November 3, 2007

I woke with a sinking feeling in my gut, one that never bodes well, regardless of whether I’ve been drinking the night before or not. This one was no exception. My first email of the day was from a film producer back home whom I’d been working with over the past several years. We first met when he hired me to write a film script on an original idea of his. I liked the idea and agreed to do it for very low pay (what else?) plus seven percent of the profits, with an understanding that if my script helped attract a sizeable budget, I’d receive a more sizeable writing fee. (All of this was contracted, thank god!) I delivered the script in record time, quickly wrote a second draft to his specifications and then let him tinker with it. Ultimately, we both declared the results to be to our liking. In fact, he even told me he was “proud” of it, which he would later deny.

The email started off by saying he’d been talking to a lawyer who could get him a great deal of investment money to make the film, provided there were no residual writer fees attached to the deal. Oh, and by the way? The lawyer also said he was overly generous in offering me seven percent of profits and suggested he give me three. (In fact, there are no ‘profits’ in film budgets, so it doesn’t really matter, though ten-percent is considered the industry standard.) His email went on to say that if I didn’t agree to renegotiate the contract, he’d have someone else rewrite the script and cut me out of the deal. Yuck! I’m not even a Hollywood writer, but I was being stabbed in the back like one. Ironically this came on the eve of the American Writers Guild strike. In my wisdom, I did not respond angrily right away and decided instead to sleep on it. I also tried very hard not to brood, as is my wont.

At noon, we arrived at the Authors’ Village to a fantastic welcome from Rick and his partner Craig, who were already working hard, despite the day’s having just kicked off. Palm Springs Pride is segregated from the city in an outdoor field, which seems odd to those of us used to having entire city blocks at our disposal, though I guess that’s just segregation of a different kind. In any case, the Pride Festival takes place under pavilions and tents a few streets off the main drag. (For those of you who don’t know it, Palm Springs is very small and has only a few very long major through-streets.)

I wasn’t the first author to arrive. Two young entrepreneurs named Clint Romag and Mickel Angelo Paris were hard at work hawking their wares. Frankly, these boys were so cute it didn’t really matter what they were selling because they would have found any number of buyers, most of who turned out to be older (male) admirers.

Rick and Shane soon had me set up with posters and flyers and signing pens, and the buyers miraculously appeared. I was signing and chatting like a real author even faster than I’d expected. Although I can’t claim to have been a name draw, I was surprised and pleased when people said they knew of my book and wanted to buy it! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it all seemed too simple and rewarding after everything I’ve experienced in the last few months!

That afternoon, a rather amusing man bought a book and asked me to sign it. He asked me to tell him the story briefly, just “beginning, middle, ending.” I muddled through an improvised pitch. He then introduced himself as George Taninatz, a producer with Embrem Entertainment. Embrem is an independent production company looking for story properties for one of the stars of the hit internet series, Dante’s Cove. He left his contact details and said he’d be in touch. I’ll be waiting. (Which just goes to prove, if you lose one producer there’s always another waiting in the wings!)

Of all the authors I was privileged to meet that day and the next, the one I remember best is Michael Thomas Ford (Mike!), who was witty, gracious, likeable, slightly jaded and extremely fun to talk to. He confided how he disliked doing author events (though you’d never have known it when he was talking to his fans.) We also had a little gripe session about how we felt about writing “genre” fiction—he romance, me mystery—and how it was funny that it was looked down on by some authors, even though it made money. (Probably more for him than for me!) Despite that, we’re both proud of our work—I doubt either one of us would ever publish something we didn’t believe in.

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