Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


What my friend wrote: 

"Hey, Angie... I'm not sure if you've seen the flood of annoying posts from ... me... about the short film I'm working on. We've got 6 days left on our Indiegogo campaign and a CRAZY cast and incredible crew... So I'm just trying to make a final push on this thing. Any chance you could/would mention us on your blog? If not, no biggie... I'm just trying to overcome my inability to ask for help! I hope you're well... Peace!"

So I am spreading the word and I hope you do too. 

Click on the link above or Go to this website to help make his movie come true.

What the movie's about:

STOP TRAFFICK: A short film about Human Trafficking (but mostly about Redemption).

I'd like to think I'm aware of what's going on in the world. I'm a college-educated guy. I read a lot. I watch the PBS NewsHour. Heck, I've written and directed hundreds of educational films. And last year, all of my blood sweat and tears was spent working to keep kids in Asia, Africa and South America out of poverty and away from traffickers.  It's easy to get a sense of "the big picture" when you're writing and directing a massive project for a nonprofit with enormous impact worldwide. So I'm keenly aware of the fact that human trafficking is a huge issue globally.

But, until recently, I didn't realize that trafficking is a massive problem right here in the United States.

According to Shared Hope International, over 100,000 American children are trafficked for sex. The average age? 13. 

I'm embarrassed that I didn't know this was happening on this grand of scale. After talking to church leaders, nonprofits and experts in the war against human trafficking, I feel compelled to do something. And if there is one thing God has wired me to do, it's to tell a good story. 

So we're going to tell a good story. An American story. Not a story of depravity. Not a story of oppression. But a story of Life. Hope. Restoration. Healing. Atonement.

We'll be filming with the absolute best equipment in Hollywood. More importantly, I'm blown away by the talent and experience that has stepped up to help me with this short film. People that are the best at what they do. People that are passionate about both making great films and stopping human trafficking. 

Combined, the team has produced 7 feature films, 16 music videos, 110 commercials, and 115 short films.

So we're committed to making this movie. If you believe great film can change minds and open hearts, if the thought of just one child being trafficked in your home country is too much for you, if you are excited to take action that could REALLY impact the fight against child trafficking, please donate below. Every donation you make is tax-deductible.

Keep fighting the good fight...

-Wes Halula, Writer/Director, Stop Traffick

PS: Once you have donated, PLEASE share our campaign with your family, friends and followers and encourage them to join us! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Julian Guthrie: author of The Billionaire and The Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the America's Cup

Julian and I became quick friends on the elementary school playground. Isn't that where all great friendships start? Her son and my son are in the same grade, and they both love Lego's. So, we got to talking, and found out that we are both writers.  

Though Julian's success has been far greater than my own, she has always been there to read a chapter, or suggest an agent. She rocks as a friend, a mother, and an unbelievable writer! You go, Julian! 

I love her, and I assure you, after you read this interview, you will fall in love with her too.

The book is due out June 4 by Grove/Atlantic. Ken Auletta, author and New Yorker media critic, has said this of Julian's book:

From the opening scene in this book – and scene is the appropriate word for its cinematic beginning – the reader is swept along on heart-thumping rides on swift, dueling sailboats, past an assemblage of characters worthy of Dreiser, past the shoals of deceit worthy of Dickens, and coming to rest on the formidable character of billionaire Larry Ellison, who has the will-to-win of his best friend, Steve Jobs, and of a mechanic, who made winning possible. Julian Guthrie writes so vividly that the reader is held spellbound, from page one to the end.”

Below are the questions I asked her:

1. What are the three top reasons people need to read your newest book?

You will learn something. You will be entertained. And you will be inspired.

2. How did you land Larry Ellison?

With difficulty. I had interviewed him more than a decade ago for a story I did for Forbes magazine. But since then, he has walled himself off from the press. I would say he's harder to get to now than the president - no kidding. 

I sent emails explaining the great story I wanted to tell. I pleaded my case with the chief marketing officer of Oracle. Still I heard nothing, except that he had stopped doing interviews. I was starting to get extremely anxious (I already had the book deal), when I got an offer from Mandalay Pictures (Peter Guber's film company) to option my book, I sent more emails. I only had a year or so to report and write this, so I had a true, hard deadline. The book needed to come out timed to the start of the America's Cup, which begins the first week of July with the Louis Vuitton Cup. 

Finally, fearful that this wasn't going to happen with his participation, I got an email from Larry. It was all of three words, but it was all I needed to hear. He wrote: "Happy to talk."

3. What's Mr. Ellison like in person? Is he funny? Is he shy? Is he the guy next door, or does he seem untouchable?

He is very different from the public persona, which is almost a caricature, a take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs warrior image. Of course he wants to win. Of course he's competitive. But he wants to win ethically and fairly, and certainly not at all costs. 

He is funny in an irreverent, I can't-believe-you-just-said-that kind of way; brilliant (with a near photographic memory); original in his thinking (in the same way his best friend, the late Steve Jobs was); extremely well read (especially of biographies and military history); and never one to rest on his considerable laurels. 

Forbes recently listed him as the world's fifth wealthiest people (the third wealthiest in the U.S.), with a personal net worth of $43 billion. The amazing thing, considering this, is that he remains CEO at Oracle Corporation, which he co-founded in 1977 (the precursor to Oracle was called Software Development Laboratories), and Oracle remains his number one priority. His life is about the next great chapter, the next big challenge. He always looks ahead.

4. What about the Mechanic? What's his name, and what's he like in person?

The mechanic of this story is a Marin resident (he and his wife live in Larkspur), who runs a radiator repair shop in San Francisco. His name is Norbert Bajurin, and he was commodore of the blue-collar yacht club, the Golden Gate, along the San Francisco waterfront, when he learned that a tentative partnership between the more blue-blood St. Francis yacht club and Ellison's Oracle Racing had fallen apart. 

It was the summer of 2000 and Larry had said he was going to form a syndicate to compete in the America's Cup, the Holy Grail of sailing, begun in England in 1851. You need to be sponsored by a yacht club to race in the event, so Larry had a team but needed a yacht club. Norbert read about the falling out with his neighbor, the St. Francis, and thought, "Why can't the little old Golden Gate be Ellison's sponsoring club?

Everyone told Norbert he was nuts and that he was way out of his league. Norbert refused to listen. Norbert's story is really rich and textured. His life was changed - for the better, and for the worse - by the America's Cup and his partnership with Larry. It's a very personal portrait of Norbert, whom I adore.

5. What are your thoughts on these two most unlikely people becoming friends, and working together?

It says a lot about both men. They have become unlikely friends and great supporters of one another. Larry inspires Norbert and Norbert grounds Larry

Norbert is a kind of everyman who dares to dream and makes that dream come true. Larry was reared in the South Side of Chicago with adoptive parents who liked to tell him he would never amount to anything. 

Larry admires Norbert for the life he leads: Norbert owns a business, he is an upstanding guy, and he's a straight talker. Larry says that dealing with Norbert is like going back into the Wild West, when a handshake was all that was needed to seal a deal.

6. Where's the best place for a cup of Joe in SF?

Zuni cafe. The latte in the bowl is amazing.

7. Why do you write?

I have been a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle for more than 15 years. You get to go into a different world several times a week. Some of what you see is really beautiful and inspiring. Some of it is sad or awful. I love learning, and I love bringing what I learn to the public. 

Writing is an art form, whether fiction or nonfiction. Writing books is grueling. I had my full time job at the Chronicle while I was writing this book at night and on the weekends. But just last week I received an early copy of my finished book. Holding the book - which looks beautiful - brought tears to my eyes. Truly. All of that struggle, sacrifice, and work paid off. The book is my little piece of immortality, and I just love the story.

8. You have an agent. Why? How has he helped your writing career?

I have an agent in New York. While there are a lot of people who self-publish and can find great rewards and success that way, my path has been the more old school one, which requires an agent to pitch your proposal to editors at the big publishing houses. 

My agent, Joe Veltre, has been instrumental. He has worked closely with me on my proposals, offering feedback and editing. 

What most non-writers don't know is that it's difficult to even get an agent. Then it's difficult for your agent to sell your idea. But I still think this is the best path if a writer is trying to get the attention of the publishing world. 

Also, my agent is negotiating my film deal. You want someone who knows everything from royalties on e-book sales to what to ask for in consulting fees if your book is turned into a screenplay, and so on.

9. Do you belong to any writer's associations? If so, which ones?

My writer's association is the San Francisco Chronicle :-) I love my colleagues, and feel like I'm always learning from them. And I have great editors at the paper.

10. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

While I was working on this book, I got up at 5 a.m. and worked until 7, when I had to get my son, Roman, up and ready for school. I'm a creature of habit for breakfast: coffee, water, vitamins, granola, fruit.

11. What's a day in your life like at the Chronicle?

I worked in the news department for more than a decade. That was crazy, as I'd arrive at work not knowing my assignment for the day. (I learned very early on to keep a pair of running shoes in my trunk.) I could be dispatched to cover a flood (I have floated in a canoe above the flooded streets of Guerneville), or do a piece on a gang shooting in Bayview Hunter's Point. 

Fortunately, I am now in the features department, so I have a set number of assignments I try to do in a week. Right now I'm working on a piece about the Dream Act (immigration reform); a profile on San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon; and a piece on Chris Columbus, a director (who did some of the Harry Potter movies, as well as Home Alone). My son Roman has given me questions to ask him about the Harry Potter films...

12. You've won multiple awards for writing. Is there a special one, close to your heart?

I used to care a lot more about awards. I did enjoy writing stories that exposed corruption and fraud and sending a couple of bad guys to jail (I got a big award for those stories). 

But now I just want to write great stories that people love, or at least that leave them feeling like they learned something or even entertained them for a bit. I want to write beautifully and compellingly, and get all of the facts right :-)

13. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

My mom. She has drawers full of my stories (print copies!). It's interesting to re-read some of the stories and see how inconsistent I was when I started, and how writing is a discipline like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get.

14. You also wrote The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith. What did you learn about yourself while writing it?

That book made me think about the places I hold sacred. I'm not Catholic, but I was writing about a group of Catholics who fought for more than a decade to try to save a place they loved - St. Brigid Church in San Francisco. I treasured the time I had with those amazing people. They were unassuming and humble and yet they took their battle to the Vatican. Their story made me think about where one finds peace and what one holds sacred.

15. What would you say to a newbie writer just starting out?

Write, write, and write. Do everything: journalism, blogs, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and short stories. But, don't expect it to be easy. It's really really hard, but oh so rewarding. 

When Philip Roth, one of the giants in American literature, retired recently at age 80, he happily placed a post-it on his refrigerator that said, "The struggle with writing is over." He was among the best, and writing was still a struggle.

16. When you interview people for your books, are there times when they give up information that they do not want in print? How do you handle that?

This happens a lot in my day job (at the Chronicle), and has come up in reporting for my books. There were a couple of things that both Larry and Norbert asked me to leave out of the book. I think about the request. I will ask why something is off the record. If I feel strongly, I'll fight to keep it in. But in the end, I will always honor the person's request. I feel a big sense of responsibility when people let me into their lives.

17. Do you have to sign a confidentiality agreement before interviewing such highly known individuals?


18. What's the funniest thing anyone has said about your writing?

I get strange emails all of the time at work. But I can't think of anything really funny.

19. How can my readers help you to become an even bigger success?

Preorder "The Billionaire and The Mechanic" on Amazon now. Or, it will be in bookstores in coming weeks. Adopt the book for your book club. Tell your friends about it. Buy copies as gifts. It's an especially great Father's Day gift! Come to one of my events, which will soon be posted on my Web site, and say hi. 

My author Website is

20. Any interesting tidbits you could share, that did not make it in The Billionaire and the Mechanic?

I have a lot of great insider stories of my time with Larry. We have become what I would call friends through this process. He respects my writing and he now trusts me. 

One memorable vignette: The first time I was at his house in Woodside, for my first interview for this book, I draped my jacket over the sofa in his Great Room (the public part of his estate). He was late, as always, so I got up to walk around and look at the breathtaking landscaping. As I turned back to sit down, I nearly stopped breathing. My jacket was draped over a painting that was just casually propped up against the back of a sofa. It was a Monet. I was like ...OMG; my jacket is touching that Monet! Larry arrived just as I was carefully lifting the jacket off the painting. I feared I would be 86'd out of his home before the interview began. Fortunately, he laughed.

21. What one word best describes you?


22. What are you working on now?

Publicity :-) I need to spend the next three to four months promoting "The Billionaire and The Mechanic." It looks like there's a good chance for the book to become a feature film, so that would be fantastic. 

But, I have to confess: I'm already thinking about a couple of ideas for my next book. I must be crazy or a masochist, but I love this process of turning an idea into something tangible. It's a very cool thing.

 23. Any big news?

Fortunately, we have a lot of good momentum around this book. We've been invited on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, and Charlie Rose, among others. (I have to see what Larry is willing to do in terms of publicity.) 

I'll be going on a national tour in June, hitting a city for 2 days, flying back for a few days, then off again. It's going to be fun. We'll also have lots of events around the Bay Area. Parties and readings big and small. 

Writers so appreciate friends who show up to multiple events (hint hint). You spend years toiling away in obscurity until one day, the book is done and making its debut.

(Oh - I'll be there Julian - rooting you on! I believe in you!! Have I told you, you rock?! Thanks for the interview!)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

INTERVIEWS: I want you! Yes, you...

I am looking for new writers, old writers, young writers, seasoned writers, writers from different countries, any writer to be interviewed.

This blog is now averaging 2,000 reads per month - which is pretty cool since I am awful with promotion, and really don't know how to reach the thank you for viewing.

Pass this on to your writer friends. It's a great way to promote yourself and your work.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Writer's Helpers: Books that can guide you in the right direction

I've written 8 picture books, 2 chapter books, and 3 novels. No, none of them are published because I never send any of them out. I always think they need more tweaking, more revisions. I'm getting over that now, and will be querying after this 3rd one is ready as per my mentor, not my insecure self-editor.

And since I have written so much, I have had help from a variety of sources. I've gone to school for writing @ Chatham University - I highly recommend their program. I have attended many conferences and writer's retreats. And I have bought books to help me better understand how to write for children.

Below is a list of the books I have in my office:

  • A Writer's Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Merriam-Webster's Thesaurus
  • Anatomy of a Screenplay by Dan Decker
  • SAVE THE CAT! by Blake Snyder
  • 100 words every high school freshman should know 
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • Webster's New Explorer Rhyming Dictionary
  • Self-Editing Fiction for Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
  • Thirty Days Has September
  • Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
  • Screen Plays by David S. Cohen
  • bird by bird by Anne Lamott
  • How to Write a Children's Book and Get it Published by Barbara Seuling
  • The Art and Craft of Writing for Children, edited by William Zinsser
  • PictureWriting by Anastasia Suen
  • You Can Write Children's Books by Tracey E. Dils
  • 90 Days to your Novel by Sarah Domet

I know I have a few more, but they are scattered throughout my house. Each one of these books has helped me better my craft, and help support the industry I love, and want to be a part of. 


Go to your local small book store, and ask them to help you buy a specific book for your specific writing goals. 

Conferences are great, but expensive. Writer's retreats are wonderful, but take time and money too. You can however, purchase a book or twenty (like me), and learn a ton.

Good Luck!
And as always.


Attention Writers: NO QUOTE PRIOR TO 1st CHAPTER

Another tip to the newbie, or any writer loving to add random quotes to their manuscript. 


Everyday we get hundreds of query letters, some good, some bad, and some ugly. But all of them are unique. Where we see repetitiveness is random quotes. This seems to happen at the opening of the first chapter. 

It's one thing to use quotes in a way that moves your story forward. Or if it's some kind of marketing at the head of each chapter, that also helps move the story forward. But, random quotes because they move you, the writer, or you think it helps readers understand where you or the character is coming from is a no-no.

When I am reading first chapters, I skip them, and so do the other interns. They're not needed, and for the most part only help alert us that you are a new writer, and that this is probably your first manuscript, and you haven't been told yet to drop the quote.

I'm telling you now, drop it. If you get picked up by an agent or publisher, and they ask you for random quotes (they won't) to add to the beginning of your first chapter, then by all means put it back in. For now, leave it out. 

When your manuscript goes to auction (don't we all hope so) then, you can blog about your awesome, kick-ass manuscript and use your favorite quote to help market yourself.

So, say it with me newbie, and not so newbie writers:


Okay now, query away...


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Prologues: DO YOU NEED THEM?

Definition of PROLOGUE
1: the preface or introduction to a literary work 

prologue (Greek πρόλογος prologos, from the word pro (before) and lógos, word) is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. T

What writer's Digest says: March 11, 2008

Q: When should a prologue be used? Is there a difference between prologues for fiction and nonfiction?

A: A prologue is used when material that you want to include in the opening is out of time sequence with the rest of the story. 

For example, let’s say you’re writing a book about a woman getting married. While your story focuses on the year leading up to the big day, there’s a funny anecdote from her childhood about her idea of the perfect wedding that foreshadows the actual event. Because this section is seen from her perspective as a child, it’s out of sequence with the rest of the book—which is shown from an adult’s perspective—and might work better as a prologue.

You can use a prologue in fiction and nonfiction, but it’s used only to explain key information that doesn’t follow the time flow of the rest of your book. So if your “prologue” doesn’t fit this criterion, either cut it or change it to Chapter 1.

What I say:

When you are querying for your novel, don't use a prologue. After reading hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of query letters, I have learned to skip them. I go right to the first chapter. 

Newbie writers who include a prologue typically seem to do two things:
  • the prologue sounds completely different than the actual work : meaning the voice is not the same
  • the prologue goes on and on and on and on, and does not really give key information out of sequence

When either of these happen I assume that my agent has rejected the work, and when I check, I am correct. 

**Remember I am interning, and learning how to be a literary agent, so I have some insider insight.**

I agree with writer's digest: If your prologue does not fit what a prologue really is supposed to be, cut it. 

If you are at all questioning your prologue, cut it. Especially when you are querying, because time is the issue here. You want a potential agent to read as much of your manuscript as possible. If your prologue is in a different voice, or lacks the info it's supposed to have, she/he may not even scroll down to the first chapter. 

Leave your prologues for publication. By then, you probably won't even need one anyway after all the revising you will be doing once you land an agent. 

Good Luck.
And as always,