Brandon Marlon


Welcome to Writer’s Walk, a new web log about the worlds of writing, editing and publishing. Periodic postings will be uploaded in the hope that the concise content therein will prove beneficial to readers writing primarily for the North American marketplace. To view the blog in its original form with images, please visit:

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Hollywood Screenplay Competitions

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:20 PM
In the last decade screenplay contests became ubiquitous, and with a glut of competitions in Hollywood and elsewhere saturating the marketplace already some prominent initiatives have become defunct (Chesterfield, Hollywood Gateway, American Accolades, etc.) The best of the surviving ones, along with their annual deadlines, are:


  • Nicholl Fellowships (May 1)
  • Big Break (March 1)
  • Fade In Awards (August 1)
  • Page International Screenwriting Awards (January 15)
  • Scriptapalooza (January 5)
  • Script Pipeline (May 1)
  • Screenwriting Expo Screenplay Competition (June 30)
  • American Screenwriting Competition (November 15)
  • Writers On The Storm Screenplay Competition (April 15)

Some of the better non-Hollywood competitions include:


  • Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition (May 15)
  • Monterey Screenplay Competition (May 19)
  • Praxis Spring Screenwriting Competition (November 15)
  • Praxis Fall Screenwriting Competition (June 25)

Most competitions have staggered deadlines (early, regular, late, final) with costs rising the later the submission. More and more are converting to e-submissions only, often using the popular Withoutabox system. Certain contests are becoming irregular due to budget constraints or other considerations, including Writers On The Storm and Monterey Screenplay Competition.

Top Tomes on Creative Writing

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM


Poetics, Aristotle

Story, Robert McKee

The Anatomy of Story, John Truby

The Way of Story, Catherine Ann Jones

The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler

Stealing Fire from the Gods, James Bonnet

Myth & the Movies, Stuart Voytilla





The Art of Dramatic Writing, Lajos Egri

Writing Dialogue for Scripts, Rib Davis





Screenplay, Syd Field

The Screenwriter’s Workbook, Syd Field

Essentials of Screenwriting, Richard Walter

Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434, Lew Hunter

Making a Good Script Great, Linda Seger

Making a Good Writer Great, Linda Seger

Advanced Screenwriting, Linda Seger

Creating Unforgettable Characters, Linda Seger

How to Write A Selling Screenplay, Christopher Keane

Writing Screenplays That Sell, Michael Hauge

Save the Cat, Blake Snyder

The Screenwriter’s Bible, David Trottier

Adventures in the Screen Trade, William Goldman

Which Lie Did I Tell?, William Goldman




20 Master Plots, Ronald Tobias

45 Master Characters, Victoria Schmidt

Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster

Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass

The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass

Hooked, Les Edgerton

Aristotle wrote of drama (theatre, specifically) as there was no such thing as a novel (or film, obviously) in his ancient world. His story principles are therefore most applicable to that writing genre, and have been staunchly refuted for the fiction category (by E.M. Forster, among others). Of note is the fact that certain sections of the work do not survive antiquity, but these missing parts do not detract from the overall tenor of his argument.

The classic works are more scholarly and erudite, products of their era such as the oeuvres of Egri and Forster. In terms of the modern books, a wide range of perspectives are offered from working screenwriters like Goldman and Snyder, to university professors like Hunter and Walter, to literary agents like Maass.

The Best of Canadian Small Literary Presses (SLPs)

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM
The decade 1965-1975 saw the abundant establishment of literary publishers in Canada. There are now a total of over 800 English and French book publishers of varying sizes all across the nation, and some of the best remain smaller houses – releasing 25 or fewer individual titles per year – including:

  1. AB Collector Publishing (Halifax, NS); est.
  2. Anvil Press (Vancouver, BC); est. 1988; 8-10 titles/year
  3. Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver, BC); est. 1971; 20 titles/year
  4. Bayeux Arts (Calgary, AB); est. 1994; 6-10 titles/year
  5. Black Moss Press (Windsor, ON); est. 1969; titles/year
  6. Bookland Press (Toronto, ON); est. ?; 10 titles/year
  7. Borealis Press (Ottawa, ON); est. 1972; ? titles/year
  8. Breakwater Books (St. John’s, NL); est.
  9. Brick Books (London, ON); est. 1975; 7 titles/year
  10. Brindle & Glass (Victoria, BC); est.
  11. Broken Jaw Press (Fredericton, NB); est. 1984; 3-6 titles/year
  12. Cape Breton University Press (Sydney, NS); est.
  13. Coach House Books (Toronto, ON); est. 1965; 16 titles/year
  14. Conundrum Press (Montreal, QC); est.
  15. Cormorant Books (Toronto, ON); est.
  16. Coteau Books (Regina, SK); est. 1975; 16 titles/year
  17. Creative Book Publishing (St. John’s, NL); est. 1983; 12-15 titles/year
  18. DC Books (Montreal, QC); est.
  19. Dreamcatcher Publishing (St. John’s ): est.
  20. Ekstasis Editions (Victoria, BC); est. 1982; 15 titles/year
  21. Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, ON); est. 1966; 200 titles/year (incl. reprints)
  22. Frontenac House (Calgary, AB); est. ; 6 titles/year
  23. Gaspereau Press (Kentville, NS); est. 1997; 10 titles/year
  24. Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, NB); est. 1954; 18-20 titles/year
  25. Great Plains Publications (Winnipeg, MB); est.
  26. Guernica Editions (Toronto, ON); est. 1978; 15-23 titles/year
  27. House of Anansi Press (Toronto, ON); est. 1967; 20-25 titles/year
  28. Insomniac Press (London, ON); est. 1992; 20 titles/year
  29. J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing (Winnipeg, MB); est. ; 14 titles/year
  30. Manor House Publishing (Ancaster, ON); est. 1998; 5-6 titles/year
  31. Mansfield Press (Toronto, ON); est. 1999; 5-6 titles/year
  32. Morgaine House (): est. 1994; 2-5 titles/year
  33. Mosaic Press (Oakville, ON); est. 1975; 20 titles/year
  34. Napoleon & Company (Toronto, ON); est. 1990; 15 titles/year
  35. NeWest Publishers (Edmonton, AB); est. 1977; 13-16 titles/year
  36. New Star Books (Vancouver, BC); est.
  37. Nightwood Editions (Gibsons, BC); est. 1970; 9 titles/year
  38. Nimbus Publishing (Halifax, NS); est. 1978; 32 titles/year
  39. Oberon Press (Ottawa, ON); est. 1966; 8 titles/year
  40. Oolichan Books (Lantzville, BC); est. 1974; 8-10 titles/year
  41. Pedlar Press (Toronto, ON); est. ; 6 titles/year
  42. Penumbra Press (Manotick, ON); est. ; 10 titles/year
  43. Red Deer Press (Markham, ON); est. 1975; 22 titles/year
  44. Ronsdale Press (Vancouver, BC); est. 1988; 10-13 titles/year
  45. Saxon House Canada (Toronto, ON); est. ; 4 titles/year
  46. Shoreline Press (Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, QC); est. ; 7 titles/year
  47. Signature Editions (Winnipeg, MB); est. ; 6-7 titles/year
  48. The Porcupine’s Quill (Erin, ON); est.1974; 9 titles/year
  49. Thistledown Press (Saskatoon, SK); est. 1975; 14 titles/year
  50. Thomas Allen & Son Publishers (Markham); est.
  51. Tightrope Books (Toronto, ON); est. 2005; 8-10 titles/year
  52. Touchwood Editions (Victoria, BC); est.
  53. Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, MB); est. 1976; 10-12 titles/year
  54. Vehicule Press (Montreal, QC); est. 1973; 15 titles/year
  55. Wolsak and Wynn (Hamilton, ON); est. 1983; 8 titles/year
  56. Your Scrivener Press (Sudbury, ON); est. 1995; 4 titles/year

Small literary presses are usually the natural home for poetry and literary fiction, writing genres for discerning, intellectual, well-educated readers. Oftentimes well-known writers such as Jane Urquhart, Michael Ondaatje, and George Bowering have had early work or ‘secondary’ works of poetry or short fiction published by the established SLPs, and may even remain on their boards. Some SLPs such as NeWest Publishers see themselves as regional publishing concerns with a provincial mandate, and others like Manor House reserve themselves exclusively for works of strong Canadian content.

Early 21st Century Masters of Historical Fiction

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM
Prompted in large part by the success of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997), a fresh phase in the cycle of historical fiction took hold, such that the first decade of the new century has already seen the advent of many notable authors making an indelible mark on the increasingly popular category:


    • Eva Etzioni-Halevy (1934-)
    • Orson Scott Card (1951-)
    • Philippa Gregory (1954-)
    • India Edghill (19?-)
    • Rebecca Kohn (1958-)
    • Maggie Anton (1959?-)
    • Jill Eileen Smith (19?-)
    • Tosca Lee (1969-)
    • Michelle Moran (1980-)
    • Ginger Garrett (19?-)
    • T. L. Higley (19?-)
    • Sherry Jones (19?-)
    • Kamran Pasha (19?-)
    • Tessa Afshar (19?-)
    • Kacy Barnett-Gramckow (19?-)


  • Etzioni-Halevy: The Song of Hannah (2005); The Garden of Ruth (2007); The Triumph of Deborah (2008)
  • Card: The Women in Genesis series: Sarah (2000); Rebekah (2002); Rachel and Leah (2004)
  • Gregory: The Tudor series: The Other Boleyn Girl (2002); The Queen’s Fool (2003); The Virgin’s Lover (2004); The Constant Princess (2005); The Boleyn Inheritance (2006); The Other Queen (2008); The Cousins’ War series: The White Queen (2009); The Red Queen (2010)
  • Edghill: Queenmaker (1999); Wisdom’s Daughter (2004); Delilah (2009)
  • Kohn: The Gilded Chamber (2004); Seven Days to the Sea (2006)
  • Anton: Rashi’s Daughters trilogy: Joheved (2005); Miriam (2007); Rachel (2009)
  • Smith: The Wives of King David series: Michal (2009); Abigail (2010); Bathsheba (forthcoming, 2011)
  • Lee: Havah (2010); Iscariot (forthcoming, 2011)
  • Moran: Nefertiti (2008); The Heretic Queen (2008); Cleopatra’s Daughter (2010)
  • Garrett: Dark Hour (2006); In the Shadow of Lions (2008); In the Arms of Immortals (2009); Chosen (2010); Wolves Among Us (2011); Desired (2011)
  • Higley: Fallen from Babel (2005); Shadow of Colossus (2008), Guardian of the Flame (2009), City of the Dead (2009), Petra: City in Stone (2010), Pompeii: City of Fire (2011)
  • Jones: The Jewel of Medina (2008); The Sword of Medina (2009)
  • Pasha: Mother of the Believers (2009); Shadow of the Swords (2010)
  • Afshar: Pearl in the Sand (2010)
  • Gramckow: The Heavens Before (2008), He Who Lifts the Skies (2008), A Crown in the Stars (2008)


Surviving the Holocaust as a child, Etzioni-Halevy went on to become an academic in political sociology and published over a dozen books in this field before turning to fiction. A devout Mormon, Card was an established, multiple award-winning science fiction and fantasy author who branched out into historical fiction only with the turn of the century. In addition to her prolific fiction, Gregory is an historian and runs a charity building wells in Gambia. With ample resources at her disposal as a research librarian and with a successful novelist sister to assist her, Edghill finally ventured into the fray for herself. Hailing from Chicago, Kohn started out as a proofreader and copyeditor in nonfiction before launching her own writing career. A staunch feminist, Anton was a chemist whose devotion to research spawned her novel writing about the famed medieval scholar’s educated progeny. Smith is a Christian author who promotes the works of other Christian novelists, and teaches piano on the side. Originally trained in ballet, Lee went on to become a runner-up in a beauty pageant and a model before attempting the world of writing. A world traveler and archaeology buff, Moran is among the youngest successful authors in any genre. The sparkling Ginger Garrett and well-traveled T. L. Higley are committed to bringing the past to life through a Christian perspective; the former also writes nonfiction about beauty secrets and the latter specializes in novels about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Sherry Jones is a longtime journalist whose fiction has proven provocative for highlighting controversial subject matter. Kamran Pasha is a Pakistani-American with film and television credits and journalism experience on Wall Street, whose books' topics follow well-tread paths through a Moslem perspective. Tessa Afshar is an Persian convert to Christianity. A Catholic-turned-Baptist, Gramckow's primordial-era novels have been translated into Thai and Dutch, and later in life she discovered Jewish roots on her great-grandfather's side.

20th Century Masters of Historical Fiction

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM
Over the course of the last century a number of exceptional novelists emerged who distinguished themselves in the genre of historical fiction, including:


    • Lion Feuchtwanger (1884-1958)
    • Joseph Opatoshu (1886-1954)
    • Leon Kolb (1890-1977)
    • Milton Steinberg (1903-1950)
    • Ernest K. Gann (1910-1991)
    • Patrick O’Brian (1914-2000)
    • Howard Fast (1914-2003)
    • Moshe Shamir (1921-2004)
    • Chayym Zeldis (1927-)
    • Marek Halter (1936-)
    • Margaret George (1943-)
    • Anita Diamant (1951-)


  • Feuchtwanger: The Josephus trilogy: Josephus (1932); The Jew of Rome (1935); Josephus and the Emperor (1942); Jephta and his Daughter (1957)
  • Opatoshu: The Last Revolt (1952)
  • Kolb: Moses, The Near Easterner (1956); Berenice, Princess of Judea (1959); Mission to Claudius: Emperor of Rome (1963); The Sage: Father of Generations to Come (1965)
  • Steinberg: As a Driven Leaf (1939)
  • Gann: The Antagonists (1971); The Triumph (1986)
  • O’Brian: Master and Commander (1969); The Far Side of the World (1984)
  • Fast: My Glorious Brothers (1948); Spartacus (1951); Moses, Prince of Egypt (1958); Agrippa’s Daughter (1964)
  • Shamir: King of Flesh and Blood (1954)
  • Zeldis: Brothers (1976)
  • Halter: The Messiah (1998); The Book of Abraham (1999); The Wind of the Khazars (2003); Canaan trilogy: Sarah (2004); Zipporah, Wife of Moses (2005); Lilah (2006); Mary of Nazareth (2008)
  • George: The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986); Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (1992); The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997); Mary Called Magdalene (2002); Helen of Troy (2006)
  • Diamant: The Red Tent (1997)

Feuchtwanger was a trailblazing publisher and journalist, and later collaborated with a young Bertolt Brecht. Opatoshu descended from a Polish Hassidic family, studied in Russia and France, then eventually moved to New York where he wrote numerous short stories in Yiddish which were later translated into English and Hebrew. A doctor and professor emeritus in pharmacology and therapeutics at Stanford School of Medicine, Kolb was also a respected collector of books, paintings, engravings, etchings and fine objects of art. Steinberg was a rabbi who studied at a Conservative seminary, considered himself a Reconstructionist, but headed a Reform congregation. A renaissance man, Gann led a fascinating life as a war aviator, commercial airline pilot and prolific novelist, and the epic television production Masada was based on his The Antagonists.

A resident of Wales and France, the productive O’Brian is best known for his expansive 21-volume series of British naval novels set in the Napoleonic era. A former Communist, the remarkable Fast wrote scores of novels as well as an insightful history of the Jews, and his Spartacus spawned the famous Kirk Douglas epic film (his Maccabees novel My Glorious Brothers has long been in development with Icon Productions). Shamir was a kibbutznik poet, playwright and novelist who became literature editor at the Maariv newspaper and later a member of the Knesset parliament. Born in Buffalo, Zeldis served in the 1956 Sinai Campaign and later moved to Israel where he and his wife teach at Tel Aviv University. Halter is a renowned intellectual French writer who is often politically active. Daughter of a diplomat, George moved internationally from a young age and went on to study ecology, eventually becoming a science writer before shifting to historical matter. Diamant is an award-winning, widely-published journalist who ventured into fiction late in her writing career, yet spurred a renewal of the historical fiction genre by the turn of the century.

Comprehending Conglomerates

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 12:59 PM
Currently about 8 corporate conglomerates control the majority of the commercial publishing market in North America, namely: 
  • Random House
  • Penguin Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Macmillan
  • Hachette
  • Harlequin Enterprises
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Together these entities represent the source of the majority of books published in hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback formats in the US and Canada, and they also have additional interests internationally. Some are owned by even larger companies like Germany’s Bertelsmann (Random House) or Holtzenbrinck (Macmillan). Ownership changes regularly as mergers occur, acquisitions are made, divisions are established and imprints founded. Suffice it to say that an author aspiring to receive the greatest advances, royalties, marketing and distribution of their book needs to find a home for their tome amid these major players.

Harlequin is Canada’s conglomerate, specializing in mass market paperback romance and women’s fiction.