One of the many pleasures of Emceeing the Maui Writers Conference is having the privilege to meet in person a number of Academy Award winning screenwriters and Pulitzer Prize winning authors you’ve admired from afar.

Last night, we had our Presenters Orientation and Dinner so the agents, editors, authors, and screenwriters could get to know each other, on top of the conference center at the Maui Marriott, overlooking Wailea Beach with the orange, red, yellow sun setting behind the island of Molokai.

Let me put you in the scene. Everyone (all 75 of them) is standing around in small groups, talking about their latest projects.

There’s Michael Arndt, screenwriter for the breakout hit movie Little Miss Sunshine who’s nowworking at Pixar Animation Studios on Toy Story 3. Next to him is lawyer-author Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) talking to felllow novelist John Lescroart (The Suspect, The Hunt Club) Neil Nyren, Publisher and Editor in Chief of major New York publisher G. P. Putnam’s (clients include Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Patricia Cornwell, Dave Barry) is greeting agent Susan Crawford who represents Muhammed Ali, John Travolta and Stan Lee. The Secret contributor Lisa Nichols is telling Michael Palmieri (former executive with Tristar, Paramount, Warner and Twentieth Century Fox) about her new TV talk show.

I shake the hand of Pamela Wallace, screenwriter for the Academy-Award-winning, Writers Guild of America Award-winning movie Witness, and welcome her to the conference.

I tell her, “I’ve been burning to ask you something about your screenplay for Witness.”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“That magnificent scene in the barn, when Harrison Ford starts singing along to “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much about biology, all I do know is I love you, and I’m hoping you love me too . . what a wonderful world that would be . . .” to Kelly McGillis?”

Pamela answered, “Yes, I know the one you’re talking about.”

“Kelly is playing a rather prim and proper yet slightly rebellious young Amish woman. Her eyes and face shine as the impish Ford starts serenading her. She laughs out loud with delight when he takes her hand and starts dancing with her. That magical scene just crackles with sexual energy. Is that how you envisioned it when you wrote it?”

Pam laughed and said, “Harrison improvised that! In the screenplay, they were just sitting in the car listening to the radio and talking. He spontaneously started singing along to the song and the scene just unfolded organically from there. It’s the best scene in the movie!” Pam added with a modest grin.

That’s just part of the magic unfolding here at Maui Writers Conference. Insider tips on what really happened on the movie set, when a book went to auction and got a 7 figure deal, or when an agent discovered a hot new prospect.

Want to know what’s on tap for tonight?

Following our opening chant by Pali Ahui and his hula halau Na Maile Ku Honua, former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin will be sharing some of his respected work. This is guaranteed to be a “chicken skin” moment for all 800 participants as this National Book Award winner and former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets reads from some of his spellbinding books of prose and poems including The River Sound, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the Pulitzer Prize winning The Carrier of Ladders.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll share some of the best tips on how to become an Authorpreneur (monetize your writing career) and how to pitch your idea, book, or screenplay so you get interest from a decision-maker who has the power to get it published or produced.

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