Friday, April 7, 2017

How Bad is the Movie Industry Hurting?

The Author of 16 Secrets has some advice for Screenwriters

Anyone in the movie business who tells you they’re not scared stiff about the future is probably lying. There is mounting anxiety among theater owners, studio executives, filmmakers, and cinephiles that the lights may be starting to flicker. 

-- Brent Lang - Variety

For the record, I don't disagree with the quote or the overall assessment in the article written by Brent Lang for Variety. I do wonder why his piece doesn't mention the huge factor of the aging population in the United States as one of the major causes for the decline of the domestic theatrical box office numbers. Perhaps this factor has been mentioned so many times over the last decade, it's no longer worth including as part of the summary. But setting that aside... 

I agree. There's a problem. 
The theatrical movie business is in big trouble.

The good news for screenwriters (professional and aspiring) is that breaking through and working in TV is a totally different matter.
In the near future, I will be specifically addressing this difference with my posts and an upcoming book.
However, with the difficulties of an ever-changing marketplace, there are many writers out there who are confused and unsure about this one issue -- What Should I Write Right Now?

I decided to put together a Core Checklist of what you should always consider before you begin your next writing effort. 
This checklist doesn’t necessarily offer incredible insight or originality. Indeed, a few of the points are probably a repeat of the same stuff most of you have read before over the years. 
But I began writing the list by asking myself - what are the factors that have guided me over the years that has allowed me to maintain a professional screenwritering /filmmaking career for the last two decades?
My answer ended up being a long list. But here are Six Core Principals for Screenwriters to think about when making a decision about -- 

What to Write Right Now

1) Write something that is not just of an interest to you, or your family and friends.

The goal in anything you write for the industry is to actually pursue a project that would be of interest to people motivated enough to pay to read (or watch) what you’ve written.

2) Write What You know.

Yeah, I know, obviously you've read this before. So here is the next level to the phrase — write not only what you know about, but write in a way that the outside world will associate your subject/style/genre with you. It's one of the best ways if the goal is to get your work produced.

3) Write what you are reasonably sure you can complete.

This is especially true when you have a history of uncompleted projects. 
Writing and stopping after the first draft only works when writing in a diary. 

4) Write in a "timeless" way. Don't choose as subject or write in a way that attempts to be of the moment.

What you write can be a period piece… a project set in the present-day… or a project set in the future. The setting doesn't matter as much as making your creative effort timeless rather than "gimmicky" or an attempt to be "cutting edge." Content over Flash is always the way to go. Think of your content being about what lies below the surface, not on what happens to be floating at that moment across the water.  

5) Write something that will showcase what you're capable of achieving, even beyond the present work. 

We're talking about "calling card" here. Your script should be saying to those people in the industry who need a writer to work on their project -- look what I can do. You should hire me to make your script as good as the one you're reading.  

6) Write something that challenges you in a different way creatively, invading your comfort zone as a writer. 

The best lessons in my creative life have come from challenges that were beyond what I had done before. Even when we fail to gain “success” from attempting such a challenge, often times the work post-challenge becomes noticeably better.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How writing about the End Days became Prophetic

Back in 2009, author Richard Finney (with D.L. Snell) wrote the DEMON DAYS Saga (Four Books / Over 1000 pages / 280,000 words). 
Several chapters of Book Three take place in the city of Aleppo, Syria. Seven years later the city has become decimated by a civil war, which shockingly matches much of what is depicted in the Book written by Finney and Snell.  show much of hocking the book became . 
We're excited to share an excerpt from the paranormal thriller DEMON DAYS Saga so you can see for yourself how fiction can end up being sadly prophetic about current events.   

(Book Three)

Chapter 18

On the road out of the airport, Wolfenson’s team was delayed at a checkpoint. The Syrian military had formed an armed perimeter with roadblocks and hundreds of men. 
Luckily one of the guards recognized the envoy from his talk show appearances. “You were funny, sir,” the guard said in plain English.
“Shukran,” Wolfenson replied. He had rolled down his window so he could talk.
The guard gestured into the other back seat next to Wolfenson. “What is that?”
“It is bread.”
The guard nodded again, as if in perfect understanding. He pointed to the far fields, where hundreds of lights flickered and flagged. “Be careful out there. Some of them are dangerous.”
“Are they refugees?” Reitz asked.
Before the guard could answer, Wolfenson said, “If you don’t mind me asking, soldier, do you have a wife and children?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Excellent. Do you have a picture?”
The soldier paused, surprised by the question. He dug a photograph out of his wallet and handed it to Wolfenson, who studied the image thoughtfully.
“Your little one,” he said. “What’s her name?”
Wolfenson nodded. “And is she safe?”
“Her name means ‘alive and well,’ sir,” the guard said with proud relief. Wolfenson laughed, and the soldier smiled at having entertained a great man. “My wife says her name’s a sign from Allah.”
Wolfenson nodded and handed back the picture. “Your wife is right. Mashallah, soldier. She’s beautiful.”
“Mashallah,” the guard said. “Fe Aman Allah.” He let them pass, let them out toward the flickers in the field. 
Reitz’s vehicle, a Humvee, handled well over the roadway, which was as full of faults as the ancient earth.
“So, Reitz,” Fincher said as they travelled. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to Carl—how is he doing?”
“He appears to be fine, sir.” 
“And his family?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say.” Ahead, road barrels reflected in Reitz’s headlights. 
“Yes, I understand. Your relationship is strictly professional.”
“Not exactly,” Reitz replied. “Mr. Saracen is a private man, so I don’t know much about his family. But we’ve been through a lot together and he’s more than earned my undying loyalty. So things are more than professional between us.” He squinted at the road barrels ahead. “Overpass is out.”

Guided by GPS, Reitz took an off-ramp, and then an on-ramp, bypassing the whole mess. In a minute they were back on the main road. “Eyes sharp,” he said, pointing at the flickers in the field, which were fires.
Immediately, a loose squad of men spilled out of the night, waving. Some could have been mistaken for Westerners by dress, while others, Muslims, wore red-and-white checkered headdresses. 
Reitz slowed and swerved around them, but Fincher told him to speed up. 
“Don’t give them a chance to get in front of us.” 
Reitz complied.
The men in the road had come from makeshift camps where children and women, veiled to the eyes, huddled around burning trashcans. Thousands of Syrians inhabited the dark farmland, naturally segregated by Muslims and minorities, like Christians, but also naturally brought together by the quake. They had migrated from the city knowing that aid would come by air. 
“So where are we headed, sir?” Reitz asked.
“To the trade market in Khan al-Shouneh.”
Reitz glanced at him in the rearview mirror. “Sir, surely you’ve seen the satellite pictures of that area. It’s devastated.”
“Sadly, that is the case. But it’s the survivors we need to speak to, not the dead.”
“And I must warn you,” Dr. Fincher said to Reitz. “These people we’re going to see, they’ll be spooked by a U.S. soldier carrying a weapon.”
“I haven’t been a soldier since my tour in Baghdad, sir. I’m a private employee now, have been for years.”
“Just the same, we’ll need you to hold your position outside. Can we count on you to make that happen?”
Reitz addressed Wolfenson in the rearview, as if the envoy had asked the question and not Dr. Fincher. “Sir, that request makes me very uncomfortable. I’ve never lost a client. I refuse to start with you.”
Wolfenson unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned forward to squeeze Reitz’s shoulder. “That’s very commendable, soldier. I can see why Carl holds you in such high esteem. But trust me, behaving rashly is the one thing that could get us killed.” 
Out of the darkness, a roadblock materialized, a building collapsed into the road. And in the desert directly before it, several eyes shined. 
“What in the hell?” Reitz slowed down and looked through a pair of night vision binoculars. “Canines of some sort. Three of them, just standing there by the side of the road.” He zoomed in and then lowered his binoculars as the beasts resolved in the headlights. “I think they might be coyotes.”
Wolfenson leaned forward again to stare out the windshield.
“Impossible,” Fincher said, squinting. “There are no coyotes in Syria.”
“They could have escaped from the zoo,” Reitz suggested.
“Aleppo doesn’t have a zoo.”
“And yet,” Wolfenson interjected, “Reitz is correct. They are coyotes.”
The animals weren’t moving, even as the Humvee roared near and spewed its exhaust. They stood as monuments unshaken, even by the faults of the land.
Since he was a boy, the hairs at the nape of Fincher’s neck had been sensitive. He had always thought of the hairs as an extrasensory organ, feelers that bristled cold against a very specific stimulus. Out here, at the edge of catastrophe, his hairs should have been on end—he knew that. But they weren’t.
“Pull over,” the envoy said to Reitz.
“Yes, sir.” Reitz parked on the shoulder of the road, but kept the engine running. Wolfenson threw open his door and got out. With the confidence of an accomplished man, he strode toward the feral trinity.
“Sir!” Reitz shouted, scrambling for his submachine gun, an HK MP 5. He turned to Dr. Fincher and said, “What’s he doing?!” 
Fincher, ignoring him, got out too. 
“Damn it!” Reitz jumped out of the driver’s side and chased after them, breathing in the smoke and the night. 
About two dozen yards from the canines, Wolfenson halted. Fincher and Reitz stopped with him. The coyotes’ six eyes shined like moons in the headlights, fixed solely on the envoy.
This close to the threat, Fincher still didn’t feel the chill down his neck, the one that told him which instinct to follow. 
Slowly, calmly, Wolfenson took another step forward. The coyotes crouched in unison, moving as one beast with three heads. It growled, six eyes flashing.
Reitz stepped between Wolfenson and the predators, aiming his weapon. The eyes looked right past him to the envoy. 
“Sir, if you would, please back up toward the Hummer. Slowly...”
“Yes,” Fincher said, and began to back up himself. “Excellent idea.”
A second later, Wolfenson backed up too, and the coyotes began to bark.
When they could talk privately near the rumble of the Humvee, Wolfenson leaned toward the doctor. “Where are we at with acquiring those pages?” 
Fincher hesitated, embarrassed. “We’re working on it.” 
The envoy didn’t react to the news. He was too fixated on the coyotes, which Reitz seemed to be holding back with his weapon. “Canis latrans,” Wolfenson finally remarked.
Fincher furrowed his brow. “Latin for... barking dog?”
“Yes, the coyote. They have a gift of making the howls of a few sound like the howls of the many.” He looked toward the roadblock of brick and mortar. “I believe that’s why the Landlord chose them as his messengers.” 
Fincher glanced at him and noticed that, for the first time, The Angel of Light’s look of fixed confidence had disappeared. 
The doctor opened his mouth to say something—but then Reitz fired his submachine gun into the air. The coyotes no longer barked at Wolfenson. They growled.
“Should I shoot them?” Reitz asked.
“No, let them be!” the envoy shouted over the sound of the Hummer. “Time to move out! We need to find a way around!” He and Dr. Fincher got into the vehicle, and Reitz started to retreat slowly from the beasts.
Taking advantage of the brief privacy, Fincher turned to the envoy, who sat beside the bread. “Messengers. For what?”
Wolfenson stared out at the roadblock, resting his elbow on the door rest, resting his hand over his mouth. “To issue a warning,” he said. “A final caveat about my plan.”
With that, Reitz opened his door and climbed in. Behind him, the coyotes howled, and the hairs on the back of Dr. Fincher’s neck finally shivered on end. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Vampires have taken Over the World. 

Of those who survived the holocaust...
Most have become prisoners in concentration camps. 
The captured are kept Alive to Tap their Blood
For the Undead.
If the Living are to reclaim the planet... 
The rebellion begins with an Escape from Captivity. 
All the Prisoners of CCC187 must be willing...
To Bleed for the Living... 
Or Die Donating Blood to the Undead. 


The Next Book in the Relict Vampire Series


Monday, January 11, 2016

DEMON DAYS Book One is Back! 

Read the First Book in the Best-Selling Thriller Series with key art and other extras chosen by the author!

UPDATE: This Online Showcase is no longer Available!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CHECK OUT the Official Page for the PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITING Book Series. There's a new post -- 

On one of the Online community sites dedicated to Screenwriting, one of the members asked why it's so tough for a person over 50-years-old to make it as a screenwriter? CLICK HERE

Monday, November 30, 2015

Check out the Latest Post by the author of the Professional Screenwriting Book Series

A fellow Screenwriter writes on his facebook Page: I'm trying to wrap my brain around screenwriting again after some time off and it is challenging.

I responded with some advice -- a step by step process for getting back to writing screenplays after some time off. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Is the Movie Business Hurt


On November 19th, Variety published a piece by the former editor and chief, Peter Bart, in which he attempts to come up with some meaningful reasons to explain the recent poor box office performance of what he considers “good movies” and what the rest of the industry had generally considered to be potential Oscar nominees.  
The Online Variety piece is followed by comments from readers, which I highly recommend anyone interested in the subject should read to get a sample of all the different thoughts on this issue. 
Personally, I spoke with Peter Bart twice in my life....


Thursday, November 19, 2015


This morning Variety announced that the FX show The Bastard Executioner (created by the Series Showrunner, Kurt Sutter) was canceled. 
I watched the show from the beginning and found the quality of the production on the series to be exceptional, and the performances by all the actors excellent as well. 

However, from the start, and throughout the run of the series, I found the scripts were good (at times very provocative, specifically the arc/storyline of the character, Milus Corbett/portrayed by actor Stephen Moyer)... 
But not great. 

This assessment became easier when another TV show launched around the same time --The Last Kingdom (on the BBC network). TLK was essentially a series similar in genre as TBE - Neo-Realistic Medieval Action-Drama-Romance. 
TLK ended up telling a better story, not only overall, but every episode was emotionally and intellectually engaging. Setting aside the action scenes of both series (though TLK was better than TBE on that front as well), I’m specifically referring to the scenes of the characters moving the plot forward with their interaction and dialogue. TLK’s
Talk-Talk stuff was much more 
riveting, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging than similar scenes in TBEAnd I believe this ultimately was the main reason TBE did not connect with a bigger audience to justify a second season. 


In the Variety article, Kurt Sutter is quoted as saying, “The Bastard Executioner had a dense mythology. It was historically based. I do think they’re harder to plug into. It takes more time for people to find those shows and to have the energy to sit and watch them.” 

I think Mr. Sutter is a gifted storyteller, but I’m not sure there’s anything right about his verbal autopsy of his own series. 
First, I believe there's a lot of viewers (we can start with the number of viewers who tuned into the first episode of TBE – 4.2 million people) who would have had no problem plugging into a neo realistic period piece action/romance TV series. The trick is for the filmmakers to deliver a show which creatively connects to a sizeable amount of an audience with traditional and contemporary genre expectations.   
And, what I believe was the second biggest problem with TBE was that the mythology of the series wasn’t actually very deep at all. 
Only in the most recent episodes did viewers get a glimpse of some hidden writings that might have come from Jesus Christ himself. 
And the reveal that the main character was related biologically to another principal character in the series just occurred in the most-recent episode. 
Is there any doubt that both story/series reveals came way too late in the game if the filmmakers intended the content to be considered an essential part of the creative DNA of the series? 

Sutter’s only previous effort as the main show runner of a TV series was The Sons of Anarchy, a ground breaking series that ran for seven years on FX. Is it possible Sutter didn’t re-calibrate his artistic sensibilities when unfolding the overall story arc in the first year of a brand-new series? 
The thinking behind the storylines of a show in its sixth season is obviouslycreatively different than what is required for launching a new show in the hope that a sizeable amount of viewers (even if one is assuming that there will be loyal followers from the previous show who will trust you know what you'e doing and stick with you), will respond throughout the entire run of the series.  
I point all of this out for Professional Screenwriters/Filmmakers to take notice and digest.
I’m certainly simplifying the creative reasons for the cancellation of a well-produced TV series, but I think there are possible cautionary lessons that can still be learned from TBE’s cancellation. 

I liked The Bastard Executioner, and will be excited to see how the season/series final plays out. 
But the show wasn’t exceptional. 
And being exceptional is really important in the modern entertainment marketplace where viewers have so many quality choices every night.
Coming up as the second best medieval action drama on TV can end up with someone losing their head.   

Sunday, November 15, 2015


6 Reasons You’ll Love Reading –

The DEMON DAYS Book Series

You love reading novels with a Female as the Main Character

The four books in the DEMON DAYS Saga showcase two very smart, complicated and strong female main characters. Sandy Travis and Jenna Grant are modern professional women who end up confronting the deadly conspiracy while going about their professional and personal lives. And both use their professional expertise in an attempt to save the people they love.

Your Genre of Choice is Supernatural/Modern World  

The Scariest Scary can be Reality. Your house is not haunted, but somehow your life has become invaded/surrounded by dark forces who impact your life, and attempt to control those you love and care about.

You enjoy reading books that feel like a rollercoaster ride

Who doesn’t love the experience of turning the pages in a book faster and faster because there’s no way to guess where the story is taking you.  

You enjoy a Thrill Ride, but also love some substance  

The DEMON DAYS Book Series are peppered with insights about who we are, how we think, and what is in play as human beings living in a modern, complicated world that is always changing –

It has a dark take on Near-Death Experiences

When we venture beyond our home we are naturally vulnerable to those who prey on our journey in a new environment. Could this be especially true as one fights to survive during a NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE? Wouldn’t we be the most vulnerable in the transition from life to… death.

Other Readers love the Books

“I started recommending this one not long after I started reading it.”

                                                                                - Shannon

“I had fun and felt like I couldn't get enough. This would make a great TV series in the tradition of 'The Walking Dead', 'V', and 'Hell on Wheels'.”

                                                                                - Stephen

“This book series will fascinate people that love Near-Death Experiences, mystery, horror, suspense, wild rides, romance and history buffs.”

                                                                                - Mitzi

“The characters in this book series are beautifully crafted and there is an extremely intricate plot that all slots together perfectly. You just couldn’t ask for a better book.

                                                                                - Katy

“The holy grail of Apocalyptic literature!”

                                                                                - Terry

When I wasn't reading the Book Series I was thinking about it.  I'm willing to bet if this falls into the right hands we will be seeing a movie. Yes, it’s that good. 

                                                                                - Duchovney

Never have I read a book so full of intriguing plot changes that can keep you guessing ‘til the very end.
                                                                                - Kitty

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 Ways William Shakespeare Wrote like a Modern Professional Screenwriter... 

And 3 Ways Will did Not

Monday, October 19, 2015


is... FREE!

at the Book Distributor of your choice -- 


-- From the staff at LONO PUBLISHING

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Richard Finney, author of the bestselling PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITING Book Series has posted some thoughts on constructing the main character in your screenplay. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Could NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES all over the world be leading to a dark plot to usher in the End Days?

For the first time, the complete DEMON DAYS Saga has been gathered together in a BOXED SET!
This Collection of all Four DEMON DAYS Books total 275,000 words / And nearly 1,000 pages of content!
And this Boxed Set includes the completely revised and rewritten DEMON DAYS Book One. 

The DEMON DAYS Saga is a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave you breathless as you follow -- Two Women searching for answers to a mysterious, deadly plot to trigger the End Days

Sandy Travis is a journalist who believes her boyfriend has become possessed after suffering a Near-Death Experience. 

Jenna Grant is an archeologist who is hired by her brother to authenticate the Black Pages, an ancient document revealing a modern international conspiracy involving dark forces known as the Red Veil, a group manipulating world events to achieve their ultimate goal –  Safe Passage for Satan to dwell among us… leading to THE APOCALYPSE



Or read these books if you want to know how it could...


Saturday, July 4, 2015


What's the Best Approach to Working out Your Story?



Friday, June 12, 2015


This reminded me quite a bit of "The Road Warrior"..........or at least those kind of stories. It is a fast paced story that I was able to read in 1 day. Very good at keeping me wanting more. Never a dull moment to be sure.

THE WIND RAIDER - BK ONE is just the beginning... 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Excerpt from the Latest Post by "Professional Screenwriter" Author Richard Finney 

The entertainment Industry has a sorry past of taking the hip catch-phrase/ memorable gesture in produced movies and recycling the moment as a weapon to use against someone who has hit an Entertainment Career Detour. 

“Hasta la vista, baby” was the Valedico du jour after “Terminator 2” became a hit movie in the 90s.

And two decades before, the classic Industry send off for failure was the full face kiss Michael Corleone gives his brother Fredo in “GodfatherII."  

For the purpose of giving back to the industry, I’ve collected some commonly used phrases used today in Hollywood so the younger generation coming up through the ranks will better understand that there are often times in this Industry when “Hello” actually means “Goodbye” --

“Who are you… and how did you get on the lot?”

“Thank you for your submission. Your script was covered by one of our best Interns...”

“I had my agent call your agent. It turns out you don’t have an agent… or a manager. But we have a bigger problem -- you also don’t have a lawyer. So right now, my lawyer is just sitting in his office… not sure who he should call…”

“I’m sure you’re really important, but I still need to see your badge”

“Go ahead and use that phone to try and contact your agent. Let’s find out together if he answers your call.”

“My assistant read to me the evaluation on your script this morning. Brace yourself because what I heard from her was not good news...”

“I heard someone here really liked your script, but unfortunately we're no longer accepting any script submissions outside the 310 area code.”

“I saw your movie at the premiere party. But that was a long time ago. At least nine months, right? Have you ever tasted champagne from a bottle opened nine months ago? There’s no bubbles rising to the top. Just the taste of sour grapes.”