Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.

Part of me wants to write about the fabulous local/regional music scene we have here in Connecticut, yet I am going to save that one for another day and write a bit about process today.

I’m back at the coffee shop, the one with the fabulous egg sandwiches, and there are two forty-something women sitting across from me going through their children’s attributes and concerns.

“Something is up at that school. I heard from Jane’s mother that she scored in the top 15 on that placement test and her daughter got into Algebra while my sweet Angel scored top ten and is being ostracized by her friends because they are in the higher math and she isn’t.”

“You should do something,” her friend encourages.

“I’m considering meeting with the principal to rectify this situation,” adding that, “I have already emailed twice with no response”

These two are potential characters, stereotypes, yet characters just the same.

Of course as a writer, I would need to take their complications and escalate to make it interesting.

A great example of doing this is my book Maximum Mayhem. Maximum Mayhem started because my friend was late to meet me for a quick drink at a local dive in my town. As I waited at the bar, I listened to the conversation happening next to me. Two woman talked about another, go figure. The conversation revolved around a third friend whose husband happened to be having an affair.

This is where it gets good – they didn’t know if they should tell their friend. (Isn’t that the MaximumMayhemdefinition of a friend; to be honest?) Being part of this small town, between me and my drinking partner, we knew all the involved parties. Okay – affairs happen. So I brought in a hot F.B.I. agent and turned the scandalous affair into a scam to embezzle funds from the much successful wife.

The plot line worked. Apparently the affair works too because the couple is still married and the affair is still, according to town gossip, active.

Sometimes it doesn’t, at least by my curiosities.

In the case of the forty-somethings, they mentioned the town and the school. The story takes place in every town and because of this, I find it boring. I do however, have an all new respect for the fella in charge of the school. Whatever they pay him is not enough to put up with these two!

So for my writer friends out there, if you are stuck try this; take your laptop on a date. Go to a place with people. Sit and listen. Then type and see what you come up with – hopefully a good start!

 

Not Fiction

Chicken burning on the grill. The sound of angry horns reverberating from U.S. 1 as people maneuver the asshole minefield known as summer at the shoreline.

Yesterday on I-95 my husband and I were driving in the left hand lane when an S.U.V. from Jersey went flying past us on the left. Yeah – you read that right, she flew passed our car between us and the concrete barrier. She then proceeds to cross two lanes in order to come to a stop in the “real” breakdown lane. I can’t make this stuff up. Less than five minutes later she passed us again using a legitimate highway lane. I somehow need to incorporate this imbecile into one of my books yet I don’t want to promote bad behavior.

You think this a rarity yet unfortunately, it is not.

Today while my husband took a bike ride near the water, another woman, in different S.U.V. pulled across the street to park going the wrong way along the water. Hey, that’s fine. She could have issues walking and just wants the view. I get it. Except her next move was to almost take my hubby out while she drove on the wrong side on the street for the next half mile.Guam With Mom 193

In my little beach community, the kids are trained to yell a warning when a certain driver comes down the street. His dented car tells the story of unmovable objects getting in his way. Back in May his side mirror came within inches of hitting my friend’s arm as we walked towards the water.

My other neighbor, er character, drives his lawn mower around his yard after nine at night while blaring bad 80’s music. (Is there good 80’s music? Never mind). This may seem like no big deal except he is driving his lawn mower in circles singing at the top of his lungs. We get this live performance at least once a week during windows open season.

There are other examples, too many to share here. Use your imagination, unfortunately anything you can come up probably takes place somewhere. (Remember Jack-Ass TV?) And the world is full of crazy drivers.

The funny part of all this is people come to the ocean to relax. They want to realign their chi, get centered, kick back with a couple cold ones, which are needed from all the stress it took to get there in the first place.

Wondering what my point is? I’m not too sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any of this up…truth is more entertaining (more to come on this).

Honing Ones Craft While Totally Geeking Out

Every human needs to recharge. Sometimes we use a different phrase for this process. I need to align my chi, restore my batteries, or simply take a nap. This is all the same process. For the last month I have been fortunate to be at live music events more nights than not. This helps recharge my soul. And this week I nurtured in a different way: ThrillerFest!

ThrillerFest is a five-day writer’s paradise where I had the pleasure of attending workshops with the great Walter Mosley, Bob Mayer, and David Morell. Yes – the women were present too! Heather Graham and L.S. Hawker were roaming the halls.
Here in the city (New York for those who are not East Coast -centric) I had the privilege of learning from the best thriller novelists in the business. They were generous with their advice and accessible to answer questions. (Confession time – I geeked out a little bit. (See Walter Mosley selfie)

My geeking didn’t stop there. I spent a day at The Federal Bureau Of Investigation, the F.B.I. for short. The agency provided an overview for writers in order to obtain an accurate depiction of their agents. Here we had the opportunity to ask questions about procedure as long as it didn’t interfere with any current cases. For me, it was good to discover some of my characters were accurate and my Maximum Mayhem sequel will follow procedure.

Writers are a strange bunch. Most of our creating is done solo, perhaps in coffee shops or bars. ThrillerFest featured many established writers yet they welcomed novices with open arms and encourage all to pursue their dreams. Seminars were relate-able to those who wrote their first sentence or are in the process of finishing their fifth novel.

We congregated. We told stories. We celebrated. The atmosphere rocked! All in the name of stories!

Rain Dance

Writing comes easy some days while others are a challenge to get words out. Today is a combination of both. Last night another show (an old friend labelled this the Dreaded Dead Disease) and today 1500 words. I’m not sure there is a cause and effect yet I do know that somehow the music rejuvenates my soul.

And I want to go again…and again…and again!

The experience changes each time. At SPAC we sat in the balcony, paid attention to the elements of lights and sound, and of course, danced. In Hartford we grouped on the lawn with many friends. It didn’t matter that we were way back amongst the masses. We try to predict what the next song would be (my friend Pook is a master at this) and of course, danced and swirled. My highlight, besides being surrounded by friends, was dancing in the rain. Yes, it poured. Yes, we got wet. Yes, I ignored my rain gear in favor of the water flowing down my body while music lifted my spirit up.

If you haven’t tried dancing in the rain, I highly recommend it. This is a very freeing experience.

Back to the writing – the hard part today is staying on task. My characters are screaming in one direction while my other voices demand to be heard. Right now my setting is a church instead of a concert hall. My characters are mourning a loss versus celebrating life.

Maybe my timing is just off…I hear the band is playing again soon…