Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Georgia Jeffries "Little Egypt"

Excerpt from “Little Egypt” by Georgia Jeffries
Photo by Gay Degani

A scream came from somewhere.  Did it belong to her?  When she was in the maternity ward panting through twenty-two hours of labor, she never heard her own voice.  The other mothers were moaning, wailing, pleading for any painkiller the nurse could deliver.  Not her, not then.  When her boy was born she closed her eyes and transported herself to another planet far, far away where there was not a weak-willed woman in sight.  Another scream wrenched the air.  Deeper this time.  Primal. 

Herbie looked over his shoulder just as the young black man attacked, pummeling his body like a speed bag at Gold’s Gym.  Ginger fell back, smashing into a wall of fine spirits and fashionable cosmopolitan glasses on the mirrored display.  By the time she found her balance, Dante lost his.  Her son lay on the floor, his limbs jerking like a mad marionette. 

The first time Ginger saw such a sight was in Vegas when a high roller on a winning streak suddenly jackknifed into overdrive after tipping her five hundred bucks.   He whirled around like a spinning top then collapsed on the poker table.  Chips sprayed across a surprised dentist from Des Moines who held a full house, but thanks to Lady Luck, was about to win big because the guy with the royal flush suffered a seizure.  What were the odds? 

The second time she saw that same strange dance her only child almost died because she was too stoned to know what was happening.  Tonight, she knew.  Kneeling next to Dante, she turned him over just like they taught her. Grabbed the bar towel to elevate his head.  Pressed her ear to his heart to make sure he was breathing.  And then she felt her hair being torn by its roots as Herbie dragged her from her son’s side.

The Rochelle Staab Questions asked of Georgia

What was the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

My weirdest day in L.A. was my first.  Almost nine years old and burning to see Disneyland, I arrived in the back seat of my parents’ Buick on our first family trip west.  But Sleeping Beauty’s castle had to wait. The premier place on my folks’ travel agenda?  Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Early in the morning we were at the head of a long line to view the rainbow colored stained glass depiction of The Last Supper.  Afterwards we were ushered along with a million other tourists into a vast hallway to see “the largest canvas painting in the world”, The Crucifixion of Christ.  In the afternoon we made it across town to ogle the famous footprints embalmed in concrete in front of the Chinese Theater.  I wasn’t too impressed with the feet in the cement.  But I do remember a beautiful wild-haired woman sauntering down Hollywood Boulevard like she was the queen of the world.  She wore tight belted short shorts, ankle-strapped wedgies and the skimpiest midriff top I had ever seen.  Wow.  Jesus at dawn, Jezebel at dusk.  Peoria couldn’t hold a candle to the City of Angels.

Available at Amazon
Do you have a yet-to-be-realized L.A. dream?

More than one.  But dreams are like birthday wishes.  If you tell, they won’t come true.

Why write short stories?  Why write at all? What’s in it for you?

I love the short story form and those twisted cliffhanger endings that grace the best.  Why write?  Why not?  All those words are mirrors of our experience and hard-won survival techniques on planet earth.

What is the biggest challenge in writing to theme?

I don’t write to theme.  I write to character.  “Little Egypt”, my short story in LAst Resort, was finished several months before SinC/LA members were invited to submit our work to the anthology competition for consideration.  Synchronicity in action.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

All the characters I write about are faceted reflections of people who have crossed my writer’s path.  Everything is story material.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods.  Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

“Little Egypt” is set in Hollywood – as much metaphor as it is geographical location – until the protagonist decides to escape to a safer place.  The “neighborhood” moves with our main characters.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life – yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

A little of each, leavened with a whole lot of imagination.  Plus I’d been wanting to write about a mother and son, each wounded by injustice, saving each other.

What came first, the character or the plot?.

Character always.  See above.

While you’re writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or…?

I like to listen to birdsongs in the trees outside my writing room window.  Otherwise, silence please.

Favorite writing quote—yours or from someone else…

Mine: The writing life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Pace yourself.

William Faulkner: “The past is not dead.  It is not even past.” 

Your writing ritual begins with…

Tall cups of tea, Earl Grey with vanilla almond milk or cherry sencha straight.

About Georgia Jeffries
Photo by Maia Rosenfeld

Georgia Jeffries cracked TV’s glass ceiling as a writer-producer of multiple Emmy-Award winning series, the first individual woman writer honored with a WGA Television Award for Episodic Drama.  She created original pilots and movies for HBO, Showtime, ABC, CBS, NBC and is now adapting the NY Times best-seller, 72 Hour Hold.  In addition to her short fiction, she is currently writing the novel, Malinche for Adaptive Books.  A professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, she just completed a supernatural thriller based on the true events behind her aunt’s murder in the Illinois heartland.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author G.B. Pool "Method Actor"

Excerpt from “Method Actor” by G.B. Poole

He said I had it in me, that killer instinct. But he couldn’t have known about Gloria. That happened when I was sixteen. Water under the bridge, like they say… and Gloria, too. The producer said I was what he was looking for. Somebody who could kill his wife with a smile on his face. He offered me a part in his latest movie if I could come to California and didn’t lose that sharp edge. He told me that twice.

The Rochelle Staab Questions

What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

Not the weirdest, but a totally Welcome To LA story – I was taking acting classes from Rudy Solari and Guy Stockwell when I first came to California back in the 70s. I wanted to learn how to write dialogue and acting class seemed like a great place to do that. My acting partner and I were given a scene from The Odd Couple. We were to play the leads. Instead of Felix and Oscar, we became Felicia and Esther. We practiced until we knew it backwards then decided to take the “act” on the road. We went to a local Hollywood bar where actors hung out. We went in in character. Karen, playing the rather “out there” Esther hit on all the guys. I, the shy and retiring Felicia, kept telling her to stop embarrassing me. When asked what I wanted to drink, I said a Harvey Wallbanger, but I asked what it cost. When the bartender told me the price, I acted shocked and said I didn’t want to buy drinks for the entire bar. He said it was my drink alone. I fumbled in my change purse and still kept telling Esther to stop making a scene. When the bartender put the drink in front of me, I wiped down the bar with a hankie. He stopped and said in a very loud voice, “Talk about ‘the odd couple.’” I broke out laughing and we told everybody what we were doing. I didn’t have to pay for my drink that night or any time we ever went back. We were a hit. Rudy liked the scene we did in class, too. Later, he started The Solari Theater in Brentwood. He actually put on The Odd Couple with women in the lead. Sally Struthers ended up doing it on Broadway, but Karen and I did it first.

Do you have a yet-to-be realized L.A. dream?

One of my series, either The Johnny Casino Casebook series or the Chance McCoy stories from Second Chance, turned into a TV series.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

I teach a class: The Anatomy of a Short Story. I tell my students that a short story has all the elements Aristotle said should be in a story: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, and a Theme. I like being able to put all those elements into a 25-50 page story. If I have more to say, I write a novel.

What is the biggest challenge in writing to theme?

Trying to guess what the editors of the anthology are really looking for.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

In “Method Actor,” no. He’s totally from my imagination. In my detective series, all three of them -The Johnny Casino Casebook series, The Gin Caulfield P.I. series (Media Justice, Hedge Bet and Damning Evidence), and Second Chance featuring Chance McCoy-, since I used to be a private detective in real life, I use some of what I learned on the job in those stories.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

I bring a New York actor out to Los Angeles because he believes what he sees in the movies. I let him experience the difference between The Big Apple and the desert. Then I put him in a cheap hotel before he meets a big producer who lives in another world. Soon those worlds collide.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life—yours, hearsay, or news story you read?

“Method Actor,” a story about a New York actor who comes to Los Angeles because he believes everything he sees in the movies is strictly out of my own imagination.

What came first, the character or the plot?

Available at Amazon
Plot usually comes first for me. Almost everything I have ever written starts with some voice in my head telling me a story beginning with an opening line or paragraph. I might rewrite that opening two dozen times, but that basic core of the plot doesn’t change. Sometimes that voice becomes the main character, but he or she is still telling me the plot. I figure out who the characters are as the storyline progresses.

While you're writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or…? 

I have a fountain that plays bird tweets and forest sounds. It is so relaxing, that I can get a lot of writing done. I’m on book 20, so it must work.

Favorite writing quote—yours or from someone else…

“The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.” from Mickey Spillane

Your writing ritual begins with… 

Coffee… La Llave and French Market with chicory, 2-1.

A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (G.B. Pool) writes the Johnny Casino Casebook Series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. Mysteries (Media Justice, Hedge Bet, Damning Evidence). She wrote the SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power. Other books: Caverns, Eddie Buick’s Last Case, The Santa Claus Singer, Bearnard’s Christmas, The Santa Claus Machine, and Every Castle Needs a Dragon. She teaches writing classes: “The Anatomy of a Short Story” (which is in workbook form), “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “How to Write a Killer Opening.” Website:

Gayle Bartos-Pool Sums Up Sisters-in-Crime Anthology, "LAst Resort"

         NOTE: The interview and excerpt from Gayle Bartos-Pool's short story "Method Actor" is now posted.

Los Angeles writer
Michael Connelly
If Michael Connelly introduces a book, you know it has to be worth a look. This time he focuses on a journey through Los Angeles, its dark alleys and places tourists never go. Who inhabits these locals? People who come from out of town looking for fame, fortune, excitement, or maybe just a place to bury a body. L.A. is like a drug. It can cure and it can kill. Read on.

“Eggs Over Dead” by Wendall Thomas shows us that waitressing might be a dead end job when you came to L.A. to be a writer, especially when your one break turns sour, but sometimes when the meal’s finished, the just desserts can be delicious.

“The Ride of Your Life” by Laurie Stevens begins with a carjacking. Los Angeles put them on the map. But you never know who might be in that car.

“Method Actor” by G.B. Pool tells the story of a New York actor who is offered a part in a Hollywood movie by a producer with one condition: the actor has to kill the producer’s wife with a smile on his face. Our young thespian practices his craft across country and tops it off in L.A. before the cameras roll.

Available at Amazon
“The Best LAid Plans” by Anne David lets you know you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl. This gal hasn’t lost her green thumb because the tomatoes grown in her backyard are winners. Wonder what kind of fertilizer she uses?

L.H. Dillman weighs nature vs. nurture in “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” When a street punk from Chicago comes to Los Angeles to be nurtured by his very caring aunt who works as a housekeeper for a wayward “parachute kid” in a mansion on the expensive side of town, he learns a valuable lesson. But L.A. can play havoc with your schooling.

“Highland Park Hit” by Gay Degani lets us know family is family. But when you come from Louisiana to help your cousin with his daughter and find a dead body in the living room, you might need more than Gorilla Glue to fix the problem… like maybe a good dose of Law & Order…Lennie Briscoe style.

“Independence Day” by Avril Adams tells the story of Ava who’s just out of prison on the 4th of July. This gal is looking for her own kind of fireworks like finding the guy who killed the wrong people and got away with it. Let the fireworks begin.

Lynn Bronstein’s “Mimo” is a poignant tale of a tiny woman heading for a dead end… her way.

“Today’s the Day” by Mae Woods features a spurious psychic who had a pretty good operation going in prison, but when she tries to ply her craft on the outside she finds out con artists sometimes can’t read the handwriting on the wall.
Figueroa Street in Highland Park

“Little Egypt” by Georgia Jeffries lets you know it’s hard to bury your past especially when there’s always somebody around who will dig it up for you. But some memories can be buried for good… or maybe for bad.

“Thump Bump and Dump” by Wrona Gall is a study. When you think your lifestyle needs a makeover, why not move to L.A. and fix somebody else’s problem. It just might make a new man of you…

“Hired Lives” by Cyndra Gernet takes a trip back to a quieter time in Los Angeles where you meet an older couple who only want a few simple things out of life, so they put an ad in the paper for a couple who can provide just what they want. Ask for references…

Sarah M. Chen’s “Nut Job” introduces us to Hector, a guy with friends who have a great idea to make big money. With that money he would make his girlfriend happy. She wouldn’t dump him. What could go wrong?

“Crime Drama/Do Not Cross” by Melinda Loomis features Alexandra Jones. She goes by Zan. She’s currently working as a private detective. But when your favorite TV show, the one where you know all the episodes by heart, is ending its run, and you really want to be an actress, not a P.I., but you can’t get a job, sometimes reality and fantasy collide.

“On Call for Murder” by Paula Bernstein is the story of a dead surrogate mother, a question of paternity, an arrogant doctor, and another doctor who has questions and gets answers that just might get her killed.

Stephen Buehler’s “Seth’s Big Move” shows us that you can have bad days… and then you can have the Titanic. Seth is a wannabe actor from Indiana who can’t catch a break in Hollywood. Then he meets Emily and he’s going to move into a new apartment and share his life with her. And he has a small inheritance. Things are looking up, but than he looks at his bank account… Can things get any worse?

Last Resort is the latest anthology from Sisters-in-Crime/Los Angeles, edited by Matt Coyle, Mary Marks, and Patricia Smiley.