Thursday, December 24, 2009

Golden Storms

Last evening I sat in awe of the setting sun. Shrouding the mountains, inky menacing storm clouds commanded the northern sky. Twilight came consumed in darkness.
Until I really looked.
And then I saw.

The setting sun cast filtering golden streams of light. The glint of yellow lined the blackness. It presented itself in layers, both in front of the dark ominous clouds, and beyond them. It lived, symbiotic within the storm. It wasn’t bright. It didn’t pop off [the page].

Nature is in conflict.

Life is in conflict.

A good read is in conflict. Evil and goodness coexist as do despair and hope. Under the scrutiny of those who see, they will be in every scene.

For 2010 I wish you
the full vision in your first version,
and winnowed vision in your final version.
Merry Christmas to you & yours!

'Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.'
                                                                          -Edward Thorndike-

Saturday, December 5, 2009

John Hancock and The Kindle

Who can forget the elegant penmanship of John Hancock, as evidenced by his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence?

The art of calligraphy has gone the way of the windmill, except for a few formal invitations one might receive each year. Kids graduating college can hardly write. I know my own printing and cursive skills have deteriorated to mere chicken scratches to make room for the keyboard.

A good friend, the director of the music department at the University of Arizona, equates the loss to something like our children growing up in a world changed from analog to digital sound. Many will never hear a ‘real’ note played.

And reading? Librarians confirm that fewer and fewer children are checking out books. The publishing industry has been snubbing and resisting the inevitable, kicking and screaming all the way into their own red books. And the debate is a worthy one. The Kindle and its relatives are certainly more inviting when it comes time to move your 1,500 book library. And you don’t have to run out in the morning rain to pick up your soggy paper. You can instantly look up words, translate paragraphs, and highlight. Heck, now you don’t even have to read your books. They’ll read to you.

The argument? Let’s talk about the senses.

Olfactory comes to mind first. We won’t smell the rich tang of leather and yellowed papers in an electronic reader library.

Moving on to vision. They say the new generations offer glare-free viewing. Outside, in the desert or with blinding sun on snow? [Although everyone can agree the optional enlarged print is nifty if you’re fifty!]

Touch is easy. If we argue that lighter is better come moving day, what about weight being better, just because? The feel of that leather, and the sometimes crimping binding. Soft gilded or sawn edges of the pages. Dog ears. REAL dog ears that pop up.

I’ve mentioned you can have your books and newspapers read to you, so will young parents drop their Kindles off at their toddler’s bedside to read them a story?

Next comes taste. And I guess it really is a matter of just that. Where would John Hancock stand?

Gotta go. I’m running low on batteries. Is that a problem, anyone?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Memory Mountain

Every man's memory is his private literature. ~Aldous Huxley

I'm submerged in memories today. When writing, I must rely on memories to get at real emotion. Joy, shock, love, rage, hurt, pain. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Many years ago, I decided to create what I call Memory Mountain. Each side of the mountain is built-up with good memories on one side, and the bad on the other. Every time I have a flashback that stirs me, I put it on the mountain. If my mountain starts looking more like a cliff, it's time for me to push myself to build up the other side. I share this with you because I think it is a great tool for everyone, especially if we find ourselves having little pity parties. It works equally well when our bubbles get too big.

My characters must have memories in order to live. It's my job, before writing 'Once upon a time', to climb their Memory Mountain. Stamina and fallibility coexist, as do perfection and flaws, goodness and evil. We are humans, and my characters are humans, too. They are multi-dimensional. Think about the Tooth Fairy [played by Ralph Fiennes] in the movie Red Dragon. [Adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris] He's an insane and ruthless killer, and yet he takes the blind Reba [Emily Watson] to 'see' the sedated tiger. We are plucked from his evil world and into the poignant moment as Reba strokes the tiger's lush coat, touches his cold, moist nose, and feels the power of his rib cage.

What does your Memory Mountain look like? Is it a cliff or a rolling hillside? Maybe it's in 3-D, with several layers of peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

"Our bad memories our like land mines. Unfortunately, we are the ones that step on them. Over and over again." ~Lala Corriere

I wish you to walk upon plenty of cotton candy.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing to a Market

My opinion. Don't.

Upon the sage advice of a well-respected agent, I invested over a year in writing to the series market. He liked the protagonist I created. I liked her, too. And publishing houses like series.

Several well read authors follow the series blueprint successfully. Clive Cussler has Dirk Pitt. For James Patterson, it's his detective Alex Cross, and Janet Evanovich writes Stephanie Plum.

The second manuscript in my to-be series featuring the same protagonist has only one slight problem. It sits, unfinished.

I use the tool of character boards. I have a plot in mind, and maybe even a detailed story outline, but before I can proceed to write a single page I must first have intimate knowledge of the characters I'm writing about. I have to love them and hate them before I can share them with my readers, or they aren't going to love them and hate them. I need to know my characters so that my readers can see, hear and touch them as I do. It has taken you a long time to find the forever-friendships in your life. You have spent years growing these friendships into a deeper existence of 'Namasté' . I need to speed things up a bit.

The process goes like this. First, I paste a barrage of photograph clippings from old magazines that closely resemble the physical attributes of each character. Then I interview each character, even secondary ones. I need to know where they went to school, where they've lived, what they graduated in, what their hobbies are, and what they like for dinner. I drill down further. I learn their quirks, their regrets, their nightmares and dreams. I need to know despicable things about the sweetest girl in class. Only then have I dug deep enough to discover the authenticity of GMC [goal, motivation, and conflict].

It doesn't take long to discover your enemies, does it? But to truly understand their GMC, the writer must treat them with the same amount of authentic intimacy. Sometimes that means finding a thread of tenderness in evil.

The parting of ways with a beloved or despised character is always bittersweet. But, as when I moved from my home state of Colorado, I took my beloved friends with me in my heart and soul, and all of what is me. Namasté .

'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.'

                                                                                                                       -Robert Frost-

For me, I lose an element of surprise and emotion when I continue with the same characters facing new sagas.

Then again, there's my second humble opinion. Never say never.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Critic and the Creative

I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to bite off the hand that feeds me. This blog is not about dissing critics and reviewers. Believe me, I have a boatload of my own not-so-humble opinions that I’m happy to divulge, and oddly, not everyone agrees with me.

Critics and reviewers have their place, rightfully. Judgment raises its voice every day, in the art world, the cinema, and in every written word. Even your inner critique engages you when you make your choice. Will it be Rice Crispies or Cocoa Puffs?

One of my manuscripts went before several ‘outside professional reviewers’. One person wrote, “I would read anything by this author”. Another wrote that he couldn’t get through my first chapter of crap. Hard to believe they were reading the same material!

It’s curious to me, this large percentage of C&R’s that have never pitched their own finished creations. Because they have none!
It’s curious to me, what power they yield. A critic sees a red vertical line painted on a black canvas and says it’s crap, but when he sees the red horizontal line on a black canvas, he knights it as genius. A star is born. Stephen King received the following critique/rejection for his bestselling novel, Carrie: “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

I was lucky. My mother and father both fostered my creativity. I would run to them and say, ‘Look what I did’, and always, I did GREAT! Imagine my surprise when I found out that some of what I did was crap.
To take a blank canvas and turn it into emotion, that’s the hard work. Hard work is taking an empty stage and creating life, and turning a ream of paper into comedy and tragedy.

For you, today, I wish creativity. Perhaps it’s the rock you position in your garden, just right. Maybe its adding a few lines to the store-bought greeting card you send out. Perhaps creativity is only a glimpse of inspiration today, that stirs you when you take a hard look at a crooked tree in silhouette with the inky skyline. You may not go home and paint it. You may not journal about your sighting. But your heart , somewhere down in there, has taken notes, and if you listen to it, may it sing.

Oh yeah. I still wait in judgment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Mom's Fridge

'Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.'

-Helen Keller-

Mom passed away last year. I'll spare you the details. No, I won't. She died 15 months, 30 days, 16 hours ago. My husband says I do grief real well.

I've moved on with my memories. Some good. Some bad.

I woke up this morning thinking about my mom's fridge.

Every cubic inch spewed with surprises. Leftovers of hearty meatloaf, potato salad, and jammed-in pizza boxes. A sticky bottle of maraschino cherries. Ingredients of churned butter, whipping cream, and eggs begging to go into Mom's hands, with a cupful of sugar, and baked into a mouth-watering pie. A spray can of whipped topping sometimes fell into my mouth before the pie was done.

Also inside, some bad surprises. Green blotchy cheese. Stinky trout with their heads still on, their eyes reflecting their last vision of certain death. And speaking of eyes, Mom would store cauliflowerettes in a tub of water. They didn't look like anything from our vegetable garden. I knew for certain they were disintegrating eyeballs!

I had the normal childhood. No pony for my birthday, but no dead bodies in the backyard, either.

In the opening quote Helen Keller infers we must endure the bad in order to become the good. As a writer of suspense I am constantly delving deep into my past, real and imagined, in order to bring a third, matrix-like dimension to the blank page. Keller's simple but poignant statement calls out to me to reign through each character, each setting, all dialogue and the absence of it.

It's an ominous and exciting challenge. I am inspired by Keller to see more than the eyes can bare witness.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hurry Up & Wait!

This frustrating phrase is never more true than in the publishing industry.

I once wrote an article about a 44 year old woman. To be fair, I was warned by my editor not to include anything that would time-stamp the material. The finished article was immediately approved for publication by the magazine. We waited 9 months to see it hit the stands. Upon reviewing it I noticed that my words had been changed to read 'a woman in her forties'. I guess even my editor wasn't sure when it would run.

Now I wait with one of my full manuscripts in the hands of what I believe is my dream-team literary agency.

I wait as they read every word. Interpret every space of white. For seasoned pros much of it is instinct, I'm sure, but they all use a similar rating system, if you will: Originality. Setting. Characters. Dialogue. Plot. Oh yeah, and quality of writing, too. Go figger!

This isn't exactly true in non-fiction books where you can pre-sell on an outline, assuming you have a strong platform. I've considered writing a non-fiction but I don't think it's for me. I like to lie and make shit up.

Oh, one more thing, I have a potty mouth that translates, I think rather well, to the written page. There are rules on that, too. More, later.

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." ___Mark Twain

Monday, June 29, 2009

Show, Don't Tell!

This blog is about a writer’s life. Mine, in particular.
Today I’m stumbling. Not writer’s block. Social etiquette.
Today I speak for writers one and all!
Have you ever asked your professor how much money he earned last year? How about your favorite grocery clerk? Your clergyman? Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief?
Why, oh why, does everyone want to know how much money a writer makes? Are they planning on writing the next great world-class novel, becoming an agent, or competing in the freelance market? Maybe they just want us to pick up the lunch tab.
They want to know if we are serious writers. When they see us out and about they deduce we're not working and therefore writing must be a hobby. If they don’t see us out and about they assume we’ve become recluses. Does The Shining come to mind?

I think Burton Rascoe, famous for his quotes with good reason, said it best.
“What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.”

Hard to get paid by the hour for that.

Thank my lucky stars my husband understands. And it can't be easy!

BTW, I shop at Walmart and Neiman Marcus.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The 'M' Word

OK, guys, chill out! I'm not talking Marriage here. 'M' is for marketing.

But writers protest. 'Not me, I'm an artiste. Marketing is so bourgeois. Boring. Bothersome.'
Move over, ego. Get humble, get real, and get busy!

Everybody has something to sell. Shrinks sell hours with a lick, a promise, and serious pharmaceuticals. Garbage men sell out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Churches sell redemption.
The fact isn't going away. If you're going to succeed you need to sell. The sticky icky part is that you're selling your talent, true or imagined. That annoying little detail quickly rises to the top of the quicksand of procrastination.

I published an article on an extraordinarily successful living artist. An oxymoron at its finest. “Obviously he’s a huge talent," says a collector. "He doesn't hesitate to promote his work"..."in this competitive market you can’t sit around and wait to be discovered." Full article link below.

Is it beyond your comfort zone, this marketing? Probably. Johnny Mathis sings it best in my all-time favorite song, Arianne. '...what a writer has to feel like when suddenly he's discovered he's been read.' To listen to the lyrics see link below.

We are our commodity. Some will embrace our driven souls. Some will scoff. All will know we're up at bat!

My pitch today? I'm tweeting a character interview. Find me on Twitter @ lalacorriere.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Let's Get Cereus!

I get a lot of advice from sage publishing industry gurus. Some tell us writers to find our own unique voice. Others say to get commercial. Write stuff that pisses people off. Write stuff that shocks people. Write stuff that pisses people off and shocks them.
A highly touted New York agent once told me he loved my writing but wasn’t sold on the story. His equal in California said she loved my story but wasn’t ‘swept away’ by my writing. Same manuscript. What do I do? Write in a conforming genre to please agent number one, or change my writing voice to appease agent number two?
Get serious! I’m taking my lead from nature. Roses are aromatic long bloomers on the bush, but wilt quickly when cut. Growers found success in producing a rose with a wider, stronger stem, but the manipulation had its price. The roses were no longer fragrant.

Tonight is pure magic in the Sonoran Desert. It’s the Night Bloom. Occurring only one night each year, the magnificent Night Blooming Cereus Cactus unfolds and puts on its show. Tomorrow, except for the efforts of gifted photographers and inspired artists’ hands, their beauty is gone for another year. What keeps us longing for this fleeting beauty, and why do we tend the plant so carefully for a year when we know its gift is so short-lived?
I think the Night Bloom writes its own story, and it tells us that story in its own special way.

So what do I do about agent number one and agent number two? I’m cereusly thinking about cloning them together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The New Web is Up!

My new website is up. There are a few WYSIWYG glitches but frankly I'm sick of being a computer-tech-wanna-be and back to my writing, where I can better manipulate my outcomes.

I do hope you'll check me out at

Memorial Day has come and gone and we're off and running toward a wonderful, and oh yes, hot desert summer.

I wonder how many people REMEMBER today.

How many still have the Christmas spirit?

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Master of Suspex?

It's pretty easy word-math.

Suspense. That's what I write.
Suspects. That's that list of possible bad boys. And girls.
Sex. That's what I write and my husband has fun editing.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Letter of Recommendation

As promised, I'd like to share the letter of recommendation I received from my former literary agent. I'm hoping to find THE BEST agent representing suspense/romantic elements!


The Claudia Menza & Manie Barron Agency
511 avenue of the americas, #51, NEW YORK, NY 10011
(212) 889-6850

April 21, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to recommend to you author Lala Corriere.

In this challenging economy I have decided to streamline my author representation by focusing on my areas of expertise, African American and literary authors.

Unfortunately I have authors who do not fit this profile. Ms. Corriere is one of those talents. She writes romantic suspense. Editors I work with have likened her writing to that of Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. Ms. Corriere has also earned the respect and a highly favorable quote from Sidney Sheldon.

I urge you to take a serious look at Ms. Corriere’s compelling writing. I feel certain there is a place in this market for her talent.

Ms. Corriere has record of the editors and comments on the submissions I made on her behalf. This will serve as notice to you that our mutual author/agent representation is no longer valid.

Manie Barron
Menza Barron Agency

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Here I am!

My guru marketing son finally convinced me it was time to start blogging. I kept thinking there were too many blogs and too little time. But I've been asked by enough avid readers & writers, and nudged by those in the know, until I was pushed off my little twig.

Now, if you'll join me, let's soar together as I share a writer's life with you. We'll look at some of my most popular characters, antagonists and protagonists! You'll see how wicked my mind can be and why I keep listening to a CD, 101 Ways to Commit Murder, over and over again. You'll see the rocky road and tough spine it will take to get published. Less than one percent of persons that say they are going to write a book actually FINISH it! But, alas, that's the easy part. It's like giving birth to a baby. Now that you have it, the work has only begun, and so has the joy, the nurturing, and the love!

Today I'll share with you what most already know. Last year was the worst year in my life. I shut down. I could barely focus enough to write emails to my closest inner circle of family and friends.

But that is behind me and I vow never to do this [to myself] again.

I am like a candle. All writers are, I should think.

If there is no flame, the candle is still a candle. True to its nature. Its purpose. The core of its being stands ready to be lit afire. But it can only bring mesmerizing intrigue and enchantment when two things happen. Always. It must be set afire. And the flame must be witnessed. This then fullfills its simple purpose. Its destiny.

BTW, for those whom frequent my website, it is slowly being revamped but a lot of its content will be posted here.

Next up I'll share an amazing letter of recommendation I have as I begin my search for a new literary agent.

My candle is lit. Come fly with me!