The Downs (and Eventual Ups) of Making It Past that Debut Writing Year

What’s it like to be a trending new writer? We like this self-examination of one new “killing it” writer’s perspective.

by Christina Soontornvat

“You’re on fire!”
“You’re killing it!”

Those are the types of comments that came across my social media feed last fall as I posted screenshots of my most recent book deal announcements.

Due to publishing’s funky and unpredictable timing, I had back-to-back announcements two weeks in a row: one for my middle grade nonfiction about the Thai Cave Rescue and another for my new chapter book series, Diary Of An Ice Princess (Scholastic, 2019).

To the outside world, I was “on fire.”

Inside, it felt like I was finally crawling out of a hole.

Flashback to four years earlier: I had been overjoyed when my first agent sold two projects: a middle grade fantasy and a picture book. I felt like my career was getting ready to blast off into outer space! Instead, I found myself stuck in orbit.

After the excitement of that first sale, I struggled to write another novel. And then my agent and I parted ways just months before my debut hit the shelves. The split was amicable and non-dramatic. It was the right thing to do at the time, but when I found myself in the whirlwind of my debut year, fielding agent rejections when I was supposed to be “living the dream,” I felt sort of…pathetic.

I had worked for years on improving my craft, then tried for years to get an agent, then went through a long submission process to sell my work. Somehow, it felt even worse to be having a tough time after experiencing some measure of success. This felt like starting all over again, but with even higher stakes.

I told myself I should be grateful for what I had. After all, I knew friends still searching for their first agents. It seemed whiny and entitled to feel the way I felt….

Read it all at

Check out Christina Soontornvat’s page


In Praise of 10 Superbly Written TV Series

Found on the interwebs: The kind of article we don’t see often enough in what remains of the original Hollywood trade publications. In others words, critical praise for our favorite oft-forgot species – writers.

The Americans

by Tim Goodman
Chief TV Critic, The Hollywood Reporter

I had a week off, ostensibly to do something other than watch or think about TV — and yes, some of that actually happened — but there’s always peripheral brain creep when it comes to television, with everything from highbrow conceptual ideas to lower-brow (but probably more fun) list-making clanging around in my head. A recent random thought that popped up concerned great writing on television. Quickly — in about a nanosecond — four examples came to mind.

The result was oddly troubling. But at least in that flash of a moment, it was clear that I don’t have recency bias.

What’s that? Well, our brains are basically set up for recency bias. Whatever we’ve experienced memorably in the very recent past is what sticks. The best food we’ve eaten or wine we’ve discovered, even the sex we’ve had. If you’re older, nostalgia might be more upfront in the brain pan, or maybe thinking about things like “best vacation memories” takes you back to Paris because Paris is sublime and your last five holidays have been staycation; trip to in-laws in Boise, Idaho; staycation; ill-advised camping trip; much too nearby bed-and-breakfast (and no, thankfully, that’s not my itinerary). But often what’s newest is what comes back in our mental search results.

So why, when a fleeting idea about great writing on television flashed in my head, did I, without hesitation, reel off Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos?

Probably because they are all Hall of Fame first-ballot series, yes.

But they are also, respectively, from 2007, 2008, 2002 and 1999. That’s not recency bias. (And hell, there’s not a comedy in there and I love comedies.) Rather than wonder about the why of it all, I wrote down a list of current, wonderfully written series.

That was harder than originally imagined. Because there are so many excellently written series that I was riffing faster than I could jot them down. The list grew, and grew, to ridiculous proportions. I guess that’s a fine sign for the state of the industry, or the writers in the industry, in 2018.

In the end, I kept it simple: a list of currently produced series, each with more than one season under its belt (otherwise, with the likes of The Deuce, Counterpart and so many others, this list would have no end), whose writing has lingered with me in some way. Not just funny jokes for the comedies or standout emotional scenes for the dramas, but something cumulative where story construction, dramatic tension, intelligence, relentlessly creative humor, poignancy, thoughtfulness and believability, among other fine traits, left a mark. In no particular order, here are the 10 series I chose…:

Read it all at

How to Write TV Series Bibles

A quick guide to what you need to include in the bible for your next spec series, whether it be on broadcast TV, cable TV, the web, or anyplace else where you need to prove that you’ve touched (as in gently messaged) all the right notes.

Found on, a site loaded with helpful info and writerly insight.


Did you know that  TVWriter™’s PEOPLE’S PILOT pilot script competition is one of – if not the – longest-running writing contests on the web? We’ve been doing all we can to help open the gates for new writers for over 20 years!

Learn all about it at:

Writing Gigs: ‘Review Geek’ is Looking for a Writer

FWIW, we here at TVWriter™ think this is a very well written want ad. (That means you should be an even better writer if you answer it.)

Here you go:

Can’t stop digging through the latest tech and gadget news? Have a way with words? You might be the part-time news writer we’re looking for.

We are looking for an experienced writer who will crawl news feeds, Reddit, and other cool sites looking for interesting and current things to talk about. Topics will be mostly tech and include smartphones, laptops, tablets, general gadgets, and beyond. You can also expect to cover some non-tech news too, so the ideal writer will be comfortable covering a wide range of topics.

This position requires collaborating with a team in a fast-paced environment. You’ll be finding the news as it happens, coordinating stories with our editors in Slack, and then writing up the new posts quickly.

This is a part-time, remote job. We need somebody who can work about 5 hours per weekday (five days per week) from around 9:00 am through 2:00 pm Eastern Time (US).

Yes, indeed, this is a paying job, and even though it isn’t in TV, it could be quite helpful in pursuing your dream. The deets – Skill Requirements,  Primary Responsibilities, General Situation, and, of course, How To Apply are HERE

As usual, TVWriter™ wants to remind you that while we are passing along this info, we aren’t recommending this gig per se. If you do follow  up on this post, please let us know how your experience was so we refine our recommendation process for the future.

Break a leg!

Check out


One Streaming TV Site to Rule Them All?

If you thought the flood of new shows being presented on, well, on all manner of video media for the last half decade was overwhelming, prepare your water-treading skills, brothers and sisters, because the deluge has barely begun!

The Great Race to Rule Streaming TV
by Jonah Weiner

When Nick Weidenfeld heard what happened at HBO last summer, he was thrilled. “Everyone I knew was texting that article around, saying, ‘What the [expletive]!’?” Weidenfeld, an independent TV producer, recently recalled. A lot of people who work in Hollywood were spooked by the news, but not him: “I thought it was amazing.”

Weidenfeld was discussing the events of June 19, 2018, as reported in The Times: Around noon that day, Richard Plepler, then HBO’s chief executive officer, met with his new boss, John Stankey, at the network’s Manhattan headquarters. AT&T had recently completed its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner — whose holdings included Warner Bros. and HBO — and chose Stankey to head up the resulting umbrella company, WarnerMedia. Plepler’s conversation with Stankey, framed as a company town hall, unfolded before some 150 HBO employees, who soon discovered that the new guy had big changes in mind.

“It’s going to be a tough year,” Stankey told Plepler. HBO’s tightly curated cluster of shows, released seasonally and in weekly batches, no longer amounted to a tenable strategy. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month,” he said. “We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.” Ever more hours of overall watch-time were necessary to generate ever more data on viewing habits to help AT&T drive ever more lucrative “models of advertising” and subscriptions, Stankey declared. What was required of Plepler was a reconsidered network, “broad enough to make that happen,” as Stankey put it — because “we’ve got to make money at the end of the day, right?” When Plepler pointed out that HBO was already profitable, Stankey agreed, but then he added, “Just not enough.”

“It’s so good he said it,” Weidenfeld told me, sinking into a booth at Mama Shelter, a hotel in Hollywood where he likes to take working lunches and rough out deals. Weidenfeld, who is 39, sported a full beard and wore a color-blocked fleece pullover. His business lies in helping creators devise and develop shows, then in selling them to networks and platforms — and thanks to the industrywide hunger for “hours a day,” business is booming….

Read it all at