Saturday, November 27, 2010


I finished my first "serious" screenplay, and I'm basically sick to my stomach at the thought of sending it to someone who actually knows something about the business. Now that it is done, I can tell you I will definitely be taking a break before starting back on Magpie, which I talked about a few posts ago.

All Along the Pacific is just waiting on an ISBN, by the way, so it should be out soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A fortuitous sighting

This morning, I stood in the back yard and watched black vultures circle over head. My husband immediately speculated as to where the "corpse" was. Watching vultures may seem odd, but I love them. When I took natural history at Cuesta Community College, I watched the turkey vultures and kept a detailed account of their behaviors. When I moved to Louisiana, the vultures' black heads fascinated me and made them seem all the more ominous.

Vultures have two names for the groups they gather in depending on their behavior. Just a group is a venue; if they circle -- I presume over a carcass -- then they become a kettle. I find that exceedingly interesting, that animal behaviorists or zoologists or whomever came up with these terms thought it necessary to give the groups two separate names. Are there any other animal group that have different terms based on what they are doing? I don't know.

All of this links back to writing because vultures figure into the first few pages of All Along the Pacific. If you look for them, you'll see them there, circling over the brown hills of the Salinas Valley.

By the way, that book should be out any day now. I'll keep you all posted.

And just for fun, if you sear "vultures" at Amazon, here's the first thing that comes up:Star Wars Clone Wars Star Fighter Vehicle - Super Vulture DroidA Star Wars toy.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I'm so lucky to get an entire week off for Thanksgiving. I'm going to need it. I've procrastinated enough with the revisions of the screenplay. In a little over a week's time, I'll sit down and do it. No matter what. I swear I will. I have all the notes done. I know what needs changing, and I will do it.

In the meantime, I've had something of a revelation as far as deciding what my next project will be. We had a visiting author at my school, Kimberly Willis Holt. She wrote When Zachary Beaver Came to Town and My Louisiana Sky. She said that when she first started writing, she decided she wanted to write like an author she had admired in middle school.

I started thinking about that. Then I decided maybe, in order to get back into the swing of things, I should try to write a story more like those I admire. The three books that I read over and over again are Frank Herbert's Dune, John Steinbeck's East of Eden, and -- probably most surprising -- Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel. I see the similarities between the first two -- broad, sweeping, generational epics about man carving out his niche in a universe... But the third. Then I realized what it is that always draws me back to that work: the language and the voice. It is an ugly, dirty, gritty story full of pestilence and violence and decadence in the H.P. Lovecraft sense of the word, but it captivates me. Of course, Nick Cave is primarily a song writer, which is why his language is so beautiful, even if his plot is not.

After a talk with my husband -- he's not all unicorns and rainbows when it comes to my writing; he does take it seriously -- we decided I had a voice, but it might make sense to cultivate it a little more. So my next project, pushing all else aside, is going to be finishing Magpie. This was a novella I started my last semester of workshop. It's about a slightly crazy daughter of a moonshiner who kills the preacher's son when he tries to rape her, but no one knows what happened to him. Yes, I listened to "Crow Jane" over and over as I worked on the first two sections. Well, once the screenplay's finished, I'm going to head back to those, rewrite the first two sections, and then finish the story. I think it might be good for me, since Magpie is the only character that has ever gotten away from me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We are in crisis

Today is a Saints game. For all intents and purposes, it should be an easy game. We should trample the Panthers and come home with a better record from Carolina than we arrived with.

We have one issue however.

I have neither enough vodka for bloody marys, nor do I have the requisite Lays with ridges and French onion dip which are required to ensure a Saints' win. Mock me will you? This is a tried and true recipe for success. The day we went to the game -- the Browns -- we did not win because we had no chips and dip. We ate nachos at the Dome, but that is not the same thing. Another loss, we'd bought the store-brand chips. See? Believe me now?

Of course, this means I'm going to have to go out before the game to two separate stores to get the required elements for a Saints' victory. I don't want to leave the house, but I'm going to do it for the team.

Geaux Saints!

(I'm glad the Hornets aren't as picky with their rituals. They seem to be winning no matter what I do.)