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.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stuck in the Middle

Following is my 400-word submission for Romantic Friday Writers Challenge No. 39, Stuck in the Middle. It's a tough one. I've had a full schedule of editing and classes this week, so I thought I could use a change of pace. The challenge is to write from the point of view of someone who is connected to a couple whose relationship is unravelling. I probably fractured the guidelines for this challenge a little. (I am open to a full critique.)
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The three of us had left LA on a beautiful summer morning in Hawk’s old flatbed Ford. Hawk drove and Lizzy sat in the middle because God knows Hawk and I can’t stand each other. By the third day on the road, I was pretty tired of this whole Mississippi adventure. Yeah, it was my idea. I wanted to see my Jake so bad, I completely took leave of my senses.

At first, cousin Lizzy wasn’t enthusiastic about the trip. Couldn't blame her. She was too in love with Collin and that big sparkly engagement ring, but I talked her into it. I insisted on not telling family or her Collin where we were really going. They would not put up with us heading off for Mississippi to see Jake, especially with all the noise about Freedom Summer. Three civil rights workers had disappeared and were presumed dead.

As my enthusiasm for the long, hard drive began to wane, Lizzy seemed to get caught up in the adventure. Just after we crossed the Mississippi state line, the weather turned bad. Hawk pulled into a station to get gas and I decided to freshen up a bit while Lizzy snapped pictures. I changed into short shorts and a white cotton blouse. By the time I came out of the restroom, it was raining and the only thing I could do to keep halfway dry was to hold a newspaper over my head and make a mad dash for the truck.

I got to the truck and pulled open the passenger door. The two of them were there on the front seat tussling and convulsing with laughter. Hawk had Lizzy's hair twisted around his fist. She was pulling on his hair. They suddenly released each other, breathless and flushed.

“Gee, don't let me stop your fun."

I slid onto the seat. My clothes were soaked. Hawk leaned forward and flashed a wicked grin at me. Lizzy’s mouth had dropped open. That’s when I realized that cotton blouses become transparent when wet.

"I swear to God, Hawk, if I ever. . ." My threatening words evaporated in a hiss, extinguished by Hawk's laughter and hard rain. Hawk had the moves of a panther--confident, stealthy, and patient. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My desire to make this trip had set Lizzy in his path. Collin would never forgive me if he found out. Next stop I would be sitting in the middle.


  1. Oh how intriguing! Hawk... I like that name and Collin. I just read a book where the main character's name was collin! Good choice of a name and excellent story about being stuck in the middle! Good luck to you!!!

  2. Not only stuck in the middle but stuck with the blame! Not a fun position. Great job of making us feel for her. Roland

  3. This delights me. The hapless witness who uncovered secret longings. It's charged with passion and erotic, without losing focus on the main character's mindset. Very well crafted.

  4. Hi,

    Oh lordy, trouble's brewing! Great snippet. ;)


  5. Interesting that she's not as surprised as I thought she would be finding her cousin flirting with another man!

    1. Well, the idea in my head that didn't make it to the story was that Lizzy is not a flirt, but being put in this situation sparks a relationship--one that Lizzy would deny.

  6. Lots going on here Linda. Love your earthy take on life. All sorts of things can happen on a road trip! Good detail with her changing into shorts and blouse. Why did you put in that detail? Because you were going to use it. Ha, wet blouse, good look! Could be a storm brewing now.


  7. Lovely last line. Great read throughout. I can see the scene clearly. Well done.

  8. So, Lizzy is cheating on Collin with Hawke while our character is making a surprise road trip to see her own estranged boyfriend Jake?

    I like how you tie the physical "stuck in the middle" ending (between the two forbidden lovers) with the overall theme of the challenge. These characters are interesting, and flirty. I think the end of this trip is not going to be what is expected of the beginning :)

    Thanks for participating in this weeks RFW challenge Linda.


  9. Hawk is living up to his name indeed. LOL. I love this. It's spot on with the theme. Well done, Linda.

  10. This was a great piece...her own secret journey turns into a forbidden tryst for her cousin. Will Hawk go for her next?

    1. Nope. They are enemies. However, she might go for Hawk?

  11. Hmmm...Hawk. Now what would he be tearing at next? :)

  12. Hello.
    Ha! Seems like everyone has something to hide! That Hawk...he's a piece of work!
    I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn...