Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Disappearing Through a Wormhole.

treasure box, jewelry, wood box, story
Today I am working on a title called The Story of the Sapphire Necklace. The inspiration came from a television show, Alkatraz where a character from the past was breaking into bank vaults for personal items, not the money. At one point he holds up a stolen sapphire necklace and asks the owner, "What is the story of the sapphire necklace?" My imagination jumped at the line and today the story is unfolding. I am basing the story on history to give it a more realistic feel.

In studying about writing historical fiction, I read Elizabeth Crook's Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction. where she makes the statement, "In order to write authentic historical fiction you must know a period of time well enough to disappear daily through a wormhole to the past and arrive at the location of your story." That so clearly defines what I am trying to do--disappear into a wormhole! Beautifully put.

This story begins in the mid 1800s in India and ends up... Well, you will have to read the story to find out where it ends up! Yes, the necklace has a crazy history, weaving through time and generations.

I will post a link to the story later today when I finish writing.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning

cabin, park, woods, retreat, peaceful
It's tough to write when your brain feels foggy. This morning I woke up only to realize that I had overslept a little. Maybe the weekend was just too enjoyable and my brain didn't want to start the week yet. I was able to use the nice weather yesterday and get my cherry trees pruned, all of my rose bushes, two kiwi vines and one of my grape vines. Eric did some fishing and then fried us up some fresh yellow perch for an appetizer before dinner. Hope was home at least for a few hours before she left to go back to college. She and Joy entertain each other. It's fun to hear them constantly giggling. We ended the evening with some vegetable soup, followed by wine and chocolate a couple hours later. Midnight is just too late when morning starts early!

Anyhow, I finished the story I mentioned before, The Empty Cabin. A boring postman goes against all his directives and opens a letter, only to find it came from a prisoner. I tried to create conflict in his character by writing about his involvement in something that a normal postman would never do.

Here is an excerpt from The Empty Cabin:

"Daniel drove his white mail delivery truck into the driveway that lead around the back of the cemetery. It was his favorite place to hide away for a lunch break. No one would bother him there and he could situate his truck so that he was invisible to the passing cars. He pulled into a sunny spot away from the large maple trees. They were still leaf-bare and the warm sun felt good even though the air was crisp. Dry leaves littered the side of the gravel-lined drive, dancing with every breeze with slight cracklings. Breathing deeply, Daniel leaned back and placed his arms behind his head. Delivering mail wasn’t a glamorous job, but he enjoyed the walking and the pay was sufficient. Solitude was normal to him, only punctuated by the occasional greeting from a little old lady or a friendly shop owner. Everyone seemed to like him and enjoyed the consistency of his punctual deliveries. He reflected on his 22 years and was proud of himself for having bought his own condo after college. 
A torn envelope in his top box of mail caught his attention. That wasn’t good. No one wanted to think that their mail was vulnerable to prying eyes."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Faces in a Crowd

So its Saturday and I really wasn't going to post today but I had an interesting article I read last night that piqued my interest on writing about compelling characters. In this era of Disney and easy entertainment, most of the characters we see on television are pretty stereotypical. I find them quite boring and enjoy looking for the person that looks different in a crowd. He or she is the one that probably has a story... or at least my imagination thinks so. One of my favorite pastimes is watching people.

A trick of good story writers is to find what we see as a normal face in the crowd but that stands out for some reason and use them to weave a tale of intrigue. Maybe they have a secret life, a hidden crime, an amazing accomplishment... For instance, in this picture of a crowd in Spain, look at the lady in the middle, staring directly into the camera. Her hair is different from the other women around her. She has her act together with her purse held neatly in her lap, her bottle of water ready for the heat, sunglasses to protect her eyes, and a look of confidence as she faces the camera with a smile. I can think of a story already...but I am still working on my last one!

Anyhow, here is the link for the article from Writer's Digest on How to Craft Compelling Characters, I will try to get my next story wrapped up.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Imagination is Key

view, park, cliffI am learning a lot as I let my fingers tap out stories every day. For instance, letting my imagination run is harder than you would think. After writing for other people for so many years, I wrote what they wanted. My work was limited to the extent of their imagination and my talents were stifled. As time passes in this creative process, I have to remind myself that the boundaries are no longer the same. I can set my own fences and let new words and styles open gates of expression.

My hope is to encourage other writers to learn the fun of letting their imagination in a story take them out of reality and into their story. There are tricks to doing this right and of course, that is part of learning the tools of the trade that will separate a story that jumps off the page from the 'run of the mill' stories.

Another facet of writing is this blog. This morning I read a very informative article, 25 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic. This is a new era in the world of publishing and I for one, need to educate myself on effective writing in this atmosphere.

Today I will take this picture I took of a cabin in Worlds End State Park in northern Pennsylvania and develop a story around it.

Feel free to drop me a comment!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rain is Perfect for Writing

Washington, highway, driving, road, road trip, teenagers
A Car Ride on Amazon
If you wake up only to find out that is raining 'cats and dogs' outside your bedroom window, don't despair! It's perfect for writing (or doing your inside projects). You won't feel quite the urge to get outside or even drive--or anything else that distracts you from your work.

Today, I woke up to such a day. Rain is forecast for the next three days. The house is quiet and I hope to pound out some good fiction. Spring is coming and I know that there is a lot for me to do outside -- pruning, mulching, raking and so on, but I can't do it in the rain! Eric got the fire going so the living room is nice and warm. The dogs and cat are fed and the house is somewhat clean. My kids are all studying hard at their colleges or in Joy's case, at high school. Eric is off running sales appointments. So off I go.

Two teenagers, skipping school, borrowing Mom's car, mustang, present from Dad, snow... just a few thoughts running through my head. I will post the link for this short story later today. Stay tuned!

4:30 pm. I finished! The title? A Car Ride.

Here is an excerpt:


Cliff jerked as his cell phone buzzed in his pocket. Who would be texting him in the middle of school? His tenth grade English Comp teacher was droning on about some idea he had about writing an interesting paper, and was writing on the chalkboard so Cliff took a second to check his phone. He knew the cell phone was not allowed in class and that he was supposed to leave it in his locker, but that was a nuisance. 


“Meet me behind dumpster at 1:30.” It was from his brother Ryan.


“Whaaaat?” He grimaced to himself as he quickly responded back, “?”


“Wanna go for a ride” was the text.


This didn’t make any sense. Ryan didn’t have a car. It was school time.


“Ok” It was the only answer he could give. His curiosity had the better of him and if Ryan was doing the asking then he probably would take the blame if they got in trouble.
 
It was late November and the Alaskan sunlight was sparse during the day. By the time Cliff started school, there was still another hour before sunrise and by the time school let out, the sun was starting to set. It was depressing. He had half an hour to wait until 1:00 and the anticipation of running out of school began to build....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dreams

lancaster, quarryville, pa farms, amish
 Picture by Carol Ivone
I wonder how many other writers find themselves dreaming the stories they write. The last few days, I have found that the scenes I describe in my stories are part of my dreams. It is actually pleasant and I enjoy the stories coming to life. I guess my brain becomes almost saturated with the story as I compose the characters and details surrounding the theme. Last night, the children from Abandoned Unknowingly, a story I published a few days ago, were playing with my thoughts.

Today, I think I will take the drive out to Quarryville, a little town south of Lancaster to do some shopping today. The prices out there are much cheape
r than near my home and the drive will do me good. No highway driving, just fun winding roads with a little Billy Joel or Adele to add a little color to my drive. If the weather was a little warmer, I could open the top on my convertible, but alas, not today or I fear I might find myself totally chilled to the bone.

I am looking for a few good ideas for my new story everywhere I go, in movies, people's faces, newspaper headlines and even in the conversations I have with the people I talk to during the day. I think I am enjoying this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Peanut Butter Day, Really?

dumpster diving, economy, desperate, poverty
The Derelict
Who comes up with these National Days? It must be marketing firms trying to promote items that are slow in sales, because I really don't think peanut butter needs my attention. Besides, I don't even buy the brands they like to market, just the ground peanuts with a little salt.

Anyhow, back to the real world. I think spring might be coming early this year. After our short weekend with a sprinkling of snow and ice, the temperatures are supposed to be close to 50 degrees today. I have to get out and prune my fruit trees, rose bushes and grape vines before they start budding! The only flower I have in the house right now is a gorgeous orchid that my brother Martin gifted to me at Christmas. It casts a bright splash of color to my kitchen.

Today, I am writing a short story about a derelict. A homeless man caught up in the downward spiral of bad luck in a poor economy. What is it like to be derelict? The word is harsh and even though I might craft a story about the situation, I am sure I will never understand the full ramifications of the title. If you use the word as an adjective, the synonyms are so negative and harsh; neglected, abandoned, ruined, deserted. Who ever left high school thinking that their life would end up on the street. I will post the link later this afternoon along with an excerpt.

6:14 pm. Here is the link: The Derelict

The excerpt:
Day One: I am sitting here in my tent and I have set up my sleeping bag as my couch and bed. It’s pretty quiet out here and I don’t think anyone will bother me. I decided that instead of buying a hoagie for dinner with my dwindling money, I would buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. Good thing I like peanut butter! Have a battery operated LED camping light and a decent tent. Tomorrow I will try to find a job.

Derelict. What a harsh term for people. Ordinary people. College-educated people. People with good resumes, at least with their most recent work history. Mitch pondered his state of affairs, wrapping himself tighter down into his sleeping bag, even though it was warm outside. High school was such a good time for him. He had great experiences with the soccer team and got decent grades. Being an only child, his working-class parents could afford to send him to college, even if it was a community college.

Day Two: Slept ok. It was a little weird out here at night. I think I will get a little radio to help me with the silence. Walked into town and got a newspaper to check for jobs. Got a free cup of coffee from the grocery store and bought a pack of hot dogs. Called a few places for jobs on my cell but am really trying to limit its use before they cancel my service. Asked about a job at the deli close to here, and said to check back at the end of the week. I miss Mary badly.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Foggy Monday

World War II, children, channel islands,
Today we woke up to a foggy morning. The temperatures outside are climbing steadily and the ice coating all the trees is melting. The air feels fresh and I am glad it's above freezing. Our house warms up so much easier and I don't have to worry about our kids driving on icy roads. The whole back yard is covered in a blanket of smooth white fog making everything look as though it's in a story land. Our Siberian husky, Tundra is here wondering why I am taking his picture. He actually loves this weather. I checked on him yesterday and he was out laying on his side sleeping on the icy-crusted snow as if it were a warm rug.
Today, I am ready to write. The house is quiet and my chores are done so my imagination can start to roll. Abandoned Unknowingly is the title about a young girl sent to safety during World War Two under the care of her older brother. I will activate the link later today.

Here is the excerpt I forgot to add earlier...Abandoned Unknowingly
This is my story of a short but monumental event in my life that changed me forever. It was not planned, as most catastrophic, frightening, achingly miserable events tend not to be. I was only five years old. Kindergarten was the extent of exposure to life outside of my home, and even that was limited to several months. After a few hours away from our
pleasant farmhouse and I wanted nothing more than to come home where I could kick off my stiff school shoes and don my worn-down leather shoes. Ten cantankerous sheep, five golden Guernsey cows and a couple of stubborn donkeys were my source of entertainment along with several dozen Freedom Ranger chickens my father raised for selling at the market for a few extra pounds when we needed them. He prided himself in growing the best tomatoes on the island, jabbering on in French about how he had the best soil and the angle of the sun was just perfect. We spoke French and English at home, and sometimes mixed them together, since school for me was only in English.

The trouble in town bothered my parents. We lived just half a mile inland from the busy St. Peter’s Port. Repeated visits from neighbors and numerous town meetings for my parents left my brother, Roger and I sole caretakers of the farm on many days. He was 12 years old but I thought of him almost as an adult. He was a bright chap and kept me on my toes with his clever whit. Trying to outsmart and outrace him was the sole purpose of the majority of my days. He loved Father with a passion and hated when I would catch him dressing up all proper with Father’s hat and jacket. He made me giggle. Mine was a family of love set in the atmosphere of the lovely island I called home, Guernsey. If you didn’t know, Guernsey is a tiny island, but the whole world to me, set in the English Channel about 30 miles off the coast of France. I knew I lived on an island, but it meant nothing to me as we had a proper town, schools, churches, stores and beaches, just like every other family’s community.
T

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Snow, Finally!

beach, Chesapeake Bay, water, kayakingAfter waiting all winter for snow, we finally got our token inch or two of snow. It will probably melt in a few hours, but for now, everything is clean and white. Eric has the fire snapping and crackling and the fried potatoes are almost ready. Since traveling is not the best thing to do right now, I will try to stay put and think of some new story lines.
Last night, I finished a warm weather story, Lost in the Middle of Civilization. It is always fun to imagine being in a warm place when the weather outside is chilly.

Here are a few lines from this story:

Kayaking was her life’s love. It consumed her time during the late spring, through the summer and into the late fall when the cold water forced her to stay on land. Kayla’s friends knew her for pushing her boundaries, trying new things when others were content to the status quo. Work at the office as an editor was non-stop demands and deadlines. She hated the constant stress and relied heavily on her times on the water to break away from obligations.

Today was no different. It was Friday, April 3 and the air had warmed up to the 70s even though the water was still barely in the 60s. She had finished work a little early, thanks to an errand that Zach her boss had let her run during work hours. A quick stop by the printer supply store and she was free for the weekend. This was her favorite time of year. The air was pleasant, the water was too chilly for swimming so it kept the sport boats away, and it was nice and clear.
Kayla walked to the docks at the neighbor’s yard where she kept her kayak and untied all but one line. Hers was a simple ocean kayak that let her sit above the water -- easy to get in and off. She undid the rubber cover on her small storage compartment and slid her cell phone and an apple in for safekeeping. She placed her plastic water bottle in the middle cup holder and squatted on the dock. With one swoop, she lifted herself up and over onto the kayak. Straightening her baseball cap and her sunglasses, she grabbed her paddle and untied the dock line from the kayak handle. Her kayak slid easily away from the dock as she slipped her paddle through the water.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's Chilly and Snow is Coming.

forest fire, children, woods, fearIt is Friday and I have a new story that I just published on Amazon, Fire on the Ground. I used a memory from my childhood as the basis for this short tale. I hope you enjoy it.

Our house is cold but the wood insert is blazing so it will be warm soon.

It's not all that easy being a writer since you have to stay self motivated and keep coming up with creative ideas that will pique someone else's interest. Parts of it are fun and other parts are just work, plain and simple. I love it when a story gets going and I have a hard time getting my fingers to keep up with my thoughts. Then the time flies by and I find myself in a different dimension, living almost a different life.


So, today is another opportunity. What shall I write about? There must be an adventure ready to be revealed... before the snow comes tonight...

1/21 update: Here is an excerpt from Fire on the Ground


 
I stepped outside to take pleasure in the warm afternoon sun. It was late spring and Maine was striking in its beauty if you didn’t mind the austere winters or the isolation of the quiet woods. The pine needles made the air smell sweet with a just a hint of smokiness from our woodstove. I sucked the fragrant air deep into my lungs as I stepped away from the kitchen door.
My feet carried me almost instinctively towards the footpath out back. It wound through the back yard, down over a modest little stream and then up over the back hill to the woods. It was my pathway, as far as I was concerned. The other kids seemed content to hang around the house. With all six of us kids in the house, quiet time was very important to me and I often felt the need to wander into the quietness of the trees. On the south slope of the hill, there was a large pine tree with high branches like arms that stretched out to protect those who came near. I liked sitting there safe and secure in the warm sun, just for a chance to ponder my thoughts or to steal some words of fiction from a good novel. I meandered along the path when I noticed a bit of flickering about five feet away from our burn barrel on the ground. At first, I couldn’t comprehend why a flame would be on the ground. In micro seconds, I realized it was a spark-fueled fire from the burn barrel...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Short Story Time!

St. John, vacation, swimming, oceanAfter writing content articles for the last 4 to 5 years, I am moving into my favorite type of writing - the short story! With the entertainment market still going strong, I think that people like to have a short story to read for a quick lapse from their reality. Some of my stories are based loosely on personal experiences while others are just fun imagination.

Today, I published my first story, The Caribbean Rescue on Amazon's site for Kindle stories. Of course, I don't want to spoil the punch line, but the basic synopsis is a tourist on a Caribbean island finds herself orchestrating an ocean rescue. The conflict is the bad cell reception (of course) that starts the drama with what could be a partial plea for help.

Here is a link to the story online: The Caribbean Rescue
 

You can be the judge if you like it or not. Drop me a line if you have any suggestions. My next story? Fire!

1/21 update: By popular demand, I will show a portion of the story:




The constant wash of the waves rhythmically beating against the coral beach filled my ears leaving me to snooze peacefully during the heat of the day. My brothers and their wives had left to do some snorkeling at a beach a mile or two down the road and left me behind to rest, but only after some strong reassurance from me that I was fine, just in need of some peace and quiet.

“Burring, burring, burring, burring.”

I jumped up from the couch, nerves jangling; wondering what would make such a sound. My brain scrambled towards the direction of the sound, trying to remember if there was anything in my memory to identify its source. The house phone! I grabbed the receiver and pushed the green answer button.

“Hello?” I sputtered as I tried to wake up my vocal cords.

“Suzanne! Something happened to Janie. Can you…” and the voice turned to static.