Set in a small town in Northern California, in the spring of 2000 when the dot-com boom was at its peak, the story centers around Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden, a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job and her trusted friends— five feisty women who first met in high school. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend, and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Liz learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.After independently publishing her book in 2009, Judith set about promoting her work, which led to getting her book optioned. What It Means to Get a Book Optioned An option means a film industry professional — a producer, studio, production company, actor — approaches a writer and says,
"I like your book and would like to make a movie of it. First I'll need to make a plan for getting the film made. I don't want to invest my time, however, only to have you sell the film rights to someone else. Therefore, I'm going to pay you not to sell to anyone else for a time period we agree on, between 12 to 18 months. If I don't get a production package put together by then, you're free to option the book to someone else."The production package usually includes: • getting a screenplay written • contracting with a director, actors and people to finance the movie • setting up distribution If the industry professional manages to pull those elements together, he/she can then exercise the option and move toward actually making the movie. Judith's Road to Success When I asked Judith to elaborate on how she got her book optioned, she wrote the following:
After more than 200 agent rejections, I decided to independently publish my novel. It had won the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club, and I was confident I had a good story. Prior to the book’s release I hired a book marketing company to write and distribute a press release to over 1,850 media outlets. A few weeks after the release was distributed, I received an email from the CEO of a Southern California production company which said: “I received an email press release about your book. I am a producer and would love to read your book, I will be ordering it from Amazon.” I immediately responded that I would be happy to mail her an autographed copy. It took a few months for her to read the book, but when she did, she loved it and sent me an option agreement. The book is currently being adapted into a screenplay. My story shows that you don’t have to be traditionally published to land a screen option. And my advantage as an Indie author is, I own the rights. BTW, I found a company that will make a roll of toilet paper out of rejection letters!Ha! Thank you, Judith, for exemplifying both the moxie writers need to succeed against all odds and the humor necessary to remain mentally healthy through an arduous journey. We all look forward to seeing the movie. And to everyone else, happy writing (and getting optioned)!