Saturday, September 24, 2016


To the UCLA Extension TV Writing Certificate Program. Which is all on waitlists now. So maybe in January kids.

In the meantime, I guess this means I'm a Bruin of sorts, despite my mad love of all things USC during the L.A. Times Festival of Books on the Trojan campus.

It's all good, I guess, where writing is concerned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Missing NOLA

I'm not even close to getting all my pictures from the New Orleans trip downloaded and organized, but since I am missing NOLA already, here are some to keep you (meaning me) going until I get them all together:

Streetcar on Canal Street

Crescent City Connection Bridge

Steamboat Natchez. We took a ride the next day.
It was wonderful for so many reasons.

Cafe Du Monde. I'm hooked.

Mule-drawn carriage on Decatur Street. 
They're  all over the French Quarter.

Statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, 
with the St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

May the curse be with you.

View from my room, looking southeast.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

This is incredibly cool

Underwater footage of a horse swimming.

What's really amazing is when you consider that with those skinny legs, horses don't look like they're built for swimming, but somehow they manage it anyway.

Friday, September 16, 2016

South Park deals with the NFL/anthem debacle, and it's sheer genius

The other night the world welcomed South Park back for its 20th season and a few days prior to the premiere the trailer leaked, indicating that Matt and Trey would address the issue of famous, filthy rich professional athletes refusing to honor our National Anthem prior to games. The world waited with bated breath to see how they would skewer the situation and we weren't disappointed.

And just for good measure they also tossed in a drive-by poke at the whole Ghostbusters 2016 fiasco as only they could, as Cartman is accused of claiming women can't be funny. With typical slimy Cartman insincerity, he hands various female classmates a mic during assembly asking them to be funny. They all refuse to even try, showing a total lack of sense of humor about this situation.

The Ghostbusters 2016 dig is also tied into the anthem storyline. The townspeople approach J.J. Abrams about writing a more inclusive, acceptable version of the anthem - I mean, rebooting the anthem.  Because if there's someone who knows how to reboot a beloved classic, maintaining and respecting what made the original so popular, while bringing in a whole new generation of characters and fans, it's J.J. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Abrams.

All of which led to this brilliant moment:

For our national anthem we now ask you all
 in solidarity to please rise...or sit, or take a order to honor America!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I like this woman. I really do.

Because with her around I'm not the fattest, saddest broad on the internets. And as a culinary school grad, I can make a hell of a lot more than sammiches. But I digress.

I like this guy even better.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget

Back in 2011, if someone had told me what world we'd be living in fifteen years after the horrific events of 9/11, I would never have believed our so-called "leaders" would be coddling the very people who attacked us. I just don't understand it.

Note: I have picked these images up from the internet over the years. If any are yours please let me know so I can give credit. God bless America.

Speaking of images, there are some amazing and heartwrenching ones here.

Updated: Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who was with President Bush when the Towers were hit, is doing an amazing blow-by-blow of the President's day on Twitter.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Not The Onion

Men's restrooms at Brown University to be stocked with feminine hygiene products.

I would give anything to hear this article read by Movie Trailer Announcer Guy, preceded by, "In a world gone mad..."

Man, these little social justice warriors are going to be in for the shocks of their lives when they get out into the big bad world and get belted with a heaping dose of reality.

As usual, South Park nails it.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

There's no way around it. This one's gonna be an annual post.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...

A link to this post popped up on the SinC Guppies Yahoo Group and given the title, I thought it was about "Taking Fictional Characters on a Road Trip". The post is actually more about the importance of scouting when using actual locations in your stories and the equal importance of consistency if you create your own world, because either way your eagle-eyed viewers will let you know if you get something wrong.

It's a terrific post and well worth a read, but the way it was presented on the list got me thinking about, well, actually taking my characters on the road with me. There are so many possible ways to do it.

You could have one or more of your characters join you next time you're on a trip. Preferably alone in a car as your non-writer family/friends/co-workers probably wouldn't understand your need to confer with your imaginary friend(s). Ditto flying, I'm guessing it might send up a red flag among the flight crew and other passengers. But if you can get them alone, it could be enlightening to find out how they react to certain things or what they decide to share about themselves while stuck in a car with you for an extended period of time. Or you could solve the talking to yourself issue by having the interactions in your head and jotting down notes. After all, you are a writer. The simple act of writing shouldn't send up an alarm, at least not the way talking to someone only you can see will.

Or maybe just drag them along with you the next time you're running errands. Again, I'd leave them in the car or keep the interactions to yourself. Sure, you're never going to see any of those people in Costco again, but why risk attracting the attention of security guards? They also might not understand the writing explanation, unless their rapidly dwindling book section carries your latest, in which case congratulations, you've just become a celebrity at your local big box store. But for a lot of us that's getting ahead of ourselves. We've got to get the books written first and to do that we need to get to know the people who are going to populate our stories.

Or just go for a drive with them. You don't have to be going or doing anything in particular. Just spend some time alone with them, getting to know them.

I think it's a great way to get to know your characters and flesh them out. It also might build scenes for your story. It's a legit question - how would my detective kill time while waiting for his car to go through the wash? With nothing to do but sit and wait, could that be the moment he puts two and two together and finally IDs the killer? If my protagonist is fed up with her life, is that the moment, while watching her car getting sudsed up from behind a pane of glass, that she finally makes the decision that's she's done with this world? Or will the sight of her car being wiped clean make her feel like she can make a fresh start and try to plow through a little longer? Will one of my supporting characters poke fun at my supermarket purchases or will they want to join me for dinner when they see what I've bought? How happy - or not - will my suspects be when I drag them to a farmer's market? What books would catch their eye at Barnes & Noble?

I don't expect them to hang out at home with me. While I love and need my solitude, I understand it's boring to other people. Watching someone write, clean house and binge watch shows is not exciting. And I don't necessarily want them around all the time. But the more I think about this, the more I feel like I just stumbled onto a brilliant way to develop my characters. I feel like they just got a lot more interesting.

Keep them talking.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Writing advice: Write what haunts you...whatever that might be

The last couple of days I started jotting down notes for an idea using stuff from my life. I don't usually draw from my own life because to be honest, it hasn't been all that exciting or marked by amazing accomplishments. I just sort of exist.

But for some reason I'm suddenly jotting down little experiences that have stayed with me over the years and trying to work out how I could turn them into a novel-length story. And not the good things, the other things. One of my notes: "This could be cathartic."

Just little things. Nothing that the average person would consider life-changing, good bad or otherwise. I would say I consider these experiences to "haunt" me based on the question, "Why do I still remember this stupid thing after all these years?" It's not like I've had a life of epic tragedy, but everyone has their internal scars. Which is why I was so happy to read these quotes from Mary Casanova's article at Strand Magazine:

When I first heard other authors talk about writing what haunts you, I thought it meant I had to have come from a dreadful, abused childhood.

I worried that my early years...doomed me as a writer. There simply hadn't been enough pain and anguish.

Most of us are fortunate that our lives weren't spent enduring years of misery, but for some people there are seemingly small things that end up defining them, or at least haunting them. There are days when I can't remember what I had for lunch the day before, but there are memories from childhood and my earlier adulthood that seem to have followed me all through life. Things that might not seem like big deals to others, but for some reason I can't shake them.

Sometimes little things become big things, at least to the individual that they happen to. And for me, I think there's a story in that, or at least that can come out of that.