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, September 15, 2016

The Bad Sister

We never liked each other that much from the beginning. It was always a love-hate relationship. If we had not been born brother and sister, we would have never crossed paths in a million years.

I can't remember when I became aware of my brother Scott. He was three years younger but he never registered on my radar until he was old enough to form a sentence or break one of my possessions. I remember his temper tantrums: he used to hold his breath until he started to turn blue and then my mother would put a cold wash cloth on his face. Actually, according to my mother, he was blue when he was born. Nurses held my mother's legs together to prevent him from being born before the doctor arrived. Obstetrics were a little primitive back in the 40s and 50s. I probably had a better birth experience than he did, but my doctor died the following day. I trust I wasn't the cause.

Scott was the middle child, the odd one. Parents pick their favorites no matter how hard they try to be fair. He was not cute or cuddly or funny. He was intelligent but in a wrong-headed sort of way. He did not have any of the easy-going charms of my youngest brother. Life was difficult for him, partially because he made it that way for himself. He was immature, shy, ornery, a poor student, and dependent upon my younger brother for social interaction. He taunted and tried to bully me all through high school, but I was a good fighter, a down and dirty fighter. I would have fought to the death before admitting defeat to him. He was forever proclaiming that one day he would beat the shit out of me, but I never lost a fight. To be sure, I was no innocent either. But I do recall him coming after me with a butcher knife one time and putting me in a strangle hold another time (he got a pretty good bite on his arm for that one). Of course, our parents were mostly unaware of our fighting. We tore the house apart the minute they stepped out of the door, and put it all back together before they got home. And we lived to fight another day.

By the time he was in high school, Scott had joined the Mormon church which provided some of the structure he needed in life. He later enlisted in the Air Force which provided even more structure and at some point his life successfully came together. He married, had a son, and years later retired from a successful military career. Maybe he had a few bumps in the road but the same can be said of anyone. There was a lull in our ongoing rivalry, a period of time when we had no quarrels because we were too caught up in our day-to-day lives in different parts of the country.

Flash forward to 2016. We are now both in our twilight years and the fighting has resumed. We live on opposite coasts and that's probably a good thing. I tell myself he must have some good qualities and on some days I actually feel sorry for him. But then he posts some racist, misogynist, bigoted statement on Facebook and I feel like sinking my teeth in his arm like I did all those years ago. He thinks it's funny to post a negative story about blacks that portrays them as thugs or lazy welfare queens. He loathes Barack Obama. He thinks it's hilarious to post a picture of Hillary Clinton with horns or a dog pissing on a poster of her. He posts stories from alt-right websites that accuse her of murder. He never has a bad thing to say about Donald Trump or the "deplorables" who support him. Of course, Scott considers himself to be an exemplary Mormon and Christian. I figure if there's any chance of him getting into heaven, I would just as soon be in hell.

I will never understand how two so opposite personalities could have the same parents. Neither of my parents were narrow-minded and self-righteous. They mellowed even more with age. I can't recall either of them ever going off on an insane rant against a person or institution. Whatever flaws and personal prejudices they might have held, they had respect for other people and they had respect for themselves. They had dignity. They could distinguish fact from fiction. Their minds were open. They held no hate in their hearts.

So I am the bad sister. I cannot love this thing that my brother has become. One minute I am full of pity, the next I am angry. I am still that fierce little girl, that indignant and defiant older sister. I think my parents and I went wrong somewhere. We failed to nourish that difficult child. Somehow he didn't get enough love and attention. I must have stolen his thunder. I never lost a fight.


  1. It's difficult to admit family difficulties, but I can see why he would be a thorn in your side. . .at least you recognized that some personalities can never mesh. With me, it was my Dad and I always at odds - he always assumed the worst of me which propelled me to do the best and show him. I had two siblings a brother and a sister. We got along fine, but I left home as soon as I started college and never went back to live there mostly because of my dad. Good for you standing up for yourself!

    1. Yes, family relationships are difficult. I was fortunate to have a very good relationship with my dad. I couldn't imagine what my life would have been like without him, especially after my parents divorced. At a time when very few fathers were allowed custody of their children, my father won custody and kept us altogether.

  2. Sounds pretty much like the relationship my hubby had with his older brother. My hubby finished university with a law degree and his brother became a bum and an alcoholic. The fights were on until his brother died.

  3. It's beyond me how siblings can be so different. If you line up Richard and his brothers there's zero physical resemblance and they think very differently, although they aren't as polarized as you and your brother. I love that you never lost a fight!!