Fun Facts about the City Where My Writing Takes Place – Part 2 (Diverse Cultures, Neon & Noir)

Disney Concert Hall

Frank Ghery’s conrtibution to L.A.’s downtown scene.

Any author who writes about L.A. – as a background, a character, an influence, or a reason to get out of town fast – can’t ignore the diverse cultures that populate the City, filling in the cracks and enriching its flavor.

One of the largest influences is Hispanic – Mexican, Salvadorian, Cuban, and so forth – and no, they are not all the same. Do a bit of research on these countries and you’ll see what I mean.

Each of these cultures adds something unique to the overall Hispanic-blend, such as tamales, pupusas, and mojitos, just to name a few. You can find more to add to that list to flesh out a short story or define personality traits of a novel’s character below:

The list of other cultures populating L.A. reads like a map of the world: Chinese, Japanese Thai, Italian, Greek, Indian, Armenian, Jewish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Korean etc.

Chinatown-LA

L.A. Chinatown’s great shops and restaurants deserve a visit.

If “Noir” is what you’re looking for to describe L.A.’ dark and dangerous underbelly (so well-done by Raymond Chandler’s novels and black and white Hollywood films), here are some starting points.

Of course, I’ve only touched L.A.’s textured and multi-layered surface in the two-part blog posting (See also: Fun Facts about the City Where My Writing Takes Place.), but I hope it will provide you with a genuine feel for L.A. and a desire to explore even more of the City’s diversity.

For example: Rent a historic Hollywood Hills apartment to do your research, walk along the newly updated L.A. River for inspiration, explore L.A.’s Neon past, and tour L. A.’s celebrity hangouts.

317ASP897-44139968

L.A. Wannabe’s hang with celebrities. Can you spot the real ones?

Once again, it’s your turn. I’d love to have comments/fun facts about the city where you live or write about. Inspire others to learn more about their locations and share this information. If you live in L.A., share your fun facts too.

I post L.A. fun facts on Facebook and Twitter, too. You can also get a good feel for my L.A. in my short story “The Red Lipstick” in the YA anthology You Don’t Have a Clue.

Stay tuned for my next blog post: L.M. Quinn Describes How She Names her Short Story/Novel Characters.

Fun Facts about the City Where My Writing Takes Place

Sunset Boulevard - The Avenue of Broken Dreams

Sunset Boulevard – The Avenue of Dreams

Location, location, location!!!

You’ve no doubt heard this expression many times, and for writers like me, it’s a mega-important element of my work.

L.A., my writing location, defines my stories and characters in them. Since I’ve lived here most of my life, I should know L.A. inside out, right? Not necessarily.

I’m constantly surprised about areas of the city about which I don’t have a clue, not to mention areas that have sprung up due to demolition (L.A.’s notorious for tearing down the old instead of renovation.) or due to newly arrived immigrants settling there. But when rebuilding is done with a creative mind, it rocks.

Frank Ghery's conrtibution to L.A.'s downtown scene.

Frank Ghery’s conrtibution to L.A.’s downtown scene.

I love to write mystery, and L.A. offers up a past, present and future that includes the mafia, gangs, and pornography intrigues (think Mikey Cohen, the Crips, and Deep Throat’s Linda Lovelace). 

Micky Cohen and others like these contributed to L.A.'s reputation for crime.

Micky Cohen and others like these contributed to L.A.’s reputation for crime.

L.A. also has Hollywood as part of its claim to fame. You can’t get more mystery, murder and intrigue than what Warner Bros. Disney, Universal, Paramount, and Sony studios’ films and actors’ stories of success, tragedy, and failure. If you write about L.A., it’s for sure Hollywood will make an appearance. 

Woman Facing Away from Man ca. 2001

Starlets and wannbes everywhere since Hollywood first opened its doors.

All of these above fun facts touch my writing in some important way. They have to, so I can bring my location to life by making it research perfect to support my stories and characters.

Read L. M. Quinn’s short story”THE RED LIPSTICK.”

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to have comments/fun facts about the city where you live or write about. Inspire others to learn more about their locations and share this information. If you live in L.A., share your fun facts too.

I post L.A. fun facts on Facebook and Twitter, too. You can also get a good feel for my L.A. in my short story “The Red Lipstick” in the YA anthology You Don’t Have a Clue.

Stay tuned for more Fun Facts about L.A. in a future post, ethnic L.A.’s influence on writers.

More Cool Tips: Gifting Books for the Holidays? Oh No. OH YES!

Baltimore WinterWhen was the last time you gifted books to family/friends for the Christmas/Hanukah holiday? If you do this on a regular basis then kudos to you; if you don’t, no time like the present to start, right?

If you’re looking to gift books to children, look no further than the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and diversity-focused children’s publisher Lee & Low websites.  You’ll find a huge selection of children’s books for all ages and ethnicities.

I can never get enough books to read. Can't wait to write my holiday gift list for myself.

I can never get enough books to read. Can’t wait to write my holiday gift list for myself.

I’d also like to mention award-winning author-friends’ works that will make outstanding children’s gifts. Authors such as Sarah Cortez (short stories – including mine (The Red Lipstick)), Maria Alexander (novel), and Amy Friedman (short stories) can fill Christmas stockings and gift boxes with books kids will love.

If magazine subscriptions make a preferred children’s gift, why not try Highlights for Children’s magazine for all levels of little ones?

Of course, you have adults on your gift-giving list too, not to mention those special people at the office and other organizations you support. I’d like to offer another shout-out for some of my author friends once again.

Sarah Cortez can offer you her short story anthologies, essays, novels, and poetry.

Sarah Cortez can offer you her short story anthologies, essays, novels, and poetry.

Maggie King offers you a mystery to die for.

Maggie King offers you a mystery to die for.

There’s a variety of gift-giving books by Sarah Cortez (essays), Maria Alexander (novel & short stories), Amy Friedman (novel & short stories), Cindy Bailey (non-fiction for mom’s), Maggie King (mystery), and Sandra Ramos O’briant (novel), for all of which your friends will thank you.

How about adult magazine subscriptions (other than the Glossies), such as Glimmer Train (literary short stories) or Alfred Hitchcock or Ellery Queen mystery magazines?

So many books and too little time. Somehow I'll make it work.

So many books and too little time. Somehow I’ll make it work.

From my recent reading list, I’d like to recommend these excellent literary reads that tickle the interest of your friends and family. They are The Gift of Rain, The Monsters of Templeton, The Race for Paris, The Gods of Tango, The Star Side of Bird Hill, and A Manual for Cleaning Women.

Of course, there are tons of authors and book resources to choose from, but I wanted to offer you mine and hope that you will comments on these choices and provide my blog readers with some of your own selections.

Tanning or reading? What's a girl to do? Both, of course.

Tanning or reading? What’s a girl to do? Both, of course.

Happy holidays & shopping from sunny L.A.!

Cool Tips/Resources Learned From Writers’ Conferences

Halloween is over? Nobody told us.

Halloween is over? Nobody told us.

Halloween is over and we’re all now focused on Thanksgiving, as the 2015 writers’ conferences wind down for the year and the 2016 ones gear-up to tempt new and seasoned writers.

There are now hundreds of writers’ conferences to choose from, so which of the often-times pricey ones are worth spending money on?

This depends, of course, on where you are in your writing or publishing career.

Listening to authors on a panel at a Literary Orange conference speak about a “must know” writing issue.

Writing a first novel? Best to choose conferences with panels, speakers, and workshops that address your needs to get your novel in shape for an agent/editor critique that will then clue you as to whether or not your ms is ready to submit to agents/editors or needs more work.

Just signed the contract for two books and big-time advance. Squeee!

Just signed the contract for two books and big-time advance. Squeee!

Already published? Best to choose fan conferences that select you to speak on panels or as a keynote speaker, let you sign your books, and allow you to network/meet with your new and existing fans.

Speaking for myself, I attend both types of conferences since I’ve published fiction/non-fiction and am now working on a middle grade novel that needs major editing before submitting it to agents/editors.

Can't wait to read the next book in your YA fantasy series.

Can’t wait to read the next book in your YA fantasy series.

If you are a children’s book writer like me, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) international/local chapters, I would highly recommend three small conferences provided in L. A. (and in other local state chapters).

They are small and affordable conferences.

All three of these will help you to hone your ms to perfection and provide agent, editor, or peer critiques. Once published, you can move up to attending the yearly (and pricey) SCBWI summer/winter 5-day conferences/workshops.

Also, for published writers, SCBWI offers a Book Launch Party for its members. You can announce new book(s) to be published and market it to all SCBWI members via the website.

Also for children’s writers, there is a unique conference that requests 2 months of pre-conference prep critiquing other attendees’ work prior to attending the 3-day Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Novel Workshop (PCCWW). The conference also includes a pre-teens and teens along with adults, the kids providing a built-in audience for your published work.

Can’t attend PCCWW for some reason, but would like to take advantage of the pre-teen/teen critiquing option? Go to the PCCWW website and check out Teen Speak Critiques for Adults section. Pre-teens/teens will critique your MC/YA ms for a fee.

Tween on the Job. Look out Sherlock.

Tween on the Job. Look out Sherlock.

If you’re a mystery writer, as I am, join Sisters in Crime (SinC) and/or Mystery Writers of America (MWA), international and local chapters. You get tons of events/resources to promote your work, from members reading their published work at monthly meetings and submitting short stories to the local chapter anthology, to selling your books at the SinC booth at many book festivals.

Please comment on this blog post so readers can learn about your favorite conferences and why you feel that way. We all want to get what we need from conferences, and not be disappointed by making wrong choices that may deplete our already meager writing budgets.

Fun Facts you Didn’t Know About L. M. Quinn

Even though you (might) know me as a writer, I thought I’d take you on a fun tour of the personal side behind my writing.

First of all, there is my writing (personal and published) which you know from details this this blog/website. Behind these details lurks an eclectic reader/writer who has an appreciation for the well-written word in multiple genres (mystery, literary, memoir, non-fiction). Stay tuned for a more detailed version of this aspect of “Fun Facts” in a future blog post.

Anywhere in Athens you can see the Acropolis. Stunning!

Anywhere in Athens you can see the Acropolis. Stunning!

I love to travel, always have. In my journeys, I’ve visited/lived in Mexico, Central, America, St. Martin, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco, Andorra, Greece, and Iceland. Travels like these can’t help but form one’s character. They surely did mine, making me more observant, diplomatic, and understanding of these countries as well as my own.

Nothing like Italian cuisine.

Nothing like Italian cuisine.

Eating well is another fun fact about me. My mother was a terrible cook, so my sister and I set about learning how to do this. We both enjoy preparing flavorful meals for family and good friends. Some of my favorite cuisines are French, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Spanish, and U.S.A. Southern fare.

Beautiful Falcon Theater in Burbank, CA.

Beautiful Falcon Theater in Burbank, CA.

My love of theater, music, and art would take up too much space for this blog post to handle.  Let me just say that like the other fun facts above, the arts of all kinds influence my life/writing on a daily basis (Dying to see Sister Corita Kent exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and a production of Scott & Hem at the Falcon Theater.)

If you don’t already follow me on this blog, but would like to do so, just enter your email address on the right side of this page and click the Follow button. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

See my short story in this anthology.

See my short story in this anthology.

Interested in a peep of my writing? Check out my short stories, book reviews, and essays: “A Not So Clear Case of Murder” included in the anthology Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery; and “The Red Lipstick” included in the YA anthology You Don’t Have a Clue (both books from Arte Público Press). She also had her personal essay (“A Grown-up”) accepted in the anthology Our Spirit, Our Reality: Celebrating Our Stories. Book reviews at Amazon.com.

Most people celebrate Halloween on the 31st. I prefer celebrating the Day of the Dead on November 1st. Click to see why.

So now I’ve given you a tempting glimpse of the person behind the writer. Please do comment on my revelations and share some of your own similar ones or totally different ones.