Monday, June 29, 2009


Spent the whole day exploring Lanai with my Mom. You'll see us here standing near the Garden of the Gods, a windswept section that resembles Mars but was once actually the bottom of an ancient lake.

Also featured, former pineapple fields that have now gone wild, and Shipwreck Beach, complete with wreck eternally hung up on the reef.

Lanai is gorgeous, varied, and sleepy. I highly recommend taking a tour with a local guide (Bruce Harvey was our knowledgeable, affable host) to show you all the cool nooks and crannies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

One thought before I go...

...on vacation! Woo hoo!

I may post stuff from Hawaii or once I get back, but in the meantime, check out this post from writer John Scalzi's blog "Whatever" on how publishing works.

Clue: it's very very sloooow.

Happy Fourth of July (just in case I don't blog before then) to all!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Video test!

This is basically a test of my new Flip video phone. I'm seeing if I can upload videos from it and post them here. It's just me on the roof of a parking lot near Wilshire and Western, right after tonight's PJ Harvey concert at the lovely Wiltern Theater, one of my favorite venues in Los Angeles. Too bad it's too dark to share just how lovely the evening was. But it's short, and, fair warning, I appear very briefly at the end.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. Thanks to the most creative, supportive, loving father a girl could ever have.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time Travel

After reading this post on Scott Westerfeld's blog, I'm inspired to change the time settings on my blog to GMT +3:30, which is the time zone for Tehran, Iran.

Apparently this is one of the few concrete things we bloggers can do to help the protesters in Iran right now. As Scott Westerfeld says, "Censors in Iran are currently searching for blogs with Tehran local settings as a way of finding and shutting down sites that are protesting Iran’s recent (probably stolen) election. The more blogs in the world that are set to Tehran time, the harder the job is for these censors to do their job."

So, hello Iranian government censors! Nice of you to stop by during your iniquitous mission to quash free speech. Stay awhile, have a seat, write a novel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Make It Up

So I've been flailing around, trying to get started on a new TV script, feeling terribly uninspired. My few forays into hashing out an outline have come to dead ends with me feeling like a lunkhead who can't write for beans.

Yesterday things got slightly better though, because I decided to just make it up.

Yes, I know writers make up stories - that's what I'd been trying to do all along, right? But I was taking it very seriously, thinking things like, "this has to be great" and "I have to make this perfect," and so on.

But yesterday I thought, "Okay, just write the crappy version. No one's going to see it, not yet. Just make it up."

For one thing, the script was sparsely populated. I had the main character and a few others, but the story involves a mystery, and I needed suspects, a killer, red herrings. For some reason, they just weren't appearing in my mind.

So I just made it up. Okay, here's the killer. Is he married? Instead of pausing to ponder all the reasons why he should or should NOT be married, I decided, sure, he's married. Why not?

And the victim - who's in her life? Is she married? Yeah, what the hell. And then I saw a connection between the victim's husband and the villain. I never would've made that connection if I hadn't just made the husband up for no good reason. And the killer's wife? She'll make a good red herring, since it turns out the victim was sleeping with the villain. Another connection made.

So when you're stuck, forget about reason. Let go of structure and connection and trying make it all make sense. Just make it up. Make no sense for awhile. Odds are you'll then start to see connections between all the nonsense you created, and suddenly it's not so nonsensical. The stuff that isn't connected can later be cut. But don't worry about that for now. Make it up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Today's Writing Prompt - Deny the Deniers

Ages ago, when I was trying to make this site a place where people could come for writing prompts, I wrote about a story I heard on NPR about a Jewish boy who was adopted by Nazis as their mascot during World War II. It was a fascinating story, and I tried to use it as a writing prompt.

Just today someone tried to post comments to this blog, telling me that the whole story was faked, a hoax.

Uh, I don't care.

This isn't a blog on history. I'm not a journalist or a Holocaust expert. I posted the story here and the links to it so that it could be used as a prompt to inspire storytellers.

So today's prompt - write to me as "Dan" - the guy who thinks this story was a hoax. Consider using capital letters at odd times, make unsubstantiated claims, and have no clue as to what this blog is about.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rewriting advice

This article at the Writers Store by William M. Akers gives great advice on rewriting your script, but most of it can be applied to your novel as well.

This article focuses on three things - story, dialogue, and scene description.

Screenplays focus on structure and story, whereas novels can and often do wander all over the place, and sometimes aren't very story driven. But if you want to tell a story, structure is your friend, even in a novel.

Yes, dialogue in a screenplay needs to be lean. But you don't want the characters in your novel repeating themselves, do you? All the points here can help make your novel's dialogue sing. I'd add my own tip, taken from movie director Howard Hawks, who called his dialogue, three cushion dialogue. It's a term from pool, where you bounce the ball off of three cushions before sinking it. Hawks never wanted dialogue that went straight to the point. He thought it should bounce around its meaning, getting to the point obliquely. Don't have your character say "I love you." Have a character who is a coffee snob say to their beloved: "You make good coffee." You get the idea.

Sure, scene description in your novel doesn't have to be as tightly focused and written as in a screenplay. But shorter is often better, and tightening it can make you get to the heart of your description in a more powerful way.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Clever clever

I've been lazy since I finished my rewrite and haven't done the script outline I need to do. And I spend time online finding amazing video like the stuff below.

Seriously - how can I write a story about these whales? About halfway through, you'll see what I mean, but this is footage of a fishing line way out at sea. It has a cod hanging from it, and then about halfway thought you'll see an ENORMOUS sprem whale show up, tweak the fishing line, and get the juicy cod.

You can even hear the happy clicking from the whale as he steals the fish. Thieves of the sea! They do have brains bigger than ours, you know.