B-Town Undercover: My New BFFs Are Bigshot Writers

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by Shawn Underwood

I recently returned from The National Society of Newspaper Columnists Conference, which was held in Ventura, California.

My new writing group BFF, Karen Rinehart, award-winning humorist and author, cajoled me into attending and I have to say I enjoyed every minute—except for that one time I waited in a long line for a drink, ordered a delicious beverage only to find I had no money, but I digress.

I’d like to say that I hung with all of my contemporaries at the Crown Plaza Hotel, but reality bit when I met Jeff Zaslow from The Wall Street Journal and co-author of “The Last Lecture.” I mean really, I write the humor column for The B-Town Blog (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and I don’t recall winning any awards recently or for that matter have any other credentials that allowed me entrance to such an esteemed society. But times are hard and Karen said:

“It doesn’t matter, they need people to fill the conference room, all the newspapers are shutting down or going Chapter 11, you could be a graffiti tagger and they’d let you in.”

So I went.

What a treat, let me tell you about it.

I loved Bruce Cameron who created “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” He’s a hoot and so generous with his vast knowledge. He wants me to write a screenplay about Mr. Big and Mr. Small (my two dogs.) He said so—honest.

“Anyone can write a screenplay, it’s easier than writing a book, you just have to have an interesting premise and a dynamite protagonist,” he said.

Heck, how easy would that be? Mr. Big and Mr. Small, also known as Gus and Jack, don’t even talk—unless you count the fabricated storylines that my husband Tom comes up with.

Jeff Zaslow, the Wall Street Columnist that I mentioned earlier is my other new BFF. He doesn’t know it yet but we are gonna be tight. I could tell he liked me after I questioned him about his writing methods. I’m not sure why he walked away so quickly after I gave him my pitch—he’s very important and most likely had another appointment.

Steve Lopez, one of the keynote speakers brought tears to my eyes when he discussed the plight of the homeless. His columns featuring the homeless violinist, Nathaniel Ayers morphed into a book, and then the movie, “The Soloist.” I could go on about my “contemporaries” and such, however I don’t want any of my readers to get the idea that I’m bragging—as if!

Maybe some of the creative magic will rub off on me—I don’t know. I’m seriously contemplating the “Mr. Big and Mr. Small” screenplay. I just can’t decide who should play the lead. Mr. Big does a mean imitation of beggar-dog at least I think he’s playing a part when he sits at my feet each night as I wolf down dinner. And Mr. Small—well he’s just so stinkin’ cute and smart. For years, I’ve blamed Mr. Big for the pee stains on the family room carpet. Last week I caught Mr. Small doing the deed with a guilty look on his face. Smart—like a fox, he could certainly memorize a few different dialogue barks. Lassie has nothing on him. Heck, he should have attended the conference (Mr. Small that is, not Lassie.)

That’s all for now from your humble roving humor reporter for The B-Town Blog.

I’ve got to get to my screenplay.

Twenty-five years of living in Burien gives Humorist Shawn Underwood much fodder for her writings.

All of her stories are true, or at least have a grain of truth with no added embellishments.

Or something like that.

Read more of her humor at her website here.

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