The February 2016 edition

Speaking of Intense Scenarios …

I love word games, so here’s one. Let’s play … Name That Synonym!

First word. Clues are: Extreme, great, acute, fierce, severe, high … Not yet? Okay, think: Passionate, impassioned, ardent, fervent, zealous, vehement, fiery, emotional … Ding, ding, ding!

You got it, the word is INTENSE.

Second word, probably easier. Here are the clues: Framework, milieu, background, plot, sequence of events … Ding, ding, ding!

Correct for two hundred points. The word is SCENARIO.

Here’s a more practical example of an INTENSE SCENARIO from the book I am currently working on, Turn to Stone, which will be out later this year:

She had short, dark hair and looked college-age, maybe in her early 20s. The tie-dyed beach shirt over cutoff blue jeans and on a pair of open-toed Skechers flip-flops completed the free-spirit image. But one partially covered thing she wore—a U.S. Marine tattoo with the words NEVER FORGET below it—suggested that she was no typical coed on spring break.

The sunglasses came off as she briefly studied me, so I broke the ice.

“Hello, do I know you?”

The petite young woman, who looked so frail from a distance, didn’t answer immediately. When she finally did, it wasn’t the voice that was familiar. It was the tone. It sounded like mine in crisis management—no-nonsense and straight-to-the-point.

“You’re Jackson Stone, right? From Nashville?” It wasn’t a question, more of a confirmation, so I nodded.

“Yes, have we met?”

She looked familiar, perhaps the daughter of a friend, but I couldn’t place her.

“No,” she said, somewhat reluctant, as if deciding to continue the conversation, “but I know who you are.”

I was puzzled, but not for long. She fell to her knees, her hands coming together as if in prayer. The serious look returned, but her lip quivered as she blurted words I’d heard before.

Mine.

“I don’t want justice. I want revenge. And I need your help.”

A single tear rolled down her cheek and evaporated on impact with the burning sand.

I’ll be discussing intense scenarios – what makes for one, how you create and write them – on a panel discussion at the Dahlonega (Ga.) Literary Festival on March 12. I’m on a panel with regional writers discussing intense scenarios. Joining me will be Mike Brown, Evan Guilford-Blake, Jim Henninger, J. Frank James, Ron Miller and Carol Williams.

I’ll introduce you to my fellow panelists in the next blog. But suffice to say, I’m looking forward to this event. It ought to be … intense.

January was a blast: Hope everybody stayed warm last month. Don’t know what the weather was like where you are, but we got eight inches of snow or more on Jan. 22-23. A week later, it was topping 70 degrees and Music City did a great job hosting the NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena.

A couple of years ago, The New York Times crowned Nashville as the next “It” City and all these major events, with the SEC men’s basketball tournament up next in early March, Nashville shows it has no plans to relinquish that moniker anytime soon.

I also got to cover a couple of college basketball games for newspapers in Florida in January, and I will be providing state wrestling coverage for the Knoxville News Sentinel in February. March will likely bring some more sports journalism assignments.

Upcoming writing events: April will be a busy month. Up first is a trip to the Outer Banks Retreat sponsored by the SE chapter of Mystery Writers of America, then I’m back home for the Nashville Film Festival screenwriters conference (April 20-22) and the Franklin Main Street Festival on April 23-24. The latter is always a fun event, sharing the Authors Circle booth with a dozen or so of my writing buddies. … May kicks off with a literary event at Donelson Branch Library on the 7th from 10 a.m.-noon. I will be moderating a panel discussion with fellow authors Jaden Terrell, Iscah and Blake Fontenay. Admission is free and the public is invited. … I will close out the month by attending my first Indianapolis 500. While there, I will do a signing at Indy Reads Books on May 28 from noon-3 p.m. That will be a blast.

Screen scene: The Nashville TV show returns from its winter hiatus on March 16. I can’t divulge details, but I think I have a featured role as an extra. I hope it didn’t wind up on the cutting room floor. We’ll know soon if “Nashville” is going to be renewed for another season. Hearing good things, but nothing official. … The 2016 board of directors of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association has been finalized. Allen Carver is president this year with past president Bob Giordano serving as VP this year. Jarrod Ruez is the treasurer and I will serve as secretary. Other board members for the coming year are Dustin Alexander III, David Deverell, Gary Frazier, Casey Laarcamp, Rob Lindsay, Doug Steier and Paula Weaver. It’s a good group to be working with and if you think you have a story to tell, come join us. We meet each Wednesday at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film at 7 p.m.

As always, thanks for reading.

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