Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Definition of a Princess

If you are born healthy in mind and body, if you have the love and the good care of family, then you are royalty in every sense of the word.

To be four years old and to live such a life is magical, even in the face of future misfortune because once a princess, always a princess. It is a blessing that can carry one through even a difficult life. (Of course this theory also applies to princes, but that is a story for another day.)

Princess Kylie is an old soul--confident, happy, clever, wily, strong-willed, sensitive to the feelings of others, and perceptive. She engages easily with others but just as easily drifts off into a world of her own imagination. She can be a rowdy comrade to her brother or a fairy silently tripping through the woods in pursuit of butterflies.

I often wonder how this granddaughter of mine will turn out. She has clearly been blessed. How will she wield her magic wand before the weight of the world comes down on her shoulders? Will she stand strong and wise?

In the meantime, I am growing and storing a supply of chamomile because my little lady always demands chamomile tea with milk and sugar when she visits.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Movie Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

It was a Friday night and I needed some escapist mind candy so I talked my husband into going to the movies.

There was a huge crowd of teenagers queued up at the ticket counters. I don't know what action-adventure or fantasy their minds craved, but mine needed something peaceful and far away in time--neither here and now nor impending sci-fi doom and gloom.

We checked into the nearly empty theater that was showing Far from the Madding Crowd based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel set in Victorian England. I've never read the novel so I wasn't quite sure what I was in for except some mindless romance.

The story is simple: a beautiful spirited young woman (Bethsheba Everdene) inherits a large, run-down country estate and sets off to become the new owner/manager. In this new life, she encounters three men: Gabriel Oak, the sheepherder who works for her; Mr. Boldwood, a well-to-do bachelor and neighbor; and Sergeant Frank Troy, a dashing soldier. The story revolves around the hardships she encounters and the men who want to win her affections. It is a romance and a study in relationships and personalities, but I have to say I found the characters somewhat two-dimensional. The dashing soldier was clearly cut from cardboard and neither his character nor his actions added up. Nor did it make any sense why Bethsheba would be interested in him except that he was handsome. Mr. Boldwood's character also seemed a bit disconnected from normal motivations.

All in all, it was pleasing mind candy, but it left you scratching your head in wonderment at the plausability of some of the characters' actions and the absence of adequate motivation. It was too much melodrama for me although I enjoyed the pastoral scenery and being removed from the realities of 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On the Way to Chernobyl

I have only a few more radiation treatments to go and it won't be soon enough. The other patients on the shuttle bus to the radiology center are also anxious to be finished with this phase of their treatment. The newcomers are just plain anxious and afraid.

We have all developed a gallows sense of humor over the last few weeks. We call the radiology center Chernobyl. The inept male nurse who administers chemo treatments is tagged Vlad the Impaler. And yet strangely enough we profusely thank the bus driver every day for safely getting us to the treatment center and bringing us back home. The future with a cancer diagnosis is uncertain but we all want to be home for dinner.

In my mind, I have worked my way through this disease. Cancer bores me. I can't live in fear. Whatever the outcome, I intend to live my life until I drop. I choose not to paint myself a gloom and doom prognosis and live within the confines of that belief. Somehow one has to allow the mind and body to push through disease and affliction.

And so I go about my life, engaging with all that I care about--family, writing, gardening, painting, cooking a good meal, travel and so on. There is much to celebrate in life and much to nurture and protect.

Watercolor Can Be Challenging & Relaxing

Nature is Full of Beautiful Forms and Colors

Food is Always Comfort (I love quiche)

Family is Best of All

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Short Story: Running Away (Le Fin)

I think I've lost my mind after four weeks of two-hour round trips for radiation treatment and I have certainly lost my way as far as this story is concerned. So here it is--Jack gets the last word. I'll take him to task when the spirit moves me.


I'm cool. In control. I hired a private detective and I believe sooner or later Lora will make a mistake. What I'm worried about is my senatorial campaign. All the endorsements and fund raising, all the carefully orchestrated speeches and event planning. I should have known something was up when she sat across the table from me and tapped her nails against her wine glass.

"Do you believe all that you say about small government and scaling back welfare and social security, shutting down the IRS?"

"Of course."

"What would Jesus say?"


"Really? How do you reconcile the Christianity you proclaim with the cruelty of your political agenda?"

That's when I should have known Lora was about to turn my life upside down. That is the moment she stopped wanting to be my wife. She refused to join me at the podium at the end of my last speech.   And then she slapped we with the ultimate betrayal: she took our children and ran.

But finally I get the news that she and the children have flown to California. I am so certain we will catch her but I am wrong. Hawaii. Australia. We loose her trail. I know I have to focus on my campaign and how to spin her betrayal at least until the election. I long to press my fingers into the soft white flesh of her neck and interrogate her. Whatever made her think she could live without me?

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Short Story: Running Away (Part 5)

I have driven hard all day--long flat stretches of monotonous freeway, tires humming, music blasting, kids squabbling, and me worrying about my sanity. I wonder if Shannon found a public pay phone: it just occurred to me that these are hard to find these days. (I should have told her to try the court house.)

When the caffeine no longer works and the kids are driving me crazy, I stop at a Best Western just before I reach Chicago. I buy the kids McDonald's for dinner and then turn them loose in the motel pool in hopes they can burn off some of their pent up energy.

Late at night, unable to sleep, I watch my angels dream as the flickering light from the TV plays across their serene faces. I wonder how I got to this place in life. Blindness. Blind stupidity. As my sister would say, I have an inability to see beneath the surface of things, to read body language, to hear the falseness in words, to know.  I have no clue about that sixth sense my sister seems to live by.

I should be focused on where I am going but instead my brain spins round and round trying to figure out how I got so many things wrong and worried that I am setting myself up for a repeat performance. What if this? What if that? I cannot shut off my brain. I pop a couple of Advil PMs and hope that in the morning I will not feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck.

To be continued

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Short Story: Running Away (Part 4)

For this week's installment of Running Away, I find myself on the cancer caravan for radiology. Five days a week I board the bus for an hour long trek to my HMO radiology center with a dozen other patients. When we arrive we all await our turn to be nuked and then we reboard and head home. It kills my afternoon, figuratively speaking. So I try to make the best use of time as possible when riding in a noisy shuttle bus that rattles and bumps down the freeway. Let's see what happens this week with Jack and Lora.


I can be thankful that Jack never reads anything but business and financial articles. If he were a reader of the fine print that is required for legal transactions, he would discover I have changed my name. My new last name is Martinez. Mind you, I don't speak a word of Spanish, but it's a common name that should complicate his finding me.

The minivan I rented is our new home until I drop it off. It's a one-way rental. I am driving down the freeway now and my hands are gripping the steering wheel so tightly that they have lost all sensation. I have lost all sensation except terror. But terror clears my mind. I must protect my children.

I look in the rear view mirror and I see that Jordan is playing a game on his iPad. Mila, clutching her doll, is sound asleep in her car seat. We are on our way west. I have no idea how long it will take us to get to California from Boston, but I have promised them I will take them to Disneyland. I hope I can figure this all out by the time I reach our destination.

I wish I could talk to my family, but I instructed my friend Shannon to call them from a pay phone and tell them I will be in contact with them when I can. Expect Jack to call and harass them. Expect the police. Tell everyone that you know nothing except that I was very unhappy and afraid. I will take good care of Jordan and Mila.

To be continued

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Short Story: Running Away (Part 3)


She left me a letter, a proclamation of the wrongs I supposedly committed, a declaration of freedom. All about her. It’s always about her. I know she’s hiding out somewhere with family or friends. She cleaned out the checking account so I guess I can be sure that no serial killer has finished her off. I’m disappointed--in serial killers. I’ve got a right to be angry when she pulls this shit. If she wants to run away, fine, but without my children. She’s not getting the children and she’s not getting my money either. I can promise her that.

I knew something was up when she stopped arguing with me. I’m not a hitter, but I really felt like decking her when she started with the silent treatment.

It wasn’t always like this between us, but with time she seemed to develop an attitude of disrespect. She was pretty once, but honestly, I can’t look at her anymore. I’ve mapped every freckle and flaw. Lora turns me off. I don’t know who she is anymore. I can’t remember why I chose her. She has broken my life and I can no longer see myself when I look in the mirror. Neither one of us has a face anymore.

So I’ve filed a missing person’s report and now I’ll hire a private investigator. When I finish with her, she'll wish she was dead.

To be continued