Monday, December 22, 2008

Gumbo Justice and Bernie Angel

I am waiting anxiously for my publisher to decide the release date for Gumbo Justice. There is so much involved in promoting a novel it is unbelievable. For new writers, it can be daunting. Luckily, Gumbo was pushed back because of my car wreck, so I have a little more time to learn to navigate the waters.

I have also been working on Bernie, and still do not have a title. Titles are the hardest thing for me. I don't want to settle for something, I want it to be unique, I want it to not sound even vaguely like something that has been done before, and I want it to be accurate. I hate titles that don't match the book or movie, or worse, have absolutely nothing to do with it. The title should give a clue about the work, and should lure the audience into wanting to read the book or see the picture.

I have been doing major rewriting to Bernie. One, to give one of my secondary characters a better story, and two, my ending needed reworking. The first ending wasn't exciting enough, the second had a flaw in that my hero didn't save herself. I wanted something a little different, but when you're new to the game you can't break the rules. It makes the people with the checkbook think you don't know the rules, and that's a problem.

When I'm finished Bernie, I'm thinking of entering her in a few screenwriting contests before trying to sell her. Selling is also a daunting task, more work than the writing, in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am having a really good time working on Bernie Angel. I am trying to think of a more compelling title that says something about what the movie is about, but I have time for that.

Screenplays are fun. All the stuff you need to delve into in a novel- the scenery, the character's emotions, the motivation -it's all portrayed so much simpler in a movie. The scenery is explained in a few lines to tell the director where you are. I always feel like I have to sneak into a novel. Scenery description is not my strong suit.

Also in a novel, the motivation of the characters needs to be apparent by the stuff they do, and what is going on in the movie. In a novel, the character thinks and the audience hears it. In a movie, the character thinks and the audience has to see it.

On the flipside, formatting for a screenplay is more work, even with screenwriting software.

Screenplays are also short, the max you want is about 80-130 pages, although it seems 110 is the target, compared to a novel which you aim for about 80,000 words unless you're famous already, and that works into about 300+ pages. You would think shorter would be better, but it's difficult sometimes to get everything you want into a shorter work, knowing what to chop out of your baby is difficult.

When I have finished it, come up with a title and registered it, I'll likely post a few pages to see if it captures anyone's interest. Whether it does or not, it has been a good experience. Writing is always fun, and the more you write, the better you get.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bernie Angel

The screenplay for Bernie Angel (tentative title) is in progress. I have inked out the plot, trimmed it down considerably so it would fit in one movie, and am in the process of creating the character's histories. I have the plot outlined by scenes, and hopefully in the next few days will begin the actual screenplay.

Something interesting, for science fiction movie buffs- I ordered the screenplays for the original Star Wars trilogy and was fascinated by them. It is amazing to see how the producers, directors, costumers, etc., translated the description of scene, set, characters, costumes, and created the Star Wars World. The scripts also have tidbits of trivia that are equally as interesting, such as characters in the original screenplay, certain "science fiction" terminology that was changed, and the fact that no one would buy George Lucas' original screenplay initially, and he had to modify it a whole lot to get it sold. He wrote it as a kid's morality story, to tell a story about right and wrong. Hard to believe that what he perceived to be a simple life lesson for children turned into such a big deal. I hope to be half as lucky. The movie has also made double in merchandise compared to how much it made in ticket sales, something to think about when creating characters. If you want to make the big bucks, have not just interesting characters, but interesting LOOKING characters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Publication of Gumbo Justice

I was excited to see my novel listed as a coming attraction on my publisher's website at Oak Tree Press. I was equally as excited to see Gumbo Justice listed on Barnes and Noble's website, available for pre-order. The novel is not scheduled to be published until late summer, but now that it has an ISBN number, it finally seems real to me. I have added a link to the Barnes and Noble page (top right.)

I can already imagine all the work I will be doing as it comes closer to publication- edits, putting together press release kits, discussing the cover concept (hopefully), coming up with a page long description of the novel, which is one of the hardest things to do (imagine trying to sum up your own life in a couple of paragraphs), writing the thank you page, getting the photo taken for the back cover (which is actually in the contract.)

In any event, I am enthused at this point. I am working toward walking and being able to use my left arm, I am working at my job from home again. I am working whenever I can at my kids' school, volunteering when they need me. And soon I will be working full steam ahead at doing all the things for my novel to be published. And all this with trying to keep up with the new television lineup. Things could be a lot worse.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I have seen a lot of television shows recently with individuals "in recovery." For the most part, these characters are alcoholics, drug abusers, with an occasional sex addict thrown in for good measure. I assume writers feel the need to keep up with Hollywood, where anyone who is anyone is in some kind of rehab. For instance, David Duchovny is reported to have just gotten out of a rehab facility for his sexual addiction. Spears and Lohan are currently out of rehab as well. Locklear may be going in.

It's not that I don't sympathize with people who actually have real problems. (Not passing judgment on the rich and infamous, because I only know what the media wants me to know. I'm in no position to determine if these people have real problems are not.) But people with addictions are sad, because they do have a problem they are unable to control, whether it's from weakness or genetics.

I do, however, have my own perspective on "recovery" and "rehab." I am in a wheelchair after being in a head on collision with a drunk driver in early June. Recovery to me isn't trying to figure out why I can't walk; recovery is trying to let my body heal so one day I may be able to walk. Rehab isn't a place I can check in and out of depending upon my mood; rehab is a torturous place where a woman stretches my broken elbow until I scream, and another woman makes my knees bend while I try not to cry.

Recovery and rehab are both agonizing for me. I am in some kind of pain almost constantly. I don't know how long it will be before I am back to normal, if ever, and if I will ever be able to do the things I used to. Simple things like playing ball outside with my kids, or walking the dog seem like a fantasy a hundred years in my future. I've forgotten what it is like to walk into the bathroom, climb in the tub, and take a bath. Or drive myself to Wal Mart to buy a treat for one of my daughters' classes.

So forgive me if I get angry- and yes, jealous- when I see someone who has everything but common sense throwing a perfectly good life away. Poor Hollywood actor can't keep it in his pants. Poor Pop Tarts can't help partying without their panties. I don't feel sorry for myself, so I'm sure as hell not going to feel sorry for them. I wonder what people like that would do if they were faced with problems such as trying to make the mortgage, or trying to feed their kids, or trying to walk after being destroyed in a car wreck, instead of how to control their baser urges.

It seems as if Hollywood writers feel compelled to write a character with an addiction, just as they feel compelled to write a character who is the token gay person. I like good characters if they are well-written, three dimensional characters, whether they are addicted or not, gay or straight, black or white. What I can't stand is when writers create caricatures of addicts, or gay people, or foreigners, or whatever the stereotype, because it is the THING that Hollywood is doing right now.

Maybe that's why I read so much.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Untitled presently- sequel to Gumbo Justice (draft)

8:00 P.M.

“Do I have too much ass showing?” Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Murphy glanced at herself in the two-way glass in the interview room of the New Orleans First District police station, tugging her short plaid skirt down as far as it would go over her rear. She made a kissing motion at her reflection, and then frowned.

Her dark, almond-shaped eyes somehow looked less exotic surrounded by magenta eye shadow, and her generous lips were nearly invisible, lined with tan liner nearly the same color as her skin and colored with frosted nude lipstick. The wavy auburn hair she normally fought to keep under control was for once subdued, flattened to her scalp under a long, frizzy blonde wig. She definitely looked more like a hooker than an Assistant District Attorney.

“No such thing as too much ass showing, baby,” Rocky answered, crushing a lit cigarette under his dirty tennis shoe. NO SMOKING was illuminated in red neon above the dirt-smudged door that led into the hallway, but nobody bothered to tell the scruffy detective anything. Paul Rocquefort was not known for being a rule follower.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I’m not totally sure about this outfit,” Ryan commented. “Although I have to say you’ll have no trouble passing for a bum in that getup.”

“What getup?” Rocky asked. In addition to the dirty tennis shoes, he also wore a pair of grungy, frayed jeans and a sweater with holes in it. The odor of stale liquor and cigarettes emanated from him, and Ryan thought she smelled cheese when Rocky scratched his head.

“Sorry,” Ryan said, leaning over slightly in the two-way mirror. The glass ended at the half-way point down the wall, and with her five-foot frame, she had to stand on her toes while trying to bend over to catch a glimpse of the back of the skirt. “I thought that was a costume. But I still don’t know about this skirt.”

Rocky waited a second, apparently listening to the voice coming through a small device in his ear. “Carlson said to bend over a little bit more so he can give his opinion.”

Ryan waved to the glass, only slightly embarrassed that the light-skinned black detective was on the other side catching a peep show. “What’s Monte doing here?”

Monte Carlson was an undercover narcotics detective assigned to the Sixth District, under the command of Ryan’s father, Captain Kelly Murphy. Monte generally conducted undercover buys from street dealers, riding in an undercover car equipped with video cameras. He would wait to be flagged down and then make a purchase, the entire transaction caught on videotape and used for evidence at trial.

Unlike the rest of the police officers, Monte was allowed to cultivate a street look, which in his case included a bald head, multiple piercings, and miscellaneous tattoos running up and down his arms and back.

“Monte said you got just the right amount of ass,” Rocky said, and then looked her up and down for about the hundredth time. “Whatever else I might think about Sparky, he’s one lucky bastard.”

Ryan gave him a look, not amused by Rocky’s intentional habit of calling her boyfriend by the wrong nickname. Anthony Chapetti–Shep– was a detective in the Special Investigations Division in the Sixth District, and Rocky never tired of making fun of him. Not that Rocky didn’t have something bad to say about everyone.

“Shep told me if you called him Sparky one more time to kick you in the right knee,” Ryan answered. “He said it gives out on you sometimes.”

“Sorry, Little Murphy, but your boyfriend looks like a Sparky,” Rocky said with a shrug.

Ryan tugged again at the plaid skirt self-consciously, wondering if she should have worn the full-coverage bathing suit bottoms Shep had suggested instead of the thong underwear suggested by Lt. Jones, the female supervisor in charge of the entire operation.

It was too late now anyway. They were about to go out on the street. And Ryan did want to look like an authentic hooker. Lt. Jones stood next to Ryan now, pressing a fake tattoo onto Ryan’s arm.

Ryan had to admit that Lt. Jones looked pretty authentic herself, her lips and eyelids heavily colored in gold and her short cropped black hair hidden underneath a ten dollar wig from the sale bin at Ebony’s House of Beauty Supplies on Magazine Street. A short tight leather skirt and black half shirt completed Lt. Jones’ prostitute look.

“Monte’s on loan from the Sixth District,” Lt. Jones finally answered, patting Ryan’s arm one last time. She stepped back, and nodded approvingly. The tattoo was a black panther. “Working undercover at the Triangle. Some dope’s being pushed to the kiddies down there and the undercovers here are too well-known to the underage set to be of any use.”

The Triangle consisted of three bars, the Marquis De Sade, the Eight Ball, and Retro; the Marquis de Sade was on Tulane and South Rocheblave, and the Eight Ball and Retro were located a block down South Rocheblave, diagonally across the street from each other. Diverse crowds of bar hoppers and underage drinkers clustered within the perimeter of the informal triangle.

Lt. Jones smudged gel across her cheeks until her mocha skin was illuminated with a glittery, orange glow. “Now, you girls just about ready?”

Ryan tugged the skirt down again and frowned. “I can’t believe I wore this skirt this short in high school.”

“You didn’t,” a thin blonde woman commented, as she walked up with a fake smile on her face. “You’ve just spread out since then.”

Ryan gave Kellie Leblanc a withering look, wondering again whose bright idea it was to pair the two prosecutors together. “Well, I’m sorry my every day clothes weren’t appropriate for dressing up like a hooker. I guess you’re just lucky that way.” And Ryan hadn’t spread out since high school. She was still somewhere in the 105 pound range, although she did have a habit of rounding up when it came to her height, and rounding down when it came to her weight.

Kellie didn’t have a chance to reply before the third of the trio of female prosecutors, Julia Bourbon, cut in. “Ladies, can we at least pretend to play nice tonight?” Julia Bourbon was the chief of the District Attorney’s Office elite prosecutors, the Strike Force, and technically, Ryan and Kellie’s immediate supervisor, although somehow she never came off that way.

While Kellie and Julia were both tall and blonde, no one would ever confuse one for the other. Kellie was always heavily made up, with too much eyeliner around her bright blue eyes and lipstick so bright she could help land a plane. She always wore the trendiest clothes in the smallest size possible for her slight body. As a matter of fact, Ryan thought Kellie’s prostitute look was pretty much the way she looked every other day of her life.

Julia, on the other hand, was usually understated in every way imaginable, wearing classic suits and seeming to do whatever she could to draw attention away from her looks and fuller figure. Not that it worked. Julia was the sort of woman who drew attention in jeans and a ponytail. And tonight, in a laced-up black top with tight leather pants tucked into black thigh-high stiletto boots, she would undoubtedly receive her fair share.

Rocky dug in his ear with his pinkie nail, the only one of his fingers that wasn’t chewed to the nub. “Queenie, I think you should leave these ladies to their own devices. And girls, if you’re gonna start fighting, I respectfully request you rip your tops off first.”

“You wish,” Kellie said, although Ryan doubted if the other woman wouldn’t manage to give the detective some type of peep show of her own before the night was over, now that she knew he was interested.

“Queenie?” Julia asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Yeah, the name seems to fit you,” Rocky answered, looking at a wad of yellow wax on the end of his fingernail.

Julia seemed amused. “Interesting analysis.”

Ryan ignored them. “Lt., honestly, do you think this is too much?”

“Girl, ain’t a lot you can do about it either way. You got yourself an ass, that’s all I can tell you. You sure you ain’t got some sister in you?” Lt. Jones tugged the short leather skirt down over her own ample rear.

Ryan laughed out loud at the thought. Her father would cringe if he heard that question. “I don’t think so,” she answered.

“Although she almost had some brother in her once,” Kellie commented with fake innocence.

Ryan felt her face turn red as Rocky gave her a tobacco-stained smiled and said, “Carlson has
a fascinating perspective on that story.”

Ryan’s cheeks grew hotter. Monte Carlson was the person to whom Kellie was referring.

“It was before Shep,” Ryan said, too quickly. God, she didn’t need this conversation getting back to him. He was still a little insecure when it came to Monte. Not that she had done anything but kiss Monte, and it was before she started dating Shep, but he still imagined that Ryan had unresolved feelings for the other man.

“You almost hooked up with Carlson?” Lt. Jones asked, her eyes if not her tone relaying her surprise. “He seems a little out of your neighborhood.”

Ryan thought briefly about the one encounter she had with the muscular, tattooed man. Neighborhoods had nothing to do with it. She tried to put the memory out of her head as Monte walked into the room, scratching his bald head.

“It was like five minutes before Shep,” Monte said, giving her his own once-over. She fought off another blush, watching his unlikely green eyes light up with interest at her outfit. “And don’t believe for one second this girl don’t have a wild side. I mean, look at the outfit.” She lost the battle with embarrassment as Monte’s gaze lingered a second too long on her breasts, which were spilling out of the tight white tank top. His eyes traveled down to the short plaid skirt, finally ending at Ryan’s shoes. “What do those spike heels tell you?”

“That the girl’s got a lot of money for nice shoes. I bet they’re Prada,” Lt. Jones said. “Trust me, she ain’t from nowhere near your neighborhood, Carlson.”

Ryan didn’t comment. The shoes actually were Prada.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gumbo Justice

While waiting for the release of my first novel, Gumbo Justice, I decided to start a blog about the other things I am working on. Since my novel isn't scheduled to come out until late summer or early fall 2009, I have plenty of time to work on my other projects.

A little about Gumbo Justice- Set in pre-Katrina New Orleans, the novel features 27-year-old Ryan Murphy, a female New Orleans prosecutor not without her share of personal problems. Highly competitive, Ryan is on track to the Elite Strike Force Division, when her life is sidetracked by a series of murders that have a connection to her. At first it seems as if the culprit is trying to please her, but eventually Ryan realizes that the killer won't be happy until she is dead. With her family of cops and her blossoming relationship with a Homicide detective, she should be safe. But the killer is someone she never suspects, and the end she will have to save herself if she wants to survive.

My plan for Gumbo Justice is to follow Ryan in a series, through Katrina and then post-Katrina New Orleans. I have outlined one more novel before Katrina, that is about 1/3 complete, plus the Katrina novel, which is almost 1/2 finished.

In addition to the Gumbo series, I am working on 2 screenplays, one a science fiction action movie and one a supernatural thriller. I have only begun the preliminaries and outlines on these, but with all of the crappy movies I seen lately I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

I may be posting sample chapters of future novels at some point, and will definitely post when it is closer to the release date of Gumbo Justice.