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, February 2, 2016

The Valentine's Day Vampire Club

Sign up for the Write-Edit-Publish Valentine challenge (flash fiction, poetry, art, nonfiction . . . ) and publish your entry on your blog by February 17-19. Here's my take on Valentine's Day. Feel free to offer a full critique.

* * *   

We started as a small book club discussing our favorite novels once a month at a local coffee shop. Rain, snow, hungry kids, dirty dishes, work deadlines—we all showed up for the opportunity to escape our ordinary lives and vicariously live through the eyes of book characters. With time and familiarity, we moved on to wine and potlucks where we shared gossip and culinary skills.

     Now we have hit another milestone. Those of us who have compatible blood types have decided to donate blood on a monthly basis to Marla, our favorite vampire and longtime member who has been diagnosed with bone cancer. Not only that, we have spent two months toiling over a quilt for Marla. It will be a Valentine’s Day gift. Obviously, many of us have no acquaintance with a sewing machine, but our little general, Rosa Gonzales, is an outstanding seamstress. We each sat down with Rosa and submitted our ideas for a personal quilt square dedicated to Marla and then Rosa took our ideas, good and bad, and imperiously translated them into her vision of a love quilt.

     We are all sitting in my living room and sipping wine, waiting for Rosa’s arrival and the great unveiling. All we have seen are the individual sketches for quilt squares and the yards of velvet, satin, and raw silk that Rosa purchased for the fabrication of the quilt. I hope this turns out well.

     The hors d’oeuvres are vanishing and the wine is pouring freely. Everyone has broken up into little clutches—some huddled near the fire place, some seated on the couch, others standing in the hallway between the kitchen and living room. I’ve abandoned my hostess duties and am playing with the family dog while listening to the ebb and flow of all the conversations.

     “I’m so glad we’re finally going to be rid of our nigger president.” Her voice carries loud and clear over all the chatter. It is as if the air has suddenly been sucked out of the room. The easy-going ambiance is broken by the Mouth, Jenna, who never knows when to stop flapping her yap. “What? What? “I’m not being politically correct enough for you all? Ha. Ha.”

     I’m guessing most of the people in this room are Orange County Republicans who probably agree with her, but we all have an unspoken agreement to keep politics out of our relationships. I want to smack Jenna down but I don’t think I’ll have to because Rosa Gonzales, a fierce Democrat and Obama supporter, is standing at the front entrance. Her short brown arms are wrapped around a huge bundle and her face is contorted in a furious frown.

     “Oh,” someone says to defuse the situation. “Here’s Rosa. I can’t wait to see the quilt.”

     But Rosa stands her ground. In a low, gravelly voice that sounds like it’s packing a knife, Rosa levels her gaze on Jenna. “I hope you love this quilt as much as I loved making it. Most of all, I hope Marla loves it and that our love blesses her with special healing, but I will not unwrap this quilt with this hate hanging in the air. It will poison our gift.”

     Jenna rolls her eyes. No one speaks.

     “There will be a perfect and sincere apology and a group prayer to cleanse this room and bless the blanket.”

     Jenna glares.

     Rosa turns toward the door.

     “Wait, Rosa,” I say. “Jenna will give her apology.”

     Now Jenna is glaring at me.

     “Or she will leave if she chooses. We are all anxious to see the blanket and we want it to be blessed with love. This blanket is going to be a special gift to Marla. Nothing must get in the way of that.”

     Rosa hesitates at the door assessing the weight of the silence.

     Jenna bows her head. “I’m sorry.”

     I’m thinking it’s a good thing that Jenna doesn’t have a compatible blood type because who could predict what kind of purification ritual Rosa might insist upon.

     Rosa walks into the center of the living room. “Light a candle and form a circle.”

     We obey and I move a small table into the center of the circle for the quilt and the candle. We join hands and bow our heads while Rosa blesses the room, and then we each offer a prayer for healing.

     Then comes the unveiling. Rosa unwraps the quilt and four of us each take a corner. Everyone gasps at the beauty of the unfurled quilt. It is an exquisite work of art. Everyone admires the jewel tones of the embroidery on each of the personal quilt squares, each one signed with the name of the originator. The quilt is an incredible tree that seems to vibrate with leaves, flowers, and birds. It is soft and plump with life. It seems filled with sunlight.

     “You have all made the magic with your blood, tears and prayers,” Rosa says. “It is love and it will heal.”


  1. That was a beautiful story Linda. Make me hope it is a true story :)

    1. Not true, but in this crazy world, anything is possible.

  2. Wow! Such understanding and love. Rosa is truly special, I hope these beautiful women recognize that!

    Ditto on Donna's thought! Great setting for a murder mystery! :)

    1. Hmmm. A setting for a murder mystery. You got me thinking.

    2. It's a great setting for a cozy mystery for sure! Sorry, I didn't recognize this as the WEP Valentine Challenge entry until Denise told me. DUH!
      Thanks for participating!

  3. This is the second WEP entry which has made my eyes leak.
    How I would love to know a Rosa. How I would love to become a Rosa.
    Thank you so much.

    1. I think if I were really ill, a special quilt like Rosa's would be a cure. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  4. What a beautiful story, Linda. Loved the way the personalities of the characters shone through. I'd love to see that quilt! It would indeed be blessed with Rosa's forthright attitude.

    Thanks for posting for WEP Valentine's challenge, Linda.

    Denise :-)

    1. Thanks, I want to see that quilt too but I sure don't want to be the one that has to design and sew it!

  5. Hi Linda
    I think I know a few Jenna's. I don't understand them at all. Loved how you highlighted Rosa's gift of gentle love and insistence to give a blessing after such a terrible outburst. I agree that his would make a great story.

  6. That was beautiful! Loved the idea of a healing quilt. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many Jennas and not enough Rosas right now in the world. But then one Rosa is enough to tackle several Jennas so it's okay, I guess.

  7. Your story is beautiful but it awoke in me hurt and I questioned the use of the word "Nigger President" not because I am an Obama supporter, but because the word degrades a whole race of people. Yes, I'm a black American, and it is sad to see that the "Nigger" is still freely used even in this day of time and enlightment.
    What I loved was Rosa's reaction and her willingness to take a stand.

    1. Sadly, I can walk across the street to hear that word. I use it in my story because it's reality and people need to be reminded of this reality. We think we've become more sophisticated and perhaps we have in terms of disguising our true beliefs and feelings. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I believe the Rosas of the world will eventually prevail.

  8. This was lovely to read, in spite of the Jenna. A hand made quilt, made with love, is sure to bring healing to the recipient.

  9. I've a fondness for quilts, as my mother is a gifted fabric artist, so I adored the focal point of love, sewn into being.

  10. A very unique take showing a more communal aspect of vampires, away from the monstrousness and seduction. It would make for a compelling movie or mini-series.

    Personally, I thought the racial tension was a bit out of place. Well, that's not quite true. It did fit the story, and showed the contrast between the characters rather well. It was certainly a great way to illuminate Rosa and her personality in such a short time. But the Valentine's Day Challenge seems like an odd place for social commentary. Just my two cents.

    I wonder if Jenna will wither away still bitter about the world not being to her liking or if she'll ever see the error of her beliefs. Going by real life examples, I think it might be the former, sadly.

  11. Racism comes in all walks of life, it's such a shame the other members of the group were too weak willed to say anything before Rosa arrived. A lovingly made quilt shows the friendship of the group, I hope the love and healing they've poured into it helps their friend.

  12. That was a fabulous story, focusing as it did on group healing of a sick member and a rather too outspoken view on politics. Beautifully written.

  13. Rosa sounds like a great person. Everyone needs a Rosa in their lives. Pretty read!

  14. I really like the idea of a book club supporting one of its members and making a community quilt. They are all vampires? I think they would make interesting characters. :)

    1. No, they are not vampires. It's just the fact that they all decide to give blood for Marla's recovery.