I recently found myself dodging the New York City police, rearranging homeless people, offering money to strangers, tracking storms, flagging down men in pickup trucks, recording a video in 100 degree heat in a fort made of dry ice, searching for tax credits, and negotiating back end with a monkey. No, these weren’t online dating experiences. (Mine were a lot weirder than this.) This was my first day as a filmmaker.

Why am I making a movie? I’m a novelist. And I’m happy being a novelist but this past year I had to face the fact that I’m having a hard time making a living as a novelist. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work. If you’re reading this blog I’m assuming you’re a fan of my books so you know my writing is as good or better than it’s ever been. I can place the blame on a lot of things but I’m only going to mention one for now: the absurd importance of social media.

Have you heard of the stripper Blac Chyna who got pregnant with Rob Kardashian’s baby? She has a million Twitter followers! When I heard about this I decided to find out more about her and did a quick comparison of our careers.

I have a journalism degree from Northwestern University; she’s a graduate of JLS makeup artist school. I’ve written six critically acclaimed novels, one a New York Times bestseller; she has her own line of adhesive eyelashes. I’ve been compared to John Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger and Clifford Odets; she was featured in the music videos for “Rack City” and “Come on a Cone.”

You’d think I’d carry a little more weight than she does in the publishing world but based on her Twitter following, she could get a book deal in a second; I can’t.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself, though. I’m the kind of woman who faces her problems head on. I woke up one day last year and realized my kids are grown, I’m divorced for a second time, I’m too old to wear mini skirts anymore (and gave all of mine to Good Will,) the career I’ve built is suffering through no fault of my own, and I needed to do something to change my life, to shake it up, to reinvent it.

So I sold my house in Pennsylvania, decided to take another shot at love and moved in with my boyfriend, and went in search of a new and different way to champion books and the importance of reading. I decided to make a movie that could potentially reach millions of people and wrote a funny, powerful, poignant script about writers and readers that also incorporates an important message about the dangers of depending too much on technology and not enough on each other. Then I started my own production company so I could make the movie myself. After that I decided I’m not that old after all and went out and bought a bunch of new mini skirts at Kohl’s (with a thirty percent off coupon!)

Since I’ve taken these steps and begun making Rewrites, lots of other good things have started happening. I’ll tell you all about it including that first day of filming and what kind of deal the monkey got. He had a great lawyer.


Next Chapter — 28 Comments

  1. Love this blog, Tawni. And boy, can I relate. I’ve had nowhere near your success but the business of novel writing has changed greatly since I started in 2001 and now. I think it’s great you are striking out in a new direction and am eager to hear more. Keep ’em coming!

  2. Tawni, I can’t wait to see this film. And I love the blog. Best wishes to one of my favorite writers (and people). My prayers are sent with this comment for a successful new career–but I hope you continue to write fine novels. Have read every one of them!

  3. I’m in! I love a good blog. Actually, I’m kind of a blog addict.
    I started my own several years ago and still love reading the archived topics. I still crack myself up so . . .
    I love that you’ve taken on this challenge. I think a good challenge is good for what ails ya.
    So, I’m here and I’ll read.
    You just write. K?

  4. Glad to see you have relaunched yourself.

    I look forward to your film

  5. I’ve read and enjoyed all of your books from the beginning, and I look forward to the next. Let me know how to boost your career! You are an amazing writer; I have trouble naming my favorite book, but it might be Fragile Beasts. Or maybe Sister, Mine. Please keep writing!!

  6. It is such a shame that great talent goes unrewarded. What hope is there for serious, creative literature? I’m glad Ms O’Dell seems to have the grit and perseverance of some of her best characters. I hope she doesn’t feel like a sell-out and I’m excited to see her talents expressed visually.

  7. I am so thrilled for you!!! Wishing you the BEST!!! You are an amazing noveist~

    • Please correct my typo. novelist not noveist DUH! There is no Edit available.

  8. Best to you on everything. It was a real pleasure meeting you at the Apollo Ridge Elementary School.. I am in ‘The Barn’ ‘4bidden Fables’ and the latest The Final Interview’ right now and you can keep up with me at Facebook/Richard Billock. I do so hope ‘Back Roads’ becomes a movie as well. Keep on keeping our area and roots of our gran parents in your stories and write on, pretty lady! ~ Rik

  9. Good luck with the movie.
    I grew up in Indiana County and really looking forward to seeing the movie.

  10. Your last novel was pretty good. You seemed to recover from you previous novel that was less a novel than it was the catalogue at which “Elaine” of “Seinfeld” worked. I still love your books. Have you tried pushing them in the area supposed to be taking place? Perhaps you have too obviously scraped any coal dust out from under your finger nails.

    • Well, it sure is obvious that I need a proof reader. Here are the corrections; your (previous novel), they are (supposed to be)

  11. Great hearing from you!! Congratulations on ALL of the new directions…

  12. I’m happy for you, although I hope you write more books. I have read them all and loved them.

  13. Interesting! Of course I’m a big fan of yours and read all of your books. I’m the 77 year-old guy from Starford.
    I hope you are successful. You post comments relative to social media illustrates the paucity of values in our society.

  14. Wow, best wishes with your new endeavor and I hope the good things keep happening to you!

    If you can make a movie that satisfies like your books do, you are going to go far! And by the way, pictures of those new skirts would much appreciated by this ole guy. I have seen enough porn to be a GYN but I still like to look!

  15. I just discovered your books about a year ago. You fast became my favorite author. I get the audio cd versions and listen in my car but there needs to be more of them. Sometimes I don’t want to get out of my car I am so interested. Or I drive right by my exit. I can’t wait to see the film you are making.! Don’t ever stop writing books.

  16. OUTSTANDING! I have every faith in your abilities to excel in this next chapter of your life. YAY! That means we get the pleasure of seeing a Tawni O’Dell movie. I look forward to it with as much giddy anticipation as I do each book! Thank you for persevering.

  17. I’m so proud of you. I’m not a big reader of books. I came across the book coal run, and fell in love with reading a good book. I have purchased all your books and look forward to reading the next book. I’m 42 years old divorced twice, lost my father this year. Sometimes you need to stand up and brush your self off, and start over doing things that put a smile on your face, being around people that make you smile again.one year for Christmas I gave my mom and friend a copy of your books as gifts. I’m not very good with English writing, sorry for punctuation. Keep up the great writing, glad to hear about the blog. 😊

  18. I too am an artist. I work in clay, not words, but it is equally hard to find a paying audience. I applaud your new effort. I too am reinventing myself. Fun isn’t it! You are the first blog I have followed. I look forward to hearing more.

  19. I meant to write and tell you how much we enjoyed your last book. It’s unbelievable that you don’t have book deals rolling in. Good luck with this different direction. My daughter struck out on a new venture, scary but rewardng. Look forward to more blogs. (PA book club member)

  20. You go girl ! I was excited to see you’re pursuing a movie. Good for you ! I just retired because the baggage with working became too much. I want to enjoy what time is left. At 62, I’m still learning so many things. I believe in myself. My kids are grown. I like to face my problems head on. And I believe in you. Your books are about real people. Real heartaches. Your talent is God’s gift to you. I wish you all the best. I wish you many years of success as a writer and filmmaker. Personally, I don’t follow the Kardashians. What’s the attraction? Still trying to find someone who wants to visit the coal mines of PA with me. May just jump in my car and do a solo trip ! Thank you for who you are !

  21. Love your writings and will be buying a ticket to that movie whenever it gets made

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