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Mona Zhang

Mona is the editor of SocialTimes and social media coordinator at Mediabistro. She graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism and East Asian Studies. Before moving to NYC, she lived in Beijing, London, Madrid and Chicago.

Clyde Phillips to Aspiring Screenwriters: ‘Don’t fall in love with your first script too much’

During NYC Television Week MediabistroTV talked to Clyde Phillips, bestselling crime novelist and current showrunner for Nurse Jackie. He shares some advice for aspiring writers, and tells why novel writing is not that different from TV writing:

Pretty Little Liars Author Sara Shepard on How to Write More

In the latest installment of So What Do You Do?, Mediabistro talked to Sara Shepard, author of the bestselling YA series Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. The prolific writer, who has published 20 books in eight years, talks about getting her series optioned as TV shows, how she got into YA and how any writer can get more words onto the page:

“I am a big outliner. For my adult book, The Visibles, I did not outline, and it took me two years to write because I just didn’t outline and I had no path,” she said. “The other thing is, because I have really crazy deadlines, I have to write everyday. So, I can’t just sit there and stare at the page. So what I usually do is, I write something. Even if it’s bad, even if I go back later, and I’m like, ‘This is such a bad chapter, and I’m going to have to revise it,’ having words down is better than having nothing.

For the full interview, read So What Do You Do, Sara Shepard, Author of Pretty Little Liars?

Authors Can Promote Eco-friendly Books at Audubon

Audubon, one of the oldest continuously published magazines in the country, has been harvesting some of the best earth-minded writing for more than a century. The pub appeals to the well educated, politically active nature lover. Though the mag is the only pure nature magazine on the market, EIC David Seideman admits that the publication aspires to the reach and commercial success of National Geographic, while still maintaining its commitment to the thought-provoking, long-form type journalism of The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

Audubon regularly publishes eco-themed book reviews, and the website offers a unique promotional opportunity for authors. “If there are authors who have written books about environmental or nature subjects, and they would like to blog on our site to promote their book or run excerpts on the site, we would explore that opportunity with them,” explained Seideman.

For more info, read How To Pitch: Audubon.
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Meet the Woman Behind Steve Harvey’s Book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

Becoming a published author is usually a tough, demanding mission. But for Denene Millner, it was “a total fluke.” The journalist landed a book deal after writing an article for the New York Daily News, and since then has written 20 more, including Steve Harvey‘s New York Times-bestseller Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do? series, the author/journalist/blogger tells what cooperative writing is really like. 

“It’s really crucial that the person who’s writing the book trusts me,” she explained. “It’s extremely difficult to walk into a project with someone who doesn’t trust that you can deliver. There’s nothing worse than working with someone who doesn’t trust you to do your job. And that’s whatever you’re doing. You could be bagging groceries at Kroger. If someone doesn’t trust you not to put the eggs underneath the milk, they’re going to give you a hard time for it.”

For more, read So What Do You Do, Denene Millner, Ghostwriter of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man?

Writing Advice from Producer of The Tudors, History Channel’s Vikings

“My instinct is to absolutely recoil when talking about writing in a mechanistic way,” says screenwriter and producer Michael Hirst. With a bunch of film credits under his belt, along with the award-winning series The Tudors, Hirst talks to Mediabistro for the latest installment of So What Do You Do? Though he writes for a different medium than most of you GalleyCat readers, his advice for research and crafting characters is useful for any writer.

“The key for me with historical characters is they’re interesting because they’re human beings,” he said. “A little bit of Hemingway goes a long way here, but journalists and writers should honestly look at their material and have a real interest, a real passion in what they want to write, and they should also have a lot of knowledge, as well. You don’t write police procedural stuff unless you really know that beat, but it’s ultimately not the procedure that makes the show work — it’s the people. The more real they are, the better.”

For more, read So What Do You Do, Michael Hirst, Creator of The Tudors and Vikings?

Isabel Wilkerson on the 15 Years It Took to Write The Warmth of Other Suns

It’s a pretty big accomplishment for a first-time author to land on the New York Times bestsellers list, but Isabel Wilkerson definitely deserves it. The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist spent 15 years researching and conducted over 1,200 interviews for The Warmth of Other Suns, an account of the men and women who lived through the Great Migration, when 6 million African-Americans moved to the North.

One of the biggest challenges the author says she faced was time. ” I tried to find the oldest members of this migration and capture a range of experiences,” she explained in the latest Mediabistro feature.

“One of the men I chose, the one from Florida, was keenly aware that he was speaking to unborn generations of people. He took it very seriously. At one point he said, ‘If you don’t hurry up and finish this book, I’m gonna be proofreading from heaven.’ And he was right. He didn’t live to see the book.”

Read more

OWN Host Tells How Twitter Got Him a Book Deal

In three short years, Paul Carrick Brunson has gone from a virtually unknown matchmaker to a best-selling author with his own show on OWN. So, how did he become a “real-life Hitch”? Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the relationship coach tells how in the latest installment of Mediabistro’s  So What Do You Do?

“I’m always really transparent on social media, so I went on Twitter and tweeted to my followers that I was thinking about writing a book,” Brunson said. “And one of the associate publishers at Penguin saw it and said, ‘Hey, if you ever write something, let us know. We’d love to look at it.’ A couple months later, I sent him a direct message on Twitter and told him that I had finished the proposal, and he said that he would love to have me come in. I immediately went to New York — no agent — and sat down and had a meeting with them. Within four hours of the meeting I had a deal, and I signed it the next day.”

Read the full interview in So What Do You Do, Paul Carrick Brunson, Matchmaker and Co-host of OWN’s Lovetown, USA?

David Ritz: ‘Write the book you would want to read, not the one you believe you should write’

David Ritz has had a successful ghostwriting career, collaborating with everyone from Ray Charles to Joe Perry, and written quite a few novels too. In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s Hey, How’d You Do That? series, the prolific writer tells how he landed some of his biggest clients, and how gives tips for aspiring ghostwriters.

“When I first met Ray Charles, I didn’t know about ghostwriting; I was just going to do a biography of him,” Ritz recalled. “And then his agent asked me, ‘Which book would you be more interested in reading: a book about Ray Charles written by an egghead or a book written in his own voice?’ I told him that I would much rather read the book written in his own voice, and he told me, ‘You should write the book you would want to read, not the one you believe you should write.’ And that was a big turning point for me.”

For more, read Hey, How’d You Build a Successful Ghostwriting Career, David Ritz? [subscription required]

Pitch Your Fiction to Manhattan

After a somewhat rough start, Manhattan is starting to “hit its stride,” says EIC Cristina Cuomo. The pub, which launched in the midst of the financial crisis, is unlike other city mags since it’s more like a national book with local flavor. And Cuomo, whose first issue with the pub was September’s, is on a mission to “give the magazine a personality and a sense of humor.”

Among her changes? A new section called “The Fictionist,” which welcomes anyone with literary chops be they veteran or newbie authors. Writers can pitch short stories or book excerpts.

For more info, read How To Pitch: Manhattan. [subscription required]

Write for Thinking Mothers in Brain, Child

Brain, Child is not your typical parenting pub. It’s as much a literary mag as it is a parenting one, so it wants writers who can pen more than the usual service angle of most family mags.

The brainy book recently switched leadership, and its new editor in chief, Marcelle Soviero, said “I’m definitely keeping the major tenants of the magazine, which are that we’re a literary magazine for women and that we publish essays, short stories and a feature article in each issue.”

Soviero also said she hopes to develop a poetry section and expand the book reviews. Bonus: she loves working with new writers.  ”I’ve been that new author. I know what that’s like, and I always appreciated when magazines would take a chance on me. I like to do that for people, as well, as long as the work is excellent and meets our needs,” she said.

Read more in How To Pitch: Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. [subscription required]

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