Teaser Tuesday: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

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’ve had Mindy Kaling’s book on my nightstand for ages now and am finally getting around to reading it because I need something funny to relieve the stress of this huge move. And it is a cute and funny book that makes me feel better about not being the only dorky kid who watched Monty Python and didn’t love sports (though I was GREAT at Frisbee, thanks, even won ribbons).

The tease is from Page 57 and seems apropos considering I have myself just finished a spec script:

My Will & Grace spec was a disaster. In an attempt to achieve the cheeky, gay-centric tone of the show, I had written a sample so over-the-top offensively gay that it actually reads like a propaganda sketch to incite antigay sentiment.

I like to think my Sherlock spec is not that bad. Though it may be, in fact, almost as gay. In that roundabout way of giving viewers what they want without ever really giving them what they want.

And I do have to say, as an aside, that while I totally dig the “Nguyen and Ari” song idea, I didn’t love Kaling dissing on my Johnny Cougar. I’m giving her a pass this time (because while I like “Jack and Diane” I do think JCM has done better work, and I myself don’t entirely understand the people who identify so deeply with that song), but no one ever gets more than one. Tread carefully, Mindy, tread carefully.

Teaser Tuesday: The Fates Will Find Their Way

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 not reading much these days because I’ve been so focused on writing, but I do have this library book here: The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Haven’t started reading it yet, but the story is about a 16-year-old girl named Nora who goes missing and the effect her disappearance has on the people left behind.

From page 43:

“Can I borrow your fangs?”
“Top drawer to the right,” Nora said.

25 Things . . .

  1. I talk in my sleep, sometimes in French.
  2. My bedroom and/or office windows have to face west so I can watch the sun set.
  3. I pick up accents and languages really quickly. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m mimicking another person’s accent; it’s a really embarrassing habit!
  4. I lose my voice at least once a year, sometimes more.
  5. I’m addicted to awards shows red carpet coverage. I love to see what people are wearing.
  6. I won’t eat meat off a bone.
  7. I’m allergic to raw tomatoes and red berries.
  8. My eyes were blue until I was in ninth grade, then changed to the blue-green-gold they are now.
  9. I don’t like the taste of poultry. I can’t eat it unless it’s slathered in some kind of sauce that covers the flavor.
  10. My go-to karaoke song is “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.
  11. I love to travel but hate to fly. It makes me anxious.
  12. My least favorite parts of my body are my hands. I wish I had longer fingers.
  13. I get ridiculously happy about receiving mail.
  14. I can’t stand to leave the house if I don’t feel like I look good (not even to get the mail).
  15. I love to wear chunky, oversized sweaters.
  16. To unwind I drive around by myself and listen to music.
  17. I like beaches but can’t stay very long because I get bored really quickly. I’m just not a lounger.
  18. I keep a griffin on my desk. His name is Harvey and he holds my computer cords for me.
  19. I collect scented candles.
  20. BUT . . . I can’t stand the ones that smell like cookies or vanilla or any kind of food. I think it’s unfair for things to make me want to eat them if I can’t.
  21. I get periodic bouts of vertigo, particularly on slow-moving boats.
  22. I am definitely not a morning person.
  23. I can’t write unless I’m the only person in the house.
  24. I have a crush on Benedict Carlton Cumberbatch.
  25. When I was growing up, Miss Piggy was one of my role models. It IS possible to be sexy, feminine, and tough. And it’s no sin to know what you want and go after it.

Bonus: I never listen to DVD commentaries because I feel a work should speak for itself.

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.

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.

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.)

Teaser Tuesday: The White Devil

Have really been enjoying this book by Justin Evans. It’s a kind of ghost story and murder mystery involving Lord Byron (even though it’s set in present day). Lots of good options for teasers . . . This one comes from page 95.

But Andrew couldn’t calm down, because it had arrived, the moment something horrible was going to happen. He had not seen it, but he had felt it coming, and the only way to get it out of him—his body knew, even if he didn’t—was to scream, scream over and over, as loud as his lungs allowed.

FAQs

I thought for the last day of the year I’d maybe address some of the questions people e-mail me via the contact link.

Q: What does the “M” stand for?

A: This is the question I most get asked. The truth is, the “M” stands for a lot of things, chief among them:

  1. Methos. A nickname I acquired in college. It refers to a character from the television series Highlander. I’m not entirely sure how I became christened with the name, but the quote, “Now we have Methos, and now we’ll have a plan” had something to do with it, I think. Methos is the oldest Immortal, if not the wisest, but I’m not the oldest of my friends, so . . . Has more to do with his/my cunning as I understand it.
  2. Morningstar. As in “Lucifer Morningstar,” which I think was taken from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics? Basically because I’m the one who gets called in when everything’s gone to hell. As a general rule, you don’t want to ever get to that point, and you don’t want to have to deal with me in Morningstar capacity.
  3. Manda. This is, in fact, my actual name. But very few people use it.

Q: Is Sherlock a Voodoo doll?

A: I’m not sure why I get asked this question so often. I suppose he does look a bit like a Voodoo doll, and the fact that I’m French Creole might lend itself to the idea that I’m doing something nefarious. But no.

For one thing, Sherlock isn’t an actual person, he’s a character. For another, I have no especial reason to want to torment either him (though, if you read his blog you must realize he would probably disagree) or the actor who portrays him. And finally, even if I did want to torment, well, the actor (since it’s impossible to torment the character outside of fiction), there would be much easier ways to go about it.

Q: When are you going to finish “The Hanged Man”?

A: I don’t know. That’s a crap answer. Sorry. Um . . . I have a lot of legitimate work piled on me at the moment, so that has to take priority. If and when I dig myself out, I do plan to finish it.

Q: Which shows/movies have you worked on?

A: I’m not terribly comfortable talking about these things (a) because of the touchy nature of some of the individuals involved, and (b) I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of any of the shows. The industry is kind of a funny place, and it doesn’t take much to upset things, so I stay out of it as much as I can and just try to do my job. That means in large part not talking out of turn. And writers at my level don’t get a turn.

Which is why on this site I focus only on my personal projects.

Q: Is M Pepper Langlinais your real name?

A: If you mean, “Is it your legal name?” then the answer is no. It’s one of a few professional names that I use. I live and travel and so forth under a different name. I sometimes write and work under other names. Though the M is right and true enough.

Q: Have you ever dated anyone famous?

A: I’ve gone out with famous people, a few of them more than once, but I wouldn’t have called any of them “relationships.”

Q: What astrological sign are you?

A: Really? Do people still ask this? I’m a Sagittarius (you can probably tell by my recent birthday posts), but my rising sign is Aquarius. Lunar Gemini, Venus in Scorpio . . . A lot of other stuff I can’t remember . . .

That covers the majority of the questions I receive, I think. If I didn’t answer something you want to know about, you can click the “Contact” button and send me a note.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

I wouldn’t normally post this kind of thing here–I’d save it for my personal blog–but there is some entertainment value to my birthday this year. After all, the first part of my birthday celebrations came when I flew to London to attend the Sherlock preem at the BFI. And yesterday, I received a box of cupcakes from Crumbs. (Okay, there’s not much entertainment value in that, but it was worth a mention.) And tonight I get some Robert Downey Jr. and some Sherlock of another kind/color/flavor . . .

The ladies at my salon asked me the other day who my “movie star boyfriend” would be. Well, I’ve worked with, er, “stars,” so it didn’t seem fair to pick one. But then, after some thought, I chose Robert Downey Jr. anyway. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with him, so the choice is academic. I like a man with a quick mind, and anecdotally, Robert is just that. Some say that makes him difficult to work with in some ways, but it’s understandable; smart people can have a hard time slowing themselves down, or rather, they assume everyone is with them when they’re five leaps ahead. At least half of a genius’ conversation is dropped (sometimes more) because he or she leaves out what s/he thinks is unnecessary to articulate. It seems obvious to him, after all. It’s also why they make lousy teachers; they can’t be bothered to break down into steps something that comes to them with so little effort.

I know all this because my father is brilliant, and we’ve had entire conversations that go like this:

Dad: Did you . . .?
Me: Well, I . . .
Dad: But then . . .
Me: Yeah, because . . .
Dad: Yes, okay.

Drives my mother crazy.

But I digress. On top of tonight’s film, tomorrow night I’m going out to a comedy club with friends. I don’t normally do that kind of thing, so I’m a little nervous, but also curious. I do like to laugh. Sometimes. If the jokes are clever and not too rude. My friends have made me promise to bring Sherlock along, and I can only imagine what he’ll have to say about the whole thing.

Teaser Tuesday: The Hypnotist

So I’m finally home and reading something new that allows me to participate in Teaser Tuesday. For those of you who haven’t seen this on my site before, it’s where you open your current read to a random page and post two teaser (but non-spoiler) sentences.

I picked up The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler at the library yesterday. It’s about, well, a hypnotist who is enlisted by the police to help solve a series of violent murders. There’s been a lot of buzz around the book (“the next Dragon Tattoo,” movie rights, etc.), so I was curious. I’m not very far in, so it’s too early to say what I think. But here’s a teaser, taken from page 211:

“Down, down!”
Simone doesn’t realize the men are talking to her until she feels a powerful blow in the stomach that forces her to her knees.

The novel was originally written in Swedish, and I can’t decide how I feel about the present tense. I’m trying to get past it, but I don’t know if I can.