Posted in Thoughts

Pain and Heartache

A Thousand Tiny Cuts

This past week has been a bit painful. Many of you know our infant grandson passed away. While I cannot know the pain his parents are going through, it has been doubly hard seeing your child suffering along with losing a beautiful new grandbaby. While grief itself will not kill us, sometimes the way we handle grief can.

As a fiction writer, I talk about pain and grief more easily than I do in real life. The filter through which I write my fiction allows me to view the world in such a way that makes the pain more bearable.

There is a torture method called a thousand tiny cuts. Many of you who watch spy movies or read criminal suspense thrillers may already be familiar with this. It was used on prisoners of war. It was designed to give maximum pain without fear of death. Think of a paper cut. A paper cut hurts, can even bleed but seldom leaves a scar and I’ve never known of one that was life threatening. If you have several paper cuts, one of them might leave a scar but it is doubtful you will die. You get the idea. Now imagine several cuts, some shallow like a paper cut, others just slightly deeper but none truly deep. If you are cut many times in the same place, after a while you build up scar tissue. Your skin thickens and in order to do damage your torturer must cut deeper, and the risk of death becomes greater.

In fiction as in real life, we deal with many little hurts. People are cruel or inconsiderate. Their words or actions cut and sting, some draw blood. Some of these hurts are done without malice, a parent fearing a child might get hurt if they try, might make them believe they cannot do something. That lack of faith cuts into their psyche and undermines their self-esteem. A sibling might tease leaving behind a scar that never goes away. Other cuts are done on purpose, a bully who cuts you down to make himself feel better or a cheating lover who blames you for their own weaknesses. Many cuts are done blindly, the person with the knife doesn’t know how much hurt their cut inflicts, some may not care.

This past week I felt as if I’d been sliced and diced. I’m still a bit raw but I’m healing. Some people choose to heap on more cuts when you are already bleeding but there are others who bring out the soothing balm and wrap your wounds.

In writing my new novel, my main character Janie butts heads with a controlling mother who has made her believe she couldn’t do anything because of her mother’s fears for her. She also suffers from a jealous sister and a well-meaning brother whose interference altered her life. After learning the truth of their involvement, she must work through her anger and betrayal to see if she can forgive them.

As Sheryl Crow sang, “The first cut is the deepest,” my character Janie revisits her first love but doesn’t trust herself enough to believe in second chances. Can the truth really set you free, and can Mike “…help me dry the tears that I’ve cried.”

Posted in Thoughts

My Agent Broke Up With Me

My Agent Broke Up With Me
I had no idea breaking up with my agent would feel a lot like breaking up with my high school boyfriend. Like infatuation, my first experience with having my very own agent was exciting and a little frightening. There were times I felt as if I had no clue what was expected of me or where we were heading. Learning to communicate and trust each other is the most important part of any relationship, and like some lovers who don’t stand the test of time, it was miscommunication that caused the demise of our partnership.
Philosophers would say it was all by design. Some people come into our lives for a season, others for a life time. I believe my agent came into my life at a time when I needed her. She gave me confidence and taught me a lot about craft and the business of writing. I appreciate the time we had together and feel stronger for the experience. Like that first love who taught me to French kiss and drive a stick shift, my agent gave me the courage to fight for what I wanted and the knowledge to achieve it.
Being true to the vision for my novel is important. When I first started working with the agent I was too afraid to say anything for fear she’d not want work with me anymore. While some may believe it crazy to rock the boat when you have an agent in your corner, and perhaps it is. But if you are not true to yourself then what happens when you mold yourself or your writing into what they want and it still isn’t enough. I feel that is what I’d done. I’d changed my words to fit what she suggested or what I believed she wanted. In the end it wasn’t and I was left not knowing what I’d done wrong. I believe my agent wanted to help me deliver the best book possible but somewhere along the way communications broke down and the relationship failed.
Like the first bloom of romance, there is the honeymoon period where everything is rosey and perfect. You both try really hard to make the relationship work. It’s a learning period. You do the back and forward dance until, if you are lucky, you get into the same rhythm. If you are lucky your first agent could be your only agent, after all several marriages started out as high school sweethearts. Like that immature relationship with your high school boyfriend, rushing the intimacy could cause the romance to disintegrate. For a strong and lasting relationship with an agent it is important to feel like partners. Having a strong, well balanced relationship built on mutual respect and faith. Believing in your work enough to fight for it and not be intimidated by the agent. Like that first boyfriend who overwhelmed me and made me feel I wasn’t quite experienced enough or pretty enough to keep him interested, I felt inadequate in my relationship with my agent. It is difficult for many first-time authors to believe in ourselves. Finding an agent who understands what you need as a person as well as a writer.
I don’t regret my time with my agent. She taught me so much that I could not have received anywhere else. She put a lot of time into my novel and her effort on my behalf is greatly appreciated. Like that first love, I now feel more confident going into my next relationship or doing things on my own.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Golden Hour

I just finished The Golden Hour, the fourth in the Nora Tierney series by M.K. Graff. I have enjoyed the progression of the main characters: Nora Tierney and Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, from antagonists to partners. The Golden Hour is a little darker than the first books in this series. It deals with the very real threat of biological terrorism but the true theme of this story is creating your own family from the people who love you. Nora’s British family, the good friends who have been there for her during her darkest days and sweetest memories, her dear friends Kate, Simon and Val, as well as the newest additions to her circle, Paul’s parents, make up the people she has chosen to care about and call family. Their loyalty to each other is tested and proved.
When Declan’s case and Nora’s stalker bleed over into each other, Declan is faced with the very real possibility of losing Nora and Sean forever. When he realizes how much they both mean to him, it is a beautiful and heart rending moment of clarity and self-doubt. It is in that moment the reader can truly feel who the man Declan is, not just the detective, but the vulnerable person who loves Nora and her child. As he rushes to save his family he is torn between duty to his country and the well-being of his family. A true hero does what is right even at the risk of losing it all.
Adversity changes a person. When faced with the threat of losing everything that makes life worth living, Declan and Nora show their true characters. Like all of us, they are weak but their innate goodness, strength and love pull them through the abyss and they will be better because of it.
This story made me angry, made me laugh and it made me cry but in the end, the tears were those of joy. This was one of the best books I’ve read, it captured the heart and gave a little squeeze. I can hardly wait to read the next book and see what new adventures await Nora, Declan and Sean.

Posted in Book Review

Borrowed Things By: Doris Schneider

Reading Borrowed Things was like finding a new friend and getting to know her. Anne Gray, the main character, is stronger than she realizes. She is a woman of strong passions, a sense of humor, courage, honor and grit. She is a true southern lady, with a preference for black pearls who is not afraid to get a little dirt on her hands.
Anne has made mistakes that have left her vulnerable and afraid but determined. After two failed marriages, Anne sells her home and stories to the CEO of the publishing that once rejected her book, in a last chance effort to give his dying wife a reason to live.
Anne finds her way back to herself in her new home on the coast with the help of these unlikely friends: a handsome Hispanic priest, a lonely eccentric widow and the vulnerable CEO.
What can memories shared with strangers do? Heal. The very thing that she believes is her weakness becomes her greatest strength and asset—Love.
This book is about healing— broken hearts and wounded spirits. It is about bringing families, friends and communities together. It is a love story in every sense of the word, for it’s the meaning of love that is revealed on these pages.
Borrowed Things is a beautiful story of the silliness and softness, of what it is to be a woman. It made my laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to read more.

Posted in Prompts

May Prompts/flash fiction

She sat in the damp sand, tears streaming down her cheeks. She shivered as the dark clouds covered the sun siphoning the heat from her soul. The wind whipped her hair into her face—blinding her. She clutched her knees, her tears mingling with the rain. Her heart, shattered to a fine powder lay like dust in on a bare floor. Like a boat smashed upon the rocks, her life lay in shambles at her feet. The waves crashed upon the rocks like dancers in a violent ballet. She ducked her head against the onslaught of the storm, shivering in the wind. She closed her eyes against the sand that flew at her like tiny bullets of glass. The pain so acute she sought only to stifle it. The wind ceased. An eerie quiet filled the air, as if the whole world were holding it’s breath. She stood and stared at the sea as it gentled. It called to her. Come to me, let me wrap you in my loving arms. I can take away the hurt. She stepped to the water’s edge. The waves teased her toes, she wanted to walk into the depths and not stop until she could no longer breathe or feel or want.
Music drifted on the gentling breeze, the familiar song filled her. She stood, knee deep in the cold water. The siren’s song calling to her to drown her pain but the melody pulled her from her misery, reminding her of an other cold night. She turned and started back to shore. A wave crashed over her, knocking her to the sand. Her legs heavy in the wet denim, the waves pushed her down. She couldn’t rise. Panic filled her as the fear brought the realization that she did not want to die. She clawed at the sand. Prayed. The waves shoved her into the jagged rocks. She tried to grab hold, her finger nails ripped as she reached for the promise of salvation. The rocks tore at her skin, bruised her body, cracked against her skull. She cried out as the pain burst in her head and the blackness crept in severing the memories and the pain.