Ways to Kill Women in the Opium Den

This morning at Starbucks, I saw my friend Maureen Sherbondy. She and her laptop are a fixture at the local Opium Den. She’s a poet and a short story writer, and she is really cranking on a novel. She makes me feel like a slacker, she works so hard. We had one of our usual conversations:
Maureen: I had to kill her.
Me: Yeah, I know what you mean. How did you do it?
Maureen: She bled to death. I think it was because she once had a polyp removed.
Me: Good one. Mine had placenta previa and since I’d kidnaped her and stuck her in a cabin with a teenaged girl who had no idea how to help her, she bled to death, too.
We continued in that vein for a while, while nearby customers  quietly gathered their things and moved to seats far away from us. I guess we should be glad no one called the police.
So, I’m still working on this backstory chapter. I’ve cut some parts, but I also realized I needed to add a scene during which Laurel bonds with Jamie’s brother, Marcus. That’s what I’m working on tonight.
I did take a break to watch a cute movie with John, who returned this evening from Kansas where he was directing a trade show film about ethanol plants. (I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know about ethanol). Anyway, the movie was Kinky Boots, a British flick about a shoe factory that’s about to go under until the owner decides to make boots for transvestites. Can you just imagine a screenwriter pitching that idea to a producer? LOL. It’s one of those tame little movies with a feel-good ending and some gently delivered moral messages, but it went off in a few unpredictable directions which made it fun and, at one or two points, poignant. I give it three lighthouses.
1 LH blue.jpg
2 LH blue.jpgNow, back to my bonding scene.


  1. Rob Lopresti on May 18, 2007 at 12:05 am

    I loved the conversation. And the audience reaction..

  2. Diane Chamberlain on May 18, 2007 at 12:16 am

    I know that sort of conversation is right up your alley, Rob.

  3. Margo on May 18, 2007 at 9:24 am

    If Marcus is as nice a guy as Jamie, I hope you don’t decide to kill him off too Diane (LOL)! I’ll never forget that death scene in CEECEE WILKES which you described to Maureen…it was so real and I felt for both women. I think it’s great Maureen hangs out at Starbucks too and you can talk about WIP. If I was sitting nearby and heard you two, I’d probably walk up to you and ask ‘what’s up’?…I can be pretty inquisitive. (-:

  4. Diane Chamberlain on May 18, 2007 at 11:53 am

    >>I’d probably walk up to you and ask ‘what’s up’?…I can be pretty inquisitive.

  5. brenda on May 18, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Sounds so intriguing. How do you concentrate in public like that?
    Margo—are the pictures you sent me painted or photographed. Good grief girl-you are ultimately talented.
    Good news: My daughter, the mother of a 7, 6, and 2 year old–is working on stories and a book…she amazes me…I am at this moment in time going through withdrawal from work-the school year ends June 11th..and I am worn out…graduation is over…I have lost interested in writing my columns, retyping my old columns for the project, my Vietnam book-you name it-I work and read…
    Next weekend-a weekend in OHIO at a triatholon, etc…with my son and daughter and the girls (He does the swim, bike, etc. in the hills)
    I’ll get my groove back a little later.
    Take care–we are in the midst of my son moving from Ohio to the south—my daughter and her trips here-and mine out there…and so on…
    I have some ideas for writing-no energy…
    D. Be careful with those conversations or we might see you on America’s Most Wanted.. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    I am so excited to read this book…

  6. brenda on May 18, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Girls-I am glad that D. C. is down to earth and sharing her journey with us. We sound like groupies-but we really are not. We are admirers of a great author…a wonderful person (I can tell from her blogs). Also-D. I agree with you about the therapy. My minor was Psychology…and I took tons and tons and tons of classes. My professor, later my fiance, now my ex-fiance, wanted me to major in psychology and become a psychologist-I wanted to teach…I do not think that the problems ALWAYS lie in what happened in the PAST…sometimes…not always…

  7. Maureen on May 18, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    I laughed reading this. Sometimes I forget what I’m talking about in public, sometimes people are listening in and give strange looks. People assume it’s real life stuff, and have no idea how much of our lives are spent with imaginary characters. Lately I have been wondering why we spend so much of our time in these made up worlds with invented characters. After I killed off my character I mourned for her, felt sad the rest of the week.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on May 18, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    brenda, you deserve a break, but i have a feeling you’ve forgotten how to take one!
    you’re right–problems are not always rooted in the past. but often, even if they are, it doesn’t matter as far as treatment goes. a person has a phobia about elephants, let’s say, and spends years in therapy (not to mention $$) during which he finally remembers seeing, as a child, an elephant step on his grandfather’s toe. does that mean he’ll no longer be afraid of elephants? maybe, maybe not. either way, there are techniques that could have freed him from the phobia in weeks, if not days. When i was a therapist for an HMO (which meant i saw a patient two or three times if i was lucky), i had to study brief interventions or do no good at all. i hasten to add, not all issues are easily resolved, but many are.
    i’ll get off my soapbox now!

  9. Diane Chamberlain on May 18, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    maureen, i know what you mean about mourning. they feel so real to us. that’s a good thing, though. if we’ve done our job well, our readers will feel the same way.

  10. Margo on May 21, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Brenda, the pics I e-mailed you are of my paintings. Hope you enjoyed them!

  11. brenda on May 23, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    D.-how on earth do you concentrate on writing in a public place? I have wondered that.

  12. brenda on May 23, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Margo-I can’t believe those pictures are paintings-girl, you are absolutely so talented. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!! When my “ship comes in” (an old saying), I’d love to have one of your paintings…don’t hold your breath at all. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Diane Chamberlain on May 23, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    brenda, i can concentrate at starbucks much more easily than i can at home. weird, i know. but stopping work to talk to people IS a problem. these days i feel really rude. i need to wear a t-shirt that says “busy, sorry. i’ll talk to you again in july.”

  14. Margo on May 24, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Brenda, your so nice! Thanks so much for the compliment. I’m already thinking of things I want to paint in Nantucket & I haven’t even seen the place! Knowing that it’s a beautiful Island I’m going to collect as much info as possible while I’m there so I can come home and paint the beach scenes I have depicted in my head. One of my shows this summer is at a Lake community we use to visit every summer when I was a child so the ‘beach theme’ will be alot of what I sell (hopefully).
    LOL Diane…for some reason it’s very hard for me to picture you as ‘rude’…you always take time for us which is very much appreciated.

  15. Diane Chamberlain on May 24, 2007 at 10:06 am

    margo, how do you work? do you take lots of photographs of a place (nantucket, for example) and then work from them at home?

  16. Deborah on May 24, 2007 at 10:09 am

    This was great. Your brother told me my blog today @ http://www.criminalbrief.com reminded him of this blog of yours. We are of kindred spirit. Continued success with your writing!

  17. Diane Chamberlain on May 24, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Deb, I stopped by your blog post. Yep, we definitely think alike!

  18. Margo on May 24, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Diane, I work 2 ways. First I always have a sketchpad/watercolor pad with me at all times (even on my beside table) so when I see something that strikes me I can sketch it/paint it with what I call ‘thumbnail sketches’…I also have my camera with and take pics constantly. From my thumbnail sketches and from photos I create a final product drawing and from there, I lightly sketch it onto canvas or watercolor board to make a painting. This is the way I work for landscape or oceanscape paintings. If I’m going to paint an animal portrait, I work from good photographs of the animal in order to see all the detail of the fur, eye color, etc. HOWEVER, I have to admit that I have done some free-style drawings of my own dogs, (no photos used) where my pet was in a remarkable pose I liked and I drew him/her ‘live’…some of these I was so pleased with because I caught their ‘mood at the moment’ that I went ahead and framed them and have them hanging in our home. While in Nantucket, I will have my sketchpads, pencils and paints with me so I can do quick thumbnail paintings on the beach (or wherever I happen to be) and make notes about colors, mood etc. at that particular moment. My camera will be used constantly too. When I get back home I will work in my studio to create finished canvas paintings. Hopefully some of my thumbnail watercolors will turn out well enough to hang or sell. Several years ago Gary and I were in Cannon Beach, Oregon (LOVE IT THERE!!) and I did a ‘quik’ thumbnail watercolor of the sun setting over the ocean…I liked the mood I caught at the moment and have it framed & hanging at home so you never know what will become a finished piece, and what will become a ‘study’ for a future painting. Now that I’ve practically written a book on my technique aren’t you sorry you asked? LOL

  19. Margo on May 24, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Diane, the CARDINAL I gave you was done 2 ways. I was on my friend’s deck and he wanted to join us for a chat. He just looked like he had something to say so I grabbed my pad & pencil, made sketches and notes on color, and actually managed to get a photo taken of ‘that look’ he had. He was gorgeous and funny at the same time walking around that deck that I just had to get home and paint him. That’s when I decided to try out my new watercolor pencils!

  20. Diane Chamberlain on May 24, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    the cardinal really is a little character. i just love him.
    save what you wrote in your post here (#18) so you can use it when you finally get around to building your website–it’s interesting to a non-artist like me to hear how you work. what was most striking to me about nantucket were the little streets of darling cottages. you’re going to have a great time.

  21. Margo on May 24, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Ok, I’ve saved comment #18. I never thought about it before because it’s such an everyday thing to me; to have pad, pencils & watercolors with me at all times. I’m sure my language of ‘thumbnail sketches’, ‘studies’ , ‘free-style’ would mean absolutely nothing to alot of people so when I talk this way, I should probably be more conscious about it. This blog just made me aware of that fact so next time I am at a show, I will remember to explain these terms to people who are curious and ask me questions. It’s kind of like a computer wizard talking to me in their lingo and I have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.
    I can’t wait to see the cottages! Sure hope I can squeeze in everything I want to see in 1 weeks time!

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