Weekly Roundup 9-12-18

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Grandparents Day was Monday September 10th, and this year turned out to be super special. While I already have two granddaughters, my grandson was born on Monday – nine days late! I certainly appreciate my daughter-in-law’s sacrifice in waiting to give birth just to make the day even more magical for Grandpa!! Don’t know when I will get to see the little guy, since he’s all the way out on the east coast and I’m getting ready to move.

It’s crunch time now. Yesterday was my last day of work, and I have a few days to finish packing and cleaning before traveling to my younger son’s wedding. After that, I return here, pack up the truck and head back out again, arriving on the 28th. I’ve moved MANY times before, but this one is proving to be a bit more complicated than I would like. I don’t relish the thought of doing it all by myself, but there is no one available to go with me. I’m grateful for friends here who are helping me prepare and pack the truck for an eight-hundred-mile trip.

The farthest move happened many years ago when I went off to attend graduate school. The journey was eighteen-hundred miles and took over twenty-seven hours across mountains and two time zones. Two years later, I turned around and did it again. No way in the world I would try it now, and most certainly not by myself! Looking back, I have moved at least thirty times since graduating from high school. I’d like to think this month’s relocation will be my last, but I know it won’t be. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford a house and put down some roots.

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Traitor’s Moon: chapter eight is complete and initial feedback was very positive! There was a lot riding on this pivotal chapter which included action, danger, drama, and the set-up for relationships in the second half of the book. You’re going to love it! Word count stands at 64,000+.

I was pleased to get it done, as I have to set aside my writing until I get moved and settled. It bugs me not being able to continue – I feel as though I am shirking my duty! I’ll try to keep you informed during the next couple of weeks, but don’t be surprised if I have to skip a Roundup or two.

Weekly Roundup 9-5-18 Name That Character!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Don’t be fooled – naming characters is more difficult than it would seem. Well, I think it should be if you’re doing it right.

Some authors insist on choosing unfortunate, distracting, or uncomplimentary names for their characters, making the story difficult to read or enjoy. You know the ones I mean:

  • a modern-day protagonist with a nineteenth century moniker such as Gladys or Herbert.
  • a sci-fi hero in the far future with a three-part name only a linguist can figure out.
  • a fantasy epic requiring a pronunciation guide for the MC’s (which, I am sorry to say, seldom helps).

I have my own set of “rules” for creating character names which takes additional time, but I believe it’s worth it. The main idea is to make them easy to pronounce, fit the time and place of the story, and match the character’s personality. The last thing I want to do is cause a reader to take a pass on the book because they can’t get past my attempt to be “creative”, cute, or mysterious.

If you think I’m simply being lazy, you may be right! For me, reading serves as entertainment, so I tend to reject books which force me to work hard to understand them – and that includes character names. I suppose I’m missing out on some great literature by being so picky, but life is short and my brain cells deserve a rest when I’m reading.

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This week has been strange as I began saying goodbye to co-workers and cut ties in preparation for my move. I will miss some people of course, but not the job, company, state, or city! I’ve been here almost four years but knew all along it would be temporary. I’m more than ready to get out of Dodge and start fresh in a new place. Moving is a pain, but being closer to my kids makes it worth the trouble.

I finished a crucial chapter of Traitor’s Moon and will spend today editing. It turned out differently than I planned, but I’m very pleased with it. The next chapter features a shifter memorial service, requiring a careful blend of human and paranormal elements to make it convincing. I look forward to the challenge! Word count is now 64,000.

My third grandchild was due on September first, and we are still waiting. The Doctor says everything is fine and my daughter-in-law is feeling good, but tired. Sadly for me, they live 1300 miles away (though the move will bring me 800 miles closer), so I have no idea when I will see the little one. Perhaps next week I’ll have good news to share!

 

WEEKLY ROUNDUP 8-29-18 Bullying and Another Death

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

“What we don’t understand, we fear. What we fear, we judge as evil. What we judge as evil, we attempt to control. And what we cannot control…we attack.” Author unknown.

The above quote is part of the dedication for Traitor’s Moon, my current manuscript. A recent headline reminded me these words are acted out over and over, often ending in tragedy.

Nine-year-old Jamel Myles was found dead of suicide just days after his mom said he came out as gay to his classmates. Myles, who had come out to his family over the summer, reportedly faced significant bullying from his classmates as he began the new school year. “My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” Myles’ mother, Leia Pierce, told the Post. “He didn’t deserve this.”

  • I cannot fathom the bravery it took for a nine-year-old to come out.
  • I cannot understand the cruelty human beings are capable of.
  • I cannot forgive the ignorant parents who raised such monstrous bullies.
  • I cannot help but remember when it happened to me.

I endured the name-calling, rejection, social ostracism, and emotional abuse from at least fourth grade through high school. It came from classmates, teachers, and even members of my own family. I covered the pain with sarcasm, anger, and distance, believing if I kept people at arm’s length they couldn’t hurt me. I still catch myself doing the same thing today because some scars never heal.

My ultimate solution was not suicide, but rather a determination to prove all the bullies wrong by being “normal”. I eventually married, had children, and ostensibly lived as a straight man for forty-five years before I had the courage to be myself. While I would have gladly settled for more tolerance when I was younger, and it might have helped young Jamel Myles, I don’t want to simply be tolerated. Would you? I suppose it’s better than being attacked, but that’s still happening too.

Tragically, things really haven’t changed all that much in the last fifty years. Oh how I wish, for all the Jamel’s of this world, things were different.

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Traitor’s Moon – working on chapter eight which will feature a key dramatic turning point in the story. It’s going to be tricky but current feedback tells me I’m on the right track. Word count = 58,000+.

The MOVE – I took two big steps this week, giving notice at work and to my landlord. One month from now I should be arriving in my new home and getting settled in. Until then, I have lots to do!

Weekly Roundup 8-22-18 Caring About Your Characters

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Creating characters readers will love has a downside in that I grow to love them too. They become something like my own children whom I want to see happy and successful. So what’s the problem?

In my current manuscript, Traitor’s Moon, it became evident early on some of the characters would die. I knew I would have to handle it carefully or risk damaging the story arc and alienating my readers. As much as I want all the good guys to live long and prosper and the bad guys to bite the dust, the story demanded an injection of stark realism. Theoretically it sounds easy enough, but I had no idea it would be so emotionally difficult!

The real kicker is that I haven’t even written this part of the book, and yet I’ve already lost sleep and agonized over what I knew I had to do. Mind you, no major MC’s are involved this time, but the loss will still be wrenching. When I’m writing, and my emotions are engaged, I’m fairly confident my readers will be touched in the same way. This is a good thing of course, but it makes for some very uncomfortable moments as the tears fall and I get all choked up.

Is it reasonable, or even normal, to be so passionate about something which isn’t real? These people don’t even exist for heaven’s sake, so why all the fuss?

As a writer who creates characters out of whole cloth, I can tell you I am emotionally invested in their lives and well-being. If it were otherwise, readers wouldn’t be able to identify with them and the story would fall flat. To be quite honest, I often prefer their company over the flesh and blood beings all around me. So when something bad happens to my loved ones, I’m going to grieve and cry without shame, and hope my readers do too.

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  • Current manuscript: I hit a bump in the road this week with chapter seven of Traitor’s Moon. It’s a common occurrence for me to underestimate how many words it will take to get from point A to point B. There were, I thought, just a few quick threads to cover before the highly anticipated attack scene and its aftermath. I was wrong. The story insisted on telling itself, and I had to follow along obediently or lose some great content. Anyway, those few quick threads became the entirety of chapter seven, meaning the aforementioned scenes will now be featured in chapter eight. Word count now stands at 54,000+.
  • Have a look at some of the great reviews I’ve received this week for Expectant Moon!

“Wow. Just wow. This book was wonderfully written, a ton of fun to read, and the plot was great. I seriously haven’t gotten this much enjoyment out of a book in a long time. I read it through kindle unlimited but liked it so much that I’m buying it. I just have to have this for my permanent collection.”

“OMG, what a wonderful amazing imagination in this book!!! I can’t wait to read the second in this series. Amazing twists and turns.”

“Wow, wow, wow. Absolutely took my breath away…amazing, beautiful, delightful, intense, naughty, and I loved every moment. You Rock!”

  • I love hearing what my readers have to say about my books, as it affirms my work and motivates me to keep writing. I can’t tell you how many times I have been discouraged, only to be uplifted by a great review or friendly email. As a rule, I usually only leave reviews if I can give the author four or five stars. If you feel the need to give a book three or less, consider contacting the author directly to share your concerns, instead of leaving a scathing review. Words have great power so be careful!
  • Bumper stickers are rare these days, but everybody seems to have a T-shirt with something on it. Check these out:

“In my defense, I was left unsupervised.”

“Patience is a virtue, It’s just not one of MY virtues.”

“I turn beer into pee. What’s your superpower?”

“No need to repeat yourself, I ignored you just fine the first time.”

“Some days the supply of curse words is insufficient to meet the demand.”

“I thought growing old would take longer.”

“If I was a bird, I know who I’d shit on.”

“Being cremated is my last hope for a smoking hot body.”

Weekly Roundup 8-15-18 My Publishing Anniversary!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

art-bright-celebrate-1229838By Rudolf Kirchner on Pexels.

WOO HOO! One year ago I became a published author! It’s been an incredibly busy time of growth, change, excitement, and, yes, discouragement. Though I’ve learned an awful lot, it’s obvious I have much further to go and wonder when, or if, I’ll ever arrive. It isn’t just the constantly changing nature of publishing, but the deep pool of knowledge an author needs to run the business side of things. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, and I can’t even imagine trying the traditional route!

One of the reasons I spent a year writing before any attempt to publish was the sheer number of things I needed to learn. I came very close to giving up when I realized how complicated and time-consuming it was. The process would have been far easier and more pleasant if I’d had a mentor to guide me and answer questions. l still wish I had some fellow authors I could talk to when I need to vent or ask advice.

At the beginning, my sales figures were the primary driving force, and I was riding high for a while – until Pronoun closed up shop. Sales tanked after that and I am nowhere near where I’d like to be. Once more, I seriously considered calling it quits, but made a commitment to stick it out for two years before making that kind of decision. In the meantime, I had to find an other source of motivation and settled on two things:

  1. I love to write.

I have tons of ideas for future stories; so many in fact I don’t think I’ll live long enough to ever see them all published. Writing is so fulfilling and downright fun I simply MUST keep going!

  1. Readers enjoy my work.

Even though sales are slow, I realized it wasn’t because my books were bad. I’ll probably never be famous or rich, but I believe I have something to offer and feedback from my readers tells me I’m on the right track.

My goals for the next year include improvement in the mechanics of writing/editing and more effective marketing. Meanwhile, each book will be better than the one before it and adds to my back list. Perhaps I’ll get a lucky break and win an award or be offered a movie deal! What?! I can dream can’t I?

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Current manuscript:

Progress has been slow on chapter six of Traitor’s Moon. At this point of the story, I’m transitioning from the set up to the main action points and the primary romance. It’s tricky weaving all the threads together without leaving out anything important. I’m hoping to finish the chapter in the next day or two. Current word count is 46,000+ which is close to novel length and I’m only half done!

Quotes I liked:

“Too often do reviewers remind us of the mob of Astrologers, Chaldeans, and Soothsayers gathered before the “writing on the wall”, and unable to read the characters or make known the interpretation.” Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre, September 19, 1850.  (Well said, Charlotte. Some things never change!)

“The breathless voice belonged to a vivacious blonde. Her clothes screamed popular cheerleader. Perkiness seeped out of her pores in puke-inducing waves.” From Lone Wolf by Shelley Munro. (LOL. Can’t you just picture this person? How did she do it with only 23 words?? Thanks Shelley!)

Weekly Roundup 8-8-18 Defining Science Fiction – Does it really matter?

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Apparently I missed the memo. There is a long-standing argument going on regarding the true meaning of the term Science Fiction. Really? Is there any good reason to be concerned?

A read an article this week which seeks to parse out the true definition of the term and its competitors. Science Fiction vs. Hard Science Fiction vs. SciFi vs. SF vs. Speculative Fiction vs. Fantasy. Whew! I had no idea the concept was so complicated, but only because we’ve made it so ourselves.

I have some sympathy for the Hard Science Fiction argument, which is defined as stories based on actual science and theory. OK, but that certainly narrows the pool of qualified authors for novels of this genre, unless you happen to be a physicist or expert in quantum mechanics. In addition, it severely limits the type and content of stories, leaving us with limited (and rather boring) possibilities.

Let’s face it – our current scientific understanding does not allow for cool elements such as interstellar travel, shields, fancy weapons, teleportation, terraforming, visits to alien worlds, and all those other fun things Science Fiction is known for. If readers turn up their noses because a book isn’t labeled “correctly”, they cheat themselves out of a lot of wonderful imaginative fiction. Life is too short to be worrying about stuff like this.

I have no problem designating my books as Science Fiction, but if you want to call them SciFi, SF, speculative fiction or fantasy, feel free. I say forget the labels, hop on board, and boldly go where no one has gone before!

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  • Current manuscript – Traitor’s Moon is now in chapter six and I’m on the threshold of some really great action and drama! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out and then share it with my readers. Word count is 42,400+.
  • I heard about some family upset this week involving an unfortunate Facebook post by someone who should have known better. If you insist on sharing your views, make sure you aren’t offending the people closest to you. The whole world doesn’t need to know your opinion on every subject.
  • The move is getting closer each day and I will have to start using my writing time to pack and plan. Bummer! Originally, I was to move at the end of this month, but the Labor Day holiday got in the way and now it won’t happen until the end of September. If I could quit my job now and write all day, the book would be finished by then. (Hmmm…clearly an example of speculative fiction…)
  • August 14 marks my one-year anniversary as a published author! More on that next week.

Weekly Roundup 8-1-18 CURSES! Using naughty words in fiction.

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Curse. Swear. Expletive. Oath. Profanity. Cuss. Invective. Malediction.

Virtually everyone does it; from presidents to the smart-mouthed kid next door. Swear words may be pithy or profane, mild or malevolent, productive or pointless. Even mild euphemisms such as darn, shoot, and heck are simply substitutes for the “real” thing, and everyone knows exactly what you mean (sorry Grandma).

It follows, then, that fictional characters will also run a blue streak from time to time, and most readers would find it strange if they didn’t. Swear words are verbal emotions; cathartic for the speaker, able to evoke a visceral response in the hearer. It’s a non-physical way to let people know how you really feel and a powerful part of our interaction with others.

I grew up in a household where the strongest language included hells bells, ship ahoy, and crapola. Why? My parents were determined to raise respectful, educated children and they believed excessive swearing was a sign of moral failure and below average intelligence. Consequently, the cuss words I generally use are mild and infrequent and this spills over to the characters of my books.

I find strong language offensive (especially the F-word), and have no interest in creating foul-mouthed characters, even if it makes them more realistic. I believe I can convey the proper meaning and attitude with minimal obscenities, and my readers seem to agree.

I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped reading due to excessive use of profanity, even though the story up to that point was quite good. You might be surprised how much I put up with, but if the writer can’t tell the story without gratuitous curses every other sentence I will look elsewhere for my entertainment. Your standards and mine may differ, and that’s OK – just don’t expect to find F-bombs scattered through the pages of my books!

Here’s a few quotes I like:

“Grant me some wild expressions, Heavens, or I shall burst.” George Farquhar

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” George Washington

“I think the reason that swearing is both so offensive and so attractive is that it is a way to push people’s emotional buttons, and especially their negative emotional buttons.” Steven Pinker

“There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that.” Mark Twain

“I’ve never found an interesting person with a foul mouth.” Marilyn vos Savant

“Swearing was invented as a compromise between running away and fighting.” Finley Peter Dunne

“Writing for adults often means just increasing the swearing – but find an alternative to swearing and you’ve probably got a better line.” Steven Moffat

“Profane swearing never did any man any good. No man in the richer or wiser or happier for it.” Robert Lowth

You may find these resources interesting:

Why Do We Swear? by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

What’s Wrong with Swearing? from the Cuss Control Academy

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Traitor’s Moon update. Another Gladstone pack member finds their mate! Word count is now 40,000+.  I finished chapter five on Sunday and will complete the editing today. I prefer to clean up each chapter as I go so the task isn’t so daunting at the end. If I don’t, the errors I KNOW are lurking in the text become so distracting I can’t concentrate on new material! I have read advice from established authors who do all the writing, followed by all the editing, but that method doesn’t work for me.

One step forward, two steps back. As an Indy author, I don’t have access to professional help to improve my writing skills. I’ve learned so much since I published my first five books almost a year ago, with advice coming from beta readers, reviews, various articles and blog posts, and a daughter-in-law with an English major (thanks J.)

When I become aware of an issue, I have to not only incorporate it into my current manuscript, but I also correct the others which came before it. This takes time and headache-inducing editing!

Recently, I’ve been working on three areas of concern:

  • 3rd person POV – apparently I missed the memo about Third Person Omniscient being decades out of fashion and should therefore be using Third Person Limited. What? Not going to happen! Well, not the way it was described in the article I read. I’m not prepared to ditch the Omniscient view entirely, as I find it quite useful, and will most likely continue the combination of Omniscient/Limited I have been using. What I am going to do is limit the view to a single person or group of people in any given scene/paragraph to reduce head-hopping.
  • Quotation marks – “When dealing with quotations that extend over more than one paragraph, you need to put quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph but at the end only of the final one.Great! What wonderful advice! Do you know how long it’s going to take me to fix this? Now would be a good time for an expletive….
  • Several reviewers have commented that they feel they are being told the story rather than living it, but none have gone on to explain exactly what they meant. After consulting with someone who has read all of my books (thanks T.), the suggestion was to include more specific descriptors. Nothing extensive, but by adding occasional colors, textures, sounds, smells etc. to the text, the reader will be able to experience the story in a way which echos real life. This is not a bad suggestion, but will take time to correct retroactively, and force me to change the way I write going forward.

Well, that’s more than enough from me today. Time to get some $!#*&@ writing done!

Weekly Roundup 7-25-18 The power of reader feedback.

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I received a delightful email from a reader this week! You may wonder why this is such a big deal, and to someone else it probably wouldn’t be. In almost a year’s time I have only received a handful of emails, despite encouraging my readers at every turn to contact me, and it makes my day every time.

I cannot speak for all Indy authors, but this one needs affirmation, encouragement, praise or plain old contact with another person. I want to know what they liked about one of my books or how it met a need or spoke to them personally. It boosts my spirits and motivates me to keep going amid the discouragements of life. It validates my efforts in the same way a stage performer feeds off audience applause.

Hearing directly from a reader is not the same as a review, which is usually addressed to fellow readers (unless the reviewer is particularly unhappy with the book!). When a stranger writes to me saying they enjoyed my work, it is humbling to know I made a positive difference in their life or at least provided some transitory enjoyment. Such powerful connections are a wondrous thing and should be celebrated!

Here’s the message I received from an 88-year-old gentleman from NY who appreciated my book Green’s Thumb.

“Hi! Just a note to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this particular book. Since my partner of 26 years died in 2009, I have become an avid reader of m/m romances. I did not meet the love of my life until I was 52, and just five years out of the closet, so am most appreciative of a novel that has more mature MCs. Most are in their 20s and 30s; okay, but not something with which I can easily identify any longer. So the story of Karl and Mitch was a great surprise and more to my taste. Even though I was never married, I identified with Mitch who was more my age when entering the relationship and suffered from the same inexperience. Thanks for this heartwarming story. I shall read it again.”

Wonderful! In my response, I shared that parts of the story were taken directly from my own life. It was great to see how the book meant something to him and met a need. I also told him I plan to include more silver characters in future stories, since older gay men are mostly ignored. The author of this email had no idea how much his simple communication would mean to me, probably assuming it was nothing special. Well, it was, and I am deeply appreciative.

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Update on current manuscript: Traitor’s Moon is gaining momentum! I’m part way through chapter five, having reached over 35,000 words. I’m having fun revealing more of Jack’s history, introducing new characters, and describing the drama surrounding Nolan and his mate. There’s so much more ahead for Gladstone, and I can’t wait to get it all written and to my readers. The feedback from early beta reading is very positive!

Weekly Roundup 7-18-18

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I’ve got so much going on in my head I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. This week has been particularly overwhelming and I wish I had some time off work to deal with everything!

  • Current manuscript – Traitor’s Moon is coming along, though not as fast as I would like. Word count is 30,000+ and I am almost finished with chapter four. I’ve been looking forward to writing this part of the story for quite a while, though it presented its own challenges which slowed me down. I’m looking forward to book 3 which I hope will be a bit less involved and complicated. We’ll see.
  • Book sales are still flat and I need to start building my email list. I now have MailPoet, but it  isn’t set up completely yet. Relying on forums to answer my questions is a waste of my time, especially when I am already paying for the service! I need to hire a tech-savvy assistant to do this kind of stuff for me.
  • I’ve been joking around with a co-worker about writing a custom short story with her as the heroine. We have a lot of fun laughing over possible titles and content, and I would really enjoy doing it – but no time! My current book gets the majority of my attention for the foreseeable future, and I can’t allow myself to be distracted. Easier said than done…
  • The countdown to my move across country is getting close now – only a couple of months! It’s going to mean a major interruption in my writing, of course, and I hate the thought of losing momentum. It will push the release date out further too, but it can’t be helped. Meanwhile I have to start packing and make arrangements. There’s a lot to do!
  • I read a blog post this week in which the author suggested traveling to the places you write about. In some ways that would be cool, but then I decided it would punch too many holes in my imagined world. My current series is set in Michigan’s upper peninsula, which is someplace I have never been. I use maps and Google to get the info I need and base the story on real names, places, and facts, but add my own details when necessary. Actually traveling there (while I’m writing the books) wouldn’t be a good idea, as I would begin to doubt everything I’ve already written! Perhaps I’ll visit after the series is complete.
  • This week I started re-reading a quirky series from a few years back: Ganymede Quartet, by Darrah Glass. The basic premise involves a forbidden gay romance between a rich teen and his personal slave. The whole thing is fascinating and disturbing and difficult to put down. The biggest disappointment is that the author never really finished, leaving her readers hanging without some kind of resolution or addressing the important questions the MC has about his life and future. Still, if you want something different, this series might fit the bill! Get it HERE.

Weekly Roundup 7-11-18 “The Visit” A blast from the past.

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I ran across a bunch of stories and poems I wrote during my school days and chose “The Visit” to share with you today. This one was a 10th-grade English class assignment which I have never forgotten. Enjoy!

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The Visit

I never dreamed I would ever see my home again, but here I was twenty years later on my old street, my thoughts enveloped in times past. I rounded the curve and the full view of the old homestead shot out and drew my breath away.

Strolling up the walk to the door, I could almost feel the earth trembling with joy to see a familiar face. I turned and scanned the yard. Up ahead, the brick patio lay still and warped, obviously long in need of repair. Off to the left was my mother’s redbud tree. I recalled when the beautiful pink blossoms would burst into view each spring, bringing needed color to the just-waking earth. The large oaks, still rich in grandeur, which had graced our grounds throughout my childhood, were dropping their first leaves of the season. Many a year I remember raking their leaves into one huge glorious pile, and in a running leap, fall in childish ecstasy into the crinkly softness of the Autumn gifts.

Pausing before the door, I turned the knob and entered the familiar hallway, worn now from a million steps of past tenants. Slowly I closed the door and let my wandering memories once again renew themselves afresh. Stepping lightly into the living room, I could almost see us on Christmas morning, all sitting on the floor, sleepy-eyed and waiting for the signal form Grandma for us to start opening our gifts. “Ready, set, go!” she would say. Paper flew, and the room buzzed with oh’s, ah’s and thank-you’s. Along the bookcase would hang our stockings, stuffed with assorted goodies and fruit. We never had a fireplace to hang them on, but it didn’t matter much to us where we put them, just so long as they were filled.

I moved on through the dining room, kitchen and family room. The long-gone laughter of our young voices seemed to spring from the woodwork and draw from me a yearning to be young once again. Many times I had eaten, played, laughed, and of course cried in these rooms. Left now were only the cloudy remains of our times together, forever embedded in these walls which could not speak.

Slowly, reverently, I climbed the creaky stairs to the bedrooms above. Starting at the far end of the hallway, I opened a door and looked inside. Here was the first room I occupied as a child with my two older brothers. In the corner once stood our old wobbly bunk beds. I always had the top bunk, but in six years I only fell out of it once.

Opening each door seemed to break the seal on the closed reservoir of my memories. Every thought was relished, pondered, and loved, adding to the mounting joy in my heart. At last, I reached my room. As I peered inside from the doorway, every detail once there came to life. Tears mounted and rolled down my quivering cheeks as I began to fade quickly. For the last time, I looked upon the room I had lived, loved, and died in. You see, they only let you come back for forty-eight hours. I had to wait twenty years for my turn. I guess my time is up now…

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My teacher, one of the few nuns I liked, was primarily responsible for encouraging me to write. She really liked this story (I got an A+), saying: “Oh, tis a truly lovely composition. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a heart-string tugger.” I’m sure she was just being kind, as it’s hardly an award-winner, but it has a special place in my heart.

My mother was an avid reader, and I must have presented her with everything I wrote, asking for her opinion. Clear as day, I recall her silence as she read the story, only to start crying at the end. What she never knew was how much time I spent as a child feeling unloved and alone. Secretly, I wished I could either run away or die so that my family would realize they loved me after all and would actually tell me so. That never happened, but the reaction I got from my mom was satisfying on some level. Returning home as a ghost in a story was the closest I ever got to sharing my true feelings.

Other things:

Traitor’s Moon – 25,000+ words and ready to start chapter four, which is mostly about Jack and William as they make an important visit to Arizona to retrieve some of Jack’s past.

Had a great idea to use in a future story which came to me out of the blue while I was at work. Of course, I wrote it down right away, and then spent the rest of the day thinking of ways to use it. Good for my books and distracts me from my job!

Finished a great book titled “Raver: The Horsecaller Book 1” by Candace Carrabus. This romantic adventure fantasy is hard to put down. I love an a author with a good imagination! Check it out HERE.