Giveaway and Guest Post from Barbara Morgenroth


The Book Was So Much Better!


Barbara Morgenroth


We’ve all read a book, then enthusiastically sat down to see the movie play out.  Two hours later, we’re disappointed.  “The book was so much better!”

I’ll try to explain why this happens so you know what to expect when (rise of dramatic music) Hollywood comes calling on you.

Years ago, I wrote a YA titled Will the Real Renie Lake Please Stand Up.  A producer contacted my publisher, Atheneum, and expressed an interest in optioning this book.  An option is a small sum of money, or none, to take your book out of play.  While they sit on it, you can’t make a deal with anyone else.  It was pitched as a possible ABC Afterschool Special. 

I said yes, but wanted to do the script.  The producer insisted authors are too close to the project.  If I held to my demand, it was a deal-breaker.  I gave in.  I had plenty of other things to do and thought it wouldn’t ultimately make any difference to me.  It didn’t.

They made the movie and titled it Tough Girl.  I went on to work in daytime television.  There I met a producer whose background was theater.  He saw the movie on ABC and said to me “They missed every dramatic set-up in the book.”

How did they go so wrong?  Easy.  I was to find out when I was asked to turn a book by Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley High creator) into a script.  Between the demands from her agent and all those involved, I couldn’t accommodate everyone and do justice to her story.

What is so hard about turning a book into a movie?

It’s like nailing jello to the wall in some ways.  A book is long and complicated and a movie is short and simple.  With a book, if you don’t remember something, or get confused, you can go back and reread the last few pages.  Movies don’t stop.  They have to be simple so the audience can understand the story at speed.

In this process of simplification, details the reader may consider crucial and explanatory are lost.  There isn’t time for much exposition.  As they say in Hollywood “These are MOVING pictures.”

What is difficult and takes enormous skill and wisdom to do, is to know what can’t be left out.  This is a chief reason why we often find these books-to-films dissatisfying.  The screenwriter might not have been able to get a grip on what the essence of the story was.  The action and plot were understood, but not the theme.

Don’t rush to blame the screenwriter who must please everyone in the production company, studio and network.  Everyone has input and perhaps some decision makers lacked understanding and storytelling skill. 

If some elements are missed, those in Hollywood are satisfied to “Give them the sizzle, not the steak.”

Our goal as novelists is different.  We want to give our audience the sizzle and the steak.

The movie is not your book, just based on it and won’t be a perfect representation.  Take their money and run.  If you can be involved in the process–good; you’ll have the opportunity for fight for your baby.  If not, remember what Barth Gimble of Fernwood 2-Night said about show business.  “Dignity is when the check clears.”   


Barbara Morgenroth Bio

Barbara was born in New York City and but now lives somewhere else.  Starting her career by writing tweens and YA books, she wound up in television writing soap operas for some years.  Barbara then wrote a couple cookbooks and a nonfiction book on knitting.  She returned to fiction and wrote romantic comedies.

When digital publishing became a possibility, Barbara leaped at the opportunity and has never looked back.  In addition to the 15 traditionally published books she wrote, in digital format Barbara has something to appeal to almost every reader from Mature YAs like the Bad Apple series and the Flash series, to contemporary romances like Love in the Air published by Amazon/Montlake, and Unspeakably Desirable, Nothing Serious and Almost Breathing.

Badapplesm unheard021613sm desirablesm

EBooks Available by Barbara Morgenroth


Bad Apple 1 (Mature YA)

Burning Daylight–Bad Apple 2 (Mature YA)

Rise–Bad Apple 3 (Mature YA)

Flash–Kip Chanin 1 (Mature YA)

Flash of Light–Kip Chanin 2 (Mature YA)

Mounted–Bittersweet Farm 1 (Mature YA)

Pass or Fail (Mature YA)

Unheard (Mature YA)

Just Kate–YA

Blue Raja–YA


In Under My Head

Almost Breathing

Not Low Maintenance–The Miller Sisters 1

Unspeakably Desirable–The Miller Sisters 2

Fly Away With Me–The Miller Sisters’ Cousin

Nothing Serious (Romantic Comedy)

Murder Is Exhausting (Cozy Mystery)





ENDS 2/21


Posted on February 18, 2013, in GIVEAWAYS and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. When you recieve a bad review how do you handle it? How do you deal with writers block? I followed on goodreads:)

  2. Bad reviews fall into a couple basic categories–legitimate ones and mean-spirited ones. You need to decide which this bad review is. If the person obviously read the book and is pointing out issues–even if they’re the only person who has ever said that before–I consider the comment seriously. I ask what are they seeing or not seeing. Then you have some people who read too fast and miss details. I had a bad review complaining about a character’s ex-husband. It was made clear throughout the book he was a former boyfriend and they had never been married. I’ve had reviewers skim and miss important plot points–it’s hard to understand a book if you haven’t taken the time to read it. Those are best discounted. Then there are people who are just grumpy and say hurtful things to feel powerful. Those are best ignored.
    As for writer’s block, I think that’s a structural issue. You went wrong somewhere, you made a wrong choice and wrote yourself into a corner. How do you get out of a corner? A never fail solution is to kill someone. In the book, not IRL. You need to change the dynamic of the story or go back to the point where you departed from what was working. It’s really not the psychological problem some people would have you believe. You just write through it, it happens to everyone but it’s not something to be embraced, it’s something to be solved.
    Thank you for following me on Goodreads. I will try to be more active so there something worth following!

  3. What was your inspiration for writing Bad Apple? Do you have a favorite spot to write your books?

    I now follow on goodreads and thanks for the giveaway!!!!! ^_^

    • Hi Tiffany

      I apologize for the delay–I was overseeing two freebie giveaways at Amazon.

      There were several inspirations for Bad Apple. My neighbor presses apples into cider.
      this simple activity gave me a great deal to consider about rural life. I know a woman who lost a baby and she’s never gotten over it. The big inspiration was being involved in a murder. A friend of mine was killed and the police generously gave me their interview with the killer. It gave me a unique perspective on the murder and then I dug around in the pasts of both the killer and the victim until I thought I understood what happened.

      Years passed and I decided I would try to use some of those experiences as a starting point for a book.

      I wish I had a beautiful office with a great view and all the comforts one might imagine butt I just have a room I call my office. It’s got my freezer and my washer and dryer in it. I do have a string of fairy lights over my desk so that’s very festive.

      Thank you for following me on Goodreads, I don’t know how often I will be there since I’m trying mightily to finish Bittersweet Farm 2 right now.

  4. We’re you upset when you saw what they turned your book into on the big screen or did you understand the process then? And my favorite question to every author is: if you could only recommend one book to someone not including your own, what would it be?

    • Good question, Shannon, I think that’s the first time anyone has asked. I was rather prepared to be disappointed because there was quite a bit of discussion as I tried to work on the script. I knew that without my ability to oversee it, they would probably get a lot of it wrong. By the time the tv movie aired, I was already working in daytime television and had the support of a producer friend who said “They missed every dramatic set-up in the book”. That gave me some vindication. I was too busy to care much at that point and by now, no one will ever see it and it’s great for my resume!

      Recommend a book. That depends on what they want to read. I read a lot of biographies and cookbooks, not much fiction at all. One of my most favorite books of all is Bruce McCall’s “Zany Afternoons”. I think it’s out of print but you should be able to find a used copy. He’s so smart, so clever, so funny, and such a good artist that any work of his is a sheer delight. I have two copies in case something happens to one, that’s how important it is to me.

      Thank you for following me. You’ll probably see more of me/my photography at Facebook, to be honest.

      I hope you enjoy Unspeakably Desirable.

  5. Forgot to mention I am also a fan/ follower on Goodreads.

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