I Need Your Opinion. 

As I’ve mentioned, I’m writing a romance and mystery novel. But I’m also editing the prequel to that romance novel. I wrote all of these with multiple POV (points of view.) These POV switch within chapter and I continue to receive the critique that it is “jarring.” I like switching among characters, because then the story is told in real time by different people. I have always written this way, that is not to say that I can’t change, but I see it as part of my style. 

I am considering putting a pin in these stories and pursuing other works; in hopes that when I come back to these the work won’t be as daunting or that I will have a demographic set up that would be willing to see something pretty unique on their book shelf. 

Any thoughts? I’d really appreciate anything you have to say. 

In My Internet Travels

I follow Writerish Ramblings by Kristi S. Simpson. She gets daily prompts from StoryADay.org and writes these fun stories. And I would like to do the one from today. The prompt is below and my story follows.

Prompt: Visibly Invisible

Today’s prompt is about the inner self of your character trying to break out, to be seen, to be heard, to simply be acknowledged.

Think along the lines of being present in a group, yet you’re being discussed as if you were not there.  Now multiply those feelings by 100 for your character who, for reasons you will develop, cannot (at the moment) speak up for themselves.

Tips

  • Why is your character ‘invisible’?
  • You may want to go down the path of personal knowledge, for instance someone with a severe disability which restricts their line of communication.  Yet they are ‘in there’ and fully aware of what is going on around them.  How do they feel?  What can they do to get attention, and help?
  • Perhaps you want to go the fantasy route and your character has had a spell put on them.  What or who will break it?  How does the ‘invisible’ one deal with the situation they are in and what do they do to help themselves?
  • Your story should conclude with your character achieving ‘visibility’.

Not too many tips this week – let your imagination, and your emotions run free with this one.

Let’s GO!

I’m No Trish

“Give it back,” Trish whines prettily. Her long, wavy auburn hair shines in the fluorescent lights of our classroom.

Rex passes her water bottle between his hands considering her out of the corner of his eye. His eyes are the largest and darkest I have ever seen. Lined in dark long lashes. His skin is smooth and light, it reminds me of french vanilla icecream. I want to lick it up. Stretching a crossed high cheekbones, it contrasts with his chestnut hair. The smirk on his lips breaks my heart.

My pulse quickens and my hands feel clammy. I love and hate this class. The assigned seating puts me next to Rex, but between him and Trish. He’s so close and he laughs at my jokes. He lets me lean over his shoulder to look at his work, teaching me how to work through the equations. His hands are graceful as his pencil scribbles out numbers. The forms are scratchy and adorable. I’m so careful not to touch him, but I can smell his cologne.

“I don’t know…” Rex replies to Trish. “I was thinking about giving it back, but my boy here, looks real thirsty.”

I bark out a laugh, hiding the thrill I feel from the phrase, “my boy.” Reaching for the bottle, I pop open the lid. While Trish gasps, Rex staring at her mouth, I down the contents of the bottle. “Thanks, Trish, you’re a lifesaver,” I smirk.

It’s Not That Hard

So Writer’s Block is a real thing. For about two weeks now, I have sat down at my computer and stared at the screen until my eyes are bleeding out of my head and nothing happens. No words on the page. My process is to work on two different stories at once. I write on one for a month or so and then switch, this usually keeps me interested. Apparently, not right now.

I tried switching gears, I wrote some blog posts and that felt great. The words spilled from me. Sometimes when I write, it feels like someone is slowly turning on a faucet. Letters will trickle out and form words. This was not one of those times. Fully realized thoughts erupted from the page and made coherent sense. I thought that would mean I could return to my novels and make some progress. But I thought wrong.

Okay, I’m a problem solver. How about I do some editing? My completed pages are on the chopping block. I’m slashing out words with focused determination. Sentences are being restructured like my life depends on it. And as a whole the piece is looking better. I’m sure this means that my writing will pick up again, but no you fool! No words for you!

About the only thing, I haven’t tried is writing a short story of two. So I guess that’s next.

My aggravation is acuter, because I came up with another idea and I know that I would blink and scenes would be done. But I can’t switch to that book until one of these two is completed. And I can’t finish either of these novels until the words are written. Don’t you see, it’s a trap?

Such a bummer.

Anyway, if this isn’t the ramblings of first world problems, then I don’t know what is. Excuse me while I flush clean drinking water down the toilet.

Flash Fiction: Forsaking and Gathering

Sitting on the edge of our bed, I’m looking at our room. It’s a mess, as it always is. It’s been difficult without you. But it always is. I’m thinking about you; wanting more time. I’m wishing I could go back and visit those moments when life was open to us. If I could go back to see the two of us happy together, I would carry that image in my mind. I would cup in my hands the little drops of hope that rain from the memory and I would sip on them when the world was too dark.

I can hear our kids playing in their room. Drake is looking more like you every day. His freckled nose and dark brown eyes always remind me of you. Cassandra may look more like me, but she is your daughter. She’s got your fearlessness. Even at five years old, I can already see her unbreakable spirit, that wildness that bound me to you. And she can play me just like you; I might as well be her puppet; my strings being pulled in her little hands.

I’m ashamed of so many decisions of mine. But those two are the best mistakes I have ever made. You know how unprepared we were to have them. When I got pregnant with Drake we were living in your mom’s basement. I remember how scared I was. I didn’t want to tell you because I couldn’t bear if you were upset. You wrapped your arms around me, protecting me from my own insecurity. I looked up into your dark eyes and tapped my fingers nervously on your chest. The words fell out, “I’m pregnant.”

My heart quickened at the sight of your wild smile as you said, “Now I’ve trapped you forever.”

That was when you had just gotten your construction job. We moved out when I was gigantically pregnant. I’d thought I might be one of those women, who glowed with new life and swelled with the beauty of renewal. Oh, and I swelled: with water retention. You had to move us all by yourself. Even though I was bloated and grumpy and almost no help at all, every time you walked by me you gave me that smile. And we settled into our one bedroom apartment.

Looking back, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened. You were advancing at work. We were both so proud of our little family. Miss Cassandra had just been born. We moved into this two bedroom apartment. You were always one to party, but the parties were getting longer. You were going out in the middle of the week. Money was getting harder to come by, so I got a job at the grocery store. Thank God my mom was willing to watch the kids. Then you started missing work. I remember when I came home from the store and the TV was gone. And you told me you had to sell it and that you only had a half day of work. There were warning signs. But I ignored them. The thought of us not being the couple we used to be was too depressing. Instead, I grasped every stitch of what we once were and tried to tie us back together.

More of our possessions went missing. I had to hide money from you, so you wouldn’t poison your veins with it. But like all addicts, you found a way. Then there was the day I called your work wondering when you would be home and your boss told me you had been fired. That day started the sharpest fall of the decline of our lives. The night I got a phone call from the police, telling me they had you at the hospital. They told me that our car had been totaled and that you were driving under the influence. I’ve never been more consumed by rage and tragedy as I was at that moment.

Then came the rehabs. There were four before the one you’re in now. I would drop you off and you would promise me that this time would be different. And I would see all the good in you and the things I love about our children in your earnest face. I would see myself through your eyes, the woman you loved who would always support you. Then I would pick you up after a couple of weeks and your skin looked healthy again. Your eyes would meet mine with unadulterated clarity. I would bring you to our home and you would wrap those protecting arms around our babies and smile with your sober face. And the man I love would be home. Then the pattern would start again.

Forsaking logic, I’ve gathered hope that my love would be what you needed. But it’s not. I’ve let you be my heroin. I’ve pursued you with as much recklessness as you have chased your addiction. If not for our children, I would never leave you. Love is blind. But a mother is strong. I’m bringing the last box of your stuff to your mother’s. This time she will pick you up.

I cannot give our children two healthy parents, but I can give them one.

An Ode to the Adolescent Years and the Romance Novels that got Me Through Them

I cringe when I think how young I was when I started reading romance novels. A combination of a love of the written word and hormones threw me into the embrace of steamy books full of leading men and dramatic women. It may not be exceptionally unusual that I was around 13 when I picked up my first Nora Roberts book, but looking back it seems too young.

It was Tears of the Moon that I read first. I found it there, nestled on my mom’s bookshelf. The moss green cover beckoning me. Opening the pages, I plunged into a world that was way over my head. And down the rabbit hole I went. At that time I think Roberts had about thirty books published and I feel like I read them all. Some were really exciting with suspenseful plots intertwined with a romantic story. Others were Soap Operas set to words. I would stay awake until three in the morning frantically turning pages.

I discovered Suzanne Brockman through my aunts. She writes about Navy Seals and her stories had me reading with ferocity. The exciting action-packed tales building the romantic intensity. It was very fun reading, I just wish I had been reading other genres as well.

Tami Hoag became another favorite author of mine, but I read far less of her books. She wrote more crime/mystery romances, I think. I have to say, I was not reading for content at this point…

I remember hiding certain books because of their covers. You know which covers. The romance novel exterior is the bane of every romance reader’s existence. Oh, the roguish, ripple chested man clinging to the long haired maiden with her gossamer dress hanging off her shoulder, how you proclaim to the world that within your binding is what some would call smut.

There is a stronger Young Adult romance genre now, but I wonder if I would have picked anything different. I did learn a lot about playing with the senses as a writer and how important it is to get your readers invested in your characters.

 

Assigned Reading

Assigned reading was the worst at times, but mostly because I don’t like to be told what to do, especially when it comes to activities I enjoy. When I look back on the books I read for school, I appreciated most of them. There were the classics here or there that I didn’t connect to, but I could still tell you why they were valuable. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about them in the future but right now I want to talk about the books that I needed to read for a grade that I enjoyed.

Night by Elie Wiesel was assigned to me in 7th grade. We were doing a WWII segment in both English and History, it was one of those great times when classes were able to work together. I loved these couple of weeks in my education. It awoke in me a fascination for all aspects of this dismal time in human history. Night was influential in that discovery. My English teacher suggested the short book to a friend and myself. She allowed us to leave the classroom and read aloud to one another. Sitting Indian style on a ledge, we shared this story between us. The incomprehensible torture depicted in a matter of fact tone carrying us from beginning to end. There are images described in such clarity that they spring to mind at the first thought of this book.

In my Sophomore year of High School, I was assigned to read what would become my two favorite books. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck spoke to me on a basic level. The idea that sometimes the most damaging thing a person can do to themselves is the most selfless act of love for someone else. The writing was simple and impacting, I loved how the characters spoke with unique voices. I had purchased the book before we finished it in class because I needed to know the end. I sat in my bedroom pouring over the last few pages, tears falling from my eyes to soak into the fresh paper between my fingers. At once I was liberated by the beauty of humanity and by its dark brutality.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee had the same effect on me by using very different tools. Scout is a superb main character. She is depicted in a way that allows her to age and gain perspective. And through her innocence she accomplishes what the adults in her life cannot. The story is beautiful and timeless. It astounds me how relevant the themes still are fifty years later.

Some honorable mentions go out to Lord of the Flies a book that balanced lovely writing with disturbing imagery. The Scarlet Letter that used intrigue and mystery to tell a story about inner strength. Romeo and Juliette for introducing me to some of the most romantic prose ever written. And The White Lantern a collection of essays about the exploration of Antartica that has forever put the phrase, “I’m cold,” in perspective.

A Reader is Born

My mom read somewhere that if you read bedtime stories to your kids every night they will always feel they can come to you for help. That sitting on the edge of your kid’s bed with a book shared between you, builds intimacy. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case it worked. I love remembering the nights mom stayed awake to read to me and my brother.

Hearing her talk about those picture books makes me smile. She’ll tell me about ABC by Dr. Seuss. My brother is two years older than me and he loved this book. To hear her retell it, she read him this story every night for about a year. In her voice you can hear this was not just a year, for her she was trapped for a decade. She was forced to enthusiastically read this for a century, the words branded onto her brain. The night that my brother asked for a different story was the night my mom was set free, liberated by her son’s growing mind. Relieved, she went to my room it was time for my bedtime story.

“What book tonight?” She asked.

In my little hands, I picked up ABC by Dr. Seuss. And so continued another year of torture.

My brother and I are very different people, if you were to make a venn diagram of our personality traits, the middle section would be sparse. Mom identified this early on and in response, she found The Treasure Tree by John & Cindy Trent and Gary & Norma Small. It’s an energetic book about four friends working together to find treasure. We loved identifying with the different characters; all of them were depicted to be distinctive and unique from one another. Mom was consistent in the way she read it, each character had their own voice and certain words had their own emphasis. I was four years old when that book was prominent in my life and I still hear her voice when I think about its story.

Our cousins were spending the night when Mom started reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. We were young and the language was dry. Mom told us to hang in there. When Lucy stumbled through to Narnia, we were captivated. The snow from the story’s world filled our minds. Hurting for Mr. Tumnus’ near betrayal, we devoured the spoken words. We cried together in the end and we needed to know more.

When my cousin’s son turned one, Mom and I gave him these books. We knew they wouldn’t be very interesting for him yet, but the memory of them was too strong not to share. Opening her son’s gift, my cousin’s eyes filled with tears. The late nights, when Mom would read until her throat was dry and she was too tired to see the words clearly, were as precious to my cousin as they were to us.