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, September 20, 2013

Moving On

The September theme for Write...Edit...Publish is Moving On. Stop by to read the rules, link up your entry, and read entries submitted by other writers. Following is my submission. Feel free to offer a full critique.

* * *
     The waiter turned on the patio heater and refilled water glasses at their table. Diane drizzled honey into her tea and stirred slowly as she gazed past her daughter and son-in-law towards the setting sun glinting on the calm waters of the bay. She had no appetite for the shrimp scampi on her plate. Ever since her husband John had died of a drug overdose, she had been in an emotional coma, unable to eat or sleep. She knew she had to shake herself out of grief and put the pieces of her life back together. There were things she needed to discuss with her daughter.

      “Mom, what do you plan to do with the house?” her daughter Chris asked. “The mortgage payments are more than you can afford.”

      Diane shrugged and stirred her tea. She was not a child who needed reminding. “I’ll sell it and find something smaller.”

      “You should be able to get a good price for it.”

      Diane nodded and tapped her spoon against the rim of her cup.

      “I was wondering if you would consider making us a loan from the proceeds,” Chris probed.

      Diane lifted her gaze to meet her daughter’s eyes. She hesitated, confused.

      “Well, you know Matt wants to start a small business and I thought you might help us out.”

     The last thing in the world Diane wanted to do was put a penny of her money in her son-in-law’s hands. When Diane still couldn’t manage a response, her daughter replied: “Of course, we’d pay you back if that’s what you’re worried about.”

     “Do we have to talk about this now?” Diane said. “I’m just not able to deal with any of this yet.”

      “I know you’re hurting Mom, but you’re going to have to deal with it eventually. Truth be told, Matt was a terrible husband. You need to move on.”

     Diane felt her gut tighten. Her sick, addicted husband had left her with a damn mess. She hated him for it and yet her heart bled for him. So bright and talented and yet such a fragile human being. She wished she had never entangled her life with his. As she looked into her daughter’s clear blue eyes, she understood that Chris had no love for her stepfather or his sharp, independent intellect and certainly no understanding of his failings.

     Chris took a long, thoughtful sip of wine and stared her mother down. “Maybe you should take a little vacation, go to a spa or something relaxing. Pull yourself together.”

     Diane held her daughter’s gaze. “I want to go to France.”

     Chris choked on her wine. “France?” Chris and Matt looked at each other with amusement and gasped.

     “Seriously? You’d take a trip all the way to France to spend a couple of weeks with a bunch of socialist frogs?” Matt asked.

     Chris giggled and covered her mouth with her napkin. “Matt, really. It’s a very romantic place—even if . . .”

     “Since when are you an expert on France?” Diane replied. She did not like this son-in-law and the ugly influence he had on Chris. Her daughter, desperate for love and security, had married Matt and become his mirror image. What hurt more than her husband’s death was the realization that her own daughter was gradually morphing into a narrow-minded, hateful person who looked with condescension on anyone who didn’t share her opinions on religion, gun ownership, immigration, civil rights, and any other issue. She read the contempt on their faces.

     “I agree with you, Diane.” Matt grimaced. “France would be the perfect place for a liberal commie like yourself. You’d be right at home. I hear they love Obama there.”

     Diane sat stiffly in her chair. She could feel a shudder of rage in her body, but she knew better than to offer any bait to Matt. It wouldn’t take much to launch both of them into a rant about all that was wrong in the world because of wrong-headed people such as herself.

     “So Mom, “Chris interjected. “I hope you will keep an open mind about the possibility of giving us a loan. It would mean a lot to us.”

     “Of course.” Diane knew that Chris and Matt wanted to tap her for whatever money was left from the house sale. Well, she was already a step or two ahead of them. She had listed her house a week ago and accepted an offer, something she intended to discuss with Chris, but now she hesitated. “Give me a little more time.”
* * *

     Three weeks later Diane left a message and Chris showed up on her doorstep. “What’s this I hear? You’re really going to France? By yourself?”

     “Yes, I’ve rented a flat in Paris. I’ll be leaving at the end of the week.”

     “Really? How long do you plan to stay?”

     “I don’t know yet.” Diane reached for her daughter. “Come. There are things to discuss before I go.

     Chris spun out of her arms and turned around. “Where is all your furniture?”

     “The house has been sold and I’m in the process of packing, selling stuff off, and putting a few things in storage.”

     “You never told me. Why all the secrecy?”

     There really was no need for secrecy because Chris hadn’t called her since their dinner on the beach. “I just needed to work through all this by myself.”

     Chris frowned as if she was unsure whether she should congratulate or condemn her mother.

     Diane walked to the kitchen counter and picked up a piece of paper. “Here is my contact information. I’ll try to get my email account up and going once I get there. If something happens to me, well, contact my lawyer.”

     “God, mom, I think you have a screw loose.”

     Diane placed her hands on Chris’s shoulders. “I love you. I want so much for you to be happy.”

     Chris cocked her head to one side and screwed up her eyes. “How much did you get for the house?”

     “None of your business.”

     “Oh, I see. You never really had any intention of giving us a loan.”

     “You see nothing.” Diane thought of all the things she wanted her daughter to see. “I am taking your best daughterly advice. I’m moving on.”


  1. I do so hope Paris works out for her and she was right not to lend that nasty son-in-law any money. Perhaps her daughter will see sense and join her in France one day.

  2. Owch! This hurt to read- so much anger and hatefulness and hurt. So, so harsh.

    One quick thing: I understand that the son-in-law's name it Matt, but earlier you have the daughter say "Matt was a terrible husband." Is that the anme of the deceased as well? That threw me for a loop.

    I love the picture at the end, and the mother's strength.

  3. A very good example of moving on. We all hope we have the strength to do this if need be. The name 'Matt' was SIL and husband was 'John' am I right? But yes, the daughter did say Matt was a bad husband.

    Well done!

  4. Linda, loved it. Such emotions and such a ring of truth. Often kids can be very materialistic and have their hands out for money. Not much consideration for Chris who now has to make a way for herself for the rest of her life. Amusing how they asked for a loan, then continued with their horrible diatribe. Clever Chris. I like a woman who knows her own mind and isn't swayed by pressure from loved ones.

    Beverly picked up on the mix up with husband's names, but it didn't pull; me out of the story. I was so excited that she was off to the land of 'socialist frogs'. Lucky lady.

    Thank you for posting for WEP LInda. A great entry as always. I hope you can start cooking something fun or fantastic for next month's HAUNTING.

    I hope life is treating you well.


  5. And forget to say I loved the painting. I have some like that. Just waiting for an opportunity to use them.

  6. Really enjoyed reading your piece, Linda. Apart from the mix up in names, there was nothing off that I spotted. Fantastic flow and dialogue. Great entry for the prompt. Some kids are so selfish. They assume they're the only ones with needs. Smart lady! Hope she has a fab time in France.

  7. I'm glad she's going away from that daughter, how demanding and selfish! The son-in-law sounds even nastier. Nice take on the prompt. The mix-up in names confused me too, but didn't disrupt the story.

  8. I like this one. Very complicated relationships on full display for our gawking pleasure.

  9. So sad that some children have their hands forever out and eager for money. I think you captured the feelings your protagonist had for this in such a few words. Not sure about the Obama comment but then I'm one American who really likes him and I don't consider myself a commie. Just an aside.

    I've posted my story.

  10. Really enjoyed this one! Sometimes family can be so horrid. Hope she finds peace and lots, and lots of adventure! Well told!

  11. Wow, this family really needs a vacation, lol. Vacation from each other. Too bad they have all those differences. Well written, and evocative Linda.


  12. This pulled me right in. Hated the way her daughter and son-in-law treated her, no love there at all, just money screaming all over. I do hope she stays in France and finds her peace there.

  13. I enjoyed your story with all its character and plot subtleties...
    It had great dialogue and the perfect amount of tension... a wonderful flow!
    Writer In Transit

  14. I loved this. Her being smart enough to see her beloved daughter in a reality light. That is the hard part of moving on, leaving behind those you love, even though they don't love you back. Moving to France is just what I would do! I have a friend who has done just that (not Paris!) and she loves it. I have family there and have been many times. I would love a chance to live there, even for only a few years.

  15. This para confused me: " “I know you’re hurting Mom, but you’re going to have to deal with it eventually. Truth be told, Matt was a terrible husband. You need to move on.” Was Matt the husband who died or the daughter's husband, or were they both called Matt? Also, at first I didn't even realise Matt was at the dinner with them.

    I'm so glad she escaped to Paris and didn't give that jerkface any money. Even if she was denying her daughter, her daughter is in a bad situation. Hopefully the daughter will come to her senses eventually! I don't understand people who would rather be with a horrible person in marriage than alone.

  16. Just returned from Canada and I see in my haste to post something before our trip, I kind of screwed up on the names. Sorry. My apologies. Matt is the unpleasant son-in-law. John is Chris' deceased husband. Thank you all for dropping my and leaving your comments. I will try to visit your posts too--uh, as soon as I unpack my bags, wash some clothes, and get some food in the refrigerator.