England may have His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge (and, okay, Wimbledon champ Andy Murray), but in our little corner of the planet, the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program has been doing its own victory dance with the 8/6/13 publication of Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Inside the Room: Writing TV with the Pros from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (Gotham Books / Penguin Group.)

These highly practical and entertaining “how to” books are the culmination of a four-year process which brought together the talents and contributions of 24 Writers’ Program instructors-chapter authors; Editorial Board members who formally reviewed the chapters; Writers’ Program and UCLA Extension staff members who assisted with the process at every level; literary agent Betsy Amster who represented the books; the cadre of pros at Gotham Books/Penguin Group who brought the manuscripts to fruition; and my husband, who held my hand literally and metaphorically throughout. If not a royal birth, Cut to the Chase and Inside the Room’s entrance into the world was a labor-intensive (yes—terrible pun intended!) and at least according to advance reviews from Kirkus, thus far a positive one:

Kirkus Review of Cut to the Chase

Kirkus Review of Inside the Room

So Step One: Buy one or both books! They are now available in print and online and on mobile devices wherever books are sold.

Step Two: Let us know what you think! Comment on the Cut to the Chase and Inside the Room Facebook page, where you’ll also find writing tips straight from the books and updates—including some author chats in the next several months. (Feel free to share any topics you’d like the chapter authors to address.)

Step Three: Check out the first of 17 chapter author interviews that will be rolled out over the next month—here with feature film writer Cindy Davis (Chapter 3, “Building Characters,” Cut to the Chase) and TV writer-executive producer Charlie Craig (Chapter 2, “Writing the On-Air One-Hour Drama Spec: The Script,” Inside the Room).

Linda Venis is the director of the Writers’ Program and the editor of Cut to the Chase and Inside the Room.

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