Sunday, September 20, 2015

Baba Yaga and the Road to Georgia

I recently wrote a short script--40 pages-- called The Road to Georgia, for a grant competition.  The prize is 50 Gs to shoot the film.  I'll admit the process was arduous.

The application process included not only submitting the screenplay, logline, and synopsis, but the director's vision, social media/marketing plan, distribution plan, key people involved in the project and their experience, two letters of recommendation for the team, which included me, as writer and director, and my husband, as producer, and any additional material.  We also included a link to a prior short film we produced, The Shylock's Daughter, and a link to the trailer made just for the contest.  And then there was the budget, which required calls to get prices for insurance, including worker's comp, tech people, grip, equipment, not to mention how much of the budget to pay cast and crew. The production needed a tentative caterer, a costumer, hair and makeup, an accountant, and a food truck.

The film is a romantic comedy and involves Baba Yaga, a character from Russian folklore.  We have taken a few liberties and made her a fortune teller.  Because it's a comedy, and depictions of Baba Yaga show her to look curiously similar to my hubby, he is playing her in the film.

If we don't win the grant, we are going to look for other funding, but it would be nice to win.

Here is the link to the trailer:

My favorite part about the process so far was shooting the trailer and getting a group of actors to workshop the scenes so I could see what worked and what didn't.  It is so valuable to listen to the characters interacting as opposed to just reading the lines myself.  I may see if the troupe will read dialogue from Chocolate City Justice, the third of the Crescent City Mystery series, while I'm still working on it.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Writing and Editing

I spent the better part of yesterday editing one of my novels that is already in print. A reader complained that the novel was poorly edited. There was one glaring typo in it, which I won't point out in case other readers haven't found it. But the reader also indicated a misuse of the word "there" in place of the word "their."  I went through the manuscript and used the 'find' feature to locate every time the words  "there" and  "their" were written and found they were all used correctly.  So the reader either is unaware of the correct use of the words herself, or she was just being spiteful.

I don't think one typo--which is actually a real word, just not the word it was supposed to be--constitutes horrible editing.  I have a publisher. My books are edited. We try our best not to let anything sneak through the cracks.  That being said, even the best editor  or publisher or writer in the world can miss a word.

Our brains tend to make sense of the words we see on the page, whether they are misspelled or not.  This means it is difficult to make sure that any manuscript is one hundred percent perfect.

So now I am looking back through both of my published novels and trying to make them perfect to have my publisher in effect re-publish them.  I am also working on the third and fourth books in the series, trying to make the story, which was originally going to take place in one book, less complicated by stretching it over two. 

And then I will rewrite, edit, have it edited, and it will be published in two parts, Chocolate City Justice Part One and Part Two. 

And they may not be perfect. A typo just may get through.

Hopefully, my readers will enjoy the story anyway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How the 2015 Vampire Diaries finale is like a flawed novel

I don't ordinarily blog about TV shows. I tweet about them, and occasionally post on Facebook or Instagram or even Pinterest, but I tend to write only about writing novels and screenplays, maybe occasionally a short story.

Image result for vampire diaries
But since January I got really hooked on a CW show called The Vampire Diaries.  I discovered it by accident on Netflix.  I was catching up on a few episodes of Reign that I had missed early on, and a bunch of episodes of Blue Bloods that I started watching late in the game. I had seen two or three parts of episodes of TVD before, and it seemed interesting, but it was difficult to follow because it's serialized and I hadn't seen the earlier episodes.

Image result for vampire diaries
Vampires are Sexy
Image result for damon and stefan
Damon and Stefan Salvatore
So I watched the first episode and kind of liked it.  I particularly liked the evil character, Damon Salvatore, who they brought in at the end of the series premiere.  I decided to watch the second episode and at the end of that, I was hooked.  I binge watched like crazy until I had caught up to the middle of season six, which was just coming back on after a brief hiatus.

Since then, I have been an obsessed viewer.  Although it's really a supernatural melodramatic nighttime teenage/young adult soap opera type of show, it has a lot of elements that I love in novels. 

It has a lot of suspense and mystery.  It has its share of really well-written characters, and a few of the characters get some really exceptional dialogue. More than that, and near and dear to my heart, it has a lot of double crosses that you just don't see coming.  I love an unexpected double cross.

So I was happy with my new TV show, although the writers do occasionally recycle the same plot lines.  But since I really loved most of the characters, it was a forgivable sin.  And then I found out, along with all the other fans, that Nina Dobrev, the actress who plays the protagonist, Elena Gilbert, was leaving the show at the end of the season.

Now the show centers primarily around Elena and two vampire brothers, Stefan, her former love from seasons 1-2 and part of 3, and Damon, Stefan's brother who started out evil but changed a whole lot to win her from his brother.  So it was difficult to see how the show was going to continue without her.

Image result for damon and elena
Damon and Elena
The big issue was how they were going to write her off of the show, particularly since the focus of much of the last two seasons has involved her volatile relationship with the evil brother who is now halfway good.

So tonight was the season finale. Everyone pretty much thought next year was going to be the last year of the show because ratings are falling dismally, although on the CW the ratings are never that high to begin with, and it still may last only another year.  But the issue remains how do they go another year without the leading lady and was there a chance she would come back on for a series finale in the future.

I expected a lot from the show. It should have been phenomenally sad with Elena telling everyone goodbye (from a coma, no less) while she is put pretty much in storage until she can wake up again. It's kind of like a Sleeping Beauty spell was put on her. 

Ultimately, I was left disappointed.  The plot devices felt cheap and full of holes. A lot of the logic and continuity of the show was lacking, which is not good for a show in the supernatural genre which has to rely on the consistency of its mythology in order for the viewers to buy into it.  The entire episode felt sort of schizophrenic and disjointed, and I felt disconnected to most of the characters for the first time.

Image result for elena and jeremy
Elene and Jeremy
It made me think of some novels I've read where there's a good story in there, but then there's a lot of extraneous stuff that isn't necessary to push the story forward, not even for character development or as a red herring.  It also reminded me of novels I've read where the story is kind of all over the place and then the ending is rushed just to tie up the loose ends.

Maybe this should have been two episodes, one containing the actual plot, and the other all of the goodbyes.  And even the goodbyes didn't draw the emotional response they should have, with the exception of two-- one scene with her guardian whose pregnant (with twins) wife had just been murdered during the episode, and one with her brother, who will likely be dead by the time the spell is broken.  (Nearly everyone else is a vampire, so they'll be the same when she wakes up regardless.)

So while I don't normally blog about TV shows, this particular finale was so similar to a poorly crafted novel I felt a need.  And I'm pretty sure my obsession with The Vampire Diaries has ended for the time being.  Of course, that doesn't mean I won't watch it next year. Maybe.

Friday, April 3, 2015

F.M. Meredith (aka Marilyn Meredith) Guest Blogger

My Writing Process
Marilyn with Billie Johnson

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that authors all have their own writing process—and this is how I do it. To be perfectly honest, though, mine has changed a bit over the years.

I’ve never been one to outline or plan ahead what each chapter will be. When I was writing historical sagas (only two) I did a lot of research as far as an historical timeline so the fictional events would coincide appropriately. For this, I kept 3X5 cards with pertinent information.

As far as 3X5 cards, I still have a set for each of my series with information about the ongoing main characters such as physical attributes and cars they drive. I haven’t really kept them up-to-date, nor do I refer to them as often as I should.

Violent Departures
Because I’m writing two series, which means two books a year, I’ve streamlined my process.

For each book, I have a spiral notebook where I write down the new characters I’m going to introduce like the person who is going to die, who might have wanted that person dead and why (usually for three or more suspects), the way the person will be killed, and any other facts that I want to weave into the story.

In this notebook, I keep track of the days things happen. In most of my mysteries, time moves quickly.

When I have a pretty good idea of where the story is headed, I try to begin with a catchy or at least intriguing first sentence. And then I just start writing. I usually end each chapter with a cliff-hanger—sometimes in the middle of a scene. 

As new ideas pop in my head—and they do often—I jot them down in the notebook.

I do my writing directly to the computer in most cases, but if I’m out of town I might write in longhand in that same notebook.

Some brainstorming I do on trips with my husband, while he’s driving.

I try to write at least five days a week, always in the morning when my brain is freshest. Sometimes I get distracted by other jobs—such as writing a blog post such as this one.

Every chapter is read to the critique group that I’ve belonged to for many, many years. I pay attention to everything that is said though I don’t always do exactly what they’ve suggested, but usually I’ll make some change.

Once they’ve heard everything, I go over the manuscript again looking for typos, awkward phrases, dialogue that doesn’t sound right, and inconsistencies. I have an editor I like to use who is good at catching inconsistencies I missed. Once I’ve addressed her suggestions, I send the corrected manuscript onto my publisher.

When she sends the proof back to me, I go over it carefully, looking for typos etc. again. It’s always shocking how many I find.

While all this is going on, I’m busy planning my promotion for the book, and writing the other series.

F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith

Violent Departures:
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.


Purchase Violent Departures

Tomorrow I’m visiting and I wrote about the research I do.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

JOYCE ANN BROWN - Twelve Question Tuesday

Joyce Ann Brown
1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
The protagonist I invented for my mystery series is a landlady.
I am a landlady.
I’m a story teller.

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I’m both, but I’ve had more cats in my life than dogs. My cats are named Chloe and Moose.

3.  Tea or coffee?
Tea, for sure, even at Starbucks.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando?
I don’t relish seeing jolly ‘ol St. Nick in a commando, but I do like eye-candy.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
I wrote stories and poems in elementary school and loved it, but I don’t remember the first. For pay, I wrote an article for a local magazine several years ago and earned a whole eighty dollars. Wow. I knew I’d made it big.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
Oh, that eighty-dollar feature article did it. But, author? My first two books have just been published, and I’m excited to tell people I’m an author now.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
I’m always most proud of my most recent project. So, in that regard, I’m most proud of Furtive Investigation, the second Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
I saw my life pass in front of my eyes, as they say, the time a deer jumped onto the highway in front of my car and crashed into the windshield. But another event, which happened when I was only eight years old, comes to mind. My family moved to a new neighborhood over winter holiday. On the way home from my first day at my new school, I turned on the wrong street and lost my way. I could write a spooky story about the elderly lady who saw me crying on the sidewalk, took me in, and helped me find my way home. A nice lady—but the entire episode seemed scary to me.

9.  How did you end up getting published?
I rejected or received rejections from various presses before being encouraged at many authors at conferences and writers groups to Indie publish. With help from professional editors and cover artists, that’s what I did.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
Fighter, of course. No one wants to be zombie food. Or—do they? I’d like to become food for a lovely tree when I die.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
I parachuted from a small plane. Oh, wait, I stayed in the plane and watched someone else do that. I’m not a super daredevil.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous—and you could have only one—and why? The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I pick fame over riches. If I become famous, it will be because people love my writing or because I’ve brought about world peace. Either of those would make me happy. Therefore, I’d have fame and happiness.


Joyce Ann Brown, is a former librarian, a landlady, a story teller, a freelance writer, and the author of the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series. In CATASTROPHIC CONNECTIONS, Sylvester, nicknamed Psycho Cat, alerts Beth, the landlady, to the disappearance of her niece. Beth discovers that investigating a missing person is dangerous as she runs into thieves and a murderer. Psycho Cat isn’t daunted.

Psycho Cat sniffs out another dire mystery in FURTIVE INVESTIGATION when he discovers a human skeleton in an attic of one of Beth’s rental units. Police investigators are told to drop the cold case after a short time, and Beth takes up the sleuthing. She contacts former tenants for clues to the identities of the victim and the killer and uncovers a drug king in the process.
Find out more about the author on her  author page  Joyce Ann Brown Amazon Author Page and read her blogs: and

Please like her on FACEBOOK follow her on  TWITTER connect on GOOGLE+ and find her author page on GOODREADS

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

JOHN ADDIEGO - Twelve Question Tuesday

John Addiego
1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
I love being a father, I love being a husband to my best friend, Ellen, and I love this amazing spiritual journey I’m on.

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?

On days when I think I’m dumb I love a dog’s assertion that I’m a genius for finding the car keys. On days when I need to be honest about my writing, a cat lets me know that a cliché is always a cliché.

3.  Tea or coffee?
Coffee, very strong. I have a stove-top espresso-maker.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
On me, briefs. On John Boehner and Mitch McConnell I prefer a male thong of some kind.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
A short story in high school about a wimpy kid like me who finds a gun and kills somebody by mistake.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?

In college after publishing some poems, but I’ve always kept it a bit secret.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
I always prefer the most recent.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
My brother and I nearly dropped chicken bones on Joe DiMaggio’s head at an Oakland A’s game as he was coming out of the dugout (true story).

The Jaguar Tree 
9.  How did you end up getting published?
I tried querying and even getting an agent without success, then tried going straight with a query to an editor whose work I admired.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
I would fight, or most likely hide. If I keep eating asparagus, maybe they won’t want to eat me?

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
Decide to be a parent, which was also the best thing I’ve ever done.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I’d go for rich. I’d like to be known as a person who does good things, but I think fame makes people lose their freedom and anonymity, not to mention their senses. I wouldn’t want to see my stomach on the cover of the Enquirer next to some speculation about my secret liaisons with John Travolta’s masseuse.


“John Addiego weaves a spellbinding tale of mystery and intrigue ... a novel that is as visual as it is intelligent. The story unfurls much like the Central American rivers in the novel, seemingly leading in one direction then seamlessly changing course, keeping the reader analyzing the clues until the end. The book plays out like a movie, with stunning descriptive passages juxtaposed with action sequences so real the reader is put into the middle of the story, sweating in the steamy jungle and sweltering bars and dodging bullets and machetes with protagonist Frank Alvarado.  Combining religion, politics, history, and murder,  THE JAGUAR TREE is a mystery, thriller, and literary fiction all rolled into one, providing everything a reader could possibly ask for in a novel.” Holli Castillo, author of Gumbo Justice and Jambalaya Justice

To find out more about John Addiego, visit his website at

To purchase The Jaguar Tree The Jaguar Tree Amazon Link

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Actor Jamie Gliddon- 12 Question Interview

1. Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you
A.  I have a good heart.
B.  I enjoy helping others reach their goals.
C.  I have wanted to be an actor my entire life even though I am a very shy person.

2. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Both, I am an animal lover.  Unfortunately, I am allergic to cats, so dogs it is.

3. Tea or coffee?

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.) 

5 . What was your first acting gig, whether paid or unpaid?
In 1991, while on Spring Break from college, I worked for about 2 weeks on “Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis” filmed in Mobile, AL.  They flew me and a few other extras to the Bahamas for a week to film the in-the-ocean scenes.    It was a CBS Movie of the week.

6. When did you finally decide to call yourself an actor?
I have not reached that point yet.

7. Which of your works are you most proud of? 
I am proud of all of them, but I think the biggest thing I have worked on so far has been Jurassic World.  I was a stand-in for Vincent D’onofrio for about 2 weeks and I was like a sponge, just learning everything I could. 

8. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
Probably getting hit by a car while I was on my bike when I was a little kid.

9. How did you end up in acting?
I am 46 and I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember.  It is my passion, no two ways about it.  I did a couple films while I was in college, but until 2014 when I got involved in working on New Orleans productions, I didn’t do much.  Even though I can’t commit to doing it full time now, I try to put in for everything I can.  Mostly extra parts so far, but once I get some training under my belt, I will definitely be going for the speaking roles. 

10. Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?

11. What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
I don’t have a good response for this one.  Guess I am not very daring.  My wife would say that getting married to her and becoming a step-father to her two children 15 years ago was pretty daring.

12. Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.Rich.  If had a lot of money, it would be very easy for me to help less fortunate people and also give me the freedom to pursue my passion for being an actor.


Born in Key West, FL in 1968.  I grew up in Gulfport, MS.  After graduating from college in Mobile, AL, I moved back to the Gulfport\Biloxi area.  I began working in the casino industry in 1994 and have been in that field ever since.

I currently live in Gulf Breeze, FL and work at a Tribal Casino in Alabama.  I am married and have two children (adults now).  I frequently drive to New Orleans and Mobile, AL to work on films or TV shows as background talent.  My goal is to continue to participate in whatever I can and gain experience and also train, train, train to improve my acting skills.

The Shylock's Daughter