Tag Archives: writing

Heaven Lies East of the Mississippi

Much to my surprise, here’s a new (old) novel.  Written in 2012, updated over the years, I released Heaven Lies East of the Mississippi today on Smashwords.

I’ve classified it as a romance, although it easily falls under lit fic: When Kendall Schultz walks away from professional soccer and his longtime girlfriend, tragedy threatens to destroy the American superstar. In rural Tennessee, Kendall meets Sarah Dwyer, a widow whose son Heath reflects Kendall’s regrets. Can a sporting icon set aside catastrophe or will his chance at happiness be forever lost?

If you like to know more why this particular story took so long to reach publication, check out this page.  And if you’d like to read this tale, it’s available on Smashwords for free, like all my other novels.  And will be at other online retailers soon.

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The Hawk, Part Thirteen

Usually when another piece of this saga has been published, an accompanying entry is brief; it’s up and you can find it here.  But while I plan to release this tale in a formal manner, more needs to be acknowledged.  Making the conclusion available closes a large circle that I couldn’t have dreamed when first starting this book over four years ago.

I wasn’t a grandmother then, my familial role that of supporting my parents while Dad battled cancer, occasionally helping out my offspring when the need arose.  This tale started humbly, but quickly I sensed a wider scope emerging.  At the same time, my father underwent chemotherapy while quilts knocked on my door.  Writing fell by the wayside; it was difficult concentrating and sewing required less brain power.  Then my youngest became pregnant, followed by her elder sister and….

Suddenly my existence as an author seemed to have vanished on a stiff wind.  Now I wonder if not for The Hawk, might I have eschewed writing altogether?  Yet there was a story to tell, at times bigger than I thought I could tackle.  In bits and chunks I wrote, then decided to simultaneously publish what had accumulated.  That too kept me writing, although the more I fashioned, the longer this tale grew.

In the interim, babies were born, my dad passed.  Eric, Lynne, and the rest became an extension of my own clan; when not writing, I wondered when I might return to their realm, and when I was working, I pondered how blessed was my life with The Burrito, Little Miss, and Miss Em.  My father would find their antics amusing, perhaps how he views my foray into fiction.  How I see my novelistic endeavors has altered, and this story stands like a demarcation; closing my eyes, I easily recall my previous life as an author, but in taking a good look, that woman appears half formed.

Maybe that is simply indicative of life’s changes, but how often do we get a guidebook or pamphlet in the middle of such transitions?  For me, that is what The Hawk has become, a Life Echo minus the sound.  Yet melodic memories waft right over my head, laying their healing beauty within my ears as I read Eric’s laments, Lynne’s dreams, Stanford’s hesitations, Laurie’s joy, Sam’s eagerness, Renee’s hopes, Marek’s wisdom, Seth’s fears, Klaudia’s wariness.  My goodness, that’s quite a collection, but The Hawk isn’t a small novel, lol.  It’s many love stories, a few tragedies.  It’s fact and fantasy set in the 1960s and thank the Lord it’s finally finished.  The entire collection is available on Smashwords, and will be released in full on various other online retailers soon.

Not so haunted….

Several weeks ago I was perusing this blog, for what reason I can’t recall today.  But I stumbled upon a post written over five years ago concerning the inner editor and a novel I wanted to write.  Then my husband played for me “Pay My Debts” by Sharon Van Etten.  As if those two elements were fated in the stars, I’ve been giving serious consideration to an idea that never went further than a blog entry, yet somehow was waiting for one rather ponderous hawk to move out of the road.

A table runner’s underside; I added ivory sashing to make it a wee bit wider.

And speaking of getting out of the way….  I’m heading off to help out at The Burrito’s house, where I hope to further consider a future WIP in addition to enjoying my nieto and his family.  I’ve completed the table runner for my eldest daughter, which came about as suddenly as how a five-year-old novelistic notion seems to have embedded itself firmly in my gray matter.  I’ve solved the issue of how to handle my squeamishness; just throw in some social issues, lol!

Working on hexies early this morning while my hubby slept in, wrangling a nasty cold. I took this shot long after I’d been basting, too dark to get a good photograph.

Now to figure out backstory, and not only for the main characters.  I’m going to set this tale in another galaxy, haven’t written sci-fi in ages.  (Magical Realism doesn’t count in my book, ha ha, and no, this doesn’t have to do with those Dorlinians.)  This will be a cross of the murder mystery/love story I had originally envisioned enhanced by topical commentary.  Those contemporary musings will override the more gory details, but I need to fill in the blanks only my imagination can solve.

Meanwhile, a completed table runner.  I machine quilted it yesterday, added the binding, then hand-sewed it last night while listening to the Warriors beat the Pelicans.

There’s a distinct pleasure in resurrecting an idea, especially when a surprise lifts the whole thing from half-baked haziness to something I can actually contemplate, sort of like the table runner that now only needs a good washing.  Placemats still linger on a quilt wall, but for whatever reason, this decorative item is finished.  Why do some projects hover on the sidelines while others burst forth as if fashioned by about eight other hands?  I was thinking about this over the last couple of days while this table runner went from a stack of scraps to rows on the quilt wall, then onto my ironing board, seams being pressed as flat as I could make them.  Will this new novel, currently entitled Haunted, come about just as easily?

Stepping out to do some pre-travel laundry, I was pleasantly met by a rush of fragrant roses and lilacs. They might not be so plentiful when I return, so I snapped this shot. If only I could capture the scents as well as the beauty….

I won’t know until at least July, no time to write, barely time to sew.  But I am clearing off my little quilt wall, those Southwestern shades dwindling in number.  As projects fall under the presser foot, fictional facts accumulate in my head, very much as how fabric adheres to batting, then gets switched around.  Post-it notes work well too, but I’m nowhere near ready to do more than mentally swap out the whys and wherefores.

The smallest amount of precipitation fell this morning, like powdered sugar dusting a delicious cookie. And the smell, oh my goodness. The memory will suffice when this rose is long gone.

Yet a necessary sense of direction now exists; I have a plan, as Little Miss likes to say.  And not only direction, but purpose, which previously this idea was lacking.  I like my melodrama with more than a touch of reality, magical or no.  Allegories are good for the soul, and when placed in outer space, any number of situations can be employed.  The less gory they are the better, in my opinion.  I wanted to write a bloodless thriller, okay.  Bring on Haunted; I’m not scared at all.

Living in a post-Hawk world….

Well, a post-writing The Hawk life; the last few mornings I have enjoyed that after a novel is done mood, which I have not known in ages.  It’s a liberated sense, in that nothing sits on my shoulders prosaically.  Of course, there is still laundry, grocery shopping, a shower to clean, ahem….  But the writer within me is taking a nap and doesn’t wish to be stirred until perhaps July.

The editor, however, has put on her hat, sharp pencils in her back pocket, an eager grin waiting to get busy.  And I will embrace the revising life, chapters read each day until again I locate The End.  But this work is less intense, in that the foundation is solid, if not in need of sweeping.  So many elements in writing a book.

And my husband was correct, in that another idea is screaming to be set across the virtual page; my overactive imagination is a blessing, but man it keeps me hopping.  Yet I’ve learned a few things from The Hawk, one being that I will never again publish a novel until I have actually finished it.  I mentioned that to my hubby, and he smiled, noting he would call me on it.  I said, “Yes please,” because there is a responsibility to the reader which cannot be ignored.  To me, beta releases are great, but only if a conclusion has been reached and not merely within this author’s gray matter.  Perhaps releasing The Hawk in sections as I finished them kept me going, but that was also a lot of inner pressure.  Definitely a major lesson learned.

The other takeaway is a far more gradual message I’m still wrapping my head around; I don’t write like I used to, which of course is good in that one strives to improve upon the craft.  However, when the words no longer fall like rain, a creeping sense of futility emerges, which if not qualified by how one’s life is altering might appear as writer’s block.  While I’m grateful to have started this gig once my kids were teens, now a little over a decade later, grandkids have wrested away some of my fictional thunder.  Okay, so has sewing, but for the foreseeable future, I’m an abuela before I’m an author.  In the battle of The Hawk vs The Burrito and Little Miss, a novel got its butt kicked all over the last four and a half years of my life.  But not all battles turn on one tide….

How could any tale top those smiles?

Nor do wee ones remain that way forever.  And that perhaps is the key issue I am grasping, yet not only in relation to adorable toddlers.  From 2007-2012 I churned out drafts, blithely expecting that would always be the case.  But life has a funny way of derailing assumptions, new paths waiting to be explored.  Grandkids and quilts will enhance my second decade of writing, seasoned by a hawk full of grace.  This isn’t merely a mantra to appease when time seems squeezed, but the honest truth.  Our existences aren’t static, we have to be brave when facing new challenges.  I have to believe, as I have said here before, that I will be given the necessary abilities, as well as the time, to master whatever task comes my way.  It’s up to me to humbly accept what gifts are set into my hands, as well as the moments in which to enjoy them.

And so comes The End….

In the front yard is my lilac bush, surrounded by roses. A fragrant spot, especially in spring.

At 3.38 p.m. PDT, I closed up my WIP, then saved it on the flash drive that sits on a desk next to the table upon which my computer lives.  The Hawk was finished in a manner much like it began, sort of innocuous, as if from a dream.

I just had to photograph this rose again; it has bloomed so beautifully. Sending love to Miss Cindy; these shots are for you my friend.

Actually, the idea for this book came to me during slumber, and within the novel it ends that way too, Lynne and Eric and….  I won’t spoil the conclusion; let me just say it’s a happy one, emerging over the last few days as though it was always meant to wrap up at the end of a month.  Six months and four years in the making, ahem, but who’s counting?

The back side of that plant, totally awesome….

Not me, not anymore.  Word counts and numbering chapters are over.  The Hawk is finito, oh my goodness!  Amid several baskets of laundry, grocery shopping, and my usual faffing about, I wrote a chapter, number 266 to be precise, a little over 3K in length.  This book started with Eric and Lynne, ends that way too.  Maybe that’s a spoiler, but I don’t care.

I’ve finished this novel, and yup, I’m over the moon.

Quickly I need to thank a few folks; Julie K. Rose has been in my proverbial writing corner for a helluva long time.  Honey, you are amazing, and I love you so!  Laura Bruno Lilly is a writing buddy, also a fellow quilter and (he)artist who connected with me through NANOWRIMO; giterdoneatlastpeace my friend.  There’s my awesome and growing family, to whom I am indebted and blessed by their love and support.  Friends from the ages have proffered their cheerleading ways, thanks more than I can say.  My husband is a saint, literally, ha ha.  He’s also my soulmate who makes this writing gig feasible, not to mention keeping me grounded.  And then there’s….

We call this rose Gracie; flanked by the peach tree to the left, a blueberry bush on the right, with a tall peach-coloured rose behind it, Gracie has to work hard to be noticed. She’s a beauty….

In this story, Christian faith starts out in the shadows, but as it has been within my life, so it builds within the fiction.  I am blessed beyond any amount of words by a Love that exceeds all levels I could dream, grace that soothes, peace that heals.  And divine inspiration that has allowed for this novel’s completion; believe me, there’s no way I could have done this on my own.  I was forty-seven when this story began, have gained, and lost, loved ones.  I’ve turned fifty, then fifty-one, and actually just celebrated another birthday, jeez Louise!  But now it’s all water under one heck of a Hawk-like bridge.

Last but not least are geraniums along the western side of the house. We have more in front, but these are worthy of a shout-out.

Before posting this entry, I want to say that regardless of how insurmountable a challenge may seem, if you feel called to it don’t despair.  As I’ve mentioned, there have been plenty of moments when I wanted to abandon this book, yet I KNEW eventually the impetus to continue would emerge.  Maybe that’s what I’ve learned from this experience, both in how long it has taken to write it, and how lengthy of a yarn I’ve spun.  There is no turning back from that to which we are called to do, merely the simple action of daily performing our duty, be it as a writer, a wife, a quilter, a mother, even an abuela.  Tomorrow I will celebrate my fifty-second year with the hubby, our daughters, the grandkids, and others so beloved.  And no small attention will be given to a novel that is now in the can.  A birthday and book party methinks, hehehe.  Oh yes, definitely time to celebrate.

Feeling a little numb….

Taken on Monday, this rose has a gorgeous fragrance. And plenty of buds just waiting to be enjoyed….

My lovely friend Laura Bruno Lilly tagged me in a challenge to provide three quotes in three days.  I have been trying to feel inspired, but just can’t find an appropriate quote.  However, writing has been a wily distraction; unbelievably, I may be as close to the end as is possible.  Perhaps on Friday I will actually complete The Hawk.

No scent on this bush, but I’m not bothered. I do like me some roses….

In the meantime, hehehe….  But really, that novel’s conclusion has sneaked up on me; recently I’ve written two chapters just like in the old days, although now it takes more than merely the morning to finish my thoughts.  Still, it’s a fantastic feeling, or rather, a numbing sensation; is this real or am I kidding myself?  The End, oh sure, uh-huh, right….  Good things come to those who wait rattled around in my brain, but when I looked it up, that phrase is attributed to a ketchup commercial, so I’m not actually going to employ it as my quote.  But dangit, truer words are rarely spoken.

Our apricot tree has a plethora of fruits, some of which I really should thin out, but I’ve been busy writing….

There have been numerous occasions during the construction of this saga where I have nearly given up, yet far within me lies a door behind which the stories dwell, and for whatever reason I’ve just kept knocking at it, unable to tear myself away.  Now it’s as though I am ready to step over that threshold, and the tangle of emotions are indeed overwhelming.  And if I feel this way with a chapter remaining, how the heck am I gonna be when it’s finished?

On Tuesday some of the buds had opened, akin to how quickly my novel’s conclusion has emerged. Maybe by the weekend this plant will be bursting with blooms!

Dude….  Instead I’m posting pictures of my garden, and in a couple of days we’ll see what happens.  If nothing else, I am almost done, which honestly seems unreal.  When it becomes the truth, I’ll post a note.  For now, enjoy however spring appears in your neck of the woods.  Good things do comes to those who persevere, lol.

Chapter 263

In writing, moments arise when an author prepares to knock over a wall, or build a wall, or build a bridge.  There are times when lives end, identities are altered, and hurdles overcome.  Plot points are different than plot twists, but just as essential in the storytelling.

Hexies waiting to tell their own tales…

I’ve been telling this story for a long time, and perhaps that’s why, as I sit on the precipice of the crux of The Hawk, I need to quickly reflect upon the significance of what is about to occur.  Prior to this novel, I could churn out a rough draft in a matter of weeks, four weeks usually, a NANOWRIMO style that served me well.  But maybe in cranking out those drafts, I missed those previous times that right now I cannot simply throw aside.  What happens next in this novel has been over four years in the making.  And it means a lot to me.

I won’t give anything away, other than to note how in life there are events which upon reflection change us irrevocably.  As a writer, I get to craft those cataclysmic occurrences, but it’s merely fiction, all from my head.  Yet I draw on personal experience, as well as harvesting all I have seen around me.  It’s like making a most delicious soup, and it’s almost done, and I’m about to spoon up a bite to make sure it’s truly as good as it smells.  And once I’ve tasted it, it will be time to dole it out for others to enjoy.  Or maybe it’s just a little like that, I don’t know.  All I know is that since October of 2013, this chapter has been waiting for me.  I didn’t know its exact number, and that’s for the best; if you’d told me it would be 263, I might not have reached this point, ha ha!  Yet it’s right around the corner from this blog post, waiting for me.

A writer’s life is usually quiet, kind of invisible.  But here’s a virtual drum roll, as from a stone’s throw away a novel’s conclusion waves at me.  And off I go…..