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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Taking Chances: La Bestia

This month's challenge at Write...Edit...Publish is Taking Chances. Drop by and submit your entry of 1000 words or less between August 20-22. Begin or end your story with the phrase: "There was once a chance I did not take." (Please provide a full critique.)

* * *

     Emilio stared into the dark, luminous pools of Maria’s eyes. Trapped.

     “I’ve got a backpack ready. Hid it in the corner of my closet, ready to go. A change of clothes, toothpaste and a brush.” She laughed. “I even got bags of beef jerky, dried fruit and nuts. You just say when.”

     “No.” Emilio grabbed hold of her shoulders and gave her a gentle shake to make the idea fly out of her head. “No. It’s too dangerous. And you don’t want to be with me if I get deported again. The gangs kill you for that. They already tried to kill me once. That’s why I got to go alone.”

     “I don’t see what the big deal is. I might die following you north or I can die here just crossing the street. I don’t want to be holed up in my abuela’s house behind a wall of razor wire. You call that living?”

     Emilio let his useless hands drop to his sides. He knew he could never change the mind of someone as bull-headed as Maria. He’d have to trick her.

     She wagged her finger at him. “We might as well die together, but if we should live, it has to be in America where at least there is hope.”

     “I been twice and been sent back twice. They come after your family for that. Them guys going to kill me for sure. At least they’re not looking for you. Yet. You got to stay away from me.”

     “I know you. “ She smiled. “You won’t stay away.”

     He felt the heat on his face and tried to conceal the grin.

     She tapped her foot on the sidewalk. “So when are we going?”

     “I don’t have enough money for a coyote yet.”

     “Why you need a coyote? You been across twice. When you going to remember the way?”

     “It’s for protection.”

     “What protection? For whom? The only thing a coyote cares about is the money.” She waited for him to respond.

     “Don't be so naive. You have to pay people for food, for water, for transportation, to guide you. You have to pay to keep your life."

     “Let’s ride the Bestia from Mexico across the Rio Grande.”

     “What do you know about that? Seriously? You’re going to crawl on top of a freight train? You lose your grip, you lose your limb or your life. Mexico is crawling with Mara Salvatrucha, robbers, kidnappers, and drug traffickers.”

     “I don’t care what we do to get there. It's in God's hands.” She pulled a rubber-banded roll of bills out of her blouse. “Got $200 that says we go tonight.”

     Emilio struggled to sort out his conflicting thoughts. “Pack lots of water in that backpack of yours.”


     “You’ll never know. One day I say it’s the day and we go with no goodbyes to anyone.”

     “No tricks,” she said. “I know you. We go tonight.”

     Emilio shook his head. "No."

     “I’ll be at your house tonight looking for you. Don’t leave me standing out in the street to be robbed, raped or killed. At least if we are on the Bestia, we are headed somewhere.”

     Emilio bowed his head and slumped against the wall. 

     Maria stroked his arm. "Please. Do not live to see the day when you will say `There once was a chance I did not take. For life, for love, for freedom.' She sighed and waited for his answer. "I will go without you."

   “Not a word to anyone. Promise me.”

     She made the sign of the cross. "I promise, mi amor."


  1. You are the best!!! Kept me racing from word to word. Is that the end for Maria and Emilio? I hate to see them go.

  2. Hi Linda. This is awesome. I've not read any stories about this, only seen TV docos. I'd love to read a whole story. It could certainly be full of suspense, danger, taking chances. I didn't see any typos. I enjoyed his broken English. Sounded authentic.

    Loved reading your entry for TAKING CHANCES. I'm still working on mine.


  3. Freedom is the inspiration. No one wants to live persecuted or if constant fear. A wonderful interpretation of the challenge Linda. Enjoyed the youtube as well. Had not heard of the Beast before.

    I like to think your characters made it across.

  4. I totally learn from reading. Specifically, I learn why I like certain technique as a reader. I can chew through a book a day with enough free time and coffee. :)
    Raquel Byrnes

  5. Wow. This was good. The pace was great, the anticipation/apprehension right on target. Thanks for sharing. Thought provoking, especially right now...

  6. Hi Linda
    The plight of our southern neighbors is a hot topic in Colorado. I do agree that there is a market for this story. Well written and full of suspense.

  7. A great story taking in the prompt, the broken English added to the frisson of the piece.

  8. I'm glad you have all enjoyed my story of taking chances. There are people in the world so desperate for life that they will risk their lives. On the other hand, there are many people who are so desperate to hang onto what they have that they lose their lives, figuratively or literally. It's the ultimate dilemma.

    1. Spot on Linda. The world is full of desperate people who will risk all for the hope of a better life. I hope you really will continue with this storyline. D

  9. Unfortunately this is the reality for many people across the world. Your flash skills make this story one to keep, Linda. The video complements the story so well.

  10. Very real, very gripping. I hope Maria and Emilio make it to a better life. The clip is awesome, and the motif very familiar to those from any third world country, You nailed it about the dilemma.

  11. August 26th, 2014
    Dear Linda,
    I'm late making comment. Thank you so much for your kind words about my post.
    Oh my! Your story is dripping with suspense. You really know how to get your readers into it. It seems so real.
    I've finally ordered a paperback copy of Laughing Hawk. I don't have kindle here. Looking forward to reading your novel.
    Best wishes,

    1. I hope you enjoy Dreaming of Laughing Hawk. I'd love your review comments (negative or positive) on Amazon.

  12. It is the young who take on the adventure, have the belief needed to fight for the chance at freedom. Beautifully told, and so apropos to the time and experiences of the youth from the south. Yes, please continue!