Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Time is Fleeting!

Time sure does fly! And why? It's because producing a magazine, working on commercial video shoots, writing movies scripts, teaching college and adult education courses, and oh yeah, getting ready for the holidays. It's no wonder I cannot keep up with this blog. And now I have created another blog: IdeaGems Magazine -- both on Posterous Spaces and on Blogspot. Oy! 

So why am I posting magazine news in Production Notes? Simply, I want to share my holiday joy over producing another fine issue filled with seasonal treats: recipes, poetry, memoirs, and awesome artwork, including our colorful cover art by Kym Cohen. To see a sample and learn how to order a print copy, so to Print copies make wonderful stocking stuffers! 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Joyous Kwanzaa to each and all!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Project PE - Member Home Page

Project PE - Member Home Page

I just joined the Project Paranormal Experience site and am very eager to see what it has to offer in the way of people sharing their experiences, investigators posting evidence, and overall networking with members.

In October, I will be publishing my interview with the Maine Ghost Hunters, who have been featured 3 times on the Bio Channel's "My Ghost Story" series.

To see an investigation I filmed with another group of paranormal investigators, click here:

More to come....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Did You Know....?

...That the very first ghost stories ever recorded go back to ancient Greece? That Mary Shelly wrote "Frankenstein" on a bet? That H.P. Lovecraft felt that alien creatures were coming to him through another dimension? 

Horror has always been one of the most marketable forms of literature -- certainly my favorite to write. Since it is popular in movies, TV, and video games, horror writing can be done for fun and profit. 

Learn how the masters do it, beginning with this educational and entertaining online course: The Art of Writing Horror through KSURF virtual university.  It's easy and affordable. 

If you're ghoulishly good, your stories will be reviewed with commentary by the instructor (me, Laurie Notch). The best ones will be selected for the IdeaGems Magazine Halloween Issue which gives you a publishing credit. 

I will be posting as often as I can on my Horror writing  blog with tantalizing tips, 'ooky' updates, freaky facts, weird writers, and creepy conjurings to put the spell on all you potential horror writers out there.  Check it out at 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tough Lit IV is Hot Off the Press!

You asked for it and you got it! Here is the fourth in our special TOUGH LIT series, a masterful mixture of murder, mayhem, and mystery peppered with poetry that packs a punch, edgy literature, and tough travel tales.
See it on 
Thank you to all the wonderful writers who make each and every issue possible!

Enjoy the read! Please pass the good word!
Laurie Notch
Managing Editor
IdeaGems Publications
P.O. Box 4748
Portland, ME 04112-4748

Friday, August 19, 2011

Machinima Project Seeks Producers and Contributors

Machinima is animation using a game or virtual world engine to create real time action. My associate, Wayne Graves, produced a short series called AV451 for under $400 and poor equipment. Now, our goal now is to do the full-length film with hired talent and proper equipment to give it a crisper, more professional look. Backed by a quality animated film, we are gearing up to start a small online machinima community with writing classes and collaborative projects to further the art.

I am always intrigued with new, fresh ways of telling a story. The art of machinima has yet to really reach maturity, so it's almost an open field to play in. It's also relatively cheap to make. The film will be approximately the length of a long feature film at a fraction of the cost. And with online viewership through major machinima sites reaching into the high millions, the potential is exciting. Warner Brothers did a machinima series called "Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series," so you can be assured that Hollywood is paying attention.

To see how you can participate, go to:

We are further launching live-streaming online courses on the art and process of machinima film production, including the tools we use, tips and tricks, and anything else related to this project that can help others do the same, or do even better. Classes will be launched as the completed series and community is launched.We are also creating a behind-the-scenes looks and a "how-to" course through this process.

You can see series 1 at

Thanks for checking out our project. And please pass the good word!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Author's Ego vs Editor's License

As an author, I understand the pride that comes with every accomplished work. I also know the ego-bruising that comes with every rejection.  How many times has my precious creation been kicked to the curb or cut at the last minute by some editor's license to call the shots? Recently, I had an author brusquely remove her work from our publication because we couldn't run her story in the issue we had initially slotted it for.

As an editor, I find myself having to make the harsh calls for the sake of limited space or special feature. It is hard for me to notify writers, who have toiled day and night on their beloved story or poem, that I won't be able to include the work. Yes, on occasion, this is exactly the call I have to make. And of course, the ego-bruising begets reactionary lashing out by said author.

Let's be reasonable, people. If you're a writer, you seriously need to get used to what might feel like abuse but isn't. What is with this sense of entitlement? Being published is an honor and a privilege that many may never achieve! Take Kathryn Stockett, author of "The Help." She suffered over 60 rejections before some kind editor saw the value of her work. Now the book is slotted for feature film production. I can sit here all day and cite case after case of authors enduring the onslaught the slings and arrows of outrageous editorial license, but I don't see the need to beat that stale old nail into your heads any deeper. 

Last minute cuts, final rejections, even whittling down well-crafted writing so that it can fit into a column are all par for the course! Learn to take it on the chin with a modicum of grace! Don't throw a diva's snit--especially when you haven't reached that level of recognition as an author! And even then, behaving like a spoiled brat is in poor form. 

The best thing to do is lean forward and move on with your work. If you believe in your powers of creativity, you will get there! 

As for those authors who flipped their wigs because I couldn't print their stories, they have kicked a gift horse in the mouth. As a Managing Editor, I do call the harsh shots, but I am true to my word. If I say the work will be published, it will be--perhaps not in the issue at first intended, but I will always find a home for it down the line. Our magazine remains true to its mission to help writers showcase their  'wares'.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New! IdeaGems Magazine

For the past 6 years, I have been publishing a magazine with the title ADVENTURES FOR THE AVERAGE WOMAN, which was meant as a tongue-in-cheek commentary about how women often feel about themselves and their abilities. In truth, no woman should ever feel average, and several have expressed as much about our magazine’s title. So, in the spirit of respect for our readers’ and critics’ opinions, I am now going to adopt the title IDEAGEMS MAGAZINE.  It will still remain the showcase for all the undiscovered literary and artistic treasures out there.  Moreover, I am staying true to my mission to give writers their first break in the world of publishing.

THIS ISSUE features WOMEN IN THE RING with the motion photography of women boxers by Arthur Fink. Also featured is Arthur's book of beautiful images: DANCE! In addition, there is a colorful collection of mixed media by 92 year old artist, June Stevenson, reflecting her 70-year career. Then there is the Poetry and Painting section showing the skillful sketches of Gothra tribal women from Kerala, India, by award-wining artist, Sukesan Kanka, accompanied by the poignant poems of Hither Kusum. Beyond the glorious art, there is inspiring prose and poetry where we compare writers groups coast-to-coast.
As always, I am looking for fresh submissions for our future issues, for both seasonal themes (winter, spring, summer, and fall) and the TOUGH LIT series devoted to crime, dark fantasy, horror, sci-fi, gritty and edgy literature.

Send comments and submissions to: Be sure to check out our submission guidelines on our website: and look for up-coming special themes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Helpful (and Humorous) Sites on Social Media and the Perils of Facebook

My struggles with social networking for business and ensuing discussions with colleagues and associates has prompted social-media-savvy Dan Mesnik to offer up some very helpful websites. Here are the links:

These primarily focus on Facebook for all its pluses and minuses, but they shed good light on the importance of social media. (Even our politicians have FB and Twitter accounts, whether they really know how to use them or not. Then again, they can afford to hire staff that know how. See: )

Basically, an author, filmmaker, or business (especially an up-and-comer)  will be hard-pressed to succeed without signing on with social media. But, what are the risks for hacking and identity theft? 

I recently received emails from a stand-up comedian and poet I occasionally work with. Porcupine Smith (yes, that's his real name) reported that because of Facebook, someone hacked and 'took over' both his Facebook and related email account. Porc found it impossible to contact anyone at Facebook or his email provider to report the incidence, for Facebook has no help desk number to call, only a hard-to-find 'report an incident' function on its site. Frustrated beyond belief, Porc wound up shutting down his Facebook page and lost 1200 'friends' on his network. For a performer and writer, this has critical impact. Even mega 'dot coms' like Amazon, eBay, and PayPal have a customer service number! So does AOL! Why is it that the social media sites don't offer live voice or live chat troubleshooting services? Probably because members are not PAYING customers. 

Knock on wood, nothing major has happened to this social media user's accounts, save the occasional spam and 'spoofing' of my screen name. In those events, I immediately change my password and report the incident via email to the spoof and spam report centers of my email providers. Whenever I get spammed on FB, I hit their 'report spam' button and remove the offending 'friend' and their posts or tagged photos. Does it really do anything? I can't say, but I know that to let it discourage and defeat me isn't the answer.

Facebook, like any enormous beast, has its nature. If we're to be in bed with it, we'd better learn to live with it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Should We Pay for 'Enhanced' Social Networking?

I must admit, the advent of the World Wide Web has opened up an entire 'metaverse' of possibilities for film, television, and print media previously unknown or experienced. The challenges of riding the waves across the seas of cyberspace are often beyond my skill set. (I still haven't figured out how to effectively create and embed a favicon!) The learning curve can be very steep, but it is necessary for authors, screenwriters, and producers to grab their self-promotional surf boards and hit the tip. (OKay, I admit I'm just a highway surfer here, but the analogy still serves.) 

It may seemI am repeating myself from previous blog entries, but the issue of understanding how to make the most and best use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr... (the list goes on and on)... is one of several key steps to success that I find puzzling. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information that I must process on a daily basis. How do I navigate through it all? To go and read about how to do it just adds to my piles of 'to dos'! I am drowning in TMI (too much information)!

So, I decided to jump in to sink or swim. I sign up for and try almost anything with a 'Let's throw it against the wall and see if it sticks' frame of mind. Lately, I renewed my interest in Plaxo. I had an old account, so I went in and updated my profile. Within a day, I got messages on my Facebook page from other entrepreneurs about the benefits of Plaxo. (This stuff spreads like wildfire.) I honestly replied that I found the 'new and improved' Plaxo extremely limited, user unfriendly, and overly solicitous about my paying to upgrade for 'enhanced' services. Most disappointing of all, I would click on the link to my Plaxo public profile so that I could post it on my About.Me page (among others). Only my old profile with its out-of-date information could be seen. I feel that I speak for many when I say, "I DON'T HAVE THE FRIGGIN' TIME FOR THIS!" Plaxo is not on my faves' list.

My recent experience with Plaxo brings me to the question of cost and the reality that many free social networking and profile posting services (including IMDb Pro and LinkedIn) charge to bring a member's profile and network to the 'next level.' Is it worth it?

Three years ago, I spent quite a bit on 'enhanced' services to promote my book, my websites, my film projects, my company, and myself. At the end of the day, I felt that, for the expense, they produced little to nothing. Granted, paid subscriptions did gain me access to information that I might not have been aware of or been able to uncover on my own, AND it did lead to some good contacts, even potential investors. Still, nothing came of it to get my work noticed or produced. Truly, the best way for that to happen is to pick up the phone, pound pavement, and meet agents, producers, and investors face-to-face. Well, at least the expense for enhanced services was tax-deductible.

The economy the way it is, I've had to seriously 'dial back' and am totally dependent on the freebies on the Web. I am certain that many independents can relate. Thank goodness there's still plenty of free services out there (even with their annoying demands for my email address to send me solicitous junkmail). I would still encourage independent authors, filmmakers, producers, and small business owners to get on the stick and learn to ride the swells of social networking. If you don't know how, take a course. I am sure there are thousands available on the World Wide Web. Just Google 'how to learn how to social network'!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I spend entire days researching, writing, and promoting projects. Every time I turn around, there's a new detail to add. Setting up and posting on blogs is easy enough, but now there's a demand for favicons (still working on that), widgets, and other Web gewgaws. These require some knowledge of HTML and I admit, mine is a bit rusty, but I do what it takes to keep on top of today's ever-changing information technology. Just how far does the learning curve go?

I deal with writers, producers, actors--some Hollywood veterans--and many are lost when it comes to understanding and using the Internet and social networking. It's time consuming to learn and manage websites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other applications necessary to keep in the loop and develop/promote projects. Some are able to afford hired help or have their computer savvy kids do it. Others can take on interns for the project. For many of us, we're it when it comes managing our Web biz. 

My caveat is: LEARN IT, USE IT, HUG-'N-KISS IT. If you're a writer, publishers want to see Web presence. If you're a filmmaker or performer, all the more so! If you're intimidated by it, take a class and learn by doing. Yes, frustrations with this stuff abound, but once you achieve one Web task, others come easy!

I managed to insert both these widgets! Perhaps tomorrow, I'll tackle favicons. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I often feel as though I were running for office for all the hustling and campaigning I do to raise interest and money for indie film projects. As galling as the endless supplicating is to the artistic temperament, it is the way of the competitive market-conscious world (especially when you don't have an agent).

Fundraising is a Herculean feat that demands constant research and innovation. How does the screenwriter/filmmaker go about obtaining the means to finance projects? Networking at Chamber of Commerce and Counntry Club events is one way to try and tap into the "monied" people, but if you don't present your case in the language of business, your pitch will go over like a lead balloon. Attending pitch events with producers and agents might get you some notice, but the comeptition is stiff and the cost of attending such events can be prohibitive when you don't have the resources. The other option is to tap into the Internet's vast sea of social networking sites, but time spent on creating accounts and updating posts is all-consuming. If you have a team to fervently pass on news and links, your campaign can take off. But will it raise funds? It can through crowd funding.

There are two dominant crwod funding sites: and where you can set up an account for free and post your project. Each cyber venue gives you 45 - 60 days to run your campaign. Kickstarter will only pay out if the financial goal you set is met, while IndieGoGo pays out (htrough your PayPal account) as monies come in. Each takes a small percentage of proceeds raised. 

I have two projects currently running on Both deal with important social issues through very creative presentation. The first is SORE LOSER, about violence and abuse in the deaf community. My ambition is to produce a very short film based on a vision I had while taking a walk along a rocky beach in Maine 5 years ago! The project story and details can be seen here: 

The second concerns wounded and traumatized war veterans and is based on one of the many nightmares I've suffered. (I make bad dreams work for me by turning them into projects.) This one is called THE ADVENTURES OF ZOMBIEMAN. It is a comic book/animation series with potential for a feature film. More information about this project can be seen here:

The point is this: take a look at my projects along with others on both IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to get an idea of what sorts of projects get posted and how they are pitched and promoted.

I have learned one important lesson in this business: you can't go it alone. Creative minds, as much as they crave isolation and total absorption in the process of creating, cannot succeed in a vacuum. The artist must network, inspire others, and garner support to survive. This can prove more challenging than answering the call of creativity. 

As an in-class screenwriting/fiction instructor and online horror writing instructor (, the one prevealing concern I see expressed by my students is the fear of promoting their work. They worry about their ideas being ripped off, rejected, or worse, ridiculed. These are risks every writer, indie filmmaker, and artist must take to follow their dreams. Even with copyright protection and non-disclosure caveats attached to the manuscript, parasites in mainstream media will find a way to infringe. Even so, I teach this: Your vision is still your vision. Stick to it and promote it! Damn all torpedoes! Full steam ahead! You never the know the amount of support you can find for your project once you put it out there.

As this blog progresses, I will address the power of dreams, the process of manifestation, and the hard realities of the marketplace. I'll also share tips and stories about the trials, tribulations, and lessons learned in the indie film production process. 

Questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome here!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ups and Downs and Ups

"It's not the destination that matters. It's the journey," someone once said. Wish I had the time to research this quote but as a magazine editor, writer, and media producer, I can hardly find a free moment to gather my thoughts. And now, I'm adding onto the pile of projects this blog, "Production Notes." Who'll read it? Probably few to none as I suspect it will get swamped in a sea of cyber commentary. Yet, I feel it is important to pass on my modicum of knowledge and experience as an author and media producer.

I have called this first installment "Ups and Downs and Ups" because that is how the going has been in the field of publishing and media production. Any artist, author, actor, director will tell you that in this business you have to roll with the punches, that what goes up must come down, but stick with it as it often comes right back up again. My Hollywood producer friends always tell me, "You can only fail if you quit." I have considered quitting more often than not, but I always remind myself that the upswing is just around the bend.

I am hoping that this blog about being a writer and producer will inspire and motivate everyone who reads it to not be disheartened by the frustrations and flops they encounter in show business. Perhaps through sharing my excruciating experiences with success and failure other might find strength and motivation to persevere. 

Let me end here with a teaser for my next blog entry: "Manifesting your dreams is easy. Maintaining them is as hard as climbing Everest without an oxygen tank."