Sisters in Crime meeting

Want to get out of the heat Sunday, September 8? Come hear me interview retired Capt. Paul Duryea at tomorrow’s Sisters in Crime meeting! Capt. Duryea spent twenty years in the Glendale Police Department in Vice/Narcotics, Robbery/Homicide, Intelligence and Internal Affairs. If you’re an aspiring mystery writer or just want to hear fascinating stories about the Hillside Strangler and Paul’s work as an undercover cop you’ll learn a lot during our interview.

The meeting starts at 2 pm (snacks will be served) at the Community Room in the South Pasadena Public Library, 1113 El Centro St,, South Pasadena. Attendance is free. For more information go on line at http://www.sistersincrimela.com.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Killer Ratings signing at LA Times Festival of Books

Thanks to everyone who dropped by the Sisters in Crime booth on Saturday–it was lovely meeting you all. And a special thank you to those who bought “Killer Ratings.” I hope you enjoy it!Festival of Books signing

Killer Ratings Book Signing

I will be signing “Killer Ratings” at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on the USC campus on Saturday, April 20 from 10-12. Please look for me in the Sisters in Crime Booth!

http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

Throw Out Your GPS

When I bought my Honda Hybrid, I insisted it come with a GPS navigator system. It was so easy to plug in the directions and let the oh-so-proper woman behind the speakers direct me to my destination. What I discovered, however, is that I would automatically plug in directions to a destination I’d be heading for at least once a week–without ever really getting to know how to get there on my own. So, one day, I didn’t use my GPS, using my brain instead to lead me there. That first trip was actually kind of nerve-wracking, given that I had taken the route at least twelve times before.  For the first time I really had to pay attention to where I was going and how.

I realized that writing a script or a novel is similar, especially when you rely on the many “how to” books that proliferate the writing market. When I started my first screenplay, I eagerly bought a number of books on how to write a screenplay, using them as I would a GPS system, to help me navigate the best and easiest way to get to my destination–a completed script.

But when I finished the script, thanks to those many “how to” books which told me my inciting incident needed to happen on page ten and the end of the first plot point on page thirty, I discovered I had written the most boring screenplay imaginable. It was purely by the numbers–page numbers. With no inspired character moments or out of the blue plot twists to engage an audience.

I threw out the “how to” books and went back to the beginning of my story, deepening character and coming up with new incidents, ignoring the exact pages on which they should occur. The revised screenplay was optioned several times and even landed me a job on (the original) “Dallas.”

When I stopped using my GPS, I discovered interesting side streets that still led me to my destination–in some cases even faster than if I had stayed true to my navigator’s directions. Why don’t you try throwing out your GPS, those “how to” manuals, and rely on your own instincts? You never know what interesting side streets your imagination will take you to.

The Importance of Mentors

When I was six, in a race to finish homework in order to watch Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, I did a sloppy job of coloring and ended up with a C.  When Dad saw the grade, he asked me why my work was so sloppy.  When I told him, he gave me advice I’ve never forgotten: If you want to succeed in whatever you do, do it well.  I took those words to heart, not realizing at that moment that Dad had become my first mentor.

Mentors are important to our work as writers because they not only point out where we’ve gone off course but never fail to support us.  It’s that combination of criticism and encouragement that every writer needs to not only do his or her best but to keep writing, even when the odds seem against us.

As you begin your journey as a writer, keep an eye out for your mentor.  It could be a supportive high school teacher, or college professor, who gives you helpful criticism while cheering you on.  Perhaps it’s a successful friend who is willing to give you the benefit of his or her experience.  Or even a parent, who, despite wanting something else for you (my dad wanted me to be a lawyer) will still do his or her best to make sure you do yours.

On each show I’ve written for, I’ve always taken away something helpful about writing from my boss, be it Len Katzman on “Dallas” (who taught me how to embrace every character and find something to love even in the most dastardly like JR Ewing), Ann Marcus on “Knots Landing” (who knows more about how to structure a show in her pinkie than most of us do after decades in the business) or Gary Tomlin on “Sunset Beach” (who insisted that we protect our hero, even if he’s in the midst of losing the girl).

In Killer Ratings, I thanked several teachers who, in some way, contributed to my becoming a professional writer.  They were all my mentors and I will always be grateful to them.  Now it’s time for you to start looking for yours.

Killer Ratings book signing!

For those of you who live in the L.A. area or its environs, come to my Killer Ratings book signing at Book ‘Em Mysteries on Sunday, February 10 at 2 pm. Book ‘Em is located at 1118 Mission Street in South Pasadena, CA 91030. Phone number: 626-799-9600.

I’ll be discussing my life in the TV biz. Hope to see you at Book ‘Em!

Killer Ratings Now in Paperback!

Ignition Books, an imprint of Endpapers Press, is pleased to announce that Lisa Seidman’s acclaimed mystery, Killer Ratings, is now available as a trade paperback.

Los Angeles is no stranger to glamour, celebrity . . . and murder. When Susan Kaplan moves to L.A. to become a TV writer, she’s thrilled to be hired as a writers’ assistant on the well-regarded but low-rated TV series Babbitt & Brooks. The last thing she expects, however, is that she’d find herself working for the beautiful yet seriously neurotic Rebecca Saunders, the show’s less-than-competent associate producer who may or may not have gotten the job by sleeping with Babbitt & Brooks’ demanding creator and executive producer, Ray Goldfarb.

And Susan definitely doesn’t expect to find murdered Rebecca’s body in her office at the studio early one morning. When the police learn that Rebecca torpedoed Susan’s writing career shortly before her death, Susan becomes their number one suspect. Determined to prove her innocence and find the murderer, Susan discovers that all her colleagues have secrets they would kill to protect.

From producers to writers to stars, it seems that the hopes and dreams of nearly everyone associated with the show were being threatened by Rebecca.

Despite the danger to her own life, Susan remains determined to find Rebecca’s killer and in the process unmasks the dirty little secrets behind the making of a primetime television series. She learns that real life behind the camera is far more dramatic than the fictional one in front of it.

Lisa Seidman draws on her thirty years of experience as a successful television writer to take the reader behind the scenes and show how the struggle to achieve high ratings truly can lead to murder.

“Lisa Seidman weaves together vivid characters, delightful mystery, and the wry wit of a true TV insider to create a delicious tale of reckless ambition and literal and figurative backstabbing that will not only entertain you, but change your relationship with your television forever.”

—Sheryl J. Anderson, author of Killer Heels

 
“In Killer Ratings, Lisa Seidman, a television writer herself, provides a thrill ride through the ambition-ridden and ego-saturated world of TV production, where there is more death and drama behind the camera than in front of it.”

—Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the Odelia Grey mysteries
and the Ghost of Granny Apples mysteries

 
“Take an edgy TV production team, add a sprinkling of fierce ambition, and finish off with a large handful of paranoia and you have the perfect setting for murder. TV writer Lisa Seidman, who’s been on that set, skillfully does it all in Killer Ratings.”

—Annette Meyers, author of the Smith and Wetzon series

 
“Fascinating. Fast-paced. Fun. Emmy Award-winning scriptwriter Lisa Seidman’s debut mystery goes backstage at a TV production company where pride, passion, and peril lead to Killer Ratings. A Killer Mystery!”

—Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on Demand series

 
“Lisa Seidman’s page-turning whodunit, Killer Ratings, perfectly captures the backstage world of a struggling TV series where appearances are deliberately deceiving and ambition can be absolutely criminal.”

—Mimi Leahey, script editor, All My Children

 
“The drama going on behind the scenes at a TV show is always juicier than what’s on the screen, and Lisa Seidman masterfully combines three of my favorite things: TV, mystery, and a good story well told.”

—Paula Cwikly, writer, The Young and the Restless

Lisa Seidman began her television career writing for the primetime serials such as Falcon CrestDallas, and Knots Landing, as well as Cagney & Lacy, and Murder, She Wrote. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on Guiding Light as well as Writers Guild nominations for Guiding Light and Sunset Beach.

Lisa spent two years as an elected member of the Writers Guild of America, West Board of Directors and wrote for the daytime serial Days of Our Lives for which she was awarded an Emmy. She is currently teaching TV writing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, in addition to writing.

Killer Ratings is available via Barnes & Noble’s website,  CreateSpace, an Amazon company, as well as directly from Amazon.  It can also be ordered via any bookstore’s Ingram account from Lightning Source (ISBN: 978-1-937868-13-0). And, of course, it is also available as an eBook from all major eBook outlets.

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