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, February 13, 2014

What's in a Face?

February's challenge at Write...Edit...Publish is "what's in a face?" I thought of my main character, Elizabeth, in Dreaming of Laughing Hawk. She keeps a sketchbook of portraits of all the people in her life--from the gardener to her family to the love of her life, Collin. This is a short monologue from her point of view. Feel free to offer a full critique.

* * *

I look at the sketch book in my hands. Before I left for California, I tore out my mother's picture and set a match to it--for what she did to me and my stepfather. Some days when I'm a little home sick, I stare at the sketch of my stepfather and trace his craggy jaw with my fingertip. I hope he is doing well. When my mother left us for a new lover, we somehow managed to help each other get through the anger and pain. Me, a scatter-brained high school kid. Him, a drunk. I think I love him more than my father because he did his best to save me from my mother.

And then one day I found myself in California living with my aunt and uncle. It was like God finally decided to give me a break. I filled my sketch book with pictures of my aunt and uncle, my cousin Melina. I collected sketches of Armando the gardener, the maid, and all the people in the new world in which I found myself. I'll admit to an obsessive need to capture people in my sketch book. It's how I attempt to understand them and hold them in my life.

My sketchbook is sacred. It is only for my eyes. I would not want to give anyone the advantage by revealing too much about myself. I trust no one. My sketchbook gives me power. When I first met Collin, I was not so sure I liked him, but then things changed between us. I knew he had to be in my sketch book, but I didn't want him to know the power he was beginning to have over my heart. I could not risk being so vulnerable but I could risk taking his photo from his office credenza. It helped me capture him on paper. He caught me in my little game of hearts. I don't know what I was thinking about that beautiful face of his--his icy blue eyes, the blond hair, the square chin. I was lost in the dream of him. He seemed to have all the right words to feed my hungry soul.

The one person I did not want in my sketch book was Mark Laughing Hawk. Not because my cousin Melina warned me, but because he made me uncomfortable. He did not need to see my sketchbook to see right through me. He called me a liar. I did not want those hawk eyes staring back at me. Hungry eyes hunting. His face was hard, his mouth too sensuous. There was nothing I could say or do to discourage him. In the end, I could have sketched his face and thoughts from memory. And he always knew it.


  1. Nice. I do believe a sketch book can be as cathartic as any written journal. This was a interesting take on the concept.


  2. A lovely excerpt from your novel, Laughing Hawk, Linda. I love the way you've given your main character such an interesting, revealing hobby - 'My sketchbook is sacred.' Interesting how she doesn't want to sketch Mark Laughing Hawk. Makes the reader want to turn the page and eventually find out.

    I loved your novel. I hope this excerpt may convince others to buy it if they haven't already.

    Thank you for offering up an interesting entry for WEP's challenge.


  3. Interesting post. A character that uses art to process pain. Intriguing especially the last para on the Hawk, I wanted to know where that would lead. Enjoyed the excerpt.

  4. A great excerpt giving us just enough of the characters to whet our appetites. It's a lovely idea for her to draw sketches of people influencing her life, even if she tears them up.

  5. Although my book is written in third person, I thought it would be interesting to write a brief monologue based on the story. First person gives you a little leverage and up-closeness that is difficult to pull off in third person. Third person has the advantage of wide angle camera shots and a different kind of storytelling flexibility.

  6. February 15th, 2014

    Dear Linda,

    This monologue brings us closer to your character, Elizabeth.She is so right about being shy about showing her drawings. What young artist isn't? And especially when it comes to someone like Laughing Hawk, who seems to see through her.

    I like the idea of portaits of the people who mean something to her. I had a classmate at artschool who painted portraits in a similar way. I regret not doing that.

    I must read your book! It's on my wishlist at amazon, but my funds are low at the moment.
    Beautiful portrait. Makes me want to get my sketchbook out.

    I gave the children art supplies for Christmas. My daughter Elisabet [!] nine years old, threw herself into painting four paintings of her favourite cats. Two paintings were already finished on Christmas Day.

    Sadly, we have discovered that Elisabet is allergic to cat fur. So I am now in the process of finding new homes for them. We love them so. But she can't breath here.

    I'm so happy that your book is out. Hope it sells well too. You are such a good writer and creative person.

    Best wishes,

    1. Yes, art is a wonderful outlet for children. It's amazing what a child's mind can do with paper and colors. I remember that I used to draw stories as a child.

  7. I love this, and not only because I also have a sketchbook. Art is good for everyone, it's calming and provides a distraction that can evolve into a lifelong affair. I've encouraged all my family to do some kind of art. I'd read more of this book, mainly because of your riveting line
    -'to capture people in my sketch book. It's how I attempt to understand them and hold them in my life.'
    That said, now I want to know more about the dark side guy. . .

    1. I hope you get around to reading my book. I'd love your honest feedback.

  8. I love the way you painted your character with sketching yet your words are deft and clear ~

    From her troubled past to Colin to Mark ~ The ending part of Mark specially struck me - I can picture his eyes just staring right through me ~

    Nice to read you today ~

  9. Hi Linda. Sorry I'm so late in getting to your place...
    I love the sketch. You are so talented...
    The monologue gives wonderful insight into Elizabeth's character. I do remember reading about your story in a previous WEP instalment... and being intrigued by that snippet... as well as enjoying your writing...

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this little snippet, Michelle.