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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge #45: Oh, How I Hate My Beautiful Friend

Following is my 400-word submission for Romantic Friday Writers Challenge #45. Yes, this story is a little weird, but...  Enjoy and feel free to offer a full critique.

* * *
My Auntie Efia was a beautiful women married to my father’s brother, Kwame. Our village is in northern Ghana. Efia was not only beautiful, she was clever and my dearest friend. She made us laugh with her song and dance. Like us, she had no great wealth, but she could always figure out a way to have the most beautiful dress that she would fashion with her own hands and dye in magnificent colors. Once, she made me such a dress on my tenth birthday. Her home, though no better than ours, was always swept clean and adorned with handmade utensils and dishes, colorful mats, woven baskets. Because she was so beautiful and talented, my life is now over before it ever began. I am doomed and I will tell you why.

It all began when Efia was given a cow by an international charity. They showed her how to care for it, how to make money from its milk, and how to birth a calf. You can imagine what such a gift would become in Efia’s clever hands. She was envied by all in the village and Kwame was too proud of her. She made him a wealthy man. Unfortunately, they had no children. Preventing a man from planting his seed in fertile ground is the sign of a witch. Worse, she was proud and spoke her mind. Everyone began to wonder what evil she would eventually bring to our village. The village landowners, the tindanas, said Kwame should cast her out before any trouble came upon them, but Kwame would not. He loved her too much and was not afraid of her powers.

Then it happened. Kwame suddenly became very ill and Efia did not possess enough magic to save his life. She cried many tears, even more when the village said Kwame’s death was her fault. My father called her witch. Efia fled to the Kukuo witch camp to save herself. When the priest slaughtered the rooster, it fell with its head down and its feet in the air. Now my father owns Efia’s cows and all that Kwame possessed, but I am sent to Kukuo to tend to my aunt for the rest of her days. Her beauty has faded. Every day I walk three miles to fetch water. We gather wood to sell. We die slowly. If only Efia were a witch, we might escape.


  1. Interesting. Liked that it's set across cultures.

  2. Beautiful and sad. Wishing her friend were a witch with magic, tragic.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Powerful writing and so interesting to write about a different culture. Poignant last lines.

  4. To this day, northern Ghana maintains several so-called witch camps. They exist to exorcise and protect the accused witches and to protect the villages. But in the end, the superstition often morphs into pure greed as in this story. The government is supposedly trying to close these camps down.

  5. Hi S.
    This certainly felt real, and now reading your comment I can see you based it on stories that actually happen. Greed does move people in irrational ways. This story highlights that. It is tragic not to be able to have children and then to be accused of murdering the man you love. I felt bad for both your characters. Well written as always.

  6. Dear Linda,

    What a great story.
    It feels so real. With a light hand you make us understand the cultural background to the bizarre solutions in this plot.

    So well-written with a deep understanding of what is different between cultures and what is universal human nature.

    I agree with Nancy, I feel for your characters.

    Love the point of view of the niece and her last line: 'If only Efia were a witch, we might escape.'

    Best wishes & hugs,
    RFW No. 45 - 'Oh how I hate my beautiful friend'

  7. Intriguing story, Linda. Mine has a bit of a 'winch' theme too. 'Winch' is Nigerian pidgin slang for 'witch.' Will post soon.

  8. Like the way you captured supernatural beliefs in the story. 'Admire the different colours and cultures in your story each week. Takes a gifted and confident writer to do that.

  9. I thought it was a lovely story, not weird. I enjoy reading about other cultures. Well done. :)

  10. Hi Linda. I'm always hooked by stories where I learn about other cultural traditions, although some are shocking. This brought back James A Michener's Centennial, where this Indian wife had everything stripped off her - her tepee, her warm clothes, everything, and was left to slowly freeze to death in the snow. True tradition, as is this. Thanks for sharing a powerful story.

  11. I loved the traditional feel to this story.

  12. The voice and pov of this young girl is so real. The words are simple, yet very powerful. The cultural aspect is quite enlightening. Amazing how ancient cultures and superstitions are still practiced in 2012.

    Thanks for sharing your culture with us.

  13. It's hard to imagine living in a culture so enthralled in superstitions. I thought you portrayed those beliefs well.

  14. I like the cultural setting too! It's different, and definitely original! It's always a wonderful surprise to read something that's so different than what everyone else is writing.. It's like who would have thought about this? Very interesting indeed and I could see this taking place in the early 1800's or early 1900's. A time where many folks began to buy into the whole witch hysteria! This reminds me of the Salem Witch trials actually! Are you familiar? Very interesting how that unfolded and I think if you haven't done so already, you'd be interested in finding out more about what happened in Salem Massachusetts! Many many many years ago! Perhaps you could incorporate something similar in the next challenge! This was a pleasure reading!

  15. I'm glad you all enjoyed this little story. Kind of chilling isn't it to think that in 2012 this is how some people live?

  16. Hi Linda,

    Complex and emotional piece... Inbred superstitions and cultural beliefs are no less prevalent within modern affluent societies, the only difference, we tend to look upon mishaps as merely bad luck and fortunate happenings as good luck... Sad all the same, when someone benefits from another's misfortune!


  17. Nice; a whole culture of jealousy. You really hit on the superstitious nature of a small village.

    I like where you went with this challenge. The sentiment and voice is perfect. Thank you for sharing such a rich world view.


  18. Lot of layers and an interesting take. Poor Efia ~