Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mernit Man's First Novel

Screenwriter and writing instructor Billy Mernit plays a nice tug-of-war with the romantic comedy genre that has been his forte in his first novel,
Imagine Me and You, released by
Shaye Areheart Books

Protagonist Jordan Moore is a struggling Los Angeles screenwriter whose screenplay is currently being courted by one of the more chichi directors in Hollywood. It’s an exciting time, until his marriage comes unraveling at the seams. When his beautiful wife, Isabella, returns to her homeland of Italy, Jordan decides to play on her jealousy, thinking she will return to him.

However, because he loves his wife and wants to get her back, he doesn’t want to have an affair with another woman. To fulfill his goal of making his wife jealous, he makes up a fictional girlfriend, Naomi, patterned after one of his former students. Shortly after beginning his fabricated affair, the woman of his visions appears, and is seen and heard only by Jordan, creating unimagined complications.

Without his beloved Isabella at his side, Jordan finds himself blocked on his screenplay project, jeopardizing the production of the film he’s longed to see on the big screen. His fictional girlfriend encourages him to be true to himself and to do what he was born to do in his life. Still stuck in the illusions placed upon him by society in general and Hollywood specifically, he becomes bogged down in his self-created deceptions, particularly after his wife and the flesh-and-blood Naomi both arrive in Los Angeles.

As Jordan undergoes some serious soul-searching, he pokes fun at his own life as he sees the similarity between it and the standard plot points of the basic romantic comedy story. Mernit notes the seven basic plot points (or “Billy Beats” as my critique partner and I call them – see
Writing the Romantic Comedy ) at the beginning of the chapters in which Jordan notices these beats in his own relationship. Mernit successfully fulfills all the standard romantic comedy, a.k.a., romcom, beats in his first novel with smart dialogue, interesting characters and refreshing flair for capturing life in southern California. I look forward to reading his next novel.

To learn more about Mernit’s work, stop by his blog at:
Living the Romantic Comedy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Romance Novel Industry Documentary

A new documentary exploring the diverse and financially lucrative romance fiction industry is in the works. Cindi Finneran and Charley Reeves of Norman, Oklahoma had read maybe half a romance novel between them. They didn't know much about filmmaking, either.

Despite their lack of experience, they went to Houston intent on making a documentary film about the romance novel industry. Finneran, a hairstylist and single mother of three, had done professional freelance photography for years, but never video. Reeves, her fiance, is a graphic designer and 3-D modeler for an architectural firm. His main leisure time passion: music. Creating a documentary? Not on the radar, until Finneran came home and suggested it.

The two share a couple common interests: They love to learn new things, and they never pass up an opportunity to have an adventure. So when a client of Finneran's, Sharon Sala, published author of more than sixty romance novels, suggested she and Reeves team up and document an upcoming romance convention, Finneran and Reeves knew that was a project they should take on together.

Two weeks later, the two were headed to the 2007 Romantic Times convention in Houston. Finneran said it was an eye-opener. "Here was a whole world I didn't even know existed,” she said.

Hundreds of romance novel enthusiasts roamed the convention floor, most of them in costume. Finneran and Reeves soon learned that for one week every year, romance writers, fans, publishers and the male models who pose for the books' covers converge at the convention to walk, talk and act out romantic fantasies. Captivated, Finneran and Reeves grabbed a video camera and started shooting. They had no agenda, no objective, but a lot of curiosity.

Reading, Riting, Romance: Taming the Alpha Male, is the result of that first shoot, a documentary covering the 2007 convention and more than a year's worth of interviewing and filming, including a follow-up visit to this year's Romantic Times convention in April in Pittsburgh.

"This year it was almost like coming home,” Finneran said. "When I arrived in Pittsburgh, I found myself getting excited. I realized I knew how they felt. I got it. I got the sense of community these people have. They see each other only once a year but they share this great passion. I respect that. I want to capture that passion on film.”

The premiere of Reading, Riting, Romance: Taming the Alpha Male is planned for March, 2009 at the Cut Film Festival in San Diego.