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.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Romantic Friday Challenge #30: Learning to Dance When It's Over

This my 400-word submission for this Friday's challenge. Full critique is welcome. 
When her only child Jonathon enlisted in the army as soon as he turned eighteen, Marie fell into a deep depression. In the hospital, she came to the realization that she had lost not only her son but her protector.

Now that she had been released from the hospital, all she had to deflect her husband Michael’s rage was a handful of prescription drugs. She wasn’t well enough yet to return to work. Angry because she couldn’t even cobble together a simple meal, Michael stormed out of the house most evenings to meet his best friend Izzy at a local bar.  The bar owner, Dino Ricci, was their neighbor. Marie couldn’t remember the last time she had ever seen him. He worked late hours, slept most of the day. Michael said he must be a damned fairy because he gave dance lessons.

One afternoon Marie managed to get off the couch and venture out into the backyard. She leaned over her neighbor’s fence to admire his roses and inhale the sweet scent. She experienced a lightness of spirit she hadn’t felt in ages. She caressed the blooms.
“Go ahead. Pick whatever you want. They’re for you.”

She looked up to see her handsome neighbor standing on his back patio. That was the beginning of their friendship and her recovery. She never spoke to Michael about him; she swore Dino to secrecy. One afternoon, drawn by the music coming from his patio, she accepted his invitation for a dance lesson. She loved the feel of his firm hand on her back, the sureness with which he directed her bare feet across the cool grass. When the lesson was over, she buried her head in the hollow of his shoulder and sobbed.
“Run as far and fast as you can,” he told her.

That evening when she joined Michael at the bar, a drunken Izzy challenged her to a dance. Michael sneered. From behind the bar, a concerned Dino kept a watchful eye.
Izzy led Marie onto the dance floor. It wasn’t the same as dancing with Dino.

A week after the bar fight between Izzy and Michael, the local news reported finding a man’s severed head, hands, and feet on a hiking trail in a nearby canyon.  Marie accepted the key to Dino’s Montana cabin, threw her suitcase in the car, and headed down the road.


  1. Hi Scheherazade. I knew this story was complicated right from the beginning, but I wasn't expecting the blow at the end! Wow! There's a lot more to this story.

    But I got ahead of myself. I especially loved the gentle lawn dancing with Dino. Beautifully painted picture. We do need the right people to help us through desperate times and Michael wasn't the one!

    Great to have your entry this week. This prompt is bringing forth all sorts!


  2. LOL; my kind of story. Romance, conflict, and murder. Despite the depression it started with, my heart soared at the end with so many future possibilities.

    Very well done.


  3. LOL @ Donna.
    Great twist at the end. Certainly was not expecting it. Scheherazade, your story could be a chunk from an even bigger story though it also works well as flash fiction. Lots to avenues to fill in and many possibilities.

  4. Yes, I have to agree with everyone else. I didn't expect that ending. Wow. I'd definitely want to find out more about this story. Well done.

  5. Dear Linda,
    What a story! It's got everything! I agree with the commenters before me. You could expand this into something longer, but it also works well as short fiction.
    I really like Marie's dancing teacher, Dino.

    I think I need to drink a cup of tea after this one!

    Best wishes & hugs,

    Anna's The Last Dance - RFW challenge No.30

  6. I loved the hope that the roses and that first dance represent. And that ending - WOW!

    Loved it
    Laura x

  7. Hello Linda.
    What a wonderful piece of writing.
    Scene setting & imagery were perfect.
    Whoa...that ending completely took me by surprise! A continuation of this is a must (smile). Donna's comment.

    Very nicely done!
    Thanks for sharing

    Like A Harlot

  8. Hi Scheherazade. Back for the second reading. This really hits hard. I hope by now you're working it into something much bigger!


  9. Thank you all for your comments. I agree it's trying to cram too much into 400 words. I wish I had time to develop it into a story, but I'm still doing rewrites on my novel.