Taking a Break

on April 27, 2015 in Misc | 12 Comments »

Kitty type

I think it’s time for me to take a little break.

I mean, I came into 2015 determined to fix up this blog, get a new layout, do some exciting Layla stuff, and write about it in these pages. I even told you that this was the plan.  But what have I done?


Which isn’t fair to any of you lovely readers.  Talk about broken promises.

Sure, on the bright side I’m enjoying writing again.  It looks like I’ll finish my screenplay, get my Charity books into print, and probably finish my weird little sci fi novel.  I’ve even faced the fact that I must start some kind of marketing plan for my books and eventually for me as a writer (self-promotion is so weird).

This means I really must work on a new blog layout and approach, some social media, and all that other promo stuff I’ve been putting off forever.

But because of this and life in general, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.  Something has to give.

So I’ve decided to take a break from Becoming Lalya for a month or two.  Then when I do come back it will be with the changes this blog needs.  And of course in the meantime I’ll keep visiting all of your blogs.  I want to hear your news, keep up with what you’re writing, and hopefully read about the good stuff that’s coming your way.

That’s it.  No big deal.  I’ll be back (does that sound like a threat?) at some point.

May all of you have a splendid week.

Happy Writing

on April 19, 2015 in Misc | 10 Comments »

I’ve got nothing exciting to report this week.  Or even barely interesting.

Didn’t do much ‘cause I was under the weather the last couple weekdays and this whole weekend.  Not really sick.  Just run down .

Mr. deeds


Because I hung around at home I got some serious work done on my screenplay, and you know what? It was lots of fun.  If I didn’t have to go into work tomorrow, I’d exercise in the morning and then happily spend the rest of the day parked at my desk, scribbling away.

It really has been too long since I’ve enjoyed telling a story.  Maybe the trick is that screenplays don’t get published, so I’m not worried about going indie or anything like that.  And yes, I’m maintaining a silly fantasy of someday seeing my screenplay on the big screen.  But I know it’s a fantasy.  Even a delusion.  Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I am now actually truly really having fun writing. I love how the characters and scenes are falling naturallly into place.  Of course there’ll be days ahead when I get literary constipation and will have to struggle.  And sure, I’m only one-third of the way through this script.  But I’m anxious to see how the story turns out.

And that’s the jist of my little egotistical rant.

I hope all of you have a very productive writing week.  Any short stories or novels or serials in the works? I’d love to hear about them.

Wigging Out

on April 13, 2015 in Misc | 10 Comments »

Remember how I was planning to stalk someone?

My target was Cruella deVil (without the fashion sense), who was scheduled to be one of the speakers at a lawyers’ conference.  So I took a couple hours off from work, walked the couple blocks to the hotel where it was held, and mingled with the small horde of attendees.

DI still

I knew I would blend in because a) I was wearing dark clothes of a nondescript nature without a speck of pastel or interesting touch (these were attorneys, after all); 2) I tamed my reddish mess of curls into a dull bob; and c) I slipped on my reading glasses and frequently checked papers in the leather binder I was carrying.

No one gave me a second glance.  I was accepted as one of them.

That much was easy.  The bad news is… CRUELLA NEVER SHOWED UP!  It seemed she was out sick.  Very, very, deathly sick, I hope, after disappointing me like that.

Anyway, I’ve already stepped up my disguise game by buying, just today, A WIG!  My first ever.

Yes, it’s a cheap but good one from a local games-and-costume store (the kind at which the gang from The Big Bang Theory would buy their games).  I tried on several and chose the one with long, dark brown tresses and bangs.  When I added a pair of tortoise shell glasses (fake–the lenses are clear), I looked seriously different.

I think this disguise-and-stalking stuff might end up being kinda fun after all.  But first I’ve got to try out this wig and different looks and outfits on my friends.  The more I can fool them, the better I’ll get.

BTW, those papers in the leather binder were pages of my screenplay, and as I waited for Cruella’s lecture I edited them.  This weekend I wrote a couple more scenes, and now the story is coming to me more quickly and clearly.  Maybe I’ll finish it after all.

I hope you have a great week. Any literary or stalking plans of your own?

As y’all know, Alex J. Cavanaugh (such a distinguished name) is one of the kindest and most supportive writers in the blogosphere.  And as of April 7, his newest novel is being released to a grateful world.

Here it is.   Ain’t the cover gorgeous?

Dragon+of+the+Stars+-+Alex+J+CavanaughAvailable today!

Dragon of the Stars

By Alex J. Cavanaugh

 The ship of legends…

 The future is set for Lt. Commander Aden Pendar, son of a Hyrathian Duke. Poised to secure his own command and marriage to the queen’s daughter, he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

But when the Alliance denies Hyrath’s claim on the planet of Kavil and declares war on their world, Aden finds his plans in disarray. Entrenched in battle and told he won’t make captain, Aden’s world begins to collapse. How will he salvage his career and future during Hyrath’s darkest hour?

One chance remains–the Dragon. Lost many years prior, the legendary ship’s unique weapon is Hyrath’s only hope. Can Aden find the Dragon, save his people, and prove he’s capable of commanding his own ship?


But Wait! There’s more…

SCAVENGER HUNT! Comment to win an autographed copy of Dragon of the Stars, tons of bookmarks & postcards, and a $20.00 iTunes gift card–where is Mini-Alex? Visit Alex for a list of the participants. (Open through April 11 – winner announced April 13 at Alex’s blog.)

Barnes and Noble
Amazon UK


Alex J. Cavanaugh can be found at:



Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm.

Easter Filling

on April 5, 2015 in Misc | 12 Comments »

Oh please, you expect me to write a post after a massive Easter supper?  (Mostly salmon and pirogues and pie.  Thank you Ann and Rich.)  I ate so much I can barely move, let alone think.

Besides, tomorrow night I’ll be posting an announcement on Tuesday for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s launch of Dragon of the Stars.  I’d love to see y’all back here for it.

bunnyMeanwhile, I’ve made some progress on my disguises and stalking plans.  If I can take a few hours from work this week I can track someone on her way to a seminar.  I especially want to be invisible because this is a nasty person with a short fuse.  Think Cruella de Vil without any fashion sense.  She’ll definitely be a challenge.

Thank you, by the way, for giving me some great disguise advice. Mike Offut (SLC Kismet) was very right about how people in uniforms (mailman, UPS, etc.) are usually invisible to everyone.  And Hart Johnson (Confessions of a Watery Tart) made a smart reference to Sidney in the Alias series and how she often changed her appearance and identity; I have the DVDs to one season and should re-watch them.  Also, I just read the chapter in Carol Kilgore’s Secrets of Honor where the heroine disguises herself in order to meet clandestinely with the First Lady; her tricks included silicon patches to fill out her face, which I didn’t know about.

I also went to Goodwill to get ideas.  Turns out the place has plenty of medical scrub duds for sale if I ever want to dress as a doc or nurse, and then there’s stuff like cutesy grandma sweatshirts.  I mean, what’s more invisible and harmless than a sweet old lady?

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful week.  See you back here tomorrow.

This week I practiced stalking somebody.

cat stalker

Okay, not stalking.  More like “researching.”  Since I’ve wanted to do Layla training in the search/ track down/ observe department, I chose a guy who done me wrong on a professional level a while back and I hadn’t seen for a while.

So I dug up basic facts about him.  Saw what his neighborhood is like. His work history.  His car.  But I’ve yet to establish if he keeps a regular schedule at his new office, which is a shabby dump compared to the firm where he used to be.  (Was he forced out of that firm?)  But I failed to get his license plates number because I was too worried that he would turn around and see me.  Layla would have had more presence of mind.

Anyway, practicing some detective work is fun.  My next game-plan is… Disguise.


Seriously, the last time I tried on anything resembling a disguise I was twelve years old, it was Halloween, and I wore my homemade ghost costume.  I am SO not a costume-loving lady.  I even get weirded out at the notion of, say, just wearing a wig, glasses, different make-up and strange clothes in public.

Yet not only would Layla be good at it, my character Charity MacCay envies famous women of her time who were spies in the Civil War or detectives for the Pinkerton Agency; they could wear fantastic disguises and even pass themselves off as male soldiers.  In one chapter, Charity has to save herself by dressing as a young sailor boy, which isn’t easy considering her bosom, she’s proud to point out.  Me, I wouldn’t have that problem.

Funny how as writers we create characters who are experts at derring-do, but some such skills make us cringe.  I mean, I’ve put myself through grueling physical stunts and training (YOU try Parkour classes with hyperactive teenage boys), but when it comes to something minor that challenges our comfort zone, we can wimp out.

Well, it’s time I stopped wimping out on the Art of Disguise.  I’m going to put together a couple fake physical identities and then force myself to try them out in real life.  It is gonna feel so weird.

I’d love to know if any of you have similar inhibitions or other challenges that you just… can’t… face.

Have a wonderful week.

Books and Movies

on March 23, 2015 in Misc | 6 Comments »

Holy smoke, I may actually be writing a screenplay someone in the movie industry could be interested in.  Why?

Because the three lead roles are for women.  One young, two elderly.


Up until a couple years ago, such a trio would likely have condemned my story to the reject pile.  What’s changed?

The box office.  And for this we can thank in part some best-selling books.

For years, Hollywood has concentrated on churning out flicks–mostly outrageously expensive ones–aimed at young guys.  Not grown, mature men searching for intelligent fare.  Just guys.  “No story? No problem! As long as people got blown up, guys showed up,” as a box office expert says in a New York Times article.

Then along came the Hunger Games books with their young action heroine lead.  They were (and the fourth one will be) box office smashes.  The Twilight books and movies also went through the roof (granted, I have mixed feelings about that story, just like I do with Shades of Gray).

diverg movie

Now it looks like the Divergent books are getting another female-oriented smash movie series started.  Brave broke records while Frozen was a phenom.  The live-action Cinderella will make at least half a billion.  Wild made money and got awards, but wouldn’t have been made if Reese Witherspoon hadn’t bought the book rights and become the driving force behind the filming.  Even The Conjuring, which was never meant as a woman’s flick, had two mature, unglamorous women in the lead.  Then there was the real-life female heroine of Zero Dark Thirty.

Meanwhile, some expensive movies aimed at young guys, like Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son, have pretty much flopped.

Now, I don’t want to overdo all this female lead stuff.  I avoided Sex and the City like the plague and instead went to see the latest Indiana Jones movie with my guy pal.  Same thing for the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboots and other such action flicks.

All I’m saying is that I’m so freaking glad that Hollywood is FINALLY noticing that women are a force to be reckoned with.  And that Hollywood is looking more seriously at novels and non-fiction works people like us are writing.

Do you have fantasies that the movie rights (or TV series) for your books would sell?  Is that a dumb question ‘cause we all have that fantasy?

Social Misfit

on March 16, 2015 in Misc | 8 Comments »

I have a small confession.

I am the polar opposite of a social media star.

Yes I know, that shocks you all.  But it’s true.  Outside of this humble blog, I’ve never bothered with social media.  I’m not on Facebook.  I joined Twitter, never used it, and lost my password.  I have no brand.  No platform.  No fan base.  You may notice I don’t even have my picture or name prominently place on my own blog.  In the virtual world, I am approaching the black hole of non-existence.

funny cat

Which means I will never get an agent or traditional publisher, never mind that years ago I was published by Bantam.  I may also be hurting my chances of selling my screenplay.

The thing is, I’ve learned a little late that agents now check out potential clients on the Internet.  If you don’t have a social media brand and a virtual presence, they’re not interested.

Sure, that’s unfair.  A writer’s work should speak for itself.  But this is the new publishing reality.

And it makes me cringe.  I just have this extreme reluctance to sing my own praises and promote myself.  Some of this goes back to how I was raised.  But also it’s because of the ridiculous caricatures that have taken over social media.  Think Kardashians (I never do) and other painful celebrity “personalities.”

So I’ve decided to bear in mind writers from the past who were masters at creating an image of themselves and promoting the hell out of it.  I’ve already written here about Oscar Wilde — he set out to create a sensation before he ever wrote a play or novel.  Mark Twain took to the lecture circuit and practically invented the job of stand up comic (so did the wonderful Artemus Ward, but he died young and is now forgotten).

So yes, at long last and for the sake of my stories, in the coming months I’ll be joining the social media horde.  Besides, when bloggy pals like Alex Cavanaugh or Hart Johnson ask for friends to help them out with Twitter or Facebook mentions of their books, I feel like the ugly, awkward kid in the back of the room who can’t join in.

What have your own experiences with social media been like for you, writer-wise?   Good, bad, or indifferent?






on March 9, 2015 in Misc | 6 Comments »

First off: The weather is sunny!  I’m getting out and about!  Still too busy to do anything exciting, but I’m getting in better shape (as in Layla fit) largely because my old left hip/leg muscle injuries FINALLY seem to be on the mend.  Being my own physical therapist and strengthening and diligently stretching certain muscles have made a big difference.

And now for an update on my screenplay.


I haven’t written many more pages, but I’ve turned out gobs of notes.  More challenging is how my head is overflowing with scenes, dialogue, and characters.  Sure, it’s fun having a movie play out in my head.  But it’s also a little freaky keeping so much of a story in my head BEFORE writing it down.

See, what I’m used to is letting a story flow out novel-style.  That can mean lots of exposition and description I’ll edit down later.  There’s room to maneuver.

But screenplays?  They’re a whole different animal.  They must be so lean that not one unnecessary word clutters any of the 105 to 120 pages.  You can use only a few words to evoke a world of emotions, actions and thoughts.  In the best screenplays, there isn’t even a single excess line of dialogue.  Every detail is significant, tells us something, has weight and heft.

Granted, years ago I wrote three screenplays and one TV script.  But I really didn’t know what I was doing (except for the TV Moonlighting script, which is pretty good).  This time around I’ve studied the art.  I’m carefully crafting each scene before moving on to the next one.

So really, even if my screenplay gets nowhere production-wise (gee, what are the odds?), I’ve gotta say that writing it seems to be improving my storytelling ability.

BTW, one of the best screenplays ever written is The Apartment by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.  You can find it online at dailyscript.com along with other screenplays. As experts  point out:  sure, it’s a classic film, but the script itself also READS beautifully.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.  Have you ever written a screenplay or short script?  Ever been tempted to?

broken mirror

First off, I did absolutely nothing exciting or Layla-like this week. Unless you count one episode of white-knuckled-driving-several-miles-on-sheer-ice.  But the good news is the bitter cold and crud are supposed to start melting this week.  I sure hope so ‘cause I’m going stir crazy.

Second, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for my close friend. He was in worse shape than anyone thought, but as of today he’s out of the hospital and doing better.  He has nothing but praise for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and other medical folk who literally saved his life.  And I’m grateful too.

Finally, I’ve got to say something about Leonard Nimoy passing away.

Mr. Spock

A part of me (usually hidden) has long been a Trekkie.  As a young kid I watched Star Trek when it was on TV way back in the 60’s.  Mr. Spock and Kirk and the other crew members really were a part of my childhood.  But then the show was cancelled (I was devastated!) only to return in reruns when I was in college, and then in movies, and then in other series, until it became part of our American culture.

If you think I’m exaggerating, check out Nimoy’s obituary in the New York Times (Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83). Speaking logically (Spock would like that), Leonard Nimoy was not a major movie star or celebrity whose passing deserved widespread reporting.  Yet his picture and obituary were front-page headlines on the electronic version of the newspaper and over a thousand readers posted comments.

My favorite is from a scientist who reported that when news of Nimoy’s passing spread through her university, her colleagues closed themselves in their offices to shed a private tear.  “The role of Mr. Spock meant so much to many of us.  Mr. Nimoy’s character made science cool, made being a scientist cool.  Countless colleagues are STEM professionals because of him.  If this alien character could do it and be respected for being a scientist, then maybe we could be doing science too – men, women, African-Americans – no matter what we looked like.”

Kirk and Spock use

What you have to realize too, for those of you too young to remember, is that Star Trek was so freaking POSITIVE.  In a decade of war, assassinations, mass starvation, drugs, struggles for civil rights, and threats of nuclear annihilation, here came this low-ratings TV show that presented an extraordinarily hopeful vision of humanity’s future.

Give us a couple centuries, Gene Roddenberry said in episode after episode, and we’ll stop being violent, ignorant, bigoted jackasses.  We’ll learn to get along.  We’ll have peace and prosperity.  Even today, when dystopian and apocalyptic tastes rule our sci-fi and paranormal creations, Star Trek remains an anomaly.  When I was a kid, I could go from being depressed and scared after watching the nightly news with my Dad, to feeling good after watching Star Trek.

So thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for embodying to perfection a fictional character who became necessary and real to many of us.

Beam him up, Scotty.