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, January 16, 2014
Thirty-year old Jodie Parker kicked off her shoes and laid back on the sofa. Melissa Gonzalez, her childhood friend, placed her chair next to the couch.
“Are you sure you know how to do this hypnosis stuff?” She remembered the silly Ouija board parties they had held as kids.
Melissa smiled. “Hypnosis can be a useful tool in my practice for cracking a case like yours. Let’s find out why you’ve blocked memories of your hildhood and address your animosity towards your father. I think you will find this liberating if you are willing to trust me.”
“If I can’t trust you, who will I trust?” Jodie wanted to unravel the mystery of a difficult relationship with her father and the men in her life—to bring some measure of happiness and equilibrium to the chaos.
Melissa brought her left thumb and middle finger together. “Stare at my hand, steady and as unblinking as possible.”
Jodie felt her body relax as she listened to the lilting sounds of Enya in the background. She stared at Melissa’s hand and listened to the soft voice instruct her to relax and ensure her that she would feel refreshed after their session. Then the lights went out.
Melissa moved her right hand into Jodie’s view and watched as her eyes suddenly closed. She waited a moment and then turned on her small hand-held recorder. “We are here to discuss these feelings that trouble you, particularly those about your father.” Jodie’s father had always been cold and dismissive of her. He killed with words and little by little Jodie’s emotions had become entangled in a complex love-hate relationship.
There was a low moan and a muttering. “My hand hurts.” Melissa stared at the outstretched hand. “Tell me where you are.”
“I am in the kitchen with my husband John.”
Melissa hesitated. Jodie did not have a husband. “Why does your hand hurt?”
A tear ran down Jodie’s face. “John has branded the letter M on my palm. M for murder. He says it is because my witchery has killed our son. If any other evil should happen, he will lay it on me and gladly build my scaffold or gather the fagots with which to burn me.” She took a deep breath. “My blistered hand smells most foul.”
Melissa shivered at the change in Jodie’s voice and accent. “What country are you in?”
Melissa raised an eyebrow. “Tell me about your husband John.”
“Hah. He fancies himself Lord Ellis’s master of horse. He is the stable master.”
“Why does he think you killed your son?”
“It is Lord Ellis’s son and I would see father and son in Hell.”
“I thought you said the child was your husband’s son.”
“He thinks so, but anyone with eyes could see the child’s red hair and know it to be an Ellis. Lord Ellis did rape me when he sent my fool husband to buy horses.”
“What is the month and year?”
Melissa held her breath and pondered her next question. “Did you kill your son?”
“Aye. I know which plants are poisonous.”
“Let’s move forward in time to the year 1582. Are you alive and well?”
“Aye. Well enough considering the baby that turns in my belly. If I am fortunate, I shall die bringing him into this life, but I am loath to leave an innocent babe into the care of my husband. At least he has stopped beating me because he thinks he may have gotten a son on me.”
“You were not sorry about the death of your first son. Why do you care for this one?”
“I am greviously sorry for that. May God forgive me.”
“A year forward in time. How is your son?”
“He is too frail for this world.”
“How is your husband John?”
Jodie groaned. “They say he has the sweating sickness. I don’t know what to do. I fear my son and I will die from it too.”
“What are you doing?”
“The ground is so hard. I am digging his grave and one for my son too.”
“John has died?”
“Are you feeling remorseful and sad?”
“Not yet. I have found where John hides his coin.”
“Where is Lord Ellis?”
“He dares not come near for fear of the sickness.”
“You are alone?”
“My sister Mary has come to help me. She gives no care for her own well being. Mary is the sweetest thing in my life.”
“Go forward a day in time and tell me about the health of your husband.”
“He is out of his mind. He rants that he will see me burned as a witch before he dies. It is what keeps him alive.”
“How do you feel about that?”
Jodie is silent for a moment. “His son is dead. That makes me marked for the fire.” She holds up her hand as if to show her brand. “And I am much afraid.”
“Can you forgive your husband John? Can you forgive yourself?”
“That is much harder than digging a grave.”
“If you allow forgiveness, you will free yourself.”
“I always wanted to be free, which is why John loathed me so.
“How does this story end?”
“I bury myself next to my son’s grave or so they will think when they gaze upon our sad cemetery. They will find my husband’s corpse in his bed. My sister and I flee with John’s coin and his best horse in the dark of night, but my moments of happiness are few and I die of the sickness.”
Melissa stared for a long minute at the face of her best friend. How best to end this disturbing session? She had meant to explore Jodie’s relationship with her father and instead she had dug up something from a past, real or imagined. Melissa stared at the face of her best friend. “Forgive those who have wronged you, and forgive yourself. You will be free. Defeat evil with the goodness in your heart. Now open your eyes and you will feel renewed and able to confront bad memories. You will feel whole and happy.”
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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.