Friday, June 25, 2010

Back from Vegas

I am back from the PSWA conference in Las Vegas and came home to New Orleans to hear the oil spill had been capped, the cap was knocked off by a robot, and they were trying to get it recapped last I watched the news. That's what I get for putting on the news instead of the soaps.

My weather man doesn't love me anymore- he says there is a "system" that will probably be a named storm soon. Early in the year to be watching for hurricanes. The Princeton model, which is supposed to be somewhat accurate, had it developing into a hurricane and hitting New Orleans. Not the time, I tell you.

But back to Vegas. I actually learned a few things that I wrote down this time that I think will help my writing. Small things about pacing to build suspense, voice, and putting characters in the most uncomfortable and difficult places or situations possible. The info came at a great time, as I'm trying to get Jambalaya Justice finished to send it off to my publisher. I actually rewrote the beginning in Vegas, after being inspired by one of the speakers.

Speaking of inspiration, thriller/horror writer Simon Wood was the keynote speaker and spoke about writing a thriller. While Gumbo Justice falls more into mystery, I incorporate a lot of thriller elements to build up suspense, and his talk was quite helpful. Of course, with his British accent I could listen to him recite the dictionary or the phone book and be enthralled, so maybe I'm not the best judge. He was quite charming and approachable, not to mention funny.

That's one thing I have to say about the PSWA conference--nearly everyone has a great sense of humor, and nobody gets bent out of shape if you poke a little fun at their expense. For the most part, the writers who show up are from every level, from the unpublished to those with tens of books, but it's a small enough function with a single track so everyone gets to know everyone else somewhat, and for the most part, everyone checks their egos at the door.

The hotel was also nice, off the Vegas strip but just barely. We could see the strip from our window. More than the hotel, the food at the conference was top notch. Living in New Orleans I hardly ever find food elsewhere that satisfies me emotionally, and I have to say this was one of the first times away from home that I was able to find food I actually consider good.

All in all, the conference and Vegas were quite a treat. Now I just have to worry about what may be coming to New Orleans in the next few months weather-wise and oil-wise. If it gets bad, maybe I can go back to Vegas.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We have so much going on in New Orleans right now I am trying to figure out what to write about.

First and foremost, we have just started hurricane season June 1, and already they are watching something that has a 60 percent chance of becoming a storm in the next 2 days. This doesn't worry me so much in and of itself, because historically there is little chance of a big one hitting us this early in the season. The gulf isn't warm enough and the conditions would never be appropriate.

It does cause me pause, however, because early storms could mean a bad season, which has already been predicted. It also causes me concern because we're not sure of what effect even a small storm could have on the oil situation. How much destruction will oil being pushed into other waterways or entering the tidal surge have on our coast, our farming, our houses?

Second, five police officers, three current and two former, have just been indicted in a Katrina case where the police are accused of gunning down a man, then putting his body in a car and setting it on fire.

The story is bad; what is worse is that I know two of the current officers, and consider one a friend. In fact, he is married to a former co-worker of mine. They met at the D.A.'s Office, while she and I were both assistant district attorneys and he was an officer. He and the other officer I know are both lieutenants, and I find it extremely difficult to believe my friend would violate the law.

Not just because he's my friend and I support him, but because he is a square, a rule follower, a by the book player. He arrested my brother in law years ago for being in possession of marijuana, and I knew better than to even ask him for any kind of a break on my B-I-L's behalf, because this guy is an i-dotter and t-crosser.

I feel more bad for his wife, my co-worker and friend. She actually went to middle school with my husband, years before I knew either one of them, just to show you how small a city of a half a million people can actually be.

So I'm torn between wanting to see justice served if somehow this friend did do something he wasn't supposed to, and not believing he did it, or if he did have some part in it, there had to be a good reason.

Then the writer in me keeps thinking this needs to be made into a book or a movie, or at least included in one of my Crescent City Mystery Series novels. I am working on Jambalaya and it is all laid out so this particular scenario wouldn't fit in, but the third novel takes place during Katrina, and something of this nature was going to be included, so I could just add this in.

Then again, the entire story would make a compelling movie. I can picture it starting with the trial, and hearing each individual person's testimony, and then flashing back to what actually happened until you get the true story. Except right now I don't know the whole story. I may at some point in the future, when the legal issues have been resolved, visit my friend and see if he is interested in opening up and telling me his version of events.

Finally, I am looking forward to the PSWA writer's conference in Vegas this month, seeing familiar faces and making new friends.