Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dimensions - Sale in July!

Shameless plug... :)

In the spirit of summertime, the Kindle edition of Dimensions will go on sale beginning July 4!

A fast read, it's a great option for an airplane ride, day by the pool, or quick breaks at work.

Currently $4.99, the sale price will be $2.99 until the end of July.

Until then, here is an excerpt:

   Lionel was the first man with whom Allison ever fell in love  – of all men, a man from the other dimension. It was too much like Sadie. Allison was even in the same point of her life as Sadie had been when she met Bill. Had that been the reason Vera had closed her eyes to Allison and Lionel’s flirtation? It was yet another reminder of Sadie and the past, the one wound that would never fade. Sometimes she envied her neighbors, whose memories still buried old hurts and softened bad images. She used to be like that, but found it unlikely she’d ever regress.
  Vera tried to push these thoughts from her mind as she entered her house. She needed to stop blaming Sadie’s death for her own inability to impress important facts to Allison. Vera knew that the more honest she was with Allison, she too would lose some of her memory wash, but she feared it was time to level with her daughter. Her relationship with Lionel may already be too serious.
   Vera found Allison on the front porch, a notebook in her lap. She held a pen in her hand but she wasn’t writing – instead she stared at the pounding surf, waves crashing beneath the early evening sky. Vera closed the screen door behind her and took a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs near Allison.
   “Where’s Lionel?” Vera asked in lieu of a greeting.
   Allison looked at her, surprised, then exasperated. “Mom.”
   Vera felt like a broken record, but she began to restate all of her tired warnings to Allison. She reminded her that she still had to act as she always had, to be polite but not too chatty and especially never form attachments to the guests. She was finding the courage to continue – there was so much of which Allison wasn’t aware – and tell her about Bill and Sadie and Matthew, but Allison interrupted her.
   “You’re acting as though I’m in love with him,” she said stoically. “He wanted a sandwich. I’m not forming an attachment. I’m leaving for college soon.”
   Allison’s cheeks burned. It was a lie, of course, and she had difficulty even saying the words. She cared deeply for Lionel, she loved him. He claimed to love her, too. It was Allison’s carefree attitude, he told her, that originally attracted him to her. He didn’t talk about his home or job, and Allison didn’t press. He did ask questions, and despite Vera’s warnings, she didn’t understand what was harmful about answering banal inquires such as what the next city looked like and how her parents treated the guests in the house. But she dodged more intimate questions with a laugh or a smile. They met discreetly, often sneaking out for a late-night swim when the beach was dark and empty. Allison began to smile as she thought of the previous night, then remembered Vera’s presence.
   “I have homework to finish,” Allison announced and closed her notebook.
   Vera would later regret not taking Allison by the arm and forcing her to sit there longer, to have the full conversation that Vera envisioned in her head. Instead she let Allison stand and reenter the house.
   “Why was I the only woman able find a wonderful man from this dimension?” Vera asked later that night when she got into bed next to Paul.
   Paul laughed, and Vera agreed that the question did sound funny when stated aloud, but she was worried.
   “Perhaps I should go in and talk to her.”
   “Unless this is the point where we’ve done the most we can,” Paul said.
   Allison and Lionel’s romance played out just as Vera feared. The differences between the dimensions were apparent, and Allison eventually caved, telling Lionel everything she’d held back about the guests and the role of the house. Vera was furious and also panicked when she discovered that Allison had been so forthcoming with Lionel. She didn’t know what effect that would have on any of them. Paul tried to comfort Vera – they were lucky, after all, that Allison was privy to such limited information. But Vera was still upset, sure that she would have been able to stop things from progressing so far if she hadn’t hesitated. Allison was crushed when Lionel disappeared. They were fairly certain he returned to his own home, but Allison was as inconsolable as if he had died.
   “Can he return?” Allison asked repeatedly, much to Vera’s chagrin. The best thing, she figured, was for  Lionel to forget about the dimension and never return again. But Allison’s heartbroken face pained her. There was the occasional guest that managed to visit the house more than once – Vera decided she would be honest with Allison.
   If Lionel was very strong, Vera told her, there was always a chance he could return.
   He wasn’t, and he didn’t.
   What bothered Vera immensely was that Allison’s memory of Lionel refused to fade. Her broken heart healed, of course, and later Allison immersed herself in college life. She no longer cried for Lionel, but she clearly recalled him. This confused Vera, for although Allison had an interest in the guests, she never seemed particularly in tune with them. Allison had always lacked the psychic ability that Vera possessed. Eventually they never spoke of Lionel anymore, but Vera was certain that Allison still remembered.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday for Tuesday, 4.3

Before I post this week's excerpt of Tenacious Tuesday, I apologize to SelfScribes readers for the lack of new material on the site during the past week and a half. Life often offers unexpected adventures, just like in Tuesday's world (although I find hers a bit more glamorous ;) ). I'm happy to report that there are great excerpts and interviews that will be posted staring this week, so be sure to check back!

And for those of you who have submitted writing, please know that I'm reading through all submissions and will respond to each of you shortly.

For now, catch up with Tuesday...

Tenacious Tuesday
Tuesday's Troubles: Chapter 4, Part 3
by Lindsey Michelle

     “I sold the three large canvases, and perhaps one of the smaller ones, but we won’t know for sure until…”
     Kenneth trailed off as he noticed Tuesday resting her head in her hand, her elbow propped on the dinner table.
     “Am I boring you?” he asked.
     She raised her eyes to look at him, then sheepishly removed her elbow from the tabletop.
     “Sorry,” she said. “I’m just tired.”
     “I thought you’d be eager to tell me about the premiere.”
     Tuesday straightened up. If she was going to say anything, it had to be now. “You’ll never guess what happened. Andrew couldn’t make it, then I received a bouquet of flowers – I thought they were from you! – and the next thing I knew, Peter was there. So he came with me. He sat through the entire film, which is something, really, because I don’t know how good I was…”
      Kenneth remained silent, then reached across the table and took her hand. “I know.”
     She shifted uncomfortably. “Oh?”
     “I saw you two on television.”
     Tuesday’s shoulders fell. “Why didn’t you say something?”
     “I wanted to see if you’d tell me first.”
     Tuesday pulled her hand away. “Like a test?”
     “A test? No,  I…”
     “How long were you going to give me?” Tuesday inquired. “A day, a week?”
     “I don’t know!” Kenneth exclaimed, then lowered his voice. “I hadn’t thought that far in advance. I just don’t like the idea of us keeping secrets.”
     Tuesday’s raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t there anything you’ve kept from me?” 
     Kenneth seemed concerned. “What have I kept from you?”
     Tuesday paused. “Oh, I don’t know… old girlfriends, old wives…”
     As soon as the words left her mouth, Tuesday regretted them. It wasn’t the way she had planned to confront Kenneth.
     Kenneth stiffened. “So I have a past. You have a past. Do we have to drudge up everything?”
     Tuesday was taken aback.
     “But…” she argued.
     “I don’t want to discuss it.”
     Tuesday didn’t say another word, and neither did Kenneth. They ate the rest of their dinner in stony silence.

     “Oh Nanc, I blew it, really,” Tuesday moaned into the telephone.
     “Now I’m sitting here, looking around my apartment…”
     “Your flat, dear.”
     “…which I only have for another month or two, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. Did I just kill the last few months in one conversation?”
     “So apologize.”
     Tuesday frowned. “But he should be apologizing to me!”
     “So don’t. I have a better idea anyway. Andrew hates to be in town when any movie he’s in opens – he prefers to read reviews from afar – so we’re going to his island retreat.”
     “You are?”
     “No, we are! You, me and Andrew. A week of sun and sand.”
     Tuesday didn’t even hesitate. “Count me in.”

     Before she left, Tuesday dropped a note off at Kenneth’s house. It simply said she was going on a short trip and she’d be in touch upon return. She knew it was a little immature, and perhaps only extending their argument, but it was the best she could do.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heartland Excerpt (Teleplay)

Here's the teaser from Cassady Dixon's television pilot Heartland. After reading, be sure to check out my interview with Cassady about his writing process and inspirations.  (Click here to read the interview!)         

Please note: The dialogue is centered a bit strangely at times - this is due to the blog format, not Cassady's script.

Excerpt from Heartland
teleplay by Cassady Dixon




Brothers JIMMY (40) and RANDY MCHUGHES (42) open their small burger joint, which is located in the college town of Norman, Oklahoma.

You see the game Saturday night,

Yeah. Ol’ boy from Tulsa made a
meal outta those Aggies.

Helluva deal. Heisman material if I
ever saw it.


You know who in the heck’s been
puttin’ two extra tater tots in the

Nope. How many of ‘em like that?

The whole God-dang box. Everyone
knows we serve eight tots a piece.

Yeah. Probably George.

Eh. George knows the rules pretty
well, but....

Jimmy starts to re-package the tots.

So, is Junior goin’ through with

With what?

Quitin’ the football team.

Oh, yeah. Appears so. I don’t like
it, but he says he ain’t
“motivated” no more.

You know, Jimmy, maybe he should
try church. This new one me and
Linda started goin’ to is good.

Naw, it ain’t that. It just don’t
seem like he’s got direction
sometimes. Worried about what kinda
trouble he might get into.

Got a good minister there.

Jimmy shakes his head to himself and continues with his work.


Jim, Jimmy’s son, known as JUNIOR (17) to his family,
finishes a joint underneath the bleachers at lunch with two friends. One of them hands Junior a bag of pot.

Here, put this in your bag.


You’re the only one with a bag.
Come on, Junior.

Junior sighs, then takes the drugs.


Junior stuffs the drugs inside his locker.


Junior takes a test. An office aide walks in the room.

James McHughes.

Junior looks up from his test.


Junior walks to the principal’s office. Along the way, he sees cops with K-9’s roaming the halls. As Junior walks into the office, the PRINCIPAL turns around to face him just as Junior sees the bag of pot on his desk.
His jaw drops.



© Cassady Dixon

Bio: Cassady Dixon is a working professional in the entertainment industry while keeping his free time booked with writing and making contacts. As an assistant to three entertainment executives, he has grown to have a solid grasp of the business side of the industry. This has enabled him to infuse his writing with not only his natural creative pulse, but also a healthy concentration on what is marketable. He contributes regularly to the ezines Cinespect and Big Vision Empty Wallet.

Heartland Interview: Cassady Dixon

I interviewed writer Cassady Dixon about his television pilot script Heartland. I encourage you to read the excerpt, which is the teaser from the pilot, in order to gain additional insight and understand the references and characters in Cassady's answers.

Read the teaser from Heartland here!

Interview with Cassady Dixon

Q: Is the regional dialect familiar to you? How do you make the characters' dialogue sound authentic?

Cassady Dixon: I grew up in Oklahoma, where "Heartland" is set, so the dialect is very familiar to me. When I write the dialogue, I try to imagine my family or friends saying something in a certain way. If it feels right, I know I'm onto something.

Q: How did you come up with the story? What inspired you to write "Heartland"?

CD: I worked at a Mom and Pop burger joint in high school that was much like the one in the story. It was owned by two brothers, and most of the employees were family members. I had such a blast watching them go at it all the time, it has stuck with me ever since. Since the atmosphere of the place leaned to the conservative side, I thought a good intro. to this world would be to see how the father figure handled a situation in which his son got caught at school with drugs. This sets up a kind of culture clash that ingratiates you into this place and with these people.

Q:  Are the characters based on anyone you know in real life? Are they composites of various people?

CD: Going off the last question, all the characters here are more or less slightly altered interpretations of their actual real life counterparts. Friendliest people in the world, but they could get fairly loud and hawkish, but always good natured, funny and soulful. It sounds cliched, but they created enough of an impression on me that these characters mostly wrote themselves as the saying goes.

Q: Of the current shows on television, are there any that you feel are similar in tone to "Heartland"?

CD: "Friday Night Lights" for sure. It's got that Texas/Oklahoma vibe, same type of people and the same mix of humor and sincerity that I was striving for.

My big inspiration was actually "Roseanne," though. This show was a big influence on me. I thought that it presented a slice of Americana, working class people, etc. that had never been shown so honestly on network TV before. It really cut deep, emotionally, but it never lost its gallows humor either.

Q: If the script was filmed, how do you envision the "look" of the show?

CD: My heart is definitely aligned with the single-camera way of doing TV. Nothing against "Roseanne," but the multi-camera, laugh-track programs usually do not feel as real and intimate as shows like "The Office" or "Friday Night Lights." The later show specifically, being set in a similar type of environment in Texas, is a major blueprint in my mind for the look of "Heartland." Granted, that show is a drama, but its fly-on-the-wall perspective, coupled with its "Roseanne"-esque, middle-class art direction would be ideal for this story.

Q: What television shows do you enjoy? Are there any that you would love to write for?

CD: "Friday Night Lights" is a major achievement, but alas it is going off the air. It was the only drama I watched with consistency. The writing, acting, cinematography, music - everything really - was like no other. Other than that, "Parks and Recreation" is my favorite network program. Nothing comes close to its edginess and humor. Slightly off the beaten path, "Workaholics" is quickly becoming a favorite as well. It has the kind of freshness that "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" had at its inception. I'd be honored to write for any of those shows.

Q:  Do you feel that there is a lack of television shows that focus on the Midwest?

CD: I do. The problem is that the Midwest covers a lot of ground. The people on "Parks and Recreation" are a lot different than the ones in "Friday Night Lights" or "Heartland," for instance. Still, as far as a serious approach to story and character, Middle America doesn't get its due nearly enough, even on outlets like HBO or Showtime, unless it's something with a gimmick like "Hung" or "United States of Tara."

Q: What was your process for writing the teleplay?

CD: I mainly write features, and I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed writing television in one specific way. There are more rules. It is a much more rigid construct to write a teleplay. Conversely, I think those rules really free you up to experiment within a certain framework, as opposed to a screenplay where you are much more out on your own.

Essentially, I came up with the A story of the son getting suspended, followed by the B story of his uncle trying to steer him right with religion, which in turn draws the ire of Jimmy the father and main character. After that I mostly tried to insert nuggets about the other characters and the key locations within that story structure. And it really just flowed from there, always going back to the main story line when I started to feel like I was veering off track.

Thanks, Cassady!

Heartland excerpt

About the Writer:
Cassady Dixon is a working professional in the entertainment industry while keeping his free time booked with writing and making contacts. As an assistant to three entertainment executives, he has grown to have a solid grasp of the business side of the industry. This has enabled him to infuse his writing with not only his natural creative pulse, but also a healthy concentration on what is marketable. He contributes regularly to the ezines Cinespect and Big Vision Empty Wallet

Tuesday for Tuesday, 4.2

Hi, SelfScribes readers! Just a reminder, I'm seeking anecdotes about summer experiences to post throughout the summer. (In case you missed the call for submissions last month, read here). Your stories don't have to be long or elaborate -- a picnic, long summer day at the office or driving someone else to the airport for their getaway all have potential for observations that make interesting reads.

My current summer adventure: friends suggested we meet at the W Hotel for their movies-at-dusk by the pool... which happens to be the teeniest hotel pool I've ever seen. Nonetheless, it's a fun, people-watching spot, often with cheesy films (disclosure: I admit, I went to the Dirty Dancing screening one summer.)

Tenacious Tuesday
Tuesday's Troubles: Chapter 4, Part 2
by Lindsey Michelle

     Kenneth arrived home late in the evening, as the sky grew dark. The house was quiet except for noise from the kitchen, the clinking of pots and pans. He wasn’t sure why there was any cooking being done, but he felt too tired to investigate. Perhaps Claire, his assistant, was doing work out of his home office.
     When he still lived in a flat, before he owned his estate, he used to arrive home from trips to find a stack of mail waiting for him. He missed that. Claire took care of his mail almost every day. He looked at the hall table anyway. There was a postcard for a gallery opening.
     He climbed the staircase to his bedroom. As he walked down the hallway, he noticed the door to one of the guest rooms was ajar, and the comforter on the bed pulled down.
     Kenneth frowned. He stepped into the doorway and pushed it open.
     Peter sat in front of the television, changing the channels. He looked at Kenneth.
     “Hey! Welcome home!” Peter exclaimed.
     “You’re making Jo cook for you?”
     Peter dropped the remote control and stood up. “She – we knew you’d be home soon, too.”
     “She was supposed to have tonight off.”
     Peter fidgeted slightly. “I didn’t know that.”
     “Of course not.”

     Tuesday waited on the sidewalk, as people pushed by with luggage. She looked around fruitlessly for Kenneth’s face, suddenly realizing she had no idea where to find him.
     “Miss Tuesday?”
     Tuesday recognized Kenneth’s driver, Hank, at once. Her face broke into a smile. “I’m relieved you found me!”
     “I’ve had practice at this,” he joked, taking her suitcase. Her heart beat faster as she anticipated seeing Kenneth again.
     Hank opened the car door for her, and she slid inside… to an empty car.
     She heard the trunk slam, and then Hank sat in the driver’s seat. “Tell me if you prefer a different radio station.”
     “It’s fine.” Tuesday sunk into the car seat. She bit her lip. “Kenneth didn’t come?”
     Hank glanced at her in the rearview mirror. “I’m afraid his flight took off later than he anticipated. He instructed me to take you to his home.”
     Tuesday just nodded as Hank fiddled with the radio buttons.

     Tuesday sat on the edge of one of the stairs, waiting for Kenneth in the foyer. Their reunion proved to be an awkward one.
     She’d kissed him, as naturally as possible and commented that something smelled good. He didn’t explain the wafting culinary aroma, instead suggesting that they head out for dinner. Tuesday was surprised, as they’d both just experienced long plane rides and she felt thoroughly messy and crumpled. Kenneth, however, had a fresh after-shower glow, the ends of his hair still glistening with dew.
     “Okay,” Tuesday said gamely. “I thought we’d talk first.”
     “We’ll talk over dinner.”
     She paused. “I need to shower, then.”
     He seemed reluctant, his eyes cast downward. “I’ll wait in the library.”
     Tuesday wanted to linger in the shower, the warm water washing away the hours of travel, but she felt hurried. She pictured Kenneth waiting for her downstairs, the minutes ticking away on the large library clock.
     She dried quickly and put on a dress, not perfectly crisp, but clean and made better by the bathroom’s steam. She styled her hair and was rushing her makeup when she heard heavy footsteps in the hallway.
     “I’m almost ready,” she called out to him, “no, in fact, I am ready!”
      Tuesday pasted a wide smile on her face and hurried into the hallway.
     “Hey.” Peter stood in front her, smiling.
     Tuesday froze. What was he doing here?
     “You look nice,” Peter continued. “You and Kenneth going out to dinner?”
     “Yeah,” she answered slowly. Peter seemed to expect her to say more. She racked her brain. “Do you want to join us?”
     “Oh, no, you kids have fun,” he responded.
     Tuesday nodded, unsure of how to respond, and shuffled down the hallway.

To Be Continued...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adaptation Interview: Sharon Black

So far I've posted interviews with writers about adapting one form of writing to another, such as a screenplay to novel. This interview focuses on what it's like to create a screenplay from an actual historical event. 
Writer Sharon Black conducted ample research to write her screenplay
Home on the Range, 
the Story of the Song

Continue below the interview for a synopsis of the screenplay and information about Sharon.

Q: What inspired you to write about "Home on the Range"? Do you have a personal interest in the song?

SB: First, the cabin that Doctor Higley lived in still stands in Smith County, it being over one hundred years old. It is open to visitors year round.

Second, a school teacher, Margaret Nelson, wrote a book titled Home on the Range about the settling of Smith County. She writes about Doctor Higley performing pioneer surgery and Dan Kelley and his orchestra playing the song that Doctor Higley wrote. The book was published in 1947. Margaret was one of my mother's one room school house teachers and my mother bought a copy of the book at an auction. I read the book twice. That made me more aware of the song played in movies, radio, and television, (plus it is the Kansas state song) and I realized the making of the song was an interesting story and it deserves the big screen.

Q:  What type of research did you do in order to write the screenplay?

SB: I read the condensed version of Pioneer Women by Joanna Stratton to understand pioneer life. I took a lot of notes about how they lived and how they lived in dugouts. Next, I dug into the files of the genealogy room in Smith Center Public Library and looked at old newspapers on microfiche. They also have a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of every article about Higley, the song Home on the Range, and the cabin. I searched on the internet and also contacted  relatives of the Harlan Brothers Orchestra,the 3 man orchestra in which Dan Kelley joined and sang with. Mary Norris from Missouri sent me a three ring binder of the ancestry of the Harlan family. I also read articles from the Kansas Historical Quarterly  and Colorado Heritage magazine. I have permission for  particular articles and also have permission from author David Dary, who wrote True Tales of Old-Time Kansas, for a part of Act III.

Q: How challenging was it to blend accurate historical information with creative content?

SB: I had been listening to classical music on the radio for many years, and when I began writing the script, I heard a symphony by Beethoven and I heard a little of the melody of the song Home on the Range in it, so that got me to thinking that maybe the pioneers had attended concerts in the cities they lived in before coming out West, and that was the standard music along with the popular tunes from the Civil War. So in my script, that little melody that does sound like the song Home on the Range, could have been the foundation for the song.
The story is like a rock band making a hit song, except they don't have any idea that the song became popular. 

I gave the characters an upbeat attitude because Higley did observe the pioneers as not saying a discouraging word. In the third act, I showed the attorney Samuel Moanfeldt gathering information from people, and having them sign affidavits, and that the backseat of his car was filled with hundreds of affidavits from several states. So I tried to blend historical with a sense of humor. 

Q: How many "creative liabilities" (i.e. did you change facts to fit the story) did you take?

SB: I wanted to try to find out exactly which saloon the Harlan Orchestra played in at Ft. Hays. I didn't attempt to so I chose the Tommy Drum saloon, which seemed to fit with the facts rather than the other saloons. Later, on the Higley Facebook page, a friend mentioned what happened in the book Home on the Range was told in another old book which took place in the Tommy Drum saloon.

In the third act after Moanfeldt visits Cal Harlan and his wife in Smith Center, Kansas, Mrs. Harlan calls her niece in Kansas City to tell her that Moanfeldt is looking for evidence. When Moanfeldt waits in the airport in Kansas City, the niece finds him to give him a hand printed copy on foolscap paper of the poem/song Home on the Range.  Moanfeldt did visit her in Kansas City in her home, but I felt this was more theatrical.

Also, Doc Higley doing a c-section pioneer style was probably a fact changer, and that the woman survived.
In Act III, it is shown that the Smith County Pioneer in which the poem was published in 1873, is stolen. This is attributed to the publicity of the half million dollar lawsuit. I did read in one newspaper article that the original copy in the newspaper files was missing.

Q: Are there any films that are similar to your screenplay?
SB: I'm sure there is something similar, but I've never set out to find one and watch it.

Thanks, Sharon!

*   *   *

Synopsis of Home on the Range, Story of a Song:

Dr. Brewster Higley wrote a poem titled My Western Home to describe his new home in Kansas. He kept the poem in a book and forgotten about until a man with a gunshot wound is brought to him for treatment. While recovering he opens a book to read and the poem falls  out. A friend also reads the poem and tells Doc Higley it should be set to music.  Higley presents the poem to a musician, Dan Kelley, versatile musician in the Harlan Brothers Orchestra.
The song now titled Home on the Range becomes popular at dances and is played in a saloon in Ft. Hays to drovers and soldiers, it becoming a cowboy anthem. 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares Home on the Range his favorite song. The song is in the news as the subject of a half-million dollar lawsuit over copyright infringement.   Attorney, Samuel Moanfeldt, travels the West to find the real author, and discovers an original band member, Cal Harlan, in Smith Center, Kansas.

About writer Sharon Black:

Sharon Black is the 2008 second place winner in the Kansas Voices Writing Competition for a short story, The Little Tornado, which she now sells on CD.  She has a novel almost finished.  Currently, she is art director for the ezine, Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, plus other various tasks. She has written poetry and short stories for a variety of small press magazines. She is mentioned in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. Through genealogy, Sharon discovered she is distantly related to author Eudora Welty. Sharon lived for a short time in New Mexico and resides in Smith Center, Kansas, and works in a hospital.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pan Trilogy - Part 3

The past two Wednesdays featured excerpts from The Trials of Jonathan Darling and Michael's Ascent, the first and second books in Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler's The Pan Trilogy, a re-imagining of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Settle in for the excerpts from the conclusion of the trilogy, Wendy's Daughter.

Excerpts from Wendy's Daughter
by Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler
     Aboard the Jolly Roger, the crew waited, hiding from the last bit of tormenting sunlight.  The ship’s mascot, Smee, was picking through the remaining meat, trying to find a piece that was not thoroughly rotten.  The ship’s turncoat, Smythe, sought out the solitude of the ship’s bowels.  He could not stomach being in the company of the men he betrayed, confronted by the change he avoided by agreeing to be Pan’s informant.  The ship’s Captain sat at his desk, documenting his recent change in vain.  He knew that shortly he wouldn’t be able to read the ink on the page in front of him, but something needed to be done.  He had to keep trying. 
Captain’s Log
Captain James Hook of the Jolly Roger
Date Unknown, Location Unknown.
I feel a return to myself, and it’s all thanks to Smee.  Something has happen’d to my mind, and it is probably proof of further degradation of my mental faculties.  Nonetheless, it gives me hope.  I feel like I have somehow gain’d access to another side of my own consciousness.  Or perhaps I have simply fabricated it. 
My own thoughts that gave me hope are now causing only frustration.  Am I to trust myself?  Is this just another trick caus’d by the island and that monster, Peter Pan?  Do either exist, or are they simply a part of my own madness? 
The answer seems unimportant.  If I am in a madhouse somewhere then I must be receiving care, lock’d in a cell where I cannot hurt anyone.  If this is real then my life and the life of my crew hang in the balance.  I have no choice but to assume reality.  I am Captain Hook of the Jolly Roger, and my enemy is a demon by the name of Peter Pan.  Recently I have receiv’d word of a strong military force on Neverland that means to oppose Pan soon.  I will lend all of my strength to their aide, and provide a shelter for the inhabitants of the island that are unable to fight.  Destroying the demon is the next obstacle in escaping this horrible setting. 
Dear God, I know I am not a man of much faith.  But right now I am using what small stockpile I have to send this prayer to you.  I beg you, not for my sake, but for the sake of these men, see to it that I am lock’d in a madhouse somewhere and this is all just a fever dream, for if this is reality and a war with Pan is coming it will be like marching my men through the gates of Hell.


     John needed to find Wendy, Jane, and Michael.  He jumped across the still widening river that was splitting Neverland in half.  The trail leading up to the Tiger Lily Forest was where the battle was trying to head, so John set off in that direction.  When he landed, he was brought nearly face to face with Klaus.
     The Lost Boy was cinching a filthy scrap of cloth around his arm when John came back to the ground.  Klaus bared his teeth and took a swing at John, more out of instinct than anything else.  John had come down out of nowhere, and he was invading Klaus’ personal space.
     John was beyond Klaus in combat skill, and easily snatched the goblin’s wrist.  With a skilled bending of the fragile joint, John was able to steer Klaus’ steps.  The goblin was unarmed, wounded, and pathetic, hardly worthy of keeping John’s attention, so he ditched the lousy thing.  John walked Klaus over to the river and tipped him in.  Someone else would finish the job.  He completely forgot about Klaus as soon as he fell out of sight, and he returned to his journey up the path.
     John’s neglect was traded for another’s attention.  Klaus splashed into the water, which was immediately deep.  The cold salt water in his wound nearly stopped his heart.  He splashed helplessly, grasping painfully at handfuls of mud and clay.
     Not far away, a Mermaid snapped her head in Klaus’ direction and froze as she tried to find the image that went with the familiar scent of him.  His scent was very distinct to her, because part of his scent was her.  He had stolen the best parts of her and corrupted them, twisting them into the black force that fueled him.  He fought her and ripped her apart from the inside out.  He left her for dead.  He was her Lost Boy. She was his treemother.
     The girl from Jabalyah had grown up hungry.  She was a burden on her family, and was never given any encouragement.  She knew that going with Pan would be good for her and her family.  They would have one less mouth to feed, and one less child to try to protect.
     They tried to keep her away from violence.  They tried to keep her innocent.  But one day when she was walking home from the market she saw a boy get beaten in an alley.
     The boy was a few years older than her, and she never knew if he lived or died there.  She never told anyone.  If she told, then her family would know she wasn’t innocent anymore.  Even though they never needed her, and never tried to make her better, they tried hard to keep her from getting worse.  Two days later, while she was out on the balcony, plagued with the image of the boy’s swollen face, Pan came to get her.
     She pushed herself through the water with her thickly muscled tail and reached Klaus within four flicks.  He was one reason that she was so hideously transformed now.  He did this to her.  The beating of that boy in the alley flickered again and again in her head.  She swore to herself that his beating would be nothing compared to the viciousness she was going to show Klaus.
     Her fingers clamped around a matted clump of Klaus’ hair and pulled him down.  Klaus grabbed one last breath of air before he was submerged.  He kicked and grasped for anything that would help bring him back to the surface, but even after he ripped his hair free she methodically grabbed him by the back of his neck.  She allowed the scales on her hand to cut into his skin.
     She turned him around and looked into his eyes.  He was so helpless in her hands, down here where the sunlight began to fade away above.  She watched as his eyes began to fade, drinking in every last drop of his life before she pressed her delicate lips up against his wide, rough mouth.
     Klaus was disgusted.  Her lips were so soft and the kiss, her breath of life that she was giving to him, felt so out of place.  He tried to push her away, but when he moved his good arm to swipe at her, she pulled her face away from his and let him consider his position.  He needed her now, and she wanted him to know it.  Again, she waited until his eyes began to glass over before filling his lungs with precious oxygen.
     When he had been topped off, she backed away again and smiled at him.  Her teeth were flat and straight, and just a little too big for her.  She would have grown into them one day.  Then a second set of teeth dropped down behind her original ones.  These were the teeth of a shark, razor sharp and needle tipped.
     It didn’t take long for her to remove his hand.  Just enough time for her to put her mouth on his again.  This time she tasted like his own blood, but he couldn’t stop from greedily breathing in her air.
     Klaus’ death came eventually, but not until she had taken back all that was owed to her.  He lost his legs, his hand, and the entirety of the arm that Joe had cut.  Klaus did not drown.  He died out of his element, in a place that scared him and made him impotent.  He died helpless.  In the end he just didn’t have enough blood left to carry her oxygen to his brain.
     When he expired, the girl from Jabalyah dove down to the depths to find something cruel that would take her life quickly and for all the right reasons.
© Fionnegan Justus Murphy

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday for Tuesday, 4.1

Here is the first part of Chapter 4 of Tenacious Tuesday...
Feel free to post comments about what you like and dislike about the story so far!

Tenacious Tuesday
Tuesday's Troubles: Chapter 4, Part 1
by Lindsey Michelle

     Tuesday sat in the darkened theater, staring straight ahead, her mind far away. Around her, audience members laughed, and she was periodically made aware of Peter’s distinctive chuckle. But she couldn't concentrate on the film, couldn’t evaluate her performance
     She kept glancing to the back of the theater. Where had Nancy, her coffee-loving British costar, gone? She longed to talk to her, to spill her thoughts and questions. Had Kenneth really been married before? Tuesday wasn’t even sure. She’d so quickly assumed that it was Peter who would’ve had a failed marriage, but then, it was Kenneth who seemed to crave commitment, stability. She knew little of Kenneth, but she knew that much.
     She knew even less of Peter. Why had he chosen to accompany her? Tuesday stole a quick glance in his direction. He watched the film, oblivious to her eyes upon him. Did he ever think of the one kiss they had shared, months earlier, when he took her to her first London party? Did he think of it as she sometimes did, even when lying in bed with Kenneth?
     She closed her eyes briefly, trying to make sense of her thoughts. She had numerous questions and didn’t know where to begin.
     Before she knew it, the audience was clapping and the lights went up. Tuesday stood in a daze and somehow made her way out of the theater.  

     “Tuesday, you look fantastic, but what were you thinking?”
      The familiar British accent snapped Tuesday to attention and filled her with a sense of relief. She turned in the crowded restaurant and immediately spotted her friend.
     “Nancy!” Tuesday exclaimed, delighted to see her. But her heart beat nervously at Nancy’s greeting. “What’s wrong?”
     “You little innocent, I can’t believe you sat through the entire film.” She shook her head briefly, then grabbed Tuesday’s arm and leaned closer. “So, how did I look?”
     Tuesday managed to laugh. She was beginning to wish she had followed Nancy’s lead. She’d been so eager to see the final cut, but now she doubted her own performance.
     Tuesday had put in so much work to make her character well-rounded, three-dimensional but she felt her role had been edited to a one-note sidekick. She was in plenty of scenes, but she feared some of her acting came across as almost laughable.
     She was only basing her opinion on what she managed to see, of course. Peter hadn’t said a word about her acting.
     “That was fun,” was all he seemed to repeat until she finally sent him to fetch drinks. As he’d walked into the crowd, Tuesday saw many people stop to greet him. She couldn’t help feel a bit surprised. He seemed to know everyone in the room.
     Now, she looked at Nancy, who still waited for a response.
     “Glowing, as usual,” Tuesday said.
     Nancy grinned. “I think that word describes yourself. Where’s Kenneth?”
     “He couldn’t fly over. He’s in France. Work,” Tuesday explained.
     “So who are you here with?”
     Tuesday hesitated as she felt  a hand touch her shoulder lightly. She glanced aside to see Peter, who handed her a drink. As Tuesday thanked him, Nancy’s eyes widened.
      “Peter?” Nancy’s shock was evident. “What a surprise to see you here.”
     He grinned. “Thought it’d be fun.”
     “You two have met?” Tuesday asked.
     “Guess who photographed my first big magazine spread,” Nancy said.
     Peter sniffed. “Yeah – for an environmental magazine.”
     “I hosted a very popular nature program,” Nancy argued defensively, then smiled. “It was years ago.”
     Nancy looked at Peter. “I think I need a drink, too.”
     The three stood awkwardly for a minute.
     “I guess that volunteers me,” Peter said, disappearing back into the crowd.
     “Out with the brother? Not a good idea!” Nancy exclaimed.
     “I’m not going out with him,” Tuesday responded. “It was a complete surprise. How do you even know they’re related?”
     “Everyone in the UK knows they’re brothers,” Nancy said. “It’s like a club.”
     Tuesday leaned in closer. Finally, the perfect opportunity to ask about Kenneth’s marriage. “Look, speaking of, there’s something I need to ask you.”
     “I’m all ears,” Nancy responded.
     “Me too,” Peter chimed in, returning with Nancy’s drink.
     Tuesday’s face fell. So much for the grand opportunity. She glanced helplessly at Nancy.
     “My question is… how does this premiere compare to other ones you’ve been to?”

     Tuesday leaned against her airplane seat. She couldn’t believe a week had passed since the premiere. Peter had returned Tuesday to her hotel room that night, with a brief “See ya” and barely a handshake goodnight. Tuesday was thoroughly confused. Did he like her? Did he just want to go to the premiere, or more likely, since he seemed to have so many connections and acquaintances there, was he planning on going anyway?
     She had been unable to speak to Nancy alone that night, and couldn’t reach her since then. Calls to her cell phone were out of range and messages to Nancy’s agent had so far gone unanswered.
     Tuesday also hadn’t spoken to Kenneth, though she received a brief message from him saying he’d pick her up from the airport. That meant she had the length of the plane ride to figure out what to say to him. She’d tell him right away, in the car, and it’d be old news by the time they arrived at his estate. It was something they could laugh at – that his brother saved Tuesday from having to attend the premiere alone.
     She sighed. Somehow she didn’t think it’d be very funny.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adaptation Interview: Robert Gately

Today's interview is with Robert ("Bob") Gately, author of the novel South of Main Street, published by Sun Rising Press in 2005. which has five-star reviews on Amazon. Bob wrote a screenplay version of the novel, which won top prize in SpiritQuest Film Festival of Erie, PA and was a finalist in several other contests. I asked Bob about his adaptation process:

Q: What was the most difficult aspect of adapting your screenplay into book form? The most rewarding?
Click on book for details
Bob Gately: For one of my novels, I wrote the novel first. So, when writing the screenplay, I had a ridiculously hard time reducing scenes, or maybe throwing the scenes out altogether. And I had to remember always, write ‘what the camera sees’. Editing scenes is easy for me. Cutting scenes out completely gives me stomach unrest for days. Now, the reverse, writing the novel after the screenplay is a bit easier for me because I can relax about drawing out the characters or the scenes however my muse directs me. The hardest aspect of this conversion, however, is keeping consistent POVs and making sure that whatever I write is pertinent to the plot and character arcs. Taking the ‘whatever the camera sees’ off the table, allows the author to breathe a bit, yes, but the author can’t now just ramble on just because he/she has the liberty to do so.  Keeping the interest of the reader requires every bit of restraint as does writing the screenplay. The most rewarding aspect of converting to a novel is you can draw out the minor characters better because you don’t have the page restraint.
Q: Did you have to remove or add aspects to the screenplay? 
BG: Mostly there was more additions: actually, writing a novel after the screenplay gave me a better perspective of the characters and I was allowed to expand on the character arc. Sometimes, the characters were more fully developed and forced me to go back to the screenplay and make changes.  
Q: Were you able to fit more story into the screenplay or the novel? 
BG: Novel, most definitely.
Q: What were the most significant changes you had to make? 
BG: When writing the novel second, the changes I made were with how one actor(s) interplayed with another and I expanded the scene or the conversation. In the screenplay, I went back to draw out the compliment characters more.
Q: Describe your adaptation process. 
BG: Put on the two different hats. Going to the novel second, I had to always remember I was NOT restricted as to what the camera saw. When writing the novel I violated the rule to always ask “What does this have to do with the character arc or plot.” Consequently, I found I had to do more editing with the novel because I had so many unnecessary words, scenes, etc.
Q: How did you keep the same tone when adapting the novel into screenplay form? 
BG: By keeping the POVs consistent. By always knowing what the input and output to the scenes should/would be. By keeping the mystery of the main character alive. 
Q: Is there background about the characters that you had to simply hint at in the screenplay due to page length restraints? 
BG: Yes. Page length is always the boundary I edit to.
Q: Did you write an outline for the novel? For the screenplay?
BG: Yes. Always. 
Q: Is your intended audience the same or different for the novel and the screenplay? 
BG: No. I don’t think the audience changes. If it does, then my story changes. 
Thanks, Bob!
For more information, visit 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Glass Cases and

Today is the start of a good month! Perhaps I can thank the solar eclipse.

First, Sarah LaPolla, an associate literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd., posted an excerpt of my novel Dimensions on her blog Glass Cases. Sarah features writers on her blog who are not her clients; it's a forum to showcase work of various writers. It's also an excellent blog for anyone interested in publishing and writing. Sarah posts about her own likes and dislikes in books, as well as trends in the publishing world. (Bonus: She's a Buffy fan!) It's a blog I follow regularly, as any writer should!

Another go-to site for writers is With the tagline "Supporting Independent Authors and Publishers", Shawn Graham posts interviews with writers and links to purchase books. Shawn interviewed me about writing, Dimensions and the process of self-publishing. You can read the interview here.

Happy reading and writing!

The Pan Trilogy - Part 2

Last Wednesday featured an excerpt from The Trials of Jonathan Darling, the first book in Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler's The Pan Trilogy, a re-imagining of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Today's two excerpts are from the trilogy's second book, Michael's Ascent.

 Excerpts from Michael's Ascent
co-written by Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler
     John’s mind raced with panic induced adrenaline.  He immediately set to work trying to figure out other ways to return to Neverland without flying, but each idea seemed more stupid than the last.  What was he going to tell Mom and Dad? 
    “Please come take me back,” Wendy droned on, laying sideways on her bed, her eyes still stuck staring out the window.
    “Shut up, Wendy!” John shouted.  “Didn’t you see any of that?  Can’t you see anything?  He lied to you, Wendy!  He lied to all of us.”
    Wendy’s stare continued.  She heard only the wind through the trees, the laughter of the Lost Boys as they cut through the pirates, and the soft curve of Peter’s voice crowing in her memory.  She could not see her room; she did not hear the window shatter or her brother’s cries in the night.  Nothing else existed for Wendy, only Pan.  She could only replay the wonderful times she had with Peter Pan, the love of her life.  Her chest felt tight with longing as something powerful spun webs of longing inside her.
    “I’ll wait right here for you.  I’ll wait fore-“
    “WENDY!” John shouted again, this time taking her by the shoulders and shaking her.  “He’s brainwashed you and his little bitch has taken Michael!  Stop talking to him!  Stop thinking about him!”
    The door of their bedroom swung open and Melissa hurried in with Nana in tow. 
    “Jonathan!” she shouted, “Let go of your sister!”
    John and his sister almost died, his brother may have been dying that instant and Wendy was singing the praises of his murderer.  Melissa’s order fell on a mind too overrun with urgency to make sense of the sound.  Only when Nana pounced on him did he returned to himself.  Wendy kept her gaze out the window.
    “What’s going on in here?!  Jonathan, why are you so dirty, and what happened to your pajamas?”
    John fumbled for an explanation, but nothing sounded real anymore.  Wendy’s murmurs faded to the forefront of action in the otherwise still room as Melissa waited for a response from John.  She turned toward Wendy to hear what she had to say and caught sight of the dark brown bloodstain down the front of Wendy’s pajamas.
    “Oh my goodness, Wendy!  What happened to you?”  she scurried to her and inspected the girl.
    “John, what did you do to her?” 
    It all came flooding back to him.  Peter’s spells were being peeled away like layers of wrapping paper and for the first time since it happened Jonathan remembered clearly. 
    Wendy was shot.
    Wendy died. 
    A wall inside of John was overrun and demolished with emotions.  His knees buckled and he sat hard on the floor, burying his face in his arms folded on top of his knees.  The sobs came out slow at first, but each one pulled out more memories and the sobs became louder.  
    Melissa ran from the room, but Nana stayed.  She sat down beside Wendy’s bed, facing John, making sure to stay between the two children.  Wendy’s hand slowly twirled its fingers around in Nana’s long hair.  Three of her fingertips scratched down to Nana’s skin, which Nana appreciated, while Wendy’s pinky did nothing more than swirl the hair around, still stuck inside the thimble, keeping half of Pan’s talents, magic, and essence locked inside.
    The room was silent.  Sounds of the occasional car passing three stories below intruded on the bedroom through the shattered window and the unmistakable jingle of a toy store commercial came wafting in through the open door, trespassing on their heavy memories.  When Melissa returned she was talking into the telephone.
    “I don’t know, he wasn’t doing anything.  John was shaking Wendy and she has a huge stain on her shirt.  They both look like they’ve been living on the streets.  Their clothes are ruined and their faces are filthy.” She went to Michael’s bed, which John was leaning against, and she gasped. 
    “Where’s Michael?” there was no answer, “John!  Wendy!  Where’s Michael?”
    John was caught up in his memories and Wendy was caught by something stronger.  She just kept mumbling while she looked out the window.  Melissa followed her gaze this time and noticed something out of place.  The window was shattered.
    A gasp escaped Melissa as she ran to the broken and opened window, dropping the phone on the floor.
    “Michael!” she screamed.
    “Michael,” John whispered into his arms.

    Wendy carelessly flung the door closed behind her and sat down at the desk in her room.  She could hear the bass from the band at the bar bumping through the floorboards.  Her break was only fifteen minutes, but that was all the time she needed. 
    Her room wasn’t anything special, just a spare bedroom in the apartment above the bar where she worked.  She had lived there since her parents kicked her out of their house about three years ago.  Her window faced the direction of her childhood home, a detail for which she was immensely grateful.  At night she would stare out of the open window at the top of her old house, hoping to catch a glimpse of him returning. 
    She worked the weekend shift in exchange for the room and whatever tips she earned.  Mitch was always telling her that she could earn way more tips if she’d just unbutton one more button or roll her shirt up a little bit, but Wendy’s devotion to Peter had grown so solid that she was not even interested in trying. 
    She only tolerated Mitch because he gave her a deal on the drugs.  His candy gave her the best dreams she’d ever been able to get since she was actually there.  Everything was so vivid that she forgot ever being home, and those little respites were worth whatever price, even faking it with Mitch.
    Wendy pulled out the plastic sandwich bag from her pocket and took a white pill and scrounged around for the last blue capsule.  She held the pills in her open palm, trying to remember how she felt when he put the thimble on her finger so many years ago.  The thimble now was completely smooth in places that once had been covered in tiny dimples.  With a very practiced motion, she tossed the pills down her throat and instinctively started keeping time with the band by tapping her thimble on the desktop. 
    For a minute or two, that’s all that seemed to happen.  Then, finally, the thimble began to spark with each tap.  A smile crept onto Wendy’s face.  She got up from the desk and followed the sparkling Tinkerbell that somehow sprung out of the thimble.  She was always just out of reach and lead Wendy back downstairs, where she tried to appear sober, but when she got to the bottom of the stairs the thimble was pouring sparks out of the end and Wendy could not help wielding it like a sparkler during the Fourth of July in time with the band on stage.  She was the most radiant conductor the world had ever seen and the band appreciated her so much.
    She resumed her position behind the bar and that’s when he came in, floating on top of someone’s cigarette smoke.  He swam to her and kissed her full on the lips.  He tasted like a spring breeze and his hands were rough and reassuring on the back of her neck.  When he pulled away she felt cool dirt under her feet.  Moss started to spread up and over the bar. 
    “What’s all this, Wendy?”
    “Those are the ingredients to the drinks I mix for people.”
    “They’re so colorful!”
    Someone said something to her from across the bar.
    “One second,” she replied instinctively and turned back to the shelves of liquors behind her, still trying to seem sober while also trying to enjoy her trip. 
    “Mix this one with this one, Wendy!  And add some of the green one!”
    Wendy poured mixture upon mixture, sliding glass after glass back onto the bar.  Until eventually her laugh and Peter’s instructions drowned out the customers, leaving her alone once again with him. 

©Fionnegan Justus Murphy