HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Whatever you call it--the universe, serendipity, luck, chance, whatever--there are things we cannot control and cannot imagine our lives without. I am not going to yammer any more about his, because--what if I hadn't met Cindy Callaghan at Pennwriters a couple of years ago? I'll tell you what if. We wouldn't be reading this blog today. And Cindy's story is amazing.
But please note: The second paragraph has a bombshell, which, Cindy being Cindy, she just barrels right by. So let me give a headline: Her new book is now an AMAZON TV pilot. Whoa.
How my First Book Became a TV Pilot
(And the role of serendipity)
by Cindy Callaghan
Once upon a time there was a newbie writer (me) with an idea: Freckle-faced Kelly Quinn and her Secret Cooking Club.
I’m going to uber sum up several years of toil, tears and cheers to give you a glimpse into the stream of events that led me here: The Just Add Magic pilot on Amazon, which BTW is now available.
Kelly Quinn’s Secret Cooking Club, retitled and published Just Add Magic, landed me a literary agent and first book contract. Shortly after its release my agent and I went our separate ways leaving Just Add Magic unrepresented and all rights reverting to moi.
But lightning struck twice when I signed with a like-minded agent who saw promise and passion in me. Hallelujah! Together we’ve sold four more books to Simon & Schuster. YAY! However, I continued to believe that Just Add Magic had more in its future - the screen.
Enter: College Roommate. Like everyone, I friended my freshman college roommate on Facebook. We’d gone to University of Southern California to be film writers, but…yadda yadda…I got an MBA and have worked for twenty years in pharmaceuticals. You’ll find more on my background here. Anyway, she wasn’t living far from me, so we lunched and I learned that she was transitioning from an animation writing career. She’d said, “Talk to my agent and see if she has some advice for Just Add Magic.”
One day I get a call from California, “I’d love to represent it.”
I texted a pal, “Who has two thumbs and a film agent? This girl!”
My film agent submitted Just Add Magic to studios.
I was at the International Thriller Writers meeting in New York City. Michael Connelly, the author whose work first encouraged me to write, spoke about his detective Harry Bosch and “exciting stuff coming soon.” In the evening, I attended a session called “Book to TV,” (hello, Irony) when my cellphone rang again from California. (FYI, ALWAYS take a call from California.) My film agent said, “Amazon wants to option it!”
So, now I’m totally freaking out. Totally.
Drafts are written and sent up the Amazon ladder waiting for the green light. It was also during these months that I learned Michael Connelly’s “Bosch” pilot was coming out from Amazon Studios. This made Connelly and I “Amazon siblings”; only he doesn’t know we’re related. (It’s cool, nonetheless.)
One night I was at the local coffee joint debating semi-colons with my writing group when a call comes in from you-know-where. They say, “Can you come to LA? We’re moving ahead.”
Everyone at the coffee joint got to see my happy dance. (Poor folks).
What did it feel like? Mostly this: The school where we filmed was filled with people – actors, extras, cinematographers, directors, security, food service people, set and costume designers, make-up artists, etc. etc. They were all there for something that was in my head, an idea of freckle-faced Kelly Quinn and her secret cooking club. Does that thought give you chills? It does to me. Every time.
What if my first literary agent hadn’t let me go?
What if my roommate wasn’t on Facebook?
What if we’d never met for lunch?
What if interplanetary alignment hadn’t been exactly as it was at every point in time over those years? The cosmic sequence of events would’ve been totally altered and instead of a movie deal, there could’ve been a zombie apocalypse …..come on, I’m a writer, this is how I think.
Please watch the Just Add Magic pilot, rate it, review it.
I will be posting filmy type stuff all month, so please visit me on my website.
And if you see Michael Connelly, give him my best. After all, we’re practically related.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, my gosh. I am in AWE. Fabulous. What if I hadn't met Hallie at that writing class in 2004? What if I hadn't interviewed Sue Grafton in 1999? What if I hadn't gone to Nantucket that weekend in 1997? What're your what ifs, dear Reds? And don't forget to watch Just Add Magic! YAY, Cindy!
Cindy Callaghan grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA in English and French, and MBA from the University of Delaware. Cindy is the author of JUST ADD MAGIC (2010), LOST IN LONDON (2013), LUCKY ME (2014), LOST IN PARIS (March, 2015), and LOST IN ROME (June, 2015). All of Cindy’s novels are published by Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin M!x. Cindy is also working with Amazon Studios on an original series based on her debut novel, Just Add Magic. She recently exited corporate America after nearly twenty years, and is now fully entrenched in writing, and family. Cindy lives, works and writes in Wilmington, Delaware with her family and numerous rescued pets.