Saturday, November 13, 2010 20:03


In response to my post from last week, I got a beautiful poem from the Queen Mother. What an elegant way to speak about creativity and inspiration.   Thanks to James Ragan. Here it is.

I usually wake and walk about the city,

to free my breath, and with a word

brush the feathers of the tongue, softly

through a whisper, to nudge the silence forward.

I wade in lugs of seaweed, always along the pier pilings,

to be a circling wind to the dimpled waters

or a shout one judders like a pebbled can

to shape a timid voice to laughter.

At noon I load the morning’s memory

with sounds of osprey, their walk-talk

clear and sleek as glass glimmerings.

By nightfall when the sky dissolves

into the red twinings of an intimate light,

I dance my words to the lute of a warbling tanager

and watch the fall moon lilt

into myriads of thatched kindling.

If I could breathe all words into infinity.

I’d drink beyond the mind

all of space an original thought inhabits.

I’d spare no passion in believing that it sings.

I’d touch the sun as if it were new,

as if for the first time to name a thing,

the rust in fire, cloth in stone. I’d crave the wind

with parting lips to know the ivory in its sensations.

as if a kiss like a gesture, formed a thousand times,

were immigrant to a foreign skin

And always  and in every dance,

I would want to hear each note passing into song

as a beat rising crescendo, timeless as an insight

or a moon in the shade of the sun,

in spiral spins of inspiration, arrive

at once with being gone.

Enjoy the weekend!

Next time...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010 18:36

I looked at the date of my last post and I could not believe it had been so long. Apologies. I guess not posting is better than chattering on about nothing. Kinda like I’m doing now. Join me on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook if you want book updates faster than I post them here.  I’ll try and do better. Honest. We’ll see.

This summer I took a 10-day trip through the south. I traveled through New Orleans, Charleston and Savannah with Jacqueline E. Luckett, author of SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER, and a member of THE FINISH PARTY. Jackie and I had never traveled together before beyond the writing retreats organized by the group. Those retreats are just that, a place to disconnect in a beautiful locale, to write, research, edit or regroup. We do group dinners and there might be one or two trips into town but it’s not whirlwind travel. This was. Neither of us knew if we’d be compatible travel companions but I have never been on an easier trip in my life. And that includes my honeymoon with the Crown Prince. (That nickname, by the way, recently confused a woman I met at a dinner party into thinking he was descended from Russian royalty. Uhm. No. Just no).

Jackie and I started our trip in New Orleans, traveling from Oakland after a mini-retreat with the group in the Bay Area.  We gathered on Saturday night for dinner and extended conversation and then Sunday we had our meeting. Two manuscripts were critiqued before we broke until November. Jackie and I puttered around that evening, buying last minute items for the trip. Then we grabbed dinner at Bocanova in Jack London Square.  We took the red eye to Atlanta (yeah, Chik-Fil-A biscuit breakfast) and then flew on to New Orleans. It was hot when we landed. “Like Africa hot.”

We stayed in New Orleans for four days. We braved the heat and saw everything we wanted on the trip (more pictures on Facebook) and spent a long afternoon traveling along River Road viewing the old plantation houses. We started at Destrehan and ended at Oak Alley. Both are famous, both are filled with fascinating but bloody history. I think our presence on the Destrehan tour freaked out the tour guide but she did her best. Neither of us threw up Black Power fists but it must’ve been strange to cover some of the history with the two of us there. She gave it her all, we did too.

From there we traveled to Charleston. Simply one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever visited. We rented an apartment in Charleston after a hotel stay in New Orleans. The perfect way to break up the trip. We found a two bedroom in a central locale, fully furnished and cozy. Perfect. We did day trips to the Sea Islands from the apartment and then made the drive to Savannah from St. John Island. We stopped in Beaufort, SC.  Pat Conroy made me love Beaufort before I’d even seen it. I read PRINCE OF TIDES a lifetime ago and wondered, “Damn, does the sun really hit the water like that?”  Yes, it does. Jackie was enchanted as well. We even looked at this house right on a marsh with a fully equipped writer’s studio in the back. A nice fantasy.

In Savannah, we took a couple tours, ate a few great meals, met some nice people and did a little writing. We had hours of free time together so we talked about everything over and under the sun. A lot of that talk was about craft and process. About writer’s block. About narrative resistance. About our own laziness and ambition. About finding the seeds of a new story. About starting a new story. About the difficulties of finishing a new project. About the Finish Party and how inspiring it has been to be a part of the group. About our new friendship. About the trust we’ve bestowed on one another. About, like I said, everything over and under the sun. The trip was magical. So much so that I found myself homesick for that trip. I have never experienced anything like that but I still longed for a single moment I will never be able to get back. Standing on the levee, in the sun, across from Oak Alley, with dragonflies dancing all around and a barge gliding down the river. It felt like the beginning of something, I didn’t know what, but I started writing anyway.

Seventeen pages later I am bringing this post full circle.  See how I did that? This past weekend the Finish Party met at my home here in L.A. They traveled from northern California and the East Coast and it was wonderful having them all here in my home. This was their first visit to this house. The last time I hosted I was in my old place, still grieving, and gravely ill though I didn’t know it.  What I remember about the collective kindness of this group was that at that last meeting in 2008, one by one they took me aside and asked if I was okay. I thought I was. I thought I was just sad.  They were discreet but caring and I wish now I had listened harder to their concern. At one point during the meeting I walked down my back steps to let Kobe out into the yard. I was gone for fifteen minutes. I couldn’t get back up the stairs. I sat there and watched Kobe play still not connecting the dots that something was terribly wrong. Now if more than one of them asks me the same question I know that I am projecting something that needs to be addressed. At this meeting they did that.  They asked why I hadn’t finished any of the manuscripts I’d submitted since the group formed. Bam! “It’s like that and that’s the way it is.” (RUN DMC).

This question was asked after we’d completed the critique of my submission. The enthusiasm for those seventeen pages, pages I started on the plane rides between New Orleans and Charleston, made me feel like the magic had actually been captured on the page. The pages feel different. The voice is different, stripped down and pointed, spare in a way that makes me flex a new narrative muscle. Every day I write it’s a challenge to sustain such a harsh, unbending P.O.V., but I like the challenge. And even though this doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve ever started (including THE DYING GROUND) the reality is that  I am always excited at the beginning and then…then the pages lay dormant.

So, believe it or not, when the question was asked I had an answer. An emotional answer but talking about it with the group took some of the power, and fear, away and that – even beyond the fabulous notes I received from each of them – was the point of it all. Making yourself vulnerable is part of the process, and by process I mean both writing and life, but it is damn hard. I talked, for the first time, with the group about the struggle against the vulnerability I feel writing in such a public arena. Not this blog, which is why it’s been helpful, because there are no expectations (that I know of) here. Sometimes you might laugh at something, you might cry, you might feel indifferent, but the beauty of it is that I don’t know. That makes this a safe place. Writing for television is actually a safe place as well as strange as that might sound. The audience is bigger and wider but any script, whether there’s a single writing credit, or not, is a group effort. Safety in numbers. Hiding in plain sight. All the cliches. True.

I talked about the struggle. I talked about the very personal aspects of it. They listened. I maintained my cover but my breathing changed. It was stressful and not because I didn’t trust the women  but because confronting a demon, no matter the size of it, is always scary. But, damn, isn’t it easier to go into battle with more than one person.  Now they all know. And they all asked how they could help.  I had an answer for that too.

I was tired but rejuvenated when they left. I went over the notes on the pages they’d handed back to me, re-read the ones I scribbled as they talked and tried to outline the next chapter. When I get to the point where fear starts to take hold instead of giving into it I just start talking directly to it. A little California woo-woo for some but I am rolling with what works.

So, you’re here again, I see. Well, I am going to acknowledge your presence because that seems to be what you want. But that’s all your getting from me today. You’re greedy and  spoiled and obviously you want more but I am cutting you off. Sit there and pout if you’d like, I’m turning my back, blocking you out.  After awhile  I’ll forget you’re there and you’ll stop picking at me, or you’ll get bored and disappear. Either one works for me.  I’m not leaving but you can. Swift travels.

Sometimes I have to say it more than once, sometimes I have to write or type it out, sometimes it only works with music to get my mind moving away from the fear.  Rick James works really really well, by the way. I am sure there were many things Rick chased away in his lifetime, why not add creative resistance to the long list.

But to end on a high note. Here is something I actually did finish in the past couple years. This is A BEST FRIEND NAMED RICK, a short story that took longer to write than THE DYING GROUND, but we’re not focusing on the negative. Don’t make me get Rick!  (Hadn’t even noticed the link between the short story and the singer. Funny how things work.)

Next time…


Friday, May 14, 2010 3:15

Sunrise on the North Shore of Oahu.

So happy to be blogging again!  Google declared this an attack site which freaked me out enough to completely ignore it for over a week. I just could not deal. I was headed off to Hawaii for a much needed break and I decided to bury my head in the sand. Toes, legs, torso and arms as well. Just what the doctor ordered.  The Crown Prince and I took off for five days after I wrapped on MERCY. Five days was not long enough but we enjoyed every minute of it. I loaded my Kindle with new books and pilots for the upcoming television season. I also brought magazines, music and a couple DVDs. I’m not big on vacation “activities” (don’t come near me with an itinerary, I might slice you up) but we did drive the island and hike to the waterfall in Waimea Valley.

Besides the piping hot malasadas, our second greatest find was this secluded beach. Lovely.

Anyway, my favorite book while on vacation was LOVE IN MID AIR by Kim Wright.

What an impressive piece of writing. Sharp, insightful, funny, sad. I cannot wait to see what this author does next.  I’ll try and get her here for the return of the Q&A. I had four authors in the pipeline before the site went bonkers now I have six. My goal is to backload about ten before starting to post.  It’s hard to maintain the blog while writing full time on a show so I will try and take advantage of this short/long hiatus.

Here are the other books I finished while toasting myself to a crisp on the beach.

EVERY LAST ONE by Anna Quindlen.



Nice to read for pleasure again. I wrecked havoc at the bookstore, online and in  the library. Made me happy.  Met a guy last week (a writer) who told me he “just didn’t have use for books.” The nicest thing I thought in response to that was, “How sad for you, you simple, simple f***ing idiot.”

Next time…


Wednesday, April 14, 2010 21:42

It’s been awhile.  But take a gander at my favorite new obsession. Bananagrams!  That’s one of my winning hands down below. You have to play if you get the chance. The Finish Party went on retreat last week in Palm Springs.  We played most nights after dinner.  Competition was fierce.  I suspect a few people are going to take me to town the next time they see me.  I’ll be ready.  In the meantime, Words With Friends is keeping me busy.


The MERCY writer’s room broke last week.  We’re all on hiatus now so everyone has scattered to the wind. The show is off the air until April 21st.  The return episode is one I wrote along with Toni Graphia, one of my favorite people in the room.  We wrote together really well. That was a nice suprise because all of my other writing partnerships have gone belly up.  Fingers crossed for  a season two.

Last week I started reading again. Actually, I single-handledly tried to keep the publishing houses in business when I went to the bookstore. I was so excited.  Time to read. Time to write. I almost lost my mind.  Here are a couple of the titles I brought home.

33579649IN THE WOODS by Tana French.  Here’s an excerpt. I am about 200 pages into the book and enjoying it so far.  One of the other writers told me about it.  I bought it, started it and realized I’d done the same thing a couple of years ago. I’m further along this time and I plan to stick it out to the end.


LET THE RIGHT ONE IN by John Ajvide Lindquist.  I was in the market for something scary and I was all caught up on Stephen King.   Here is a link to the film’s trailer.  Spooky, right?  Not sure why I was feeling the need for horror but I also read AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan.  Read this one on my KINDLE, which I will talk about later.


I bought THE LAKE SHORE LIMITED by Sue Miller the first day it came out.  I really enjoyed THE SENATOR’S WIFE so I was eager to read the next book.  I glanced at the first chapter on the way home and didn’t stop until I was on page fifty.  Guess she has me hooked again.


SKY DOG: The Duane Allman Story by Randy Poe was intriguing and sad.  I love Allman’s guitar playing, reading about his enthusiasm for music makes me wonder where he would’ve taken his talent had he not died so young. 33342502

MIDNIGHT RIDERS: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band covered much of the same territory in a gossipy, hurry-to-turn-the-page manner but I still held my breath when Duane got on that motorcycle. Check it out if you feel so inclined.

There’s more, of course, but instead of listing it all at once I will break it up over the next couple days. That will keep me coming back and updating with a little more frequency.  I also have a list of titles I bought directly for my Kindle. And, I have author interviews with FARAI CHIDEYA and JACQUELINE E. LUCKETT to post soon.

Next time…


Tuesday, January 19, 2010 1:45

Thanks to all of you who watched, “I Saw This Pig and Thought of You.”  The episode had a couple person things included.  The reference the Lena character makes to her parents dancing in front of the fireplace when she was a child is one of my sweetest childhood memories. The line, “That’s how I like to think of them. Together. Happy,” was the adult me doing a little wishful thinking now that they’re both gone. The Otis Redding song, “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” is my husband’s favorite and the social worker was named after one of my best girlfriends.  Little things.

Three boxes of books showed up at work today.  Well, they didn’t show up…I ordered them but it did feel like a late Christmas present. I finally took my tree down on Sunday and I hated to see it go. The Crown Prince was over it but it made me happy to plug it in when I got home from work. The books helped. This is what I got.








CHEEVER: A LIFE by Blake Bailey. I read an essay in the London Review of Books that made me curious.








SWAN THIEVES by Elizabeth Kostova.  Kostova wrote THE HISTORIAN which I really enjoyed.



What else?  Well, since I hadn’t been here for awhile I didn’t get the chance to tell that our beloved Kobe died in the fall. What a hard month here.  Kobe was 12 1/2 years old but still a pup in our minds. It was incredibly hard to let him go but his deterioration was swift and brutal. It was the right thing to do but man did our hearts break. Still miss him every day.  The Queen Mother made a memorial book for me and the Crown Prince and neither one of us has been able to look at it yet.

Anyway, I went to donate his belongings and fell in love with a 10-month old pup named Navajo.  Here he is…


Isn’t he sweet? His name is now Oslo.  Fit him so much better.  Of course, he already has a zillion nicknames (Little Disco, Donnie Oslo, The Gooch, Arabian Prince, Little Rodeo).  Don’t ask.  Only Donnie Oslo makes the slightest bit of sense.

The rescue society had him listed as a Dirty Faced Siberian which sounds like an insult.  He’s a pup which means he’s goofy, undisciplined and all over the place but he’s (knock on wood) settling into our household. He worships the Crown Prince. Actually, he stalks him but I try not to take it personal. He only “talks” to me in a raggedy little arctic wolf howl so we have our own thing. No matter whom he loves best I am glad he’s here. We still miss Kobe but this dulls the pain a little.

That’s it. Okay, at least for now.  As ridiculous or delicious as this sounds I have fourteen more books on their way. Christmas might continue to happen all year long.

Next time…


Wednesday, January 6, 2010 17:54

Ha!  Two posts in one week. Am I on Ritalin or do I have something to tell you?  My episode of MERCY, “I Saw This Pig and Thought of You” airs tonight on NBC.  Go here for a clip.

In other news, I have a couple new blogs to hip you to and I hope you find a little something to take with your morning coffee.

DR. DOLEN’S DIVINATIONS.  Dolens Perkins-Valdez is the author of WENCH which sounds very intriguing. I ordered a copy yesterday.  You can read an excerpt by clicking on the See Inside feature on the Barnes & Noble sales page.

LIGHT-SKINNED-ED GIRL is the blog of author of HEIDI DURROW who wrote the upcoming THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY.

BERNARDINE EVARISTO has a pretty straight forward blog and a book called BLONDE ROOTS. Neither the book or the blog lets you off easy.

JACQUELINE LUCKETT will be here soon to help me relaunch the Author Q&A series that was so successful and so much fun.  Also trying to get Miss Jackie (that’s what I call her in person) to kick off the second edition of What’s On Your Desk?  Miss Jackie is in the January issue of  ESSENCE looking like Five Million Bucks or as my mom used to say, “Looking sharp enough to shave with”.  See for yourself.


Told you!  Ain’t she something? She’s promoting SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER.  I’ve already started ordering copies for friends and sending them across the country. Play it forward, baby. Play it forward.

Loving BOOK DWARF and the father-in-law’s poetry blog, IN DEFENSE OF THE BLUE. Get some culture. Head over there.

Lastly, SON HOUSE’S JOHN THE REVELATOR intrigues me to no end. I cannot get enough of this song.  Ya’ll know how I feel about the blues so as a welcome back…here’s a little taste.  Love how he lines up the line, “You know Christ had twelve a…postles.” Genius.

Enjoy the show tonight!


Sunday, January 3, 2010 15:05

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I last posted here.  Too long. Too long.  Even I will admit that.  So…let’s catch up. I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  Reading like I did in the old days.  Here are a few titles from the last couple of months.

Her Fearful Symmetry by AUdrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  Niffenegger wrote THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE which I really enjoyed.  I liked this book too. Didn’t love it mainly because the twins at the center of the novel are so gotdamn creepy but it’s a very well done story. Quite the ending without giving anything away.

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger

THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters.  I gobbled this one up.  Didn’t love the ending but until the last few pages I was completely engaged.  I liked Waters writing enough to pick up THE NIGHT WATCH over the weekend.



BLAME by Michelle Huneven.  I wanted to love this book.  I liked the premise and thought it was a great jumping off point for a compelling story about a woman and her regrets.  The story started strong before tapering off under the weight of a sleepwalking heroine.  She wasn’t a literal sleepwalker but the lead character was so disengaged from her life that it felt like she was asleep most of the time.  And like the above book, the ending (too much of a fairy tale) just left me cold.  I did finish it though which is it’s own endorsement.

Fall To Pieces

Fall To Pieces

FALL TO PIECES: A MEMOIR OF DRUGS, ROCK N ROLL AND MENTAL ILLNESS by Mary Weiland. You all know I am biased toward rock biographies so you won’t be surprised to hear that I loved this book. The subject matter was dark and depressing as hell but Mary opened her veins (bad joke) to tell her story. A quick read, perfect for a lazy weekend.



PERFECTION: A MEMOIR OF BETRAYAL AND RENEWAL by Julie Metz.  Wanted to love this one too but the author whined her way through most of the chapters.  I found myself skipping huge chunks of the story.  Decide for yourself.

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper.  Loved, loved, loved this book.  I am a new fan of Tropper.  A son returns home for his father’s funeral and is forced to stay, along with his siblings, for entire week in the family home. It’s sad and messy and funny as hell in some places.  Highly recommend this one.

A Gate At The Stairs

A Gate At The Stairs

A GATE AT THE STAIRS by Lorrie Moore.  No question that Moore is one of the most impressive short story writers on the scene but this novel buckles under it’s own weight.  Engaging subject matter once again but a lead character with no direction or insight killed any enthusiasm I had.

The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence

THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf.  A great thriller.  Read about the book on Sarah Weinman’s blog.  Wonder if this one will be made into a movie?



HOLLYHOOD by Valerie Joyner.  Joyner knows Hollywood and the ins and outs of television like no one else. Sharp and witty.  Loved this book.  Miss Valerie is a friend of mine but I am not swayed by that.  She wrote a funny book with great juicy details.  I’ve been bugging her to get on a sequel.

In other news, my episode of MERCY premieres this Wednesday January 6th at 8p.m.  Tune in if you get the chance.  The episode called, “I Saw This Pig and Thought of You“, is a bit of a tearjerker and one of my favorite songs in the world plays throughout the last scene.  Check it out.

Lastly, Happy New Year to everyone. I promise to get here more often in 2010.  Notice though that I didn’t say how often.

Next time…


Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:03

Courtesy of NBC Publicity Dept.

Courtesy of NBC Publicity Dept.

MERCY premieres tonight (Wednesday, September 23rd @ 8pm on NBC) if you’re home and looking for something to watch.  One of the reasons I haven’t been able to update the blog as often as I’d like is because we’ve been in the storyline trenches.  I hope it pays off and I hope you enjoy the show.

In other news, the Crown Prince and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last weekend in Palm Springs. We invited four other couples to spend the weekend with us and we had a great time.


That’s the view we were greeted with and it chilled everyone out immediately.  Just a great time with some old friends. Not sure we will do this every year but every five might be nice.

Also, here is a very cool BLOG for you to check out.  Just in case you need something else to read while you’re avoiding working, writing, dealing with the kids.

Alright, so I officially joined the KINDLE DX family.  CP came thru with the awesome anniversary gifts this year and the Kindle was one of them.  I loaded six books on the first night (Walter Mosley, James Lee Burke, Robert Greenfield, Kay Redfield Jamison, Margaret Atwood and Dan Chaon) and I know there are plenty more to come.

Finished Lorrie Moore’s  A GATE AT THE STAIRS and just didn’t love it.  I wanted to but I never warmed to the protagonist. I  understood that she was supposed to be an aimless college student but she was aimless and unfocused to the point of disappearing.  Couldn’t stand her and the adoptive parents she worked for managed to be even worse.  Sarah Weinman, over at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, highly recommended THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE this summer so I picked it up.  Loved it.  CROW PLANET:  ESSENTIAL WISDOM THE URBAN WILDERNESS is proving to be a good read.  There’s more, of course, there always is but I am done for the night. Promise to get back here sooner rather than later. Until then here’s another shot of that gorgeous desert landscape.


Oh, wait, one more thing, JACQUELINE E. LUCKETT, author of the upcoming, SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER, has a new BLOG. You can also become a FAN on Facebook and you can follow her on TWITTER.

Lastly, did anyone see THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE?  Anna Wintour has fascinated me for years but I have to tell you, GRACE CODDINGTON stole the show.  Made me realize that it’s her artistry that I actually love in the magazine.  Watching her in action made me want to run out and buy her book then I saw the price tag.  $700.00!  Guess I’ll just keep collecting my old issues.4162wnnqv3l_ss500_Until next time…


Monday, August 31, 2009 11:20

A very nice mention in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

You can find the story HERE.



Monday, August 10, 2009 23:33

I posted a short hit and miss a couple minutes ago and then realized that was pretty lame.  Haven’t been here in awhile for a few reasons. 1) New job. 2) Facebook 3) Twitter.

As I stated before the new show is MERCY on NBC.  You can watch videos HERE, follow on TWITTER or join the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  The show premieres September 23rd at 8 p.m. and I will have my fingers crossed until then.  The writers room on this show is larger than my last one.  12 writers and 2 medical consultants but like the previous two groups (knock on wood) a great bunch of storytellers.  I am really excited about what we’ve come up with so far.  Can’t wait for you guys to see for yourselves.

So, remember last year, when I posted the opening to my short story and told you how the ending kept getting away from me?  Well, I finally wrestled it to the ground.  It was published today at  POPCORN FICTION and I couldn’t be happier.    Check out A BEST FRIEND NAMED RICK and then take a look at some of the OTHER STORIES. Hope you enjoy!

In other news, I finished THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO while I was on a short, but sweet, vacation.  Stayed up until 5a.m. just to find out what happened.  Right now I am making my way through his latest, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.


Nicely done.  Now, tell me what you’re reading.