Writing Like Stephen King*

One of my favorite books is Stephen King’s On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft. King talks about how most of his books were written when he was drunk or high – or both – and listening to heavy metal music at ear splitting decibels.

Stephen King

My writing partner, Laura Ambler, and I wondered if we could write better if we followed King’s writing process and tried writing under the influence. There are always places in our scripts where we put an MB (make better) or MF (make funnier.) This was an hypothesis that needed to be tested. We already had a control of sorts as we’ve completed quite a few scripts without any drugs or alcohol.

We ruled out the heavy metal music. Intrinsic to our writing process is that we talk to each other; loud music would make that a problem. We also ruled out drugs. Too risky and we didn’t know where to get them anyway. Although as I’ve talked to several people about writing this blog post, a surprising number of them told me they have had a ‘connection.’ Who knew!

That left us with alcohol. I just have to open my wine fridge, and, if Laura prefers a martini, the ingredients are already on the bar.

Now we have the means, but logistical problems present themselves. Laura usually comes to my house for our writing sessions. She can’t drive home under the influence. That would be totally irresponsible. I was recounting our dilemma to my husband and he said if we really wanted to pursue this experiment, he would pick up Laura and drive her home. (He is remarkably supportive of my writing, whatever the process, and I know he is much too nice to make a YouTube video of us being silly and post it online.)

As for me, two glasses of wine and I fall asleep which might not be conducive to inspired writing. This plan was beginning to remind me of my woman’s conciousness raising group from the 70’s. This was back when the head of NIH (National Institutes of Health) was saying cocaine was okay. Somebody in my woman’s group came up with the bright idea that our group should try cocaine. We debated that issue for a year. I suppose it took that long because any topic we decided to talk about always circled back to our mothers. Anyway, we finally decided we had talked about it so much that actually doing it held no allure, so we didn’t.

Laura and I haven’t talked the writing a la Stephen King thing to death yet, but we might be getting close. I’ll keep you posted.

*This was first posted on July 24, 2014. We never did get around to testing the King hypothesis.

Faux Somme Has a Wine Tasting

I like red wine, and my favorites are Zins. Lush, jammy, fruity Zins. And the one that literally  makes me smack my lips is Rombauer Zinfandel. Unfortunately, it’s almost $29 a bottle at our local liquor store so it’s saved for special occasions. My birthday, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve. Selling a script…still waiting to open a bottle for that reason. Having a best selling novel…still waiting. Finishing the third book in my Caribbean romantic paranormal series…that might actually happen in the spring and there’s a bottle of Rombauer waiting in the wine fridge.


My husband usually drinks white wine and he’s quite happy with Yellow Tail Chardonnay which is cheap. So I’ve been looking for something cheaper to drink since I usually have a glass of red every night with dinner. Medicinal, I tell myself.

So on the idea that wine is like art…you know what you like, I visited Town and Country Liquors. Near the front door there are always cases of wine and nothing is more than $11. I wondered if I could find a decent red, that I liked, in that price range. My director friend, Talley Wilford, works there. (When you’re a writer or a director you need a day job unless you’re retired from income producing employment like me.) So I asked Talley for some recommendations. This is what he came up with and I did a wine tasting.


I opened all three bottles and let them breathe. The Dancing Bull had an odd after taste. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but I didn’t like it. The Zin Your Face was a little better, but had the same after taste. The third bottle, 19 Crimes, was the best of the lot, but I now had three open bottles of red wine that I really didn’t want to drink. None of them had the fruity, jammy flavor I wanted. Sorry, Talley. What to do?


My solution was to add a little Creme de Cassis to each glass. It took me awhile to finish off those three bottles. Some big splashes (without the Cassis) went into a pot of red sauce I was making.

While I had the Cassis out, I wondered if I could add a little to a glassful of Pelligrino. Voila! A nice treat without the calories of wine.

My husband went back to Town and Country and stocked up on St. Francis Zinfandel. It has to be the Old Vines. Not as cheap as the $10 bottles, but I didn’t have to add Cassis. And not as expensive as the Rombauer.


If you’re a red wine person, tell me what your favorites are. And if you are a wine snob and hate the idea of somebody putting Cassis in wine think Kir.