Writing what YOU know.

Anyone willing to share memories of taking piano lessons as a kid? I'm writing a scene for two sisters, ages 15 and 10. They are both beginners. The older one won't have the patience for practice, but the younger one will take to it and make progress more quickly. My own experience of learning piano is too modern and adult and cerebral to translate into a 19th century child's point of view. I know, for example, that I'm combining left brain analysis with right brain pattern recognition and motor memory. That understanding may go into the background of the scene, but ...
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Taking piano lessons from Doc Holliday

Recently, a reader wrote, "I envy you taking piano lessons... Alas! At 68, it is too late!" Nonsense. At 60, I am as cognitively challenged as most geezers. I can't multitask. I need a nap in the afternoon. I don't have senior moments; I have senior weeks. Until last January, I was one of those people who "always wanted to play piano," but I'd never tried to learn. I'd say things like, "I've been typing my own damn name since 1965 and I still can't do it without backspacing twice. How could I ever learn to play piano?" Plus, my hands ...
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Going west-ern

Since writing THE SPARROW, I've attended a number of science fiction conventions and enjoyed them hugely, but I've never been one to wear Spock ears or dress up as an Imperial Stormtrooper. This reluctance to live out fantasies in public could be a sign of dignity and reserve; more likely, it's clear-eyed realism about how easy it is for a little old lady with poor bone structure to look ridiculous. That said -- and God help me -- I just ordered a cowboy hat. The occasion for this spasm of uncharacteristic behavior is signing up for a five-day horseback trek in ...
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Don’t diss Dodge City!

The Ohio Supreme Court has just ruled that Ohio cities cannot pass restrictive gun ordinances that go beyond those passed by the state government. Sometime today, someone will say, "This will turn Cleveland into Dodge City!" Actually, Dodge City had very strict gun laws, and Wyatt Earp made his name as a lawman by enforcing them. So, don't diss Dodge. The new ruling may, however, turn Cleveland into Baghdad ...
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/ by / in DOC / 4 Comments on Don’t diss Dodge City!

Starting the next novel…

I always seem to do two books in each genre. After resisting the pattern for months, I have bowed to the inevitable. DOC, which will be out in May, focuses on one half of the West's most famous friendship, telling the story of Doc Holliday's short and tragic life. I'm now committed to a second Western, which will center on Wyatt Earp, on what led to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and on the long and bitter aftermath of the bloodbath known as the Earp Vendetta. Why did I hesitate? Easy. A dozen movies have told this story. Entire forests ...
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The Sparrow — movie news

As you may know from an earlier post, I've written a screen adaptation of The Sparrow in partnership with Karen Hall. Director Scott Derrickson has been a fan of the novel for many years, but it wasn't until the screen rights reverted to me this year that Karen and I were able to show him our screenplay. In his opinion: "The screenplay is an outstanding adaptation of an exceptional book. Really. I was blown away. I've told you both that the book is one of my favorites in any genre, but what I secretly doubted was that the deep beauty and ...
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Do any of you play the horses?

I have a question about hedging bets. Random House and a dozen or more friends have done a lot of editing and fact-checking for DOC, but I don't think any of us actually plays the horses. So I'm not 100% certain that I got this right: "We hedged our bets. Kate says they've been doing that on French racetracks for years. You take a hundred dollars and divide it. Say, twenty to win at long odds. Then make a couple of side bets, shorter: thirty to come in second or better, fifty to come in third or better. Unless the horse ...
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Your tax dollars at work.

I'm getting my records organized so I can calculate my 4th quarter estimated tax payment for 2010. For a long time, I've wished that the IRS would include a survey at the end of our tax forms where we could express spending preferences. I'd like to indicate, somehow, that "I resent every penny spent on this criminal waste of money, but that expense is wholly justified and I wish we'd spend more on it." Here's something close: a website called Stabilize the Debt that lets you take a theoretical whack at the U.S. budget. You work through 7 or 8 categories ...
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Utter, absolute, glorious JOY

No, I am not announcing that Johnny Depp has called, pleading to play Emilio Sandoz in a movie adaptation of The Sparrow, although that would merit the same subject heading. I am simply wanted to share this YouTube video of a 3-year-old boy "conducting" the 4th movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0REJ-lCGiKU&feature=player_embedded Grownups have learned to sit quietly in symphony halls, but with a gigantic smile -- far too big for his face to encompass -- Jonathan shows what's inside so many of us when we are utterly transported by music that is too glorious to bear: we want to fall to ...
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Wiki Leaks Seriously Unshocking

So far, I've yet to be startled by anything in the leaks. In fact, my take on international politics is being validated. Kim Jong Il is bat-shit crazy. Angela Merkel is kind of boring. Nobody likes Mr. Imadinnerjacket. Vladimir Putin is hand-in-glove with the Russian kleptocracy. Americans are in Pakistan and Yemen, calling in drone attacks on Al-Queda camps. Afghani politicians are corrupt. If any of that surprises you, you'll be amazed to learn that people in Cleveland don't like Lebron James anymore; Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds did take steroids, as did about 85% of all major league baseball players in the 1990s; Hollywood is about to ...
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