teacher Al Watt contributed “Trusting Yourself” to Now Write! Screenwriting, bestselling novelist and short story writer Robert S. Levinsoncontributed “The Truth Is In The Fiction” to Now Write! Mysteries, and NYT bestselling author and TV series writer Steven Barnes contributed “Creativity On Demand” to Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson is pleased to moderate and really looking forward to this one.
Full line up of Now Write! contributors at the conference
Friday, June 17
2:00pm: Learn How To Pitch a Literary Agent or Publisher This panel includes Now Write! Screenwriting contributor, Marilyn R. Atlas.
Saturday, June 18
11:15am: Develop the Perfect Pitch: No Apologies Necessary This panel includes Now Write! Screenwriting contributor, Devo Cutler-Rubenstein.
12:30pm This year the keynote speaker is accomplished screenwriter, producer, director and 2-time Now Write! contributor Christine Conradt. Her talk, “Planting The Seeds of Success,” scheduled for Saturday, June 18 at, is guaranteed to be a powerful, inspiring presentation.
3:30pm Finding and Using Your Unique Voice in Your Writing
Workshop with Now Write! Screenwriting and Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor, Devo Cutler-Rubenstein.
4:45pm Now Write! All Pro Panel with Al Watt, Robert S. Levinson, Steven Barnes and moderator Laurie Lamson.
Sunday, June 19
11:15am No Agent? No Problem! How to Sell a Script Without One
Workshop with Now Write! contributor Christine Conradt.
I had purchased the first book in the Now Write!series many years before my first coaching session with Laurie Lamson. I thought the book was great and it was intriguing to me that its author and series creator, Sherry Ellis, lived in Massachusetts, in a town not far from where I lived. She offered coaching lessons for writers to boot. To think I could meet in-person with a writing coach was exciting to say the least.
I hesitated to contact Ms. Ellis because the project that I was working on at the time (and was quite passionate about) was a beloved screenplay, yet to be finished, of course. I didn’t know if she would scoff at the idea of reviewing and coaching someone on a screenplay and not “real” writing (i.e. prose.)
Then again, I didn’t ask. Ah, the insecurities that come with being an artist. That aside, I hadn’t finished it anyway, so there was no point yet. I was working a fulltime job and had a wife and two small children to support. Time spent on the screenplay was during “third shift” hours.
So I plugged away at my screenplay, night after night after night after night.
Developing character and plot and dialogue. Some days convinced I was a shoe-in for an Academy Award, the next wondering why I was wasting part of my life doing this (I’ve come to learn these ups and downs pretty much come with the territory for any writer.)
Finally, I finished and needed someone, a neutral party, to tell me if I had anything worth sending to Hollywood. By this time the Now Write! series had released a book specific to screenwriting so I hit the Now Write! website only to find out that Sherry Ellis had passed away. Ooof. Punch to the gut. Wind knocked out of me. A human life, dedicated to the arts, gone. A writing coach, in my own backyard. I had felt, somehow, that she and I were destined to work together.
I searched and contacted other writing coaches, especially ones who I could meet with in person, but either they were hard to come by or they all worked in prose. None worked in screenwriting.
Many months later, I don’t know why really, I went to the Now Write! website again. Laurie had revamped the site with a touching tribute to her Aunt and copy stating that she was taking over the series and she was offering coaching services. I emailed and asked if she was available to consult/coach on my screenplay.
She responded and said indeed she was available for consultation.
I sent along my screenplay and waited for her response with bated breath.
About two weeks later, she said she had finished reading and we arranged a call to discuss (had to be a call; she’s on the West Coast, I’m on the East.) The feedback was honest and blunt and sincere and useful.
My “little” screenplay weighed in at over 200 pages. Way too much for a screenplay, which typically run 120 pages max. Laurie touched on this in our session. She suggested that I stick to one theme (I had too many themes for a screenplay). The message among many that I took away was that I had written a novel in screenplay format. She provided encouragement but also a dose of reality, like any great coach.
In some ways I was shattered. No Academy Award after all. I didn’t take it personally because I knew the reality was a 200-page, multi-themed, screenplay wasn’t going to cut it for a first-time screenwriter. Heck maybe not even for a seasoned screenwriter with connections galore.
I contemplated many things. Should I publish it as a screenplay? I really dwelled on this one for a long time. Personally I ate up any screenplay I could read. A good number were sold on Amazon and in bookstores in “book” format (I have several) and others you could easily find on a variety of websites.
It was around this time that I noticed a large number of movies being released that were based on novels. Almost to the point where, it seemed anyways, every movie released was based on a novel. Perhaps, I thought, my entry into Hollywood would not come from submitting a screenplay but by publishing a novel, garnering an audience first and getting a movie deal that way.
I even emailed Laurie to ask her opinion: What do you think of me converting my screenplay to a novel?
Her response: I like it. Go for it!
It was then that I had an epiphany of sorts. I would no longer define myself as a screenwriter or a novelist, but rather a storyteller.
I didn’t really care if I was a hit in Hollywood. I just liked to tell stories and wanted an audience. Be it viewing or reading.
Okay, I would convert my screenplay into a novel, the one that I had put time, sweat, tears and more time into. This of course meant even more time dedicated to this particular story. All of my other ideas that were queued up would have to wait. This is one of the toughest parts of being a writer. Disciplining yourself to concentrate on the project at hand, despite the outpouring of new ideas from your subconscious. For the record, at least in my case, I think it’s a way to procrastinate as well.
But I knew how long it took me to write that screenplay. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to dedicate another year of my life to writing the novelization of it. And besides, I had never really written prose. Not in a serious way and not for a long time. The short of it was, could I even write prose? What to do?
I decided that before I embarked on the arduous task of novelizing my screenplay that I should write a short story to prove that I could in fact write prose and hang with the big boys and girls. I would then ask Laurie for feedback on this little tale and her candid advice would in some capacity, though not entirely, let me know if I should proceed.
It should be noted about now that I was paying her for all this. Laurie’s great but she does deserve to get paid. Just saying.
The Evolution of a Novel
For some time an idea had been sitting on the shelf in my brain where ideas yet to be born take up residence. It had been there for some time. It told of a character that is stuck in a dystopian future – I know, I know. Is there anything but a dystopian future these days? – where corporations ruled the world. Where work had not just tipped the balance but outright knocked the scale in the work-life balance equation completely over and crushed it into dust.
Around the same time, I had read of some reports that certain eBooks were being updated by publishers and authors without reader consent. The majority, if not all, of these updates were innocuous and innocent in their intent. Grammar and spelling changes and perhaps a slight change to some of the writing itself. All with the intention of making it better. What it boiled down to, in my eyes at least, was you were getting a second or third edition…automatically. But I guess this peeved some people off. That they were getting updates without consent. That it was in violation of something or other.
Regardless of my personal opinion on this, I thought, “What if these futuristic corporate overlords did this with the intention of re-writing history to serve their own interests and agendas”?
And what if there was this one person who was sort of a recluse living out in the country that preserved real books and lived a life that was the complete opposite of the poor corporate drone?
And what if these two characters somehow met?
I embarked on the writing of a story. A short story. A very short story. It would be twenty pages, tops. Five thousand words at the very most. And I always envisioned leaving the ending open-ended. The reader would interpret for himself or herself what happened.
I finished a decent rough/first draft and, yikes, it weighed in at some 30,000 words. So much for short.
I contacted Laurie again. I asked her to review one short screenplay I wrote, one children’s book I wrote and my “short story” titled Bookworm.
Laurie got to the children’s book and the short screenplay first and we had a phone session to discuss. She had her usual candid and helpful feedback and overall said she loved both. Okay, now I was getting somewhere. I wasn’t crazy to think I could be a writer. Not that anyone should ever need someone else to tell them that, but it helps when you have a professional, neutral party tell you that you’ve got something. If I needed someone to tell me I was the best writer in the world I would have just gone to my mom.
Anyways, Laurie said she was going to tackle Bookworm next and would be in touch when finished.
The waiting killed me and I would check my email compulsively. I had to know what she thought of my writing.
Finally, I got an email from Laurie. I read it immediately. Damn. The email started off by telling me she was still reading; just checking in. Apparently she had a life outside of reading my story. I know, the nerve of her, right?
at the end of that email were words I will never forget. I quote: “BTW I’m loving Bookworm!!”
Yes! I might be on to something here.
Within a few weeks she finished reading and sent along notes. Laurie provides superb notes. Detailed and thoughtful. She compliments, she argues, she prods, she questions. They are awesome. We also scheduled a phone session. She had more questions, more compliments and more critical feedback during our call. But for me it was all good. < There was only one little problem. She said she had to know how it ended. She told me I couldn’t ask someone to read 30,000 words and leave them hanging. My little “let the reader decide how it ended” wasn’t going to fly. Maybe at 5,000 or fewer words but not 30,000 plus. So it was back to writing. Back to taking her feedback and applying it to the 30,000 words already written and then to coming up with at least 30,000 more.
What started out as a very short story, “a little experiment” to see if I could write prose turned into a nine-month endeavor from there.
I finished the “new” first draft and sent it off to Laurie. When she finished reading and we connected she again provided excellent feedback. Complimenting me in some areas and calling me out for being lazy in others (she was both nice about this and right.) With her notes, I went back to the re-write.
The final draft came in at over 75,000 words. I asked Laurie to be the editor and she graciously accepted. Once her expert editing was complete, I decided to self-publish and have changed the title to Escape From Corpworld.
I had started out with a screenplay. A screenplay that wasn’t working as a screenplay. I decided to convert it into a novel. But first, I would write a short, quaint, little story to prove that I could write prose and it turned into a legitimate novel. Funny how life works isn’t it?
Everyone who has read Escape From Corpworld has enjoyed it (especially my mom, but we all knew she would.) If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it as well.
With coaching I was able to prove to myself that I am a screenwriter, a novelist and ultimately a storyteller. I will be forever grateful.
If you have any questions for me in terms of my process, or what it was like working with Laurie, I would be happy to entertain such a discussion. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via my website: www.jasonsrebnick.com
And of course I need to give you the Amazon link to buy my book: Escape From Corpworld. It’s available in Kindle and paperback.
If you aren’t sure about spending the money, send me an email. I’ll gladly mail you a complimentary copy. All I ask is you write an Amazon review (good, bad or indifferent.) Amazon reviews are gold to an indie-author.
Jason Srebnick is the author of Bookworm. He is a novelist, screenwriter, illustrator, poet, and cartoonist who lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two children and their dog. And books. Lots and lots of books. He currently works in IT Consulting and Management.