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More Work

I have a lot of projects stacked in front of me right now. But then this guy who is trying to get his first film off the ground came to me and asked if I’d give his script a look, give him some notes. And I thought, “Why not?” That’s the thing about this business: you never know who the people you meet today will be tomorrow.

So I read some of the script, and I’ve sent him some early notes on what I’ve read (about a third of it so far). And he was grateful, which is more than a lot of writers/directors are. And he asked if maybe I’d help polish the script? Well, he really asked what it would take to get me to do it. And I told him I’d do it for the credit. Because you know what? Good things can come of being good to others, helping them. I believe that. And although I’m crazy swamped . . . I don’t know. It seems like the right thing to do, helping this guy out a little.

The business is so much give and take, and a lot of that is people asking, “What can you do for me?” And a lot of it is like betting on a horse and hoping it places. But sometimes, in some places, there’s honest-to-goodness kindness to be found. I’ve had people be good to me—without their trying to get something in return—and I’ve had people treat me badly. But we have to perpetuate the behaviors we want to see grow. And that means holding out a hand to others every now and then.

I’m not trying to sound like a saint. I’m far from that. But I do try to be cognizant of the ripple effect, karma, however you prefer to look at it. I like to believe (though in my lowest moments I’m skeptical) that it all comes back in some way. Or maybe, at the very least, at the end of it there will be a decent film out there with my name attached to it.

Q & A Journal

I have this 5-year journal in which I answer a question each day. Today’s question is: What is your resolution for tomorrow? This seems like an odd question to ask on 1 February. And why “tomorrow”? And why use the word “resolution” as opposed to, say, asking what I hope to accomplish? It’s just odd.

I replied that my resolution is “not to get caught in a dimensional loop that forces me to relive the day repeatedly.” I resolve not to allow that to happen. As an aside, I also resolve to get more work on this script done, but the dimensional loop is the main thing.

Teaser Tuesday: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The idea is to pick up your current read, go to a page at random, and post two teaser sentences. I’m reading Rob Lowe’s autobiography . . . Maybe more like skimming it . . . It’s due back at the library in a couple days and I doubt I’ll finish before then. Not sure I’ll risk the fine, but anyway.

From page 142:

Through take after take I have poured my heart out, cried my eyes dry for the last hour. I have nothing left, and I’m terrified.

I’ve seen this happen to actors on movie sets and backstage in theatres; the amount of energy one is required to expend is phenomenal and, without care, can eventually be depleted before the take or show is done. And there isn’t always an option for a break (especially in theatre), so it really can be like trying to get blood from a stone. It’s not pretty. In general the only answer is to find a soft spot, the tender underbelly, and rip it open. Hardly an elegant job, but sometimes the only way to get the actor to feel and tap in again.

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

Is that true? I hope so.

I’ve written another short play titled “The Apple or the Cigarette” and sent that off to a few places. And now I’m back to hammering away at this spec script. It’s extremely slow going, mostly because I’m a perfectionist. Also, I’ve started over from the beginning and am re-crafting large swaths of the work, so . . .

I’m an impatient person by nature. Writing is good for me because it requires me to slow down (at least if and when I want to write well). But this is also very frustrating for me. Makes me restless even as it forces me to focus.

Meanwhile, Mars is in retrograde, which isn’t helping matters.

Don’t know that I’ll be posting very often as I attempt to concentrate on my work, so to tide you over, here’s a little Q&A:

Are you guilty of drunk dialing?
No. Drinking makes me silly then sleepy, so I usually fall asleep before I can do anything truly stupid.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Lust maybe. Attraction. Not sure about love. I’m not even convinced it exists in the traditionally understood sense.

Fact about the person you fell hardest for?
He’s the only person whose happiness has ever meant more to me than my own.

What kind of backpack/purse do you use?
A brown leather Fossil bag with black trim (so it can go with anything), large enough to carry a notebook and/or Sherlock when we travel.

Is it good if the person you’re dating is sexually experienced or not?
There are pros and cons to either their being experienced or needing some instruction.

Are you scared of spiders?
Not sure if “scared” is the word, but I dislike them intensely.

Do you miss anyone?

Do you curse a lot?
Not by today’s general standards, I don’t think. In fact, I’d say I probably curse less than the average.

Where is the person you have feelings for right now?
I don’t know.

Do you have trust issues?

If someone liked you right now, would you want them to tell you?
Yes. Might make me feel better about myself in general to know I’m liked. And I like to have the option and/or opportunity to reciprocate.

Have you ever sung in front of a lot of people?

Do people tell you that you have a nice voice?

What scares you the most in life?

Something That Came to Me Upon Waking

He was hot and she was willing,
or she was hot and he was willing;
it didn’t matter much between them.
He knew her touch would both sting and heal,
was surprised to find it soft and smooth and cool
upon his cheek
though it delivered fever and desire,
all the side effects of lust.
He leaned his forehead against her shoulder,
lay it against his longing
for a stranger on a street corner.


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?

Author M Pepper Langlinais