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For some reason I’ve had old friends on my mind lately, and just the last couple days one in particular. I knew him in high school and he committed suicide some years ago. I’m not sure why I’m thinking of him.

I don’t know that Chad and I would have been friends if not for the fact we had so many other friends in common. Both of us were smart and shy, though while I was intermittently unhappy (in the way of teenagers), Chad was consistently so. This is the burden of truly brilliant minds: they cannot be satisfied, not with themselves, nor with anything or anyone outside of themselves. They are driven, and they see and know too much, taking everything in until it turns on them and consumes them, swallows them like a black hole.

Chad used to come over to my house and just sit. He was always polite but mostly quiet. Sometimes we watched television, sometimes we sat out on the patio with my dad, sometimes we just sat on the sofa and did and said nothing. That probably seems strange, and in retrospect I might even agree, but it suited us. We were strange people. (I still am, I suppose.)

He came to escape his parents, I think. I never met them, never met Chad’s little brother, but I knew that Chad wanted to be an artist and his parents were insisting he become an engineer of some kind. Being brilliant, Chad could have done anything he chose and done it well, but he had a real gift and talent for art. In my industry there are so many artists, so many people who are good and even great at what they do, but I’ve still never known anyone who could draw or paint like Chad could. He once made for me a sort of booklet from artfully cut and decorated construction paper that featured famous quotes about love on every page, the first page being that line from Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on.”

It wasn’t that Chad had any romantic interest in me, of that I’m fairly certain (in fact, my guess is he might have been gay). It was more that he knew me as a girl who desperately needed to feel wanted and loved. It occurs to me now it must have taken a bit of courage for such a shy young man to go to such effort for me.

I don’t know the exact circumstances of his death; it’s not the kind of thing you go around asking about. After I left for university, I lost touch with Chad and just assumed he’d gone off somewhere too—in fact, I’m almost positive he did go to college, at least for a while, though I don’t know whether he finished. A few years ago some of those mutual high school friends were the ones to inform me that Chad had committed suicide, and I wasn’t surprised in the least, sadly enough; in fact, it felt like something I had always known. Maybe when one’s spirit dies, tossing the body after it becomes a technicality. That sounds terrible. I know it does. But that’s exactly what happened to Chad. Something had blocked him; he was left with no other outlet. He had nothing but the pull of that black hole, the mass and quantity of his life and knowledge and experience, and he made the decision to let it absorb his light.

So why am I thinking about him? I don’t know. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in all this and my subconscious is trying to prod me to attention. Or maybe it’s just that someone mentioned Twelfth Night a couple days ago. Whatever the reason, though, I can’t seem to shake it. I must probe the edges of my own black hole and see what I can discover, all the while working not to be sucked in.

Favorite Character Blogfest

Hosted by Laura Josephsen. There are prizes and everything!

The blogfest runs from January 23-25. Here’s how it works:

1. Decide which of your characters you’d like to introduce everyone to, and choose a snippet about this character (preferably no more than 200 words) to share about this character. (A snippet from your manuscript would be awesome, but if you’re not comfortable with that, you can choose to do a character sketch—something to show us your character and writing.)

2. Between January 23-25, tell us who your favorite character you’ve written is and why and post your snippet.

3. Hop around to other participants to check out their favorite characters and a bit of their story.

The lovely Melanie Billings, Acquisitions Editor at Whiskey Creek Press, has graciously offered to supply critiques as prizes! Winners will be drawn from the list of active participants after midnight on the 25th and announced on my blog on the 26th.

1st Prize: critique of first 15 pages of your manuscript, an e-book copy of my book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) and an ARC e-copy of my next book, Rising Book 1: Resistance (upcoming publication in February 2012)

2nd Prize: critique of first 10 pages of your manuscript and an e-book copy of Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School)

3rd Prize: critique of first 5 pages of your manuscript


I like writing men for some reason, and my character Peter Stoller in St. Peter in Chains is probably my favorite. He’s an intelligence agent (colloquially, a spy). Oh, and he’s gay, which is not something anyone he works with knows until he’s compromised by his lover. Oops.

The thing about Peter is that he’s fine with flings but has difficulty in long-term commitments. He’s not used to being “in love.” In St. Peter in Chains, when Peter meets Charles and begins to develop a real interest in him—one outside of a one-night stand—the result makes Peter distinctly uncomfortable:

There came, for Peter, that strange feeling of one’s life and world being carefully balanced on the edge of a knife. Anything he said or did would tip it—it had to tip, it couldn’t just stay teetering on the brink—but in what direction? That depended solely on what he said or did next. It was a familiar enough feeling given his line of work, but utterly alien when applied to relationships. The fear that welled when it was a life-or-death moment paled in comparison to the sudden terror that opened in him now.
. . .
It wasn’t natural for Peter to second-guess himself; he was, as a rule, a confident and competent man. And he’d had his share of flings—some were part of the job, others merely stress relief—but there was something different here. Peter thought he could really come to like Charles, if only they could get better acquainted. He just didn’t know how to go about that bit. And he didn’t know whether Charles wanted to go through all that effort.

What I like about writing Peter is that he’s complex and conflicted; there’s something lovely about slowly cutting a character’s heart in two. Sadistic, maybe, but lovely in the art of paring a person down to his basic elements.

Redeeming Irene

I previously wrote a little bit about Sherlock‘s take on Irene Adler. It has occurred to me, though, that she might yet be redeemed.

It could, after all, be a long con.

Say, for argument’s sake, that Moriarty isn’t the tip top of the iceberg. When you consider that Irene’s phone call stopped him at the swimming pool, and that she was the one to call Moriarty and suggest it was “time” to implement their plan . . . These things suggest she’s at least at his level if not above. Moriarty could just as easily be her pawn as she be his. And we do only ever hear her side of the story when it comes to her dealings with Dear Jim.

It would be nice for Irene, Moriarty, whatever syndicate at large is at work, to have Sherlock on call in a way. If that were the goal, Irene has ensured at least some cooperation on Sherlock’s part by worming her way into his life, even if only as someone who intrigues him—and someone he’s willing to go to great lengths to rescue from terrorists. (She did mention she “should have him on a leash.” And that maybe she would. And so maybe she does.)

Irene as ruthless would be much preferable to Irene as sentimental, needy and lovestruck.

Just a thought.

(And then again, if the Mycroft theory were correct, Irene is simply following orders anyway, and it is Mycroft who wants Sherlock on a leash. Hrm.)

Sneak Peek of Sherlock, Series 3: “The Empty Flat”

***If you have not yet seen Series 2, you probably don’t want to read this!***

Read a cold open for the first episode of Series 3 of Sherlock here. Extra credit to those who spot the Shakespeare.

Now for the disclaimer: NO. This is NOT part of an actual Sherlock script. This is me fooling around when I have about a dozen other, legitimate projects I should be working on instead.

Traditionally, Sherlock is gone for three years from the time he falls from Reichenbach to the time he returns in “The Empty House.” (In the spirit of the show, I’ve played with the name in my faux script title.) I shortened it to six months here, if only for expediency’s sake, and because working with a grieving John is more interesting in terms of character development. The stages of grief take, on average, two full years to pass through.

To be honest, I’d be surprised if in the actual series John stayed at Baker Street (in the original stories he has already left 221B when “The Final Problem” occurs). Here I use the excuse of his wanting to write a book, thus wanting to be close to the source material. Mrs. Hudson isn’t likely to throw him out, after all. And . . . From a production standpoint, it’s good to use the available, standing sets. Costs are less.

Anyway, enjoy. ETA: I’ve had some e-mails asking for more, but I’m a bit busy with other stuff, so . . . Maybe later?

2011 B.O. Down from 2010

Okay, so theatrical releases made less money last year than the year before. And that leaves the industry asking, “Why?” I don’t know why they ask, “Why?” since the reasons are pretty clear:

  1. The movies they made were stupid.
  2. Even the good concepts, once worked over by entire tribes of writers, the studios, and a revolving door of directors and other creative types, became really stupid movies.
  3. Movie trailers used a super secret formula—that the entire world has decoded—to not only show us how stupid the movies really were, but also to give away entire plots, thereby invalidating the need to see any of the actual movies.
  4. Distributors and cinemas then charged way too much money (during an economic downturn, no less) to go see those stupid movies.
  5. Worse yet, they wanted to charge MORE money for stupid movies in 3D, which is basically the same thing as asking people to pay you for giving them a headache.

Oh, sure, you could say more people have really good home theater systems and would rather watch in the comfort of their homes. You could say people are sick of other people talking and texting during cinema showings. That the “movie experience” has changed from a bunch of strangers in a darkened room to a cozy homefront with friends and family. Those might also be considered valid points. But I’m going to adapt some Simon Cowell to the situation and say, if you want better box office in 2012: Find a better concept and make a better movie. (Or, at the very least, the kind of movie that drives people to need to see it right away and on the big screen, regardless of the cost and discomfort of dealing with cinemas and irritating strangers.)


I mentioned in an earlier posting that I don’t really cry at movies or television shows. I get choked up every now and then, and I can even appreciate honest sentiment without getting worked up about it (and, as I’ve said, I really despise it when it’s done to manipulate an audience). But anyway, W Magazine asked a number of actors about movies that made them cry. Here is what they said.

For me, it was The Fox & the Hound. Jesus. I’ve never cried like that before, and I hope never to cry like that again. I mean, family members have died without me bawling like I did at that movie. I only watched it once. That was all I could take; I’d be terrified to try again, even now. I still have the VHS tape somewhere . . . I remember I was up in my room (yes, I had my own telly and VCR, I was that kind of brat), and I popped it in. I’d never seen it in the cinema, and I don’t remember now who gave me the tape or if I bought it or what. I just remember sobbing my eyes out all over my bedspread. I went downstairs and crawled into bed next to my mother and cried and cried, and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out what was wrong with me. I’m just not a crier. I generally only cry when I’m laughing too hard. And my poor mother, not able to get a coherent word out of me, but she took it in stride and I think I ended up watching an old episode of Columbo with her to make me feel better.

What movie has made you cry?

One Down

Here were my goals for 2012, which I posted at the beginning of the year:

  • Finish “St. Peter in Chains”
  • Finish “The K-Pro”
  • Finish the spec script
  • Get at least one more play accepted for production somewhere

Well! I’m pleased to note that “St. Peter in Chains” is finished, at least in first draft form. It’s a novelette at the moment, coming in at just under 16,000 words. There’s a chance I’ll try to lengthen it into a full novel. And an equal chance I’ll convert it into a stage play. Maybe I’ll get ambitious and do both, but in the meantime I have several other goals on the list to tackle.

“The Reichenbach Fall” – Talking Points

The Globes were boring, so let’s take another look at Sherlock, shall we?

I first want to go over Sherlock’s faked suicide. Consider:

  1. There had been people on the street previously, but by the time John arrived, the street was empty.
  2. Sherlock went to great pains to make sure John would believe the evidence of his eyes but was careful to position John just far enough away . . .
  3. . . . that John would not get the opportunity to gather any other kind of evidence, thanks to (a) John [in]conveniently being hit by a bicycle, and (b) a sudden crowd of onlookers preventing him from getting very close to the body.

I can only suppose when Sherlock asked Molly for help, it was in the capacity of her needing to do the “autopsy.” (Though, less likely, she could just as easily have been the person on the bike.)

Now let’s look at the contents of the newscast featured on John’s blog, which raises some questions:

  1. They discuss Sherlock as if they know little about him, but if Kitty ran that story that supposedly had so much of Sherlock’s life history in it, why treat Sherlock as if he were such a mystery?
  2. And no mention of Sherlock having a brother? Though this is less suspect, since Mycroft would go to lengths to stay out of it.
  3. Most importantly: they discuss Richard Brook but fail to mention his death. Since it’s standard police procedure, even in a suicide, to take evidence from the scene, one can safely assume they went to the roof and at least picked up Sherlock’s phone. But Brook’s/Moriarty’s body? Anyone? (Either Moriarty isn’t dead or someone cleaned the scene very quickly prior to the police arriving.)
  4. And why (if, as John’s blog indicates, this all takes place in June) is Sherlock running around in a long coat and scarf? Just for his image?

Finally, do we really believe that Mycroft snared Moriarty and fed him little tidbits of information about Sherlock only to walk away with nothing to show? After all, if the key (computer code) didn’t really exist, at what point and for what possible reason would Mycroft bother to release Moriarty at all? (And while we’re at it, why release Moriarty even if there were a key?) One could argue that maybe Moriarty had failsafes installed in his network, that if he disappeared for too long many terrible things were set to happen, but then one also has to ask what happens in the network if Moriarty dies. Meanwhile, we have to assume that either Mycroft did get something useful from Moriarty, OR . . . The intention in holding Moriarty, and then releasing him, was somewhat more sinister.

Though, on the flip side, Mycroft’s and Sherlock’s utter lack of interaction in the episode could mean they were playing John between them all along. In which case the whole of what happened, including the resulting faux suicide, had been planned, probably with the notion of beginning to tear apart Moriarty’s web, something Sherlock could do so much more effectively as a “dead” man.


Sherlock: “The Reichenbach Fall”

I was told there would be tears. There weren’t. I mean, not in my eyes anyway. This probably says more about me than about the programme.

I liked “The Reichenbach Fall.” But I did find some of the plot points (and interactions) overly manufactured and forced. One way to look at it is, I suppose, that it was by its very nature meant to be manufactured. Kind of the point of the story. Although it started stronger than it finished. I’m thinking mostly of Sherlock and Moriarty on the roof, which simply should have been . . . better. But the entire episode should have appeared more effortless, I think, on the whole. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I watch it again later, but I have the Golden Globes to get on with. Need to shower and get dressed and all that. More to come. About the Globes or Sherlock, whichever I’m feeling at the time.