Tag Archives: Novel

How to enjoy a snow day

Let Trillian (rat-cha)  show you (if the vid doesn’t show, go here https://www.flickr.com/photos/128385930@N08/16576073996):

Looking forward to a snowbound writing day. Have an essay on #pitmad to finish, and I’m very excited by my latest novel project, which is already at a strong 25k words.This is the murder book that was supposed to be three novellas about a crime writing program in a small college town, but I liked the uneasy partnership between the two main characters of the first story so much, I decided I wanted to try to write more about them as the most dysfunctional sleuthing partners ever–an unethical true crime writer and her mentally unstable grad assistant. If I can keep the puppy happy and calm, I’d like to think I can push through to a readable full draft by June-July? I’d set my goal sooner, but April is effed by conferences, so I won’t get much done during that month, but all the f2f interaction with other writers is sure to fire up my competitive urges. Cheers!

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2 years, 7 months in the life of a novel manuscript

Today I clicked the clicker, sending the edited novel ms to a very important person. In Feb 2012 I posted my last entry on my old blog, describing what I thought the book would be. I came close. Below, my notes then with what actually happened:

Working title: Willie Judy & The Mystery House

Actual Title: The Juliet

Tell the story in scenes, 3rd person, jumping into different pov for each unit–I think I did that.

keep it lean (70k?)–more like 106k

Plot. dominant story line, chronological, treasure hunt in Death Valley, world’s ugliest couture brooch (cursed? sure, why not)

err, sorta? the whereabouts of The J is one of several mysteries, like why the retired cowboy actor gives away the deed to The Mystery House

subplot1–the history of the brooch and its owners –check

subplot2–the cowboy actor’s career (western movies, tv cop shows, commercials, adult movie cameos) —there is some emphasis on the cowboy actor’s past, but I ended up spending a lot more time on his present


Willie Judy, failed NPS worker, animal lover who can’t stop killing animals. Now shuttles auto parts across the desert. Sometimes refereed to as weasel-girl, owing to sharp features.—yup

Scottie aka Rhys Nash, a Welsh ultra marathon runner, proprietor of the Alkalai Springs Resort (crush on WJ). Profound nose. Never really able to relax. Expects to be disappointed. has pot-belly pigs.–yup. part of my ongoing campaign for more large noses in literature

Tony Jackpot, celebrity gambler from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, co-owner of Alkalai Springs Resort. Brains and a secret.–yes to all, but sadly no room for the secret. also I can’t remember what it was. 

Dawn, Tony’s niece, coerced to work in the ASR kitchens to keep her safe from boys (crush on scottie). –became two characters, Dawn, Tony’s recovering addict daughter, and Hilly, a worker at The Alkalai  with light brain damage. She’s seen a ghost at The Mystery House.

Rigg Dexon/Paul Lattanzi, retired cowboy actor. Convinced he is not long for the world, Dexon signs over The Mystery House to Willie in Part 1, mistaking her indigestion for starstruck admiration. –yup. I was supposed to kill him off in 15 pages, but I liked him so much he kind of took over. 


Death Valley during the Great Bloom of 2005

Alkalai Springs Resort, rustic accommodations, great food, greater bar. THE stop for the Outside Magazine crowd

The Mystery House–shack made famous in a 60s song

yup, yup, yup, plus the ghost town of Centenary (based on Rhyolite).


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I was just in a department meeting where a consulting firm was trying to impress upon us the importance of consolidating our communication efforts. They had specific recommendations that ranged from free to v. expensive, but during the sad, inevitable portion about twitter, instagram, etc, and student participation in such, one of our members (someone younger than me) said, “But how do we know social media works?”

I’ll leave that there.

I haven’t blogged much lately, mostly because I dedicated myself to finishing the novel draft. It’s out to my first line readers. My main worry is the ending and how it doesn’t directly answer the question of the novel.



And Laughter Fell From the Sky, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan

But enough about me! Yesterday saw the release of Jyotsna Sreenivasan’s debut novel, And Laughter Fell From the Sky–it’s a smart, quick paced love story about two Indian-Americans from Ohio, childhood friends who reconnect as adults, and of course, the sparks fly–despite the fact that one of them has agreed to an arranged marriage. It’s a tender, entertaining novel, and it’s not at like all what I usually read. Believe it or not, I won my copy in a goodreads giveaway.

I went to school with Jyotsna in Brimfield and Kent Ohio–first elementary then  later in college. I think she somehow escaped the indignities of our local secondary system. Every few years our paths seem to cross in delightful ways. She’s written  short stories and children’s books, many dealing with second generation and immigrant themes. Check out her blog Second Generation Stories.

I packed it in the attic, but I recently came across a photocopy zine called ANA, in which Jyotsna and I have several poems. I’ll try to hunt it up for giggles.

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The Sliders Connection? A Review at Necessary Fiction

Amye Archer makes some unexpected connections in her review of Death Wishing:

Sliders introduced its audience to societies where men were considered the “weaker sex”, a world where the human race was under threat of destruction by an asteroid, and (in my personal favorite) a world in which the English have won the Revolutionary War. The point is, you never knew where Quinn and his gang were going to pop up. Sadly, Sliders eventually went the way of most Fox shows, and only lasted five seasons. And the sci-fi geek inside of me has been silent ever since. Then, just when it seemed I would never get my geek on again, I met Death Wishing, the new novel by Laura Ellen Scott.

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Largehearted Boy Book Notes: The Death Wishing Playlist

“Laura Ellen Scott’s novel Death Wishing is a clever, fun, and smartly written work of speculative fiction. In New Orleans, people’s dying wishes intermittently come true in this charming and unforgettable comic fantasy that begs to be adapted into a feature film.”-lhb

click the boy. he’s over there–>

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Interview at Art & Literature

In late October 2011 Tara Laskowski talked to me about New Orleans, Death Wishing, Elvis, and criticism for Art & Literature, the literary blog of Raleigh’s Metro Magazine.

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Q&A with Laura Ellen Scott

Laura Ellen Scott’s short fiction is widely published, and a collection, Curio (with illustrations by Mike Meginnis), is available from Uncanny Valley Press. Scott divides her time between the suburbs of Northern Virginia and the mountains of the West Virginia panhandle. She teaches at George Mason University.

Here she answers some questions about her debut novel, Death Wishing, to be released in October, 2011 by Ig Publishing.

Q: What is Death Wishing?

A: What would you wish for the world without you in it? Death Wishing is the phenomenon of uttering final words that can come true. Anyone might be Death Wisher, but not everyone is, and there’s no way to tell. At the beginning of the novel cancer has been eliminated, which is great, but most of the wishes that take hold are fairly eccentric: cats are wished away, the clouds turn orange, and Elvis—the 1968 version—is back.

The Wishing is the backdrop for Victor to tell his story—he’s a divorced, overweight, disgraced tech contractor from the north looking to reinvent himself in New Orleans. He’s losing weight, he’s taught himself how to make capes and corsets for his son’s vintage clothing shop, and he’s flirting with inappropriate women. To everyone else, Death Wishing is a world changer, but to Victor, it’s a huge distraction. At least at first.

Q. Did you start with the Death Wishing concept?

A. No, not at all. Victor’s personal story came first. I’m an on again off again member of a popular weight loss program based on the support group model, and that sort of sharing involves a different kind of storytelling than what I’m used to as a writer, so I wanted to explore that. But I also knew I needed a stronger context, something that non-dieters could understand and enjoy, which is where New Orleans comes in. It seems like an impossible place to be moderate.

The Death Wishing concept emerged a little later when we read that a public relations officer from the Roswell Army base left a sworn affidavit about the presence of alien bodies in 1947. My husband joked about it in a “but saying it doesn’t make it so” kind of way, and that led to my writing a story about David Duchovny discovering alien corpses while researching a movie role. That story, called “The Dusty Bastards,” was once the opening chapter of Death Wishing, but it turned out that the novel could handle Elvis or Duchovny but not both. Eventually the story was published in the online journal jmww and in their best of 2010 print annual, JMWW Anthology V.

Q: Is Death Wishing a Fantasy novel?

A: Only to the extent that I try to capture the sense of being in New Orleans, a city with a definite other-world, fantasy feel. If fantasy means writing that aims to inspire visceral reactions like fear or excitement, then maybe Death Wishing works on that level. Readers tell me the book makes them hungry, which is interesting since I tried to limit the food-porn—not just because it’s a cliché of New Orleans fiction but also because I felt bad enough for Victor, I didn’t want to be waving po’boys under his nose without good dramatic reason.

Death Wishing might not fit into a particularly descriptive genre, but others have suggested that it is literary fiction with elements of urban fantasy and/or magical realism. I wasn’t thinking about genre while writing it. I just wanted to create something funny and emotional. It’s definitely a humid story, there’s no getting away from that.

Q: Why Elvis?

A: I knew one of the wishes had to bring back an historical figure, and Jesus and Abraham Lincoln just aren’t funny. Victor sees himself as a failed father, but through the course of the novel it becomes clear that he’s quite a good dad despite his weaknesses. The Elvis that returns is like that too. He’s a vulnerable god, intelligent and uncertain. He’s the 1968 version in black leather, post army—the comeback Elvis. When he’s wished back into existence his daughter is older than he is. I like him. I think Elvis is often deployed as a symbol of excess, but that’s a little boring. There are brief moments of satire in the book, but I don’t write stories that are detached and ironic.

Q: You like Elvis, and you clearly like Vic. What about the other characters, how do they come to you?

A:  I love all the characters in Death Wishing, even the bad guys like Pere Qua, because they are all just trying to make sense out of capricious fortune, and no one really knows anything. Every character in this novel started as a quick, usually visual impression of a real person, usually someone I don’t know at all. Except Victor—he started as a voice experiment. Early versions of Vic were much more affected than he is now, I think because I had just finished reading the first Dexter book by Jeff Lindsay. I knew I wanted Victor to embody complicated feelings about aging appetites, and that he needed to be ruminative in every part of his life. But the other characters had to be put in motion before I figured them out. The toughest were Victor’s son Val and Pebbles, the bad blues singer who Victor has a crush on. Attractive people are hard for me to interrogate. How do romance writers do it?

Q: You are working with a real setting, and at times, real people as characters in Death Wishing. Did you research the book?

A. I’m from Ohio, and I now live in Fairfax, Virginia where I teach at George Mason University. I went to graduate school at ULL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) when it was still USL, and that was a very important period for my writing, so in a sense those were the years I spent in research—well before the book was even imagined. We love Louisiana, and we try to visit once or twice a year, but I would never characterize those trips as research. Research doesn’t involve that much drinking.

I tried to be responsible, but I don’t think being accurate is as important as being evocative, and I needed to squeeze my own invented businesses and homes onto some very well known streets. In doing so I played fast and loose with what was geographically possible. As I told one reader, please don’t use my novel as a walking guide to the French Quarter! Plus music clubs are always changing—I think my description of Snug Harbor still works, but I know The Spotted Cat became Jazzbeaux’s for a while, and now it’s The Spotted Cat Music Club with an updated interior design, which renders my version of the club unrecognizable.

Q: What would be your Death Wish?

A: Sometimes I wish animals could talk, but I’m sure they’d be horrible—racist, selfish, all that, like super models. I wish tesseract travel were possible. I wish Whoville were a real place. Maybe a fair, secular Santa Claus? Wow, these are all pretty immature.

A great thing about the concept of Death Wishing is that it makes us equals. I watched three professors and a ten year old have this great, really sophisticated conversation about Death Wishing—what was possible, practical, etc. I loved that, but I didn’t feel brave enough to chime in. In the same vein, my friend has been asking folks for years: if you could have a superpower, what would it be? And I’m the only one who hasn’t been able to answer the question. I take it too seriously. I’ll need to ask my three-year-old god-daughter. She’s good at decisions.

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Death Wishing Launched at Fall For the Book Festival in Fairfax, Va

Here I am at the debut reading of my debut novel, Death Wishing. This took place in Fairfax, Virginia at the Fall For the Book Festival.

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