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.
With the exception of Pinterest, which satisfies my artistic curiosity, I have come to loath social media, particularly Facebook. Twitter I rarely bother with because I don't feel any necessity to limit communication to 140 characters. What for? But Facebook is an enervating addiction. It starts with a positive--the ability to main contact with friends and family and easily check in on their day-to-day activities. It does help hold far flung families and relationships together. But from that point on Facebook goes down hill. My first irritation is all the people who post endless selfies and other narcissistic trivia. After that comes people who post religious statements or who want to see how many people they can get to share a particular post. All the cute pet posts and the disgusting recipes are somewhat tolerable. The ads are annoying but I don't pay any attention to them. And then there are those of us who post political and social news (of which I am guilty). However, there is a difference between the back and forth of posting political/social statements and what really turns me off: mean-spirited, ugly comments devoid of any respect for the facts. Blinding hatred. I've reached a point where I can't take it any more. I don't want to know that people, particularly those I know personally, harbor such hate in their hearts. Honest discussion is one thing but insane ranting is another. So I'm making myself a promise to swear off Facebook. I'm blocking all the most obnoxious posts and unfollowing those who regularly post annoying junk. I'm wondering if I can reconfigure Facebook in the future so that it is a useful tool or if I should just discard it altogether. Can I break my addiction?
These days you're likely to have seen several of the Lincoln auto advertisements featuring Matthew McConaughey. They're kind of weird in an intriguing way. McConaughey is one of those actors who lets his quirky self shine through.
And so it is with the Free State of Jones which is based on the true story of the Civil War in Mississippi. Newt Knight (McConaughey) is a Mississippi farmer who is a medic in the Confederate Army. When his nephew dies in battle, he returns home to Jones County to bury the body and protect his family. He is soon branded as a deserter and on the run.
Knight does not believe in slavery and is angered by the fact that the Confederate troops confiscate the livestock and grain of local farmers to provision the army, leaving the local people in danger of starvation. He is angry that wealthy slave owners are exempt from serving in the Confederate army, but the small land owners are expected to give their lives and property for the cause of defending slavery.
With the help of Rachel, a domestic slave, he flees to the swamps and soon finds himself the leader of a band of small farmers, fugitives, and escaped slaves who eventually organize an uprising. Jones County secedes from the Confederacy.
Intertwined with this story is the modern day story of Davis Knight, a descendant who some 85 years later finds himself on trial for breaking the state law against interracial marriage, even though by appearance he looks to be white. It's a delicate but true story of interracial sexuality in a state that banned marriage with people who were one-eighth or more Negro descent. It is the tale of white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan that still figures in the fabric of American life today.
The film gives a fascinating perspective on this period in our history and McConaughey does a good job of portraying the scruffy radicalized Knight. It is not a joyful story but nevertheless it is uplifting as only an American story can be by defying evil against all odds. Go see it.
Most of us live in a crowded, fast-paced environment where we scramble to keep body and soul together. Our lives are preoccupied with acquiring the necessities of life: food, shelter, meaningful work, supporting our family and friends, and juggling all the complexities of modern life. It's easy to lose ourselves. We feel disconnected, frustrated, overwhelmed.
Perhaps this explains why people turn to nature. There is something about nature that touches us and refocuses our mind. A walk through a neighborhood park, a day at the beach, or a hike in the mountains can restore our equilibrium and change our perspective. We slip into Mother Earth's embrace.
Recently, I made a trip to Bryce National Park and Arches National National Park in Utah. I think Bryce was my favorite. It was a jewel of colors and bizarrely-shaped rocks. On the other hand, Arches with it's massive rock formations and sprawling desert lands was overpowering. It swallowed you whole. Intimate Bryce trails allowed visitors to wend their way through the crimson hoodoos down to the floor of the canyon. There is something magical abut losing yourself in nature because it allows you to find yourself.
It’s the late 50s and Ed Myers, a junior reporter at Miami Herald, writes a fan letter to Ernest Hemingway. A week later, to his complete disbelief, he receives an invitation from Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary to join them in Havana.
The movie was shot during the economic embargo at Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s actual home. It is based on an autobiographical script by Denne Petitclerc. The story is told from Petitclerc’s point of view through the character, Ed Myers.
So here’s the story. Abandonned by his father as a child, Ed Myers is in need of a father figure, and well, perhaps Hemingway was in need of an admiring son. It’s a rather tedious movie about Hemingway’s dark genius and his preoccupation in his later years with his sexual and creative impotence. Throw in the Cuban revolution for a little spice and the pursuit by an FBI agent who has it in for Papa. It’s still a rather bland stew punctuated by bouts of rage, paranoia, and alcoholism. The story has an uneven weave to it, like it was just swatches of dull dialog and actions patched together. I think there was more to Hemingway than this. While the locale is authentic and actor Adrian Sparks looks like Hemingway, something is definitely missing in the telling.
Every strong and loving family cherishs their children, the princes and princesses of promise for a better future.
It has always been a dangerous world where evil and misfortune abound. Innocents perish and those that survive are often scarred for life physically, mentally and spiritually. Any child that has been blessed with health, the necessities of life, and loving parents is true royalty.
Most of us tend to dismiss our sixth sense. We don’t trust it. We writers don’t even like to give our characters psychic abilities. Maybe we enjoy watching them blindly stumble along in their stories like we stumble along in our daily lives—totally unable to read the thoughts of others, to see beyond the tip of our nose. But is it truly like that?
There are four types of psychic intuition which we often refer to collectively as the sixth sense (in addition to the five physical senses):
My middle-aged daughter, Maria, tells me she is stressed out. She looks it. She acts like it. I think I know about stress. I raised two daughters and a son by myself after my husband was killed during the Korean war. I don't know what she's got going on in her life to be stressed about, but then again, I do. It's me. She and my son-in-law hate me for being old and dependent. She's angry I don't help with the cooking and cleaning. I don't know--how many people would hire a 90-year old to cook their meals and scrub their toilets? I'm tired. My brain doesn't always cooperate. Most of the time I don't understand what she's complaining about.
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Dreaming of Laughing Hawk
DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK is the story of Elizabeth Leigh, a young woman who leaves behind the ashes of her unhappy, Midwestern upbringing for a new life in California. But it’s 1964 and neither the turbulent times nor the people in Elizabeth Leigh’s life make a Cinderella ending possible—least of all, a quicksand character like Mark Laughing Hawk. Available on Amazon.