Category Archives: Screenwriting

Blog Tour Day Four: Magical Words, Max and Me

I’m in three places today. It’s bizarre. But you’ll have to follow the various links to see how this all happened.

Of course saying “Max” and “bizarre” kind of goes hand in hand.  It all started when I was going to write about Max and how she helped me with my writing on Max’s blog, and she said, wait, you can’t write about [redacted] on my blog. I don’t allow [redacted] on my blog. So I had to write about something different on Max’s blog.

So I wrote about [redacted] on Magical Words instead.

And then, I figured I might as well post excerpts of the two scenes that had [redacted] in them on the Fury Triad site, so you could see them for yourself.

Let me know what you think.

Let Max know what you think, too.



May 5: The Word Wenches  How Research Gave Me the Home I Didn’t Want and the World I Needed

May 6: Get Lost in a Story  Welcome Patricia Burroughs Q&A

Mary Robinette Kowal: My Favorite Bit: Patricia Burroughs

May 7:  Suzanne Johnson: Q-and-A With Patricia Burroughs and Win a GC

May 8:  Celluloid Blonde Of [redacted] and Aubergine

               Magical Words:  Of Adders and Writing Process

               Fury Triad: Of Adders and Rattlesnakes

And because this is what it’s all about, don’t forget that you can buy my book. Really. You can. I won’t stop you.

 This Crumbling Pageant, is  available all sorts of places.

Amazon Kindle    Amazon Trade Paperback

BN-Nook    BN Trade Paperback


Hardcover and iBook links coming soon!

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Filed under Book Pooks Wrote, Screenwriting, The Fury Triad, This Crumbling Pageant, Writers, Writing, Writing Process

Why I Wrote It, or, Since you didn't ask…

A few weeks ago Bill Chance reviewed La Desperada.

This is the kind of thing that can make an author nervous, because Bill was not the target audience when the book was written as a romance novel (quite) a few years back. And who knows how a man will react to a sexy genre typically written for women?

His review was thoughtful and gratifying because he picked up on things few people do, so as I responded to him there, I knew I’d eventually want to mention some of these things here.

First, I think I’ll address a question few people ever ask or care about.

“Where did you get the idea?”

I thought you’d never ask!

JK Rowling said the first thing that popped into her head before writing Harry Potter was, “Once there was a ten-year-old boy who was a wizard and didn’t know it.”

Well, in my case, what popped into my head was, “Once there was a woman so desperate to escape that she held a cold-blooded murderer at gunpoint and said, ‘take me with you.'”

That’s all I knew.  I didn’t know if it was contemporary or historical, if it was set in London or Acapulco. I just tasted this woman’s desperation, could feel it in my veins, and could only ask a few logical questions in an effort to find out more.

How desperate is she? Well, if the cold-blooded murderer looks like Redford/Pitt/Depp, how desperate does she have to be? Seriously? Take me with you? Isn’t that a no-brainer? So I immediately knew that he was not handsome, and worse, had to be terrifying. Because the more terrifying he was, the more desperate she had to be.

My hero began to take form.

How desperate was she? Well, backing up a bit, why would she be dependent upon a cold-blooded murderer? Story-telling logic told me she had to force herself into his company (and again, if she didn’t have to force herself, what was interesting about that? Not much, so again, I learned more about him, because I learned that he didn’t want her. Truly. Did. Not. Want. Her.) And once forced, they would be forced to stay together.



And thinking of isolation made me think of the Trans Pecos.

Of a town so small, Fort Davis was big in comparison. And Fort Davis is not and was not ever big. Fort Davis in the 1880s was even more isolated than today, when it’s connected by state highways and such to the rest of the world.  Because Fort Davis is over 200 miles from the nearest city of size, El Paso and (my research uncovered) only had one mail coach a week.  Getting away from Fort Davis would be hard. From an even smaller more isolated town?

Bingo. I had a location that I named Cavendish (and later, for the screenplay, Redemption).*

Imagine that isolation, that desperation, if someone is in an insufferable situation and is in fear of their very life–

And then I knew even more about the woman.

She was totally unprepared.

She was a lady.

She was from “back East.”

She was fragile.

And desperate.

And… strong.

I chose the location not because I love it. (I prefer green places, the greener the better.) I chose it not because I love westerns. (I’ve read two Louis L’amour and no Zane Grey, though my grandfather loved them.) I chose it because I knew it in that way you “know” a place you’ve visited a few times, have driven through, have peered at through various windshields over the years thinking, “I could not survive here.”

I chose it for logical reasons and for dramatic reasons, and thus, ended up researching places from afar, before the internet was an option, with a two-day side-trip from a tornado chase to nail down some details.

And thus, when Bill Chance wrote about the setting with such understanding and connection, it really, really made my day. And I had to respond, as follows:

You’re the only person I’ve ever known who knew the setting and recognized the details–even McKittrick Canyon, which you recognized even though I didn’t name it. It has been so long, I don’t remember why I didn’t–I think maybe it wasn’t known by that name yet? Or I wasn’t sure if it was? Twenty years ago I decided not to name it but heck if I remember why now. (That is true of most of my research. I research for hours or even days or longer on this detail or that, find what I want, use it, move on, and have no record nor memory of it for later.) Anyway, it’s really thrilling to read your review and see that you knew the area and appreciated it.

The Sierra Diablo is an interesting place to research, too, because I frankly couldn’t find out much about it at all except a few sentences somewhere, and it was all private access so we couldn’t drive into it to look. I finally decided, “There are 18 people on the face of this planet who will know if I get it wrong, and if any of them ever read my book, they are welcome to inform me of my errors.” LOL!

Rooting the conflict in Missouri was another interesting choice, since I didn’t know at the time that my great-grandmother was a James of Missouri. But when it came time to do the screen adaptation, I couldn’t find a way to gracefully work all that background in and make it dramatic and succinct, and I finally resorted to changing it to abolition, which drew a sharp line in the sand between good and bad.

Secondary characters–there is a trend in romance novels to spin off series by writing about secondary characters. I’m not sure why, but I felt obstinate and decided to write secondary characters that were too flawed or unheroic to merit their own books, just to be perverse. Thus I named my young deputy the very unheroic name of Wendell Crutcher, and Obregon was a drug addict. (BTW, today, Obregon would be a perfect hero, romance having changed so much.) Despite the fact that I thought I’d managed to sabotage any desires for spinoffs, I had letters from readers begging for books about Wendell, Obregon, and (yes, really) Doralee. People wanted me to write a book about the whore. Today? Yes. Back then? No. My editor confirmed, no whores for heroines. (And yes, I realize there are other problems with using Doralee for a future book but we won’t go there!)

As for the sex, ah, that’s okay, you weren’t the target audience. (wink)

Thanks so much for this eloquent review. It was well worth a twenty year wait to accidentally find somebody who appreciated the backdrop as much as you did!

[In writing this, I discovered that Bill and I have something in common.  The “other” Patricia Burroughs who crops up in google searches is a real estate agent in Canada. When I typed in instead of, I found a real estate agent in Virginia. We both have careers in real estate in our alternate lives!]

McKittrick Canyon, unexpected oasis in a desert terrain, my bit of green.

* Originally titled What Wild Ecstasy [Kensington Books], this tale inspired the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences/Nicholl Award-winning screenplay, “Redemption.” 
The novel [La Desperada],and script [Redemption] are available together for the first time in one download at Amazon and at Book View Cafe.


Filed under Book View Cafe, Books, ebooks, La Desperada, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, research, Review, Screenwriting, Texas, Writers, Writing, Writing Process

Summer's coming! Does your e-reader need a coverup?

Were you expecting a Nook or Kindle in a bikini, needing a drape to cover up its [lack of] curves?

A week or two ago I mentioned my new Kindle cover, and now I can show you how gorgeous it is because I finally borrowed the Resident Storm Chaser’s camera cable and downloaded my pics.

I am so much in love with this cover! It fits the Kindle Touch, although Verso, the manufacturer, makes covers for various other e-readers, as well. It’s not just more like holding a “real” book, it’s like more like holding a lovely old leather-bound book, which is totally the best of both worlds. If ever there was a way to make reading an e-reader an example of “both” rather than “either/or,” this is it.

But what if you want something fun and flirty? Something to slip into when you need a bit of soft padding and protection from scratches rather than the formality of [fake] leather?

My friend Lanetta to the rescue!

Whether you want leopardskin or sparkles or pink or camo, she’s got the stuff (at great prices)!

And finally, THIS JUST IN! Maybe it should get its own post, and maybe it will later, but for now–my script Redemption is on a fabulous producer’s desk right now, under consideration for getting made into a movie.

Yes. That’s right. The very same story as La Desperada–the same script that is available in the La Desperada download–is once again drawing attention to itself and spreading its wings in an attempt to soar into the celluloid skies.

Everybody together–fingers crossed!





Filed under Book Covers, Books, Kindle, La Desperada, Reading, Screenwriting

Today is the day!

The ebook La Desperada (the novel) and “Redemption” (the script) are officially for sale together for the same low price, $4.99!

Available as either a .mobi (Kindle) download or an  .epub download (for those with Nooks and other ereaders) at Book View Cafe.

What is Book View Café?

BVC is a small digital publisher with offerings from all genres, science fiction to romance to historical to mystery to mainstream to nonfiction. We are a cooperative of published authors/editors/publishing professionals who share our skills as editors, copyeditors, formatters, cover artists, and site maintainers. We offer both reprints and new books. Our books are DRM-free, can be bought from outside the USA, are VAT-free and there are no download charges.

I’m proud to be a member of this group of talented, award-winning, best-selling writers.

The ebook is also available from,,,, and more, also for $5.99 or the equivalent, and I’m equally happy for you to buy it there. Go buy a lot of them. Make me an Amazon best seller!

What are you waiting for?







Filed under Book View Cafe, ebooks, Screenwriting

Paul and me.

This is about the first novel I had published, La Desperada. It’s about the script adaptation I wrote that was based on that novel.  It’s about Paul Newman. It’s about a lot of things.

But mainly, it’s about how (if I want to do the Hollywood stretch) I almost wrote a script for Paul.

Or if you want to do the reality check, it’s about how I maybe almost talked to him on the phone.

Mainly, it’s about my writing, my western, my attempts to get it made as a movie, and my new efforts to bring out the ebook.

And it’s about a book by Gwendon Swarthout called The Homesman.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western script, liked it a lot, and said to me, “You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman.”

That is a moment. A Moment. Somebody actually tied me as a screenwriter to a project for Paul Newman. Not that he was in position to do anything about it, mind you. But still. It put an idea in my head. (Dangerous place for ideas, my head.)

I read THE HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it–except for (no spoiler here, I’m restraining myself) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

Brace yourself.

I wrote Mr Newman (well, it was official correspondence so it didn’t seem right to call him Paul) and told him what I’d been told, and that I’d love to offer myself up for the task of adapting The Homesman for him.


I really did that.

And–it gets worse.

I did that knowing–KNOWING–that the script he’d been shopping around trying to get made was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody “knew” that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, “Paul, this script is bad.”

So it didn’t get made, it kept getting passed around, and…

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice said, “Call for Patricia from Mr Newman.” And when I didn’t answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, “Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn’t looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know.”

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if–had I been home–I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self! (That murmuring in the background? I am sure it was Paul-murmurs. Seriously. I could tell.) (Okay, maybe in retrospect I decided I could tell.) (Okay, I have no idea, but it had to be, didn’t it? Oh hush.)

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and–

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

My brush with almost maybe writing a script for Paul Newman, okay, maybe almost talking to him on the phone.

Moving forward… I’d had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven in several ways (though my book was published first), and then this mention of my potential skill with the material in the The Homesman, and then…

One day I was looking for book comparisons for my new ebook, La Desperada, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like mine, it has been compared to Unforgiven* only with a love story and sex,” and somebody said, “This might be helpful. Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by a novelist, did you know that? He was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who wrote The Shootist and The Homesman.”

As comparisons go, it probably doesn’t help me a lot, as these are books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it felt very odd, like a voice from the distant past bring back a producer from Unforgiven and a near-brush with Paul Newman and The Homesman and…

I like to think that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex, somebody just might have said to him, “You know what, this reminds me a lot of that book by Patricia Burroughs….”

* I could tell you about the time my script got couriered to Carmel because Clint wanted to read it, but that would just be name-dropping.

The novel La Desperada and the Nicholl Award-winning script Redemption are now available in the same download here on Book View Cafe.

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Filed under Fiction & Literary, Film, Novels, Screenwriting, Writers, Writing