rsz img 1611I had the privilege of working with some faeries (and one centaur) on a photo shoot for Faeries in the Kitchen, a cookbook by my friend Carmen Staton based on recipes from Dangerous Angels. Carmen and Tracie Jones cooked.  Jasmine Jade, Rachel Lynch and Tonia Cascio modeled. Aurora Lady was the stylist and Augusta Gail was her assistant. The models wore clothing by Fete and Mansfield Lingerie and accessories by Aurora Lady. Gabriella Rose did the make up. Nicolas Sage took the photos. Here are some of my phone shots from the day. Stay tuned to be able to order Faeries in the Kitchen.

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Two years ago at UCLA Extension Studio, where I was teaching Writing the Novel, I met Danishka Esterhazy, a filmmaker with a love of dark fairy tales, and lyrical, high-drama female-empowered stories. I saw her beautiful film clips that did complete justice to the genre I'm so obsessed with, and said, "Let's make a fairy tale movie."

Two years later Danishka approached me via Twitter  (Twitter has radically changed and improved my life--more on that another time) and said, "Let's do this thing."

We picked the story "Bones" from The Rose and the Beast. It's a punky, feminist retelling of Bluebeard. Danishka wrote a script, her producers Ashley Hirt and Rebecca Gibson signed on and then we hit Indie Go-Go for funding.

Thanks to everyone who contributed! We love you!

We came close to our goal and shooting will take place in San Francisco in late August.

This is my new motto, To make your dreams come true, you have to do it yourself. But you don’t have to do it alone.

Love, flb

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Show And Tell

I was once being interviewed about my book The Elementals by the brightly lovely Jennifer Sky for Interview Magazine and she asked me how I "show and tell" in my novels. I said, "I really just try to show." I was thinking of the old adage "show don't tell." She replied, "At my school they taught us that you have to do both. I thought about this and realized she was right. I  had been showing and telling.

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Why The News About Atticus Finch Breaks My Heart

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I'm a big fan of To Kill a Mockingbird.  So, of course it's disturbing to hear that Atticus Finch is portrayed as a racist in Go Set A Watchman.


But this portrayal has been "explained" by some critics who say that his character as it appears in that book is related to a financial exploitationof Harper Lee by her publishers and advisors, as a true portrait of the times and as a counterpoint to grown-up Scout's anti-racist beliefs.

I haven't read Watchmen yet but I can't seem to get over this, in spite of these theories. I'll tell you why--whenever anyone asked me, What fictional character would you want to have dinner/sex/a relationship with I always said Atticus. Not because of handsome Gregory Peck but because of what a great man the CHARACTER was, how he defended Tom Robinson, how he firmly but tenderly taught Scout morals, how he was "feeble...nearly fifty...nearly blind in his left eye" (like me) but somehow managed to seem sexy, maybe partly because of his vulnerabilities contrasted with his moral strength. I really loved him, I think.

I feel personally betrayed, but not by Harper Lee. Some real life men have disappointed me, but that's okay. None of them have been racists, which is quite the deal breaker, don't you think.  Now I need a new literary boyfriend.  But, then, the world needs a lot more important things than that.

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rsz img 1908Francesca’s July Newsletter


Hi and happy Midsummer! I hope you are having some good dreams, and realities!  This is always my favorite time of year. Even when I’m not on vacation and working a lot (see upcoming special event with Black Hill Press below) I like the more relaxed feeling around town and at home as my children can sleep in and don’t have homework.

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I have to admit I've been a bit down lately. I had some surgery, followed by another injury so I'm spending a lot of time in physical therapy. I'm turning to a few important things to help me, namely: reading (especially loved re-reading Beloved by Toni Morrison though it isn't exactly uplifting), watching Mad Men and Downton Abbey, spending time with my beautiful children and my dear friend  Tracey whom I've known for over twenty years, taking cell phone pictures of beautiful everyday things.

You are a big part of my happiness, too.

Love,

flb

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Here I'm going to give examples from WEETZIE BAT to help illustrate my 12 Question Structure

1 and 2: What is the main character’s gift? What is the character’s flaw?

The first question to ask yourself is: What is the main character’s gift? Often my students have written whole first drafts and don't know the answer to this question.Sometimes this is because many first novels are autobiographical and most of us don't really value our own special gifts. Our friends do.  It helps to ask them. Whether your character is based on you or not, usually they do have a special gift, even in a rough first draft, but it may not be developed or externalized enough. Meaning, if your character is intelligent, can you make them even more so? Can you show this intelligence through actions they take rather than just by telling us about it?  For example, can they solve a mystery that pertains to the novel?  In fantasy, paranormal, magical realism and science-fiction these traits can be externalized in dramatic ways. For example, a character can have visions, telepathy, telekinetic abilities or other "superpowers".  In realistic fiction we have to find ways to show a special gift in terms of every day life, and through action! Make sure to make the gift something that can be demonstrated through action, not just through  how the character perceives the world but how s/he interacts in the world.
This is important according to the 'survivalist theory" of storytelling because a reader needs to identify with a main character on an emotional level in order to go on the journey and identify the meaning of the story, at least in a subconscious way. Otherwise we won’t care, we won’t learn, we won’t “survive.”
Also, gifts can be the thing that allow the characters to survive. As readers, our interest is piqued and we begin to wonder how the gift will be employed to help the character survive. The character may not know or recognize the gift but the writer should know it.
An example: In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Scout is strong and loyal.  She is also innocent, which allows her to keep her faith in humanity in spite of everything that happens. Her innocence also helps save Atticus when the mob threatens him.  She is many other positive things (smart, spunky, funny) but for the purposes of this exercise let's focus on the first three traits.  Next week we will look at the character "flaw".  Hint: It works well if it is the negative extreme of the gift.
I’ll give you an example from the book

WEETZIE:  HER GIFT IS TO SEE THE MAGIC AND BEAUTY AND LOVE IN THE WORLD

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Make sure your book is in the best possible shape before you query. Have it read by others. If a few of them have similar negative responses or questions, revise and have them read again. If there are no major consistent issues at this point you’re probably ready.

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When I wrote WEETZIE BAT in the early 1980'S I was obsessed with the color pink, leather motorcycle jackets, leopard prints, vintage prom dresses, beaded cardigans and rhinestone jewelry, engineer boots and creepers. I had no idea that more than a quarter century later not only would I still love these things, but so would at least two more generations of young women. I'm so excited when I see these fashions showing up everywhere. For example, the UK line Shrimps is making leopard coats with pink or blue detachable collars and  TUK (also a UK brand--does that tell you something?) has a pink velvet vegan creeper that Weetzie would love! As I work on developing the Weetzie movie with director Elgin James, it's so fun to imagine Weetzie and her fashions brought to life.  I am even trying to experiment with some of these fashions for myself, although when my 14- year-old daughter saw my pink creepers in the closet she yelped, "Whose are these? They're so ugly! You have to take them back." I wore them anyway, to a Blogcademy event with the amazing, brilliant and beautiful Gala Darling, Shauna Haider and Kat Williams. Because if you can't wear creepers at 52 in a room full of gorgeous, creative young women with glittery bunny or cat  ears, or flower crowns and blue hair, where can you wear them? Come to think of it, I might just get a leopard coat, too.

 

 

 

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Have you ever been afraid of change in your life? I am in a time of immense change.  As I try to finally get the Weetzie Bat movie off the ground with the help of director Elgin James, publish more adult fiction, continue to teach my current students and come up with new class ideas, and build my brand using social media, I often feel overwhelmed. Especially since I'm also a full time mom.  My dream is to build a creative collective in which I teach writing classes, work with my students to publish their writing alongside my own, sponsor social events for writers and other artists, produce  merchandise based on our work and short films and features. When I get afraid that this is too much to take on,  I step outside and look at my garden. This is what I found over the course of a short time:

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